Interview with Derek Forbes
(formerly of Simple Minds and Propaganda)

By Christopher Duda
(SugarBuzz Toronto)

SugarBuzz Magazine


Practicing bagpipes can be heard quite loudly in the background as I sit down with Derek Forbes (Simple Minds-Bass), to discuss his latest venture with a band called “FourGoodMen” and their excursion onto North American soil.

What began as a project soon manifested itself into a full-fledged band with a high degree of musicianship (Ian Donaldson-H20-Vocals, Mick MacNeill –Simple Minds-Keyboards/Accordion, Derek Forbes-Simple Minds/Propaganda-Bass, Bruce Watson-Big Country-Guitar and Smiley -Joe Strummer and the Mescalaeros-Drums).

Derek explains “I had an idea in my head to get together a bunch of musicians that were not working around the Christmas Season. Eventually I met Ian Donaldson (H20); his band was quite big in the 80’s especially in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. I heard him singing in an advert “ Don’t You Forget About Me” and he sounded like Jim Kerr except he was singing in tune! I said to him why don’t we get a band together and it just developed from that. Six months later we were playing our first gig to 15,000 people at the Special Olympics closing ceremony. From there people kept asking us to play these type of festivals”.

Perhaps unknown to all but the most rabid fans is that FourGoodMen originally began as a Few Good Men. Derek laughs and explains the name change. “A Few Food happens to be a gay porn site; not that there is anything wrong with that, but we thought that school kids might be looking us up online. At the time we were also doing a show for my kids school. It was basically a rehearsal as we were going to be playing in Ireland. We decided instead of doing a rehearsal we would do a charity show for the kids. I had to come up with something that looked like a Few Good Men. As well, Universal pictures said we couldn’t use the name because of the film, book and play. So blame Demi Moore and Jack Nicholson also”!

Easily singled out by the press, as a Scottish super group is no surprise to Derek. It is not hard to ascertain that Big Country and Simple Minds ruled the waves for a number of years in the 80’s. Derek surmises “Aye, a Scottish super group or a Scottish band that likes soup! That is not a surprise that we have that label, these are two well-known bands (Simple Minds and Big Country) collaborating and creating music. A lot of people seem to be excited about this venture. You will see from the set list that we do ‘Don’t You Forget About Me”, I believe that was number 2 over here in North America and we also play “ In a Big Country” and “Fields of Fire. As we write more songs we will probably drop some of them from the set list. We have a lot of songs to pick from for encores”!

The excitement and fervor by fans in Europe can’t be underestimated. Long after Big Country and Simple Minds fell from the North American radar they continued to grow in popularity in Europe. Derek adds, “The response in Europe has been great. The show we play tonight in Toronto is the first show on the North American tour then it is Montreal tomorrow night. We hopefully plan to release a cd sometime this summer and then play more shows in Europe. Our fans keep asking us to play Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Scandanavia, Sweden and Denmark”.

Derek continues to speculate, “Our expectations of this tour are probably not to make money but to make friends, connections and just build on it. I don’t see it being massive at this point but I think we will impress people”.

With a high level of expectations shoveled upon FourGoodMen it is no surprise that they deliver. Composing material is something that comes naturally to these veteran musicians. Derek clarifies the process of how FourGoodMen write a song. “Basically Bruce and I set up a drum machine and then come up with something. Ian Donaldson will come up with a melody and Mick MacNeil will add the keyboards. It is very easy for us quite honestly. There is a high level of musicianship in this band”.

Looking to the future FourGoodMen have their feet firmly planted on the ground and with their combined wealth of musical knowledge it should prove fruitful for their endeavors. When asked what the future brings for FourGoodMen, Derek concludes that

“Future plans are probably to get a buzz going about the band then hopefully get a major label interested but also to continue to write good songs and everyone just working together. One step at a time.”

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