It’s been 33 years since Jim Kerr crooned “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” in 1985 — and audiences have kept their word.
Kerr, the front man of Scottish rock band Simple Minds, is back with guitarist Charlie Burchill for their 17th studio album “Walk Between Worlds,” and they’re excited now more than ever to release music for longtime fans and curious listeners alike.
“In the case of ‘Walk Between Worlds,’ I’m happy to say that it was one of those records that when we were working on it, we would go home at the end of the day with smiles on our faces,” the 58-year-old singer told Fox News. “We felt it was good work and every song we worked on, they seemed to connect.
"We did want to conjure up the ghosts of the past. We did want to try to evoke some of our older records… But we didn’t want this record to be retro… We wanted it to sound like now, contemporary… It was a challenge, but we’re really glad about how it all worked out.”
Kerr is so eager to hit the road once again, and he’s teaming up with an unlikely artist later this summer in the U.K. — his ex-wife, Pretenders founding member Chrissie Hynde.
Kerr said one of his favorite shows with Simple Minds occurred in 1984 when the band ‒ along with the Pretenders, Talking Heads and Eurythmics ‒ shared the same billing in Australia.
“I watched every band every night,” said Kerr. “Chrissie and I met there and lo and behold, within a year, we were married. We have a kid and we have grandkids. So although we’re no longer married and haven’t been for quite some time, we’ve had a good contact and a good, friendly relationship.
"It still feels like family when we see each other. And I’ve been hoping for some time that we would play again… But until now, it’s never been possible… I’m really looking forward to it. Apart from the fact that she and I have that relationship, I’m such a big fan of Chrissie.”
But not everything about the creation of “Walk Between Worlds” has been so blissful. Kerr admitted he and Burchill fought over the track “Sense of Discovery."
“Charlie is the sweetest guy,” explained Kerr. “He never wants to disappoint. So his nature is not to really say much until the last minute. And then it all comes out with maybe ten times the force than necessary -- to which I take offense… We only had a few more days to go and he didn’t want to go include it and everyone else wanted to include it.
"And then we went at it… I mean, it was included. And it’s not to say that I won. Some of the issues he had, he made me see the point in what he was saying and we addressed those issues… Ironically now, he says it’s his favorite track.”
Kerr said he and Burchill were “embarrassed” by some of the words they exchanged during the dispute. However, Kerr revealed that after 41 years of collaborating, it was bound to happen.
“I almost had to stifle a chuckle,” he said. “Because here we are after all these years, still so passionate. We’re the best of friends and we’re still so passionate enough to go at it just for a piece of music. That’s how much this still means to us.”
And it was his lasting friendship with Burchill that helped Kerr make sense of the group’s overnight success when John Hughes’ film “The Breakfast Club” made the song an iconic hit. Simple Minds was originally wary of releasing the song because its pop melody didn’t fit the rock persona they had cultivated over the years.
“We didn’t really cope [with success] because we felt we didn’t really deserve it,” explained Kerr. “… And of course, back in the day, MTV must have played our song 20 times a day. It was almost to spite us because we were nervous about doing it and we really had to be convinced.
"But of course, it was oh so wonderful. And it’s wonderful now that this song still transcends generations. People never get sick of it, it seems. It means a lot to so many people. People feel good when that song goes on… Everyone wants to do that chant.”
Since “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” hit airwaves, numerous artists have attempted to cover it, including Billy Idol and “Breakfast Club” star Molly Ringwald.
“We’re honored — honored that we’ve been part of something that certainly, in terms of ‘80s pop culture in America, people have embraced,” said Kerr. “People probably look back at that song because it’s a part of the soundtrack of their lives.”
And while some bands may get tired of performing the same song for so many years, Simple Minds doesn’t mind it one bit.
“Here’s the thing — there are songs, and that’s one of them, we never play for ourselves when we’re in rehearsal,” said Kerr. “Because we played them so much that the effect on them has worn off on us. But it never feels like that when you play them in front of an audience. Never feels like that. For some reason, you hear it through the audience’s ears.
"You experience it through them. And you know it means so much to them. And they may only hear it once live. So you would never want to give less than 100 percent. You would never want to give some blasé rendition. You want to give it your best every time you play it.”
But these days, Simple Minds has plenty of new reasons to celebrate. Back in February, Billboard reported the group was going toe-to-toe with Justin Timberlake on the UK charts. And Burchill has already shared a new piece of music with his beloved bandmate.
“Things always didn’t go swimmingly well [for us],” Kerr said about Simple Minds’ lasting success. “But we never lost faith. Sometimes it got close. But we decided to do this because this is something we wanted to do with our lives, whenever we were on the charts or not. And I think having that attitude has been a big part of our backbone.”
And Kerr is just as motivated to create plenty of new tunes that listeners will cherish.
“I want to be a better singer,” he said. “I still want to write better songs. I want to make better albums. I want to improve. That’s plenty of motivation right there.”