Our ‘Scotland’s Greatest’ polls stirred a lot of debate on these pages but we thought the Greatest Bassist Derek Forbes should have the final word for now. We asked the former Simple Minds and Propaganda member about his favourite Youtube videos, his new band and who got his vote for Scotland’s Greatest Ever Vocalist.

Dear Scotland: Where are you now and what did you do last night?
Derek Forbes: I am in my studio at home writing, and occasionally lifting a guitar and playing. Last night I was arranging travel for my new band with Brian McGee of Simple Minds and Propaganda. We have a few gigs down south at the end of the month.

DS: Arguably England’s Greatest Ever Bassist Paul McCartney said he got into music to avoid a job – and get lots of girls. What made you get into music?
Derek Forbes: More or less the same as Paul. I have always loved music and women, and would rather see the World with friends, than keep up the job I served my apprenticeship with, Painter and Decorator, although I had a wonderful time doing that.

DS: So how does it feel to be Scotland’s Greatest Ever Bassist*?
Derek Forbes: I am delighted, and surprised to have came in ahead of a couple of my heroes. Jack Bruce is a true Legend. I bought my first guitar from one of his cousins, and I have had the pleasure of being in Alan Gorries presence a few times when I was with Simple Minds, and he is another Legend. The other guys are great too, mind you, and they have a lot of loyal fans who took the poll to the wire. I salute them.

(*according to the readers of Dear Scotland)

Jack Bruce – Smiles and Grins


DS: You’re currently playing with your old Simple Mind’s bandmate Brian McGee again. What is your favourite song of yours to play right now?
Derek Forbes: Most probably The American, closely followed by Pleasantly Disturbed. I think our ‘Live’ versions of these tracks are enhanced by the quality of the guys playing behind us.

Simple Minds – The American


DS: Looks like you’ll be busy in 2010 with gigs in France and Canada already scheduled for later this year?
Derek Forbes: We certainly will be very busy this year. As you pointed out, we have gigs in Wales, England, France and Scotland in the next few months, then we are off to the USA and Canada in July for a month, and also, we will be playing festivals all over Europe around summertime. The gigs are being booked as I write. The most meaningful gig we have is at Dreghorn Barracks near Edinburgh in May, where we will be playing for our troops, as they return from their tour of duty in Afghanistan. (link the Scotsman story)

DS: You’ve toured the world quite a few times now. Is there one particular place that you really looking forward to playing?
Derek Forbes: That would be a difficult question to answer, because everywhere I have played tends to have some sort of memories for me…my favourites, in no particular order, would be America and Canada, Australia, Japan and New Zealand, Scandinavia, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, Holland and Belgium, Austria and Switzerland…eh…and Castlemilk…

Simple Minds – Love Song (Australia 1981)


DS: When touring, do you feel more Scottish when you are abroad, or do you adapt well to new places? Anything you miss about Scotland?
Derek Forbes: I tended in the old days, before I was married, to feel whatever Nationality I could get my hands on, depending on the country. I miss my wife and two sons when I am away from home, and square slice sausage…

DS: You’re well known for performing in your kilt. Has this caused any problems with people in the front row?
Derek Forbes: No problems so far, although there are some zealous types in the front who are ‘gantin’ for a peek. Women seem to love a guy in a kilt. I would have worn it at the Climate Summit gig in Copenhagen, but their was a mix up between myself and the singer, so neither of us brought a kilt in the end…

DS: What will be your first words on stage at the Festival in Compiegne in April?
Derek Forbes: Vive La France…bonjour Madames et Monsieur…comment allez vous? Nous somme Ecossais…

DS: What do you think the Scottish national anthem should be?
Derek Forbes: Scot’s Wha Ha’e

DS: We loved searching out some old videos of you on YouTube. It really enables a new generation to see some classic Simple Minds and Propaganda stuff. Do you have a favorite video in which you feature?
Derek Forbes: Frozen Faces from the Tube, by Propaganda and Sweat in Bullet promo video by Simple Minds

Propaganda – Frozen Faces


Simple Minds – Sweat in Bullet


DS: Newer bands like Bloc Party and Twin Atlantic have spoken about how Simple Minds have influenced them, but are there any Scottish musicians, past or present, that have influenced you?
Derek Forbes: Alex Harvey for performance and theatrics, Zal Cleminson for guitar and theatrics. Jack Bruce for wonderful bass playing and vocals. Ian Hunter, David Byrne, Nazareth, Ian Anderson, Average White Band..the list could go on and on

DS: Do you still keep in touch with your old band mates from Simple Minds then? What were your thoughts on their new album and ’30 years live’ tour?
Derek Forbes: I see Brian McGee all the time obviously, and I see Mick MacNeil quite often, I received a text from Charlie Burchill at New Year and I have exchanged emails with Jim Kerr quite recently. I speak to Michael Mertens from Propaganda a handful of times a year, and I am in touch a lot with Kirk Brandon from Spear of Destiny, whom I used to tour with as bass player. I see Mike Peters from the Alarm, as we are in a band called ‘Los Mondo Bongo’ with Pablo Cook from Joe Strummer  and the Mescaleros, Blur and Moby, (also producer and writer of the first Lily Allen album. I also see Smiley from Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, and Steve Fox Harris from Gary Numan’s band, as they are also in Los Mondo Bongo.

As for the Minds latest album…the fans were quite pleased with it, saying it was the best for a while. The 30 year tour, and the promise of a reunion with us original members, was a bit of a let down, for the ex members and the fans, but I am sure the people who witnessed the shows, were happy with the performance.

DS: We’ve been running the ‘Scotlands Greatest Ever Vocalist’ poll the past few weeks and at the time of writing it looks like a close race between Alex Harvey and Jim Kerr. Who would get your vote?
Derek Forbes: If I was biased , I would say Jim Kerr, but I see Jim as a great frontman and performer, not so much a singer. The same goes for Alex Harvey, who was another fantastic, over the top performer, with a passable voice, but not as good as my choice. I would vote hands down for my old friend Billy MacKenzie…a sensational singer, and a lovely, lovely man.

The Associates – A Matter of Gender


DS: What is the best after-show experience you’ve had?
Derek Forbes: Are you havin’ a laugh…I couldn’t possibly put that down in writing..geez a brek…!!! And yes ! It was that good…

DS: And finally, many many years from now, when you finish your farewell world tour, is there one place to where you would like to retire?
Derek Forbes: I started my musical career in Spain, and have a deep affection for the country, so I would love to jump back and forward from Spain to Scotland, especially for the match..every other Saturday…it’s ma half day off…and it’s off to the match I go…My wife and kids are Australian, so that would be another option….but f&8% that , that’s a long way off….

Thank you to all the Dear Scotland readers, and have a great 2010
Derek Forbes x



Thanks Derek. You are a true legend.


Photo Credit: Steve Speight