Preview: Deacon Blue; Edinburgh Usher Hall 08/10/2012

Deacon Blue
Deacon Blue
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DEACON Blue never professed to be the coolest of bands. Their soulful brand of parent-pop racked up six million album sales, 40 UK Top 40 singles and two No 1 albums over 25 years. However, as the ironic title of their new album The Hipsters suggests – their first in 11 years - it’s hip to be square.

“I think Ricky (Ross) would describe it as a love letter to the band; the whole experience of being in a band,” says Lorraine McIntosh, the other (married) half of Deacon Blue’s singing twosome.

“He was working in London, sat down one day, played the chords to Here I Am In London Town and out came that line. In some ways, it’s a letter to his younger self. Here we are, 25 years later, trying to get a record deal again, get an album done, starting over.”

Starting over?

“It’s hard after 11 years to come out with a new album you hope your fans will like. Everything’s changed, music’s changed, everyone in the band’s life has changed.

“It sounds naïve, but I knew nothing about the industry in the beginning. I was busking at the time and didn’t comprehend the prospect of getting a record deal. I wish somebody could have said ‘Don’t worry, it’s going to be OK’, but looking back, that would have taken the edge off it. I’m exceptionally proud of the band.”

Pride. It’s a key theme in the band’s latest work. There’s a stronger sense of unity and cohesion than in previous DB releases. McIntosh concurs. “We wanted to do it properly, commit, go into the studio together, record together. It was a long time in the planning. Hopefully the album is representative of where we all are now.”

It has indeed been a long time. Splitting in 1994, Deacon Blue reformed in 1999. However, as band members drifted into academia, broadcasting and television, McIntosh became a regular fixture as Alice Henderson on Scottish soap River City for four years.

“I think it’s as good a soap as any – it was a great job,” she says.

“If people struggled with it, it’s because it’s Scottish and people weren’t used to hearing their own voices. Because I’m not a trained actress, I learned loads from very good actors and directors.

“Last year, I did a play for National Theatre of Scotland and it was one of the highlights of my life. To get that chance in your late-40s is brilliant. When I was away doing that, Ricky was writing The Hipsters, doing radio shows and working with other musicians.”

Which begs the question: What is it like working with someone you’re married to?

“If you love them, it’s nice,” laughs McIntosh. “When we do Deacon Blue, we’re both away at the same time; if I’m doing a play or he’s doing something, the other has to pick up all the stuff at home.”

With a large family, too, does McIntosh wonder if any of her kids will follow in mum and dad’s footsteps?

“Our wee one is only 11 and wants to be in a band but gets no real encouragement,” she laughs. “Don’t go down that road.”

Deacon Blue, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, Monday, 7pm, £32.50, 0131-228 1155