“There are a couple in there which we have never played live,” reveals frontman Justin Currie on the set list ahead of Del Amitri’s first tour in over a decade. “If not saying which, they are a surprise.”
The singer-songwriter sounds up upbeat mood ahead of the band’s The A to Z of Us tour which features 13 gigs around the UK throughout this month and February.
And he is conscious of meeting audience expectation on stage by playing songs the fans will expect to hear.
“You have to play Driving With The Brakes On, you’ve probably got to play Move Away Jimmy Blue and you’ve probably got to play Always The Last To Know,” he ponders.” But I would have to say you don’t have to play Nothing Ever Happens, you don’t have to play Roll To Me. People don’t request those songs. I never get requests for those songs when I’m doing solo gigs.
“When your doing solo gigs you get requests for more obscure things. I get a request for a song called It Might As Well Be You quite a lot. And I get shouts for a song called In The Meantime quite a lot. And Sleep Instead of Teardrops I get shouts for as well.”
One song from the dim and distant past he reveals they will also be performing is Hammering Heart - a track which featured on the band’s self-titled debut album in 1985.
“It is the only one you can actually play. It’s the only with chords on it the rest are pretty unplayable. In fact Hammering Heart is pretty unplayable as well so we have had to rearrange it quite drastically.”
The tour dates include a gig at Leeds O2 Academy - formerly the T&C Club - later this month. And it turns out he has an soft spot for Yorkshire’s unofficial capital.
“I have fond memories of Leeds going to the Futurama festival back in the 1980s, he says. “I have always had an affinity with Leeds. I really like a lot of the local bands like The Mekons and Gang Of Four back in the day. And the Town and Country Club was always a brilliant gig for us.”
Justin and founder member Iain Harvie will be joined on stage by Andy Alston, Kris Dollimore and Ashley Soan.
“I made two of the phone calls and Iain made the other,” he says on the initial conversation process. “Iain phoned Chris, and I phoned Ashley and Andy Alston. It was pretty obvious who we were going to hire. But we did have a meeting about it and we had list of people who had been in the band before. It was pretty obvious that we would ask Ash and Kris first because they had both been in the band for long periods. But they had not been in the same line up together so we thought it would be quite interesting to put a slightly different combination together.”
On any motivation to get Del Amitri back together Justin claims there was no real motivation.
“Someone offered us a gig and I was asked about it and I said no. Then I was asked again about it and I said no, then the third time I was asked about it I said maybe,” he recalls. £So Iain and I had a couple of meetings and talked ourselves into it really.
“People phone your agent and make offers from time to time. And we’ve been staying no to the very few and far between offers we have received for the last 12 years. And then we just sort of said maybe about a year ago and that turned into a yes by last Spring I guess.”
News of the band’s first tour in a decade appears to have been boosted by renewed media interest which included an appearance for Justin on BBC Breakfast TV.
Yet he appears keen to play it down: “There was an initial flurry of interest I guess. To be honest its a question I don’t really know. You would need to ask me that after I had done a couple of gigs. I suppose the vast majority of people would just have shrugged their shoulders but I suppose people who are big massive fans of what we do might be quite excited. Personally I don’t like it when bands reform after their heyday because if I have been to see them when they were at their peak then I don’t really want to go and see them again when they are old farts.”
Looking ahead he claims to have no specific ambitions with Del Amitri - be it a new studio album or touring abroad.
“I suppose if someone can along and gave us a budget to go and make an album then we would have to make a decision. But at the moment it is something we are not thinking about. There are songs that Iain and I have co-written over the years but whether they are Del Amitri songs is quite a difficult question.
“Any band will consider playing anywhere if they can do it and not lose money. If somebody offered us the right amount of money to go to Germany or Australia we would do it. It’s just that hasn’t happened.”
Next up for Justin Currie is a US tour in April/May time promoting his latest solo album Lower Reaches.
“I will come back and think about writing more songs. I will make solo record at some point. I have left the summer open in case there is more Del Amitri work but so far that hasn’t appeared. As I’m still making music and releasing records that’s all I care about. I don’t really care whether they say Justin Currie or Del Amitri. As long as I’m writing songs and getting them out there and performing its the only thing that matters to me. I will go where the offers are.”
* Del Amitri play Leeds O2 Academy on Monday, January 27.
Follow Andrew Hutchinson on Twitter @AndyHutchYPN