Mel Gaynor - Spring 2017

Mel Gaynor is one of the most accomplished drummers the world has ever seen. Throughout a career spanning almost 40 years he has driven the backbone beat for such diverse artists as Tina Turner, Elton John, Meat Loaf, Brian May and Gary Moore amongst many others. But it's undoubtedly as drummer for pop-rock band Simple Minds for more than a generation that he is best known. Joining the band in 1982 as a session drummer for the New Gold Dream album, it wouldn't be long before Mel became a permanent member. This September sees the release of Mel’s debut solo album. What's interesting and very exciting about this project is that we see Mel putting down his drum sticks and making his way to the front of the stage. Early previews of the new material include Addicted To Love, a fantastic reworking of the classic track which actually includes Mel’s friend and former band mate Robert Palmer guesting on vocals before he sadly passed away. The new single Far From Home also beautifully showcases what a gorgeous voice Mel has, smooth and powerful in equal parts. An artist of this stature will understandably be expected to deliver an album of a high standard but we shouldn't be concerned as this is no rushed affair. The songs have been written and nurtured over many years, and have been allowed to follow an organic musical path. It's this nurturing, together with the snippets already out there that leave use feeling hugely content that our massively raised expectations will be met. We catch up with Mel at his new home in Belgium where he recently relocated to enjoy a more relaxed environment. And it's a very excited Mel that we meet as he prepares for the release of his solo album and as plans are put in place for solo shows. With much anticipation, we take a seat to learn all about Mel’s solo journey so far...

You have a solo album coming out in September. How did the decision come about to make a solo album and is it fair to say that this has been gestating for some time? 


Well this has been going on for the last 20 years and to be quite honest, when you go out on the solo limb as it were, away from the band, you’re in this kind of cocoon with the band and there's a lot of ‘yes’ men let’s say. As soon as you start to break away and become a solo member from that band it's like starting again. I've always wanted to do this for the last 20 years but I've never had the confidence. So breaking away, building up the confidence, building up the song catalogue and coming up with ideas, this is the right time for me to do it now and I feel comfortable about doing it now. 


You're often described, by Jim Kerr among others, as being the best drummer in the world. What does your solo venture give you both personally and artistically that you don’t get from Simple Minds?


Well it's not that I don't get anything from Simple Minds – I get the adulation from Simple Minds – but when you're coming out as a solo artist, especially if you're a singer, there's a different ism or different vantage to what you're playing as a musician as part of a band or as drummer or as a guitarist or a bass player. When you come out as a singer it's a completely different situation. So it gives me the fulfilment that over the last 20 years I have been writing songs and now I can have the achievement to go out and perform these songs and record the album that I always strived to record. Over this period I am going to be recording my first solo album which is very, very thrilling. It's something I've always wanted to achieve. 


We've already had a taste of what's to come through your version of Addicted To Love, originally of course a hit for Robert Palmer where you played drums. Your new version interestingly features some Robert Palmer vocals. 


Yes, Robert actually guested on the song and he sang on it before he died.


Given the huge success of the original track, why the decision to re-record it?


Well because Robert prompted me to do that. I said it would be a great thing to have a new version of your song, because I was his friend at the time, and he said ‘well, why don't you go and do it?’ and I was like no, no… and he said ‘yeah, go and do it and I'll come and sing with you!’ You can't turn that kind of opportunity down so I got to sing with him and I feel it turned out quite well. And that was 15 years ago now.

The new single Far From Home

Also new single Far From Home precedes the album’s September release. You've shared a snippet on Facebook and it's clearly an upbeat, high energy track. What can you tell us about the song, and as someone who travels so much do you find it hard actually spending time away from home?


Yes, well having travelled a lot I do find it quite demanding being away from loved ones so actually I wrote song the song Far From Home about that. It is quite heart-wrenching being away from the people you care about but as a person always being on the road you get used to it. I thought I'd write a song about that and convey my experience of being out of the road.


What else can we expect from the album?


You can expect some pretty killer songs. Over the past couple of years I've been trying to collate the songs to go on this album so it's going to be quite a powerful album with some good mainstream pop songs. We’ll probably take 2 to 3 songs from the album as far as singles so hopefully the album comes out just before September with another single.


So far there has only been 1 Mel Gaynor solo show announced and this will be at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool on 24th September. What made you choose this venue? 


Well it's a venue that my sister-in-law pointed out to me and my brother, and they live in Liverpool. They said to me ‘what about doing a gig in Liverpool?’. And I said ‘well, where in Liverpool?’ and they said ‘The Cavern’. I thought that was quite a good idea so we decided to put The Cavern in and we’re going to be doing some other shows around that time as well, possibly in Manchester, Glasgow and London. We thought we should start with The Cavern and see what goes on. Let's see what happens with that gig!


Simple Minds will be embarking upon an acoustic tour, beginning in Germany on 8th April, to support their acoustic album. This is very much a side project which you aren't involved with, but what’s next for Simple Minds?


We're going to be starting the promotion for the next up-and-coming Simple Minds album in November but we’ll be starting to tour next year because that's going to be the 40th anniversary of the band. There will be a big 2018/19 tour. 


Will the Simple Minds schedule allow you to fully promote your solo album?


This is only going to be the first run of (solo) gigs. We've got some agents working on some other gigs in other territories, not just in Britain but all over Europe. We’ll probably be tackling Europe possibly August time and then coming back to Britain and then back to Europe again. 

As our conversation draws to a close, we reflect on what a truly exciting project this is, both for Mel and the fans. Whilst the album won't be available for a few months yet, the anticipation of the release of the single Far From Home on 17th April is quite rightly already building a huge buzz, and we at Rock Today are very happy to be swept along with this!


Head over to www.melgaynor.com to find out more about the single, album and forthcoming shows, and enjoy the video below which beautifully demonstrates why Mel is considered to be one of the very best drummers in the world.