Alan Nimmo, lead singer, songwriter and guitarist with rock blues band King King, chats with Kevin Cooper about their live show at The Berkeley Studio in Glasgow, working with his new line up, presenting Rock & Pop With Alan Nimmo on Paisley FM 107.5 and the release of their latest album, Maverick.

Alan Nimmo is one of the founding members of British blues rock group, King King. Growing up in Glasgow with his elder brother, Stevie, they originally formed a band called The Blackwater Blues Band until in 1995, they formed The Nimmo Brothers. Stevie has recently joined Alan in King King, although they will continue to perform as The Nimmo Brothers.

Having formed in 2008, King King released their debut album, Take My Hand in 2011 which won the Best Album Award at The British Blues Awards. Other awards followed and from 2012 to 2014 they were voted the Best British Blues Band.

2019 saw a change to the band’s line up, with Jonny Dyke replacing Dale Storr on keyboards, Zander Greenshields on bass, drummer Andrew Scott and Stevie Nimmo adding another dimension as an additional guitarist and vocalist to Alan Nimmo.

The results of this line up change is their latest album, Maverick, which was due for release earlier this year but was put back due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They intend to tour the album in 2021.

Whilst preparing for the release of Maverick, Alan Nimmo took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Alan good morning.

Hi Kevin, how are you today pal?

I’m very well thank you, how are you?

Not too bad, not too bad; thanks for asking.

Everything considering (laughter).

(Laughter) that’s right, everything considering (laughter). Having said that, because we have recorded the new album plus we have recorded a live show at The Berkeley Studios here in Glasgow as well, which we are trying to get out there for the fans, I have to say that the last couple of weeks has been absolutely crazy (laughter). At least the brain has been kept occupied (laughter).

I recently spoke to Chris Difford and he said that he is currently having ‘some good days and some bad days’.

Is he really? Well to be honest with you I think that it is the same for all of us. From a musician’s point of view, I think that we are all used to dealing with uncertainty, but I have to say that this has been particularly horrendous. There is absolutely no income coming in whatsoever and you just don’t know when it is going to start again really.

And to make matters worse, if that is at all possible, you are getting no or very little help or guidance from the government either, are you?

That’s right; the government is giving us absolutely nothing at all. And the more that they keep bringing in more restrictions and more legislation; you can just see that first live gig getting further and further away. I have no idea as to what is going to happen next. We simply have to endure it and see what happens. Nobody knows. We haven’t done anything as a band in 2020 at all.

The British humour will carry us through (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) I certainly hope so as that is all that is left (laughter).

Before we go any further Alan, let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

No worries, no worries at all Kevin. As always, it’s my pleasure.

Well I have to tell you that I think that you need to put me on commission (laughter).

Alright, okay, brilliant now tell me more (laughter).

I have recruited you a new follower. I was recently speaking to Richard Drummie (Go West) and King King came up in the conversation. He said that he was not that familiar with your work, so I played him some of the new album and he was hooked immediately.

Really, right, okay that is absolutely fantastic (laughter). That’s the best news of the day so far and in that case, you had best speak to our manager who will no doubt tell you exactly the same as I would, you are getting absolutely nothing (laughter).

Things can only go downhill from here (laughter).

Knowing my luck, it most probably will (laughter).

Before we talk about your latest album Maverick, let me take you back to 2017, if I may, and the release of Exile & Grace. Were you happy with the fan’s reaction to the album?

Yes, I was. I think that we got a very positive reaction from the fans to that album and if I am being brutality honest with you, I don’t even think that album was our best work (laughter). Having said that I have to be honest with you and say that despite me not liking it that much, at that time it was our most successful album. One thing that I can say about our fans is that they are extremely loyal, and they remain very positive which is always encouraging. That always makes us strive to produce a better album the next time that we are writing and recording. I think that we are so lucky in that sense to have fans like that; they are so good.

Round about that time you were having problems with your voice. Is everything okay now?

