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"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" Simply Red

simply redSmitty:  It’s my great pleasure to welcome a cat that has always seemed to be switched on to great music.  He’s one of the most vocally seductive singers in the business.  He has a stunning new CD entitled Stay.  Representing the incredible band, Simply Red, please welcome the totally melodic and totally harmonic Mr. Mick Hucknall.  Mick, how are you, my friend?

Mick Hucknall (MH):  Wow, that was quite an intro.  Thank you very much.

Smitty:  You’re so welcome.  Hey, man, congratulations on some great songs here.  You’re writing some great songs.

MH:  Thank you.  We spent about two years on them and we feel we’ve gotten something quite substantial.

Smitty:  Yes, it’s very cool.  Your music seems to capture every emotion that’s common to humanity.  Your songwriting is something that your audience totally identifies with.  Talk a little bit about your songwriting and how you keep your audience in mind when you’re writing.

MH:  Well, I think that’s a good analysis because that’s what I’m trying to achieve.  I want to be able to relate to people on a human level and get into their homes with a certain sincerity that relates to their lives.

Smitty:  Yeah, absolutely, man, and you’re accomplishing your goal, my friend.

MH:  Fantastic.

Smitty:  Yeah.  Talk about how you discovered your voice, I mean, because you have such a unique voice.  How did you discover that?

MH:  Well, I’m still discovering my voice actually.  I’m trying to sort of represent it in a way where you witness the growth of somebody’s playing ability throughout their lifetime.

Smitty:  Yeah.

MH:  And this can apply to horn players or to singers, and you listen to how they develop totally throughout their lives, you know, and from starting out professionally as a 24-year-old when I did my first recording, now I’m 46 years old, I have more bass in the voice.

Smitty:  Yes, you do.

MH:  But because I’ve taken care of my voice as well, I can still hit the high notes, so it’s just kind of developed in that way over the years and it’s still growing.  It’s not actually vocally in recession yet.  That’ll probably happen when I get into my sixties, I would think.

Smitty:  Well, I think you’re gonna last longer than that. You’ve got a great voice.  And speaking of your voice, what I really like about your music over the years, going back to your songwriting, your lyrics are fantastic and your voice seems to make those beautiful words just come to life, and I think that’s a beautiful thing when your voice can just bring so much life and reality to your songwriting.

MH:  Well, I’ve tried to learn from people who are considered very good at that in different ways, you know.  I’ve noticed that in the performances of somebody like John Lennon, I’ve noticed it in the work of Frank Sinatra, somebody like Neil Young.  These people can…they sing you a song but you feel that somehow like they’re telling you their story.

Smitty:  Yeah, I know what you mean.

MH:  And that kind of intimacy is something that I try to attain and try to share with the listening audience.

Smitty:  Absolutely.  Let’s talk about this new record because I think it’s some of your best work that I’ve heard, and you always seem to have a great band to support you in your music and I think that’s very important. You have some great musicians working with you.

MH:  Well, that’s what I try to have.  I’ve always had this question from people as to why the band’s called Simply Red as opposed to just using my name, and I’ve always insisted that it’s important to call it Simply Red because it’s out of respect of the musicians that I work with.

Smitty:  I totally dig that vibe, man.

MH:  And it would be really hard to be a band if I called it only by my name, and I think that the choice in musicians and how I work with the musicians is very, very important in how the music’s created.

Smitty:  Absolutely, and that atmosphere and rapport is always so cool.  Yeah, man, you’re absolutely right.  I love that.  One of my favorite songs on here is “So Not Over You.”  Man, what a song, and it just sounds like one of those songs that you can really get into and realize, and it’s something that most humans deal with.  Talk about how that song developed to land on this record.

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