Simply Red are a band that need no real introduction: 50 million albums sold, millions of fans around the world and a well-earned place in the pop-soul music hall of fame. Similarly, the band's leader, Mick Hucknall, is arguably even more iconic than his group. His famously long, curly red hair contrasts completely with the soulful sound that he's able to produce. These characteristics launched him into the spotlight alongside his mischievious demeanour and total love for music.
Hucknall sat down and took the time to answer some of SUR in English's questions before his performance on Sunday, though he did so from the comfort of email - granted, perhaps he's earned that right.
Simply Red are back in Spain to play at Marenostrumfestival in Fuengirola. They are one of the headline acts for the festival, a repeat of their debut at the maiden event in 2016. Even though Hucknall admitted to not really knowing the Costa del Sol so well, he does have memories of that first show. "The atmosphere was perfect and I'm looking forward to being with [the fans] again," he said.
After 40 years in the music business, it would be easy enough for a band like Simply Red to lose motivation; but it's not the case. "I work with a fantastic group of musicians, and now, more than ever, people need music," Hucknall said. "They need music to raise their spirits. The audience play a huge part in why I love my job," he added.
Despite having four decades of experience, Simply Red show no signs of slowing down, with a new album currently in the works. "It's hopefully coming in the spring of 2023," Hucknall revealed, as they intend to "perform it live in various parts of the world that summer." Spanish fans can expect the band's return next year, and Hucknall guaranteed that they'll "love the next album".
Simply Red's much-anticipated 2022 return to Spain is down to the band's overarching success in the music industry since its inception. Fans have only ever seen the positives of Hucknall and his colleagues, so it's only natural that they feel like there must be some bad among all the good. "I have no complaints about my career," Hucknall admitted. "I feel very fortunate to be able to sing and write songs. My job isn't work, it's a way of life."
To say his job is a way of life is interesting, given that the music scene during the 80s was rife with different vices, which Hucknall doesn't deny being involved in. In an interview with The Sunday Times in 2019, he talked about his dealings with cocaine and heroin and that they even made him ill or feel "wooden".
In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, Hucknall claims to have slept with thousands of women during the height of his fame and apologised for his "philandering". But, does that mean that the Mick of today envies the Mick of the 80s? "Absolutely not!" he told SUR in English. "I'm happier than ever before, and healthy too."
A lot has changed in the music industry, most notably, the rise of streaming platforms. Hucknall pointed out a few of the things that didn't even exist when he first took to the stage. "Here's just a few: no internet or social media, just vinyl and cassettes." But those two modern-day inventions don't seem to be a nuisance to the singer. "Thankfully, people still love their music."
What does seem to be a hindrance are the effects of Brexit. The referendum, which Hucknall vehemently opposed, could have big ramifications for artists in both the UK and the EU. "We haven't toured the European mainland since Brexit began," Hucknall admitted. "So we haven't felt it." And what are his thoughts on the EU exit process, six years later? "Brexit is awful. It stinks."
Another awful thing could be Manchester United's lack of success since 2013. But Hucknall, who in part named the band because of the club, preferred not to comment when asked whether he had considered changing the name to 'Simply Blue'.
Mick Hucknall and Simply Red will take to the stage at Marenostrum Fuengirola on Sunday, 5 June at 10pm.