Well, to be totally honest with you, I think that it is just one of those things where I have not had any problems whatsoever since then, but it is just one of those things. You always have that niggle at the back of your brain somewhere, even though nothing goes wrong and nothing happens, it is always at the back of your mind. In fact, I would go so far as to say that my voice is actually in better shape than it was back then. I think that it is just one of those things that is in the back of your brain. You are constantly thinking ‘will this happen again’ (laughter). You just have to make sure that you look after your voice, carry on and hope for the best.

Coming right up to date with the new album Maverick; I have been playing it for a few weeks now and I have to say that I love it.

That’s wonderful Kevin, great stuff, thanks for saying that. I have to say that I feel that is by far the best work that I have ever done. I am really very happy with it.

I have to ask you, just who is the Maverick?

It was me (laughter). It was me when I was a youngster, but I don’t know so much nowadays (laughter). My knees keep telling me ‘nope, you can’t do that anymore Alan’ (laughter). Let’s just say that I was a bit wild when I was a child (laughter).

It’s the first album with the new line-up. Were you happy and has everyone gelled?

I couldn’t be happier; I think that the guys have done an absolutely outstanding job. I really wanted to open up this time, and I really wanted to lose all of the restrictions with regards to the song writing, and for me to do that I needed the players who could achieve it from both a recording and a live sense. I have to say that these guys are outstanding. Not only are they great musicians, but the camaraderie and the chemistry between us as friends is really something. I have to say that bringing my brother Stevie into the group has really enhanced things. So, all in all, I am in a very good place at this moment in time plus I am very happy.

Whilst I was listening to the album, I made a few notes and whilst this most probably contradicts itself, I wrote that the band sounded tighter whilst at the same time they sounded more relaxed. Does that make sense? (laughter).

No, not at all, in no way is that contradictory. In fact, I absolutely agree with you. In fact, I couldn’t agree with you more. I think that the album has got both the quality and the slickness of a really tight band, but it also has that relaxed feeling and to me that is just because making this album was such a joyful process. Writing the songs, arranging the songs and then actually recording them was something that really was relaxing. In fact I would go so far as to say that it was fun (laughter). I actually think that is the main thing about it. The amount of fun that we had when we were recording the album was simply amazing. With enjoyment like that comes relaxation.

You have briefly mentioned the fact that brother Stevie is now on board and is officially a member of the band. Was it inevitable that he would, at some stage, join the band?

In a word, yes. This was something that I had been very quietly planning now for around two or three years. Obviously, I had to work around timings and everything else had to be in place, but I knew at some point that I was going to need another guitar. I also knew that the backing vocals for me in the band were always a bit of a sticking point, and from my point of view I wanted them to be better. What I have now with the guys who are in the band is three great backing vocalists behind me.

With Stevie now being a permanent member of the band has the writing dynamic changed; are you now writing lead vocals for two and not one?

No, but thinking about it, I suppose that we will find that out later (laughter). In this instance, Stevie wasn’t actually heavily involved in the writing of this album. Having said that, I did get him to help me out here and there. We wrote a few lyrics together and things like that, and he did a little bit of backing vocals on the album, but as far as the writing was concerned, this time around it was me and Jonny (Dyke) who did the bulk of that. That was really great actually because that in itself was a new writing partnership, and I have to say that writing with Jonny really was amazing to be honest. It was something of a real surprise and I have to say that it was really pleasant too.

So, moving forward to the next album, I will be more than happy to bring Stevie in to help with the writing if it is necessary; in fact everyone’s input is welcome, that’s the difference. The way that I have been trying to write is not just about ‘well we now have two guitars here, let’s write some more guitar parts’ (laughter). We can now bring in an acoustic guitar that we used for recording that I feel can sometimes be missing in a live show, but we can now do that. It brings a totally new dynamic to our live set. We are getting multi-uses out of Stevie, which is exactly what I wanted so at this moment in time Stevie is really earning his place (laughter).

You mention the fact that you now have two lead guitars. Is there any danger that King King will be morphing into Status Quo sometime in the future?

