The 1997-2002 Del Amitri line-up on stage at the Guildhall in Southampton on 16 May 2002
|Labels||Chrysalis, A&M, Mercury|
James M Scobbie
Del Amitri is a Scottish alternative rock band, formed in Glasgow in 1980. Between 1985 and 2002, the band released six studio albums, five of which entered the Top 10 in the UK. Their 1995 single "Roll to Me" reached number 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Globally, Del Amitri have sold over 6 million albums. The band went on hiatus in 2002 and have since reformed twice to tour the UK.
In 2010, Del Amitri's founding member and main songwriter, Justin Currie, explained that the band's name "was invented to be meaningless - basically a corruption of the Greek name 'Dimitri'." In 2018, Currie clarified that 'Del Amitri' is a bastardisation of the name of a film producer who appeared in the closing credits of a film he saw in 1979 - "probably Dimitri-something, but we couldn't remember... so eventually through osmosis or maybe Chinese Whispers 'Dimitri' became 'Del Amitri'."
Del Amitri grew out of Justin Currie's Jordanhill College School band and came together after Currie placed an advertisement in the window of a music store asking for people who could play to contact him. The band was formed with the original line-up of Currie (bass and vocals), James Scobbie (guitars), Donald Bentley (guitars) and Paul Tyagi (drums).
Scobbie and Bentley left the band in 1982 to study at university. They were replaced with Iain Harvie and Bryan Tolland. From then on, Currie and Harvie have remained the only constant members of the band.
In 1984, Del Amitri were signed by Chrysalis Records, which released their eponymous debut album in 1985. The band also appeared on the front cover of influential weekly music magazine Melody Maker and supported The Smiths on tour. Despite this exposure, neither the album nor its singles were a commercial success. The band was dropped by Chrysalis but continued working together.
In 1986 Del Amitri toured the US, financed partly by themselves and partly by their small, enthusiastic American fans.
The time Del Amitri spent working on new material proved worthwhile, as they were eventually signed again in 1987, this time by A&M Records.
As recording started for what would become Del Amitri's second album, the line-up changed. Currie and Harvie invited keyboard player Andy Alston to join the band and fired both guitarist Bryan Tolland and drummer Paul Tyagi. Tolland was replaced in the studio by Mick Slaven and Tyagi by The Commotions' Stephen Irvine. However, Slaven and Irvine chose not to join the band full-time and were replaced by David Cummings and Brian McDermott respectively.
Released in 1989, Waking Hours reached No.6 in the UK Albums Chart and gave the band their most successful UK single, "Nothing Ever Happens", which peaked at No 11. They also gained some mainstream exposure abroad for the first time, as Waking Hours was a success in several territories with the single "Kiss This Thing Goodbye" flirting with the lower reaches of the US Billboard Hot 100's Top 40. In between Waking Hours and their next album, the band released the single "Spit In the Rain", which reached No. 21 in the UK.
The line-up of Currie, Harvie, Alston, Cummings and McDermott proved to be stable and successful. They stayed together to record the follow-up album Change Everything, which was released in 1992 and became the band's biggest chart success, reaching No. 2 in the UK, being held off top spot only by Lionel Ritchie's best-of collection, Back to Front. The single "Always the Last to Know" peaked at No. 13 in the UK, and again provided them with an entry into Top 40 in the US. The video for the song was directed by Oil Factory's Pedro Romhanyi. Their increasing success in the USA led to appearances on the television show Late Night with David Letterman. Their international tours saw them playing to increasingly larger audiences. The popularity in the US saw them being invited to play at the Woodstock '94 anniversary festival, although they were forced to do so without McDermott who had decided to leave the band. At Woodstock they played with Ashley Soan on drums, but he was not hired until the band had finished recording their fourth album which featured drummer Chris Sharrock who had previously played with The Icicle Works, The Las and World Party.
Twisted was released in 1995 and peaked at No. 3 in the UK. Soan joined the band as a permanent member, in time to see the single "Roll to Me", only a moderate hit in the UK where it reached No. 22, reach the Top 10 in the US charts, a noteworthy achievement during an era when British acts were finding success in the US difficult. There was less good news however at the conclusion of their American tour, when Cummings decided to leave the group. He chose to move into scriptwriting where he subsequently enjoyed success as a member of the team behind popular BBC sketch show The Fast Show. Cummings had attended the University of East Anglia with Fast Show mainstays Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson in the early 1980s, and in 1995 Del Amitri had appeared in a Fast Show sketch. Cummings was replaced by Jon McLoughlin.
Del Amitri's fifth album, Some Other Sucker's Parade, was released in 1997 and reached No. 6 in the UK chart.
The band found it harder to capitalise on their previous successes in the US, however, and lost out on more airplay at home when their record company took the decision to withdraw the album's planned third single "Medicine" in September 1997, putting out a false press story that the lyrics could be interpreted as a critique of the then recently deceased Diana, Princess of Wales. Following the recording of the album, both McLoughlin and Soan exited the band. They were replaced on tour and on subsequent recordings by Kris Dollimore (guitars) and Mark Price (drums). McLoughlin died in March 2005, aged 42, from complications arising from diabetes.
Five years passed before Del Amitri released another album. In 1998, however, they recorded the official anthem for the Scottish World Cup squad, "Don't Come Home Too Soon". It reached No. 15 on the charts, becoming their third biggest UK hit and their last Top 20 entry to date. They also released a best of album, Hatful of Rain: The Best of Del Amitri, which was a No. 5 success in the UK Albums Chart and was accompanied by a new track, "Cry to Be Found", which reached No. 40. The best of album had been released by Mercury, who took over the band's contract after A&M had gone out of business.
The band's final album to date, Can You Do Me Good?, was released in the spring of 2002, which the band backed up with a successful UK tour. Both the album, and the single "Just Before You Leave", reached the Top 40. However, sales were not as high as Mercury had wanted. Later in the year, the band was dropped from the label and Currie and Harvie decided to put Del Amitri on hiatus.
During Del Amitri's subsequent hiatus, Currie formed a band called The Uncle Devil Show, which released one album, A Terrible Beauty, in 2004. He also released a solo album, What Is Love For (2007). Harvie completed an undergraduate degree in Music from Oxford Brookes University, and a Masters in Composition from Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
In March 2005, Currie announced on Del Amitri's US website that he was 'more than halfway through' an electronic record he had been writing with Harvie for 18 months. However, their management discouraged them from releasing the material under the Del Amitri name as it was so stylistically different. Currie published two songs from the album, 'Lies' and 'Hadrian's Wall' on Soundcloud to, he says, "complete indifference" from fans, so the album remains "sitting in a box, somewhere".
On 18 August 2013, during an interview with Terry Wogan on his BBC Radio 2 programme, Currie hinted at a Del Amitri reunion, stating that he had been in contact with Harvie and Alston and they had agreed that the time was right. A full UK tour was subsequently announced. As part of the tour, the band played to 8,000 people in the SSE Hydro, Glasgow on 24 January 2014. A live album, called Into The Mirror, was released following the tour.
Del Amitri reformed again in July 2018, playing eight dates in seven UK cities, culminating in two shows at Glasgow's Barrowlands. The set included a new song, 'You Can't Go Back', and a cover of Twenty One Pilots' hit song, "Heathens". Currie has said that a new group album and further activity was possible.
Del Amitri operates as a "benign dictatorship" under its founding members and main songwriters, Currie and Harvie. Other members are employed on a salary. The line-up of Del Amitri has changed many times over the years:
Welcome back to the program -- Del Amitri!