x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The Proclaimers keep on keeping on

Admired for their gutsy gigs and acute, uplifting songwriting, The Proclaimers are back with their eighth album, Like Comedy.

Craig Reid and Charlie Reid of The Proclaimers. Sasha Haagensen/Getty/AFP
Craig Reid and Charlie Reid of The Proclaimers. Sasha Haagensen/Getty/AFP

Born in Leith, Scotland in 1962, The Proclaimers - aka the twin brothers Craig and Charlie Reid - recorded their debut album This Is the Story in 1987. It was 1988's Sunshine on Leith, though, that yielded their best-known song. Sung with typical verve in unapologetically regional accents, I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) eventually reached number three in the US charts after featuring in the 1993 rom-com, Benny & Joon. Admired for their gutsy gigs, The Proclaimers are also adept at acute, uplifting songwriting. Celebrity fans include the comedian and Little Britain star Matt Lucas; indeed in his liner notes for the 2002 compilation The Best of The Proclaimers, Lucas wrote: "Sunshine on Leith said more to me about my life than anything by Morrissey or Cobain." Now The Proclaimers are back with their eighth album, Like Comedy. Lucas is back too, directing Craig and Charlie in the video for the album's first single, Spinning Around in the Air.

Both of you turned 50 last March. Is it time to slow down a bit?

Charlie: If we could go on for another 10 years without either of us having a stroke, that would be good. Certain types of voices pack in more easily than others, and I think ours will eventually. Hopefully we'll know when it's time to bow out gracefully.

Like Comedy packs as much poignancy as it does humour. Was After You're Gone written with someone specific in mind?

Craig: Not really, no. It's more about recognising that the world will keeping spinning despite you. I'd read that great quote from General Charles De Gaulle: "The graveyard is full of indispensable men."

Songs such as Simple Things and There's (sic) find wonderment in life's small details...

Craig: Yes, I think that happens as you get older and your perspective on things changes. You look around you and take time to smell the roses.

This is the first Proclaimers album not to have your likenesses on the cover. Why?

Craig: We just felt it was time for a change. Maybe there will be a marked decline in sales.

Charlie: Or a marked upsurge.

As bespectacled twins with broad Scots accents, you're easy to caricature. Has that sometimes clouded the public's appreciation of your songwriting?

Craig: Many, many people have got it, but if [others] don't care or are actively hostile, so be it.

Charlie: Let's face it: Craig and I could write our obituaries tomorrow. We're always going to be the funny-looking twins with glasses who wrote that song about walking 500 miles. But once you've realised that, why worry?

How do you deal with being recognised and with fame, generally?

Charlie: We only get recognised if we're together, really. I remember one time after I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) was a hit this double-decker bus stopped and everybody just pointed at us, but most of the time people don't care.

Craig: About two years ago, I finally worked out that the only sane way to deal with our little bit of fame is to be completely indifferent to it. If you pay it too much attention it will destroy you. And if you love it and you're not getting any, that will destroy you too.

What's left to achieve?

Craig: Just to try to write better songs; to get the best out of ourselves while we still can.

Charlie: We won't judge ourselves on gigs played or records sold, though. Your life's worth more than statistics.

Like Comedy is out now on Cooking Vinyl.