(Hysterical laughter) there is only one Quo (laughter).

Now that Stevie is well and truly on board with King King, does that signal the end of road for The Nimmo Brothers?

Never, never. Stevie and I always agreed that The Nimmo Brothers would never end whilst both of us are still capable so, it was just one of those things. Obviously, we will have to look at the situation very carefully but what I will say is that The Nimmo Brothers will be less of a priority than King King. In fact, 2020 was actually the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Nimmo Brothers, and we were supposed to be playing some shows this year, but the virus put a stop to all that. We will always try along the way, somewhere down the line, to put on a short run of shows simply because the people want to hear it and we love to play those songs as well. It usually is a very relaxing time for us; we can have some fun.

From writing to recording, how long has it taken you to put the album together?

That really is difficult for me to gauge at the minute because of everything that is currently going on (laughter). The studio closed down during lockdown, and at that point the album wasn’t finished. Then they opened the doors just to let me in; they had setup a little rat run in order to allow me to get safely back into the studio without interfering with anyone else (laughter). It really was a bit crazy but all in all to be perfectly honest with you, the actual studio time really wasn’t that much. We really didn’t spend that much time in the studio recording. All the preparation was done well before that, and let me tell you, that is the part that takes up the most time.

So, when you walk into the studio and the red light comes on, and if it goes down quickly, that really is the best that you can expect because it is at that point that the meter starts ticking (laughter). So, the best thing that you can do is be prepared. But, as I say, it was a bit staggered this time due to things that were happening; tours were getting in the way, then the pandemic hit, and at that point I only had three songs left to sing. But that was that, they shut the doors on me (laughter). I pleaded with them to let me in so that I could finish off the three songs, but I have to say that it took a while for them to open the doors and let me in (laughter).

However, they finally let me back into the studio and they very kindly gave me five days to get the last three songs done, but I actually did them in one. I had been fortunate to have months to prepare just sitting at home, so when I finally got myself into the studio I smiled and said, “there you go, that was easy” (laughter). That was the one good thing that came out of the pandemic; it gave us time to prepare.

I currently have three go to tracks on the album. They are Never Give In, Fire In My Soul and Dance Together, and I have to ask, do you double for a certain Mr Paul Rogers whenever his voice gives in when he is out on tour? It really is amazing; it is truly the hairs on the back of the neck stuff.

(Laughter) that’s brilliant, thanks for saying that. It has always been one of my things, to go out on tour with Paul Rogers. I always wanted to play the guitar simply because I wanted to be his Paul Kossoff, but who knows (laughter). That is very flattering of you to say that so, thank you very much. In the meantime, I will just continue to steal everything from him (laughter).

Have you ever met Paul?

No, I haven’t. He very rarely comes to Glasgow now. The last time that he was here it was on the Bad Company tour and they were playing in The SSE Hydro which really is a massive venue, which means that you can’t get near them. So no, I have never had the chance to have a meet and a chat with him.

Putting you firmly on the spot, do you have a favourite track on the album?

Yes, I have, but it’s just one of those things that every week I have a new favourite track (laughter). I was recently speaking to Jonny our keyboard player about this and we were both agreeing that we are all finding that we have a new favourite all of the time. At the moment, I would probably have to say that Dance Together is firmly up there with my favourite tracks on the album. I also like By Your Side but to be honest, we have made several albums in the past, and I have immediately pointed to several songs saying “they will never get played live, they are just songs that will never work in a live set”.

However, with this album, I look down at all ten songs and think, ‘I want to play all of these songs live; I want to have all of these in the live set’. Now, I have given myself another problem, trying to pick out which of the songs will make it onto the set list (laughter). The problems that I have to deal with (laughter).

Don’t get me wrong, I love When My Winter Comes but then it’s when Dance Together comes in and grabs you by the throat.

