Ged Grimes is at home in Dundee, his favourite place to be.
That’s not to say that he’s not pining to get back on tour with Simple Minds, whose 40th anniversary 150-date world tour was cut short by the pandemic last March.
The already rescheduled 2021 dates have been pushed back into 2022, but when we talk, Ged is in reflective, but typically optimistic form.
Never a man to be idle, the 59-year-old is, some would say, going back to his roots.
Ged’s musical career started long before he teamed up with St Saviour’s High School friend Gary Clark in the first bands that would ultimately lead to Danny Wilson.
The Grimes Folk Four was a family band that performed throughout Dundee, but “folk” was maybe stretching the description. There were acoustic guitars involved though.
Ged’s latest release is an EP of three songs that have spun out of the successful soundtrack he composed for The Bard’s Tale IV video game, released in 2019.
He had previous success composing for video game soundtracks and also had worked with some fine traditional Scottish musicians such as the band Mackenzie from Stornoway.
The approach to compose music for The Bard’s Tale IV was his chance to bring those worlds together.
“The music has had 800,000 streams on Spotify, which is pretty good for such a niche form of music,” he says. “It shows that when music is used on a game, it can generate huge interest.
“There has been feedback from international gamers asking how they find out more about the Gaelic language.”
Donald Shaw, artistic director at Celtic Connections, approached Ged about presenting the music live at the festival, recognising the potential of the video game crossover in bringing a young audience to Gaelic.
“The music has had 800,000 streams on Spotify, which is pretty good for such a niche form of music. It shows that when music is used on a game, it can generate huge interest.”
“We played live to footage from the game,” says Ged, “and John Buick from Dundee Rep, who is the Bard, linked the songs with narration. It shows how sophisticated games music has become.
“You don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy a concert.
“It’s something I would love to do in the future, spin out live experiences from other soundtracks I’m working on.”
When Simple Minds were hauled out of the touring life, only 10 shows into the 150-show tour last March, Ged said it took time to come to terms with.
“The Covid rumblings were happening and we did two shows in one night at reduced capacity (at Vega in Copenhagen).
“Everyone was naive and thought it would blow over. We thought we would be back after a three-week break, which has turned into two years.”
With his own studio at home, her turned his attention to what he could do rather than couldn’t.
“When lockdown started. I wanted to really set myself a challenge and learn about music that I didn’t have as much experience in.
“The BBC Symphony Orchestra library has an amazing facility of plug-ins, where I started learning orchestration. What better way to learn than to take the vocals from the Bard’s Tale songs and rearrange.”
Now the three-track EP with is released next Friday, April 23.
Ged says Simple Minds have also been working on new music and were in the studio before the truncated tour began last year.
“Simple Minds always keep rolling. It was such a blow to have a tour that took us from Mexico to New Zealand to everywhere in between pulled.
“This tour was to mark the 40th anniversary in 2020 – everything will be stretched out a bit. But you don’t last that long with having resilience.”
Although Ged has always played music, he kept mum Jean and dad Peter happy by going off to Duncan of Jordanstone College at 17, not to study art but Hotel Management.
It didn’t last too long. Gary Clark had also gone to DoJ, but both were whisked away from their studies to tour as part of Michael Marra’s band around 1980.
The kitchen at DoJ sparked a lifelong love of cooking and that talent that has transferred to the most unlikely of places, including the tiny galley kitchen of a tour bus.
Simple pleasures on the road
That love of food and the idea of it as a social event was ingrained when Ged, his wife Tricia, and their sons Jack and Sam lived in Spain for a year in the mid-2000s
“I love food. It’s something that has always brought us together. So now before we head off on tour, I make sure that Simple Minds are stocked up with the right things.
My speciality is bus tapas… KT Tunstall loved that when she toured with us.
“You can’t get too ambitious but I sometimes do the breakfast – smashed avocado and two poached eggs on sourdough. There’s always a queue on the tour bus stairs for that. The bus is moving though – you have to be uber careful with the sharp knives.”
If Ged looks remarkably lithe for a man who enjoys his scran so much, it’s down to a couple of things. Eating well and cycling. On past Simple Minds tours he’s even cycled between some gigs.
“I think the days taking the bike on the road with me are numbered but at home I’m spoilt for choice.
“One of the great things about living in Dundee is wherever you point the bike, it’s an amazing run. From a mental health point of view during lockdown it’s been an absolute lifesaver.
“My favourite must be that run straight into Tentsmuir Forest – at the time I felt that the world was on a shaky peg there was something so grounding about cycling among trees.
“I know I’ll enjoy being away on tour when it does, and it is a when. I’ll always miss this place though.”