What I've Learned: Craig Reid
You meet a lot of different people over the years. Tonight we’re playing the Hong Kong Sevens Rugby Tournament tonight with Björn Again and David Hasselhoff. What’s The Hoff like? I wouldn't say he’s nuts, as you suggest. He’s a nice guy, but he comes across as somebody who had always had great fame. But I guess being one of the best-known faces on the planet can alter your perception of the world. Most performers in my experience are fairly non-nuts, or at least they appear to be so.
Our parents played a lot of good music around the house... pop, r&b, jazz, country. It kind of clicked when we [he and twin brother Charlie] were about 10 or 11 that we could do it ourselves and we started a band around the age of 14 or 15.
Biggest influences? I loved punk… The Clash, The Jam, the Sex Pistols; all the mid 60s stuff… The Rolling stones, The Beatles, The Kinks. And then later, people like Dexy’s Midnight Runners and someone who died recently, Merle Haggard. He was one of our favourites.
The Housemartins support slot was the first big tour that myself and Charlie did. We went from playing to 20 or 50 people, to 2,000 people on the opening night, which was a nerve wrecking experience. They were really funny and intelligent guys who treated us well, and they put on a great show. So ever since then, when we have an opening act, we try and do right by them.
What did we learn from them? I think to maybe not take it too seriously, but to give as much as you can in the gigs.
The secret to song-writing is to just try and get better at it. I just have to try and write every day, even if it’s only for a couple of hours. I’ve never found it easy and most of the time you don’t get anything, but overall it speeds things along if you stick at it.
I wouldn’t call it writer’s block, but we have had a couple of periods where we didn’t put records out for a number of years. Part of it was that we didn’t feel the songs were good enough, but there were a lot of things - both our wives having kids and stuff like that. I think maybe we were a little distracted. But over the last 15 years or so, we’ve been fairly regular. You put a record out and then tour for 18 months or two years and then just go back and spend another six to ten months writing a new one.
The phrase “What School Did You Go to?” [“What School?” from new album Let’s Hear it For The Dogs] came from a question you'd hear a lot in the old days, especially in the west of Scotland, and it basically meant, “Are you Catholic or Protestant?”. So I heard that so many times down the years, and I built the lyrics and music around it. But that was an unusual one because I usually I have the completed tune and then I'll keep working on it until I get the first couple of lines down and I know what it's about. But with "What school" I knew what it was about from the beginning.
The Beatles would play everywhere and anywhere when they started out, and we like to do that too. We’ve got the stadium here in Hong Kong this week, but we can do nightclubs, theatres or festivals. We just like playing and I think as a performer it’s good to play as many different venues as possible.
We knew we had good songs. Certainly with “500 Miles”, we thought if it got some radio play then it would be some kind of hit. We knew “Sunshine on Leith” was a really good song. But we didn't know they were going to become such huge songs.
The Proclaimers play The Irish Village on April 28th. Tickets are Dhs125. See theirishvillage.com