I have to say that When My Winter Comes was a real surprise to be honest with you. We had this guitar riff lying around and we used to give them working titles, just as a point of our own reference, and this one was affectionally named Motley Crew (laughter). And then of course, with everything else that came in, plus how the song ended up being arranged, and then with how the vocals came in, the finished song gets taken away so far from that original guitar riff. It was a real surprise because I was thinking, ‘what am I going to do with this’ (laughter). I had the chorus, that came very easily but I was having real problems with the verses.

I kept thinking to myself, ‘just how am I going to sing this’ (laughter). Eventually, I started to think, ‘right, let us do the whole Paul Rogers and David Coverdale type of thing on the verses’, so I tried that for a while, and I had a bit of it recorded actually like that. I listen back and I really did think, ‘no, this simply isn’t working’. I didn’t think that the vocals work, they were not enhancing the song, they were not adhering to the story of the song, nothing seemed to fit. So, in desperation I eventually went for a different kind of melody, and I thought that I would try singing something rather than powering something, and that was the result that I got. And I have to say that it really worked a treat.

If we accept that there will be no live music to be seen anywhere here within the UK until the middle of 2021, will you be writing another album or will you hang onto Maverick in order to tour it as and when you can?

That is such a great question. I think that by that time we may be ready to start working on the next album, but no, we will leave it as it is. I think that Maverick has got the legs in it for a while longer yet.

On a personal note; Rock & Pop with Alan Nimmo on Paisley FM 107.5 every Friday at 10pm. Are you currently enjoying the life of a DJ?

(Laughter) you know what, I really am (laughter). It’s been something that I’ve been really interested in for years, but to be honest, I am a complete technological dinosaur (laughter). For years I couldn’t even work the microwave. So, I decided to give myself a stern talking to, I bought myself a decent computer, I acquired a decent recording program and that’s how I finally got into it. I was finally given the opportunity to do a few shows on the radio. So, I thought, ‘right, I am going to give this a blast’ and you know what, I really do enjoy it. It really is great fun. At the end of the day, I have reminded myself just how much I enjoy music.

I love music. This is my life, and for someone like me to express my love for all kinds of different music and songs that you don’t cover in your band, that’s not the kind of thing that we are doing anymore. So, I get to express all of that by chatting about the songs and playing them on the radio, so it’s great fun and I am really enjoying it. It seems to be getting a decent response as well, together with some great comments from the fans so, both me and the station is very happy with it.

Is it purely down to you what you play?

Yes, it is, I have got absolute carte blanch. The secret is that I produce the show as well, so the station doesn’t even see it (laughter). It just gets upload into the system (laughter). The station is putting a lot of trust in me; trusting me not to put a lot of profanity on there (laughter).

I was just thinking about Derek and Clive (Live) by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) that may surprise them I think (laughter). Perhaps I could do a Derek and Clive Special (laughter).

Do you think that the music business will ever recover from Covid-19 and the situation that we currently find ourselves in?

Do you know what, in all honesty, I personally think that before the Covid-19 pandemic, the music industry was already in a bit of trouble. I think that it has been in trouble for a while, and I think that if changes are not made within the music industry very soon, and I am talking about changes in a big way, I can see massive trouble ahead. People can use the words all they like, and people often do and that’s fair enough, but we keep on hearing this, ”imagine a world without music”. You hear that all the time from the social media experts every day, day in and day out. We keep hearing “we really need to keep music going” and “let’s support bands” and “imagine a world without music”. Well, if you are not careful, that is exactly what you are going to have.

Typing all of your little sentences for a bit of attention is all well and good but what the situation actually needs are actions. We need a lot of stuff to change; we need a lot of people within the music industry who are not the creative ones, to learn to adjust their own lifestyles as well. In a way, we already have and if they don’t do that, and simply keep on taking and taking and taking, then there is going to be nothing left. The well is going to run dry and it will be an impossibility for bands to create music anymore. So, yes, things need to change dramatically in order to save this industry.

It must annoy you that whenever there is a problem in the world or a disaster of some kind, take Live Aid for example, why is it always the musicians who have to join together in order to raise people’s awareness of the situation. Why don’t the politicians get onboard and actually do something?

