06 December 2017 (released)
08 December 2017
Scots rockers Hipsway are confident that their first album in almost three decades will surface in 2018.
The Glasgow outfit — who're best known for their mid-'80s hits Broken Years, Ask The Lord and The Honeythief — start their biggest tour since reforming last year when they play in Dundee on Friday (Dec 8).
Led by founding members Grahame 'Skin' Skinner and Pim Jones, most of Hipsway's seven upcoming Scottish shows sold out weeks ago and they're keen to build on gathering momentum.
"The main thing is writing the songs and I feel as if we've more or less written most of the album," Skin revealed.
"Once we've done these gigs and got Christmas and New Year out of the way we'll book some studio time and start laying some tracks down.
"They're going to be muscular — quite funky-dancey with solid grooves — but there'll be a couple of ballads on there as well, hopefully picking up where we left off.
"Our second album had a lot of big production — we spent a lot of money on string sections and choirs — but we'll work much quicker on this and just be like a band recording rather than getting lots of outside influences.
"It'll just be us hitting it hard and I'm really looking forward to letting people hear the new songs.
"I'll be unhappy if the album's not out before next Christmas and I'll be very surprised as well. I fully expect it to come out next year."
It was a reunion show in November 2016 to support the re-release of Hipsway's eponymous debut album that sparked their comeback.
"For me it was just meant to be one show for old times' sake," Skin admitted.
"It sold out quite quickly, in about four days or something like that, so we agreed to do another one and it went the same way.
"Everybody seemed to really like it and we got lots of good responses, so then we agreed to play the Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow and it sold out fast as well.
"It just seems to be rolling along."
Originally formed in 1984, within 18 months Hipsway were enjoying chart success with their debut LP and a string of singles.
However line-up changes and a move to America delayed the release of follow-up album Scratch The Surface until 1989 and the band split shortly afterwards amid contractual wrangles.
Although Skinner and Jones briefly resurfaced as Witness, they went their separate ways in the '90s.
Reflecting on Hipsway's premature demise, Skin is in doubt where the blame lay. "Record companies were the real problem," he insisted.
"Your A&R guy at a record company is kind of responsible for you but ours left before we'd finished the second album, and the guy who took over felt like he had to have his input.
"He wanted to make us do more stuff but we didn't want to do that. We'd spent a long time working on the record and we liked what we'd done so we started having arguments.
"The album was eventually released after we'd left the record company and Pim and I kind of felt like we needed to put those problems behind us and start something new, so that's what we did.
"I wasn't particularly unhappy at the time. We changed our name to get away from the label but really to all intents and purposes Witness was the third Hipsway album.
"But then, of course, nobody knew who we were."
Skinner drifted out of full-time music but took on work that allowed him to keep writing and performing. "We didn't sell enough records for me to be able to retire," he quipped.
"Most of my life I've tried to earn a living, so when the record deal fell apart I just went and got some jobs and just did what came naturally.
"I've always found it quite easy to work in places like bars, which didn't stop me doing music. I've also done other things like painting and decorating — stuff that doesn't necessarily require a lot of qualifications."
The singer's modest lifestyle seems a far cry from the late-'80s when Hipsway moved to New York following the success of their debut album. "That was fantastic, we learned a lot working there," Skin declared.
"We worked with an American guy, Phil Galdston, who co-wrote songs with us and produced. He was really invested in everything, he was almost like another member of the group for a while.
"We were really tight and close with him, which was why we ended up working in New York. It also gave us a different life experience — we went there and recorded the album and wrote some songs as well.
"I can't imagine too many people in their early 20s who're from Scotland who wouldn't jump at the chance to go and live in New York, right in the middle of Manhattan.
"We had loads of friends and people used to come and visit us and stay in the flat. John Sebastian from Lovin' Spoonful came in and played harmonica for us on one track.
"We also had the Brecker Brothers playing horns for us — I really love that song East River, that was one of my favourite songs when I was a teenager — and Jocelyn Brown sang backing vocals on some songs, which was fantastic.
"Love and Money were there as well and we used to go down and see them. They were working with Gary Katz, who produced all the Steely Dan albums.
"The guy who played saxophone in the Coca Cola advert that Tina Turner did played sax on one track for us as well. It was pretty funny, he was a super health freak — that's what I remember most about him."
Alongside Skinner and Jones, Hipsway's new-look line-up also includes Gary Houston (bass), Stevie Christie (keys), Jim McDermott (drums), David Robertson (percussion) and Louise Murphy (backing vocals).
And Skin says fans can look forward to a few surprises amid the classics on the forthcoming tour.
"This is the third time we've gone out so we want to have a slightly different set from the last time and move it on a wee bit," he said.
"We always try to do at least one or two different songs that we haven't done the previous time. We've been doing Bowie's Golden Years but we might do something different this time.
"I've got an idea but I don't want to give it away in case it doesn't work out."
* Hipsway's gigs at Queen's Hall in Edinburgh, Aberdeen's Lemon Tree and three nights at Glasgow ABC are all sold out, but tickets are still available for Fat Sams in Dundee and Hamilton Townhouse.