Up-beat cynicism worth the wait

By Ruth Davenport

Never has a press release been so right.

The Nettwerk biography of The Proclaimers calls brothers Charlie and Craig Reid "uncompromising musicians," and the name is well deserved.

"In regards to writing, we first and foremost write the songs for ourselves," says vocalist Craig Reid in an unwavering Scottish accent. "You might think we’d never put a record out, but that’s the first motivation and the kind of thing we want to hear. So when it comes to actually making the record, there’s not really any preconceived ideas about how an arrangement’s gotta go. The song stands up by itself."

Persevere, The Proclaimers’ latest CD, is the result of a seven-year hiatus from the public eye and was inspired by the brothers’ personal sentiments. While the title of their fourth album is optimistic and forward-reaching, the song lyrics lean to sometimes downright bitter tales of love, life and politics.

"Jaded? Yeah, maybe they are," says Reid of the songs on the album with surprise. "We write pretty much either from personal experience or observation, so we try and be as honest as we can in the songs we write. We’re not trying to smooth over anything. And maybe some of the lyrics are a bit jaded. Maybe it’s getting older, I don’t know. But it didn’t feel like that, overall I think it’s a fairly up album."

Reid quite happily expounds on the song topics, launching into a diatribe on the comparative evils of the British Labour and Tory parties, which inspired the very "up" "Land Fit for Zeros." He also confirms, somewhat gleefully, that the Proclaimers will perform the quirky "Everybody’s a Victim" on the upcoming US leg of the tour. The song includes such lyrics as "Well, it’s not my fault / That I’m positive / I just stuck a needle in my arm … Everybody’s a victim / We’re becoming the USA."

"Maybe that song sounds like it’s anti-American," explains Reid. "It isn’t meant to be. It’s just saying that we [Britain] are in many ways always 20 years behind the United States. The victim mentality and compensation culture has gained a huge hold in Britain, so that song is about Britain."

The Proclaimers are embarking on a whirlwind three-month North American tour to promote Persevere that will take them across Canada and into the US to open for the Barenaked Ladies.

""We’re very excited," says Reid. "We’ve done festivals and we’ve played for big audiences before, but we’ve never opened for anybody in front of the kind of audiences that [the Barenaked Ladies] play to. So it’s going to be a bit nerve wracking, but we’re looking forward to it."

Despite this anxiety, Reid solemnly promises to give the fans their money’s worth onstage.

"It’s a fairly raucous kind of show," says Reid, whose statement is at odds with his stoic delivery. "We’ll do a good mix between the new album songs and old stuff. I think if you liked the Proclaimers before, you’ll really like this. If you didn’t, come along and you might be converted."

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