I am so glad that you have bought up that very point because it is actually something that I have been thinking about recently. We can write songs all day about this stuff; we can write the type of words that the people throughout the world will be able to listen to and relate to, saying, “yeah, yeah that makes sense” but us, as mere artists, have no say. We have no power to do anything about it. Then I was thinking, ‘well maybe we do have a power for this’ but it has never been legislated in that way for us to begin. If we can come up with some wisdom for people, the people seem to think that after all these songs over the years, we have most probably been talking about it for years.

Musicians view the world in a different way. We can see a disaster coming. It’s not just this business; you can look at the entire planet. We have watched animals being hunted to extinction, and we don’t really do anything about that. We will sit and watch the planet being ruined. We will watch it being set on fire; we watch it, we moan about it, but again, not enough gets done about that. We talk about a human harmony, and the fact that everyone’s lives matter, but I don’t think that there has ever been a time since time began when human beings weren’t at war. My generation sit there and say, “oh yeah we have been so lucky; we haven’t had to endure what our grandparents had to endure with the war and stuff’. You know what; there has been a war on since I was born. There has been some war happening ever year that I have been alive. Can we not learn any lessons?

Oscar (Harrison) the drummer with Ocean Colour Scene once said ‘There’s No Profit In Peace’.

(Laughter) that is very true unfortunately. That again is one of the things that we all sit and accept. If we are all prepared to sit and accept that then that is the way that things are going to be. The financial recovery from this is going to take an awful long time, and that is for the lucky ones. For the rest, they are going to be absolutely fucked, to be perfectly honest.

You recently recorded an exclusive King King live show that the fans could download which you performed at Berkeley Studios Glasgow. Do you think that this could be a way forward in the future?

The thing is, if you look at it from a purely financial and logistical point of view from our side of things, going into a room and recording and filming a live show, then whether you are selling it to fans, or giving it to them or whatever, it is ridiculously cheaper to do that than it is to actually walk into a venue, on a tour and play a show. There is so much less risk involved in it; it doesn’t cost that much money, you are not sat there worrying about the numbers, the amount that the venue costs, or percentages and commission which is going on, it is cheaper to do things this way. From our point of view, if we wanted to view things like that, we would say, ”you know what, that is what you are getting from now on”.

But you know what, that is just not what we signed up for. And, you know what, as much as the fans and the people want to go to see live music, they want to be in the room with the band and enjoy the atmosphere. At the end of the day, we have all got our fears at this moment in time but time heals everything, and once they are back in the room again, they are surrounded by familiar faces, the band are on form, then we will all begin to enjoy it again. They will realise that doing it this way, was never going to be enough. It was never going to be enough to satisfy us; we need live music; we need live venues. We need all of that to come back and just be like it was, plain and simple.

It’s that interaction between both parties, the band and the fans. It simply has to be there.

Absolutely, there is no better feeling than walking out onto a stage, and looking out into the audience, and you hear that roar. There is absolutely nothing to beat it. We need it to come back. So, at the end of the day these are the rules, this is what’s happening. If we want thing to go back to how we used to have them, then we must just try to continue to adhere to these rules which have been set out for us. Let’s get this over and done and then we can move forward. For the people who want to protest about this, its fine having your opinion, we have all got them, but I personally do not want to enter into a discussion with anyone about it. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter. That is what we are supposed to be doing, this is what we have been told to do, let’s just do it so that we can get back to bloody normal.

You will have to play an open-air gig at Celtic Park in front of a crowd of cardboard cut-outs Alan (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) that sounds good, but do we have to provide our own cardboard band (laughter).

You could always do what Kraftwerk did.

What’s that, what have they been up to?

They once performed with four showroom dummies on stage whilst the band played backstage.

That’s brilliant (laughter). That could well be the next thing that we get up to.

On that note Alan let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me, it’s been great. You stay safe and I hope to see you somewhere in the New Year.

Cheers Kevin, thanks a lot mate. All the best and I will see you soon.