An Interview With Mel Gaynor, Formerly Of Simple Minds

Mel Gaynor Interview

Feature Photo courtesy of Marquee Records!

If you’re into pop and rock music with jazz and R&B leanings, Mel Gaynor’s drumming is probably for you. He’s been a member of Simple Minds, recorded with Tina Turner and Elton John, and has lent a hand in selling over 60 million records. And now, with the release of 2024’s Come with Me, Gaynor is dropping his first-ever solo record. Soon-to-be-out via Marquee Records, and on the strength of its debut single, “Run,” Come with Me, is a true representation of all that brought Gaynor to this point.

Its track list brims with confidence and vigor, proving that the longtime behind-the-scenes drummer is more than capable of carrying the load alone. Then again, considering Gaynor is known for working in front of arena and stadium crowds, maybe that should be such a surprise.

With Simple Minds, Brian May, Gary Moore, Lou Reed, The Pretenders, and literally dozens more, Mel Gaynor has defined what it means to be a session-meets-stadium drummer. His beats are heaving, his songwriting is slick, and his intent is sweet.

You may know Mel Gaynor for records like Simple Minds’ New Gold Dream (1982), but in the here and now, it’s Come with Me—and beyond—that will round out his career. Indeed, the best is yet to come for Gaynor, and we here at ClassicRockHistory.com will await his next move with anticipation.

Tell me about your debut solo record, Come with Me. What brought you to this point?

It was really a great-sounding album, so I wanted to share it with my global fans. I’m extremely proud of it, and I’m excited about the prospect of bringing it out this summer.

You’re best known as the drummer for Simple Minds. Is it refreshing to step out of that shadow?

Yes, absolutely. I’ve been wanting to do this for some time now. And it’s refreshing to step out on my own, away from the band, to show what I can do. And I think I have accomplished this.

What does the process of doing that look like? And once you did, what sorts of songs sprang forth?

The process was to get all the material together, sift through many songs—in fact, 50, to be honest—and then pick through the strongest ones. The highlighted songs that stood out were “Run,” “Fire in the Rain,” and, of course, “Little White Lies,” which is the next single.

Did you produce this record? Where was it recorded?

Yes, it was self-produced and recorded in various London studios. RAK was one also a new studio with a great engineer named. And Brooke, the owner of Brooke Studios, and remixed eventually at RYP studios, by Michael Smith.

Where are you drawing from in terms of songwriting, and how does that differ from your Simple Minds days?

I drew from many styles. I would say R&B meets metal meets country would be a good example. And completely different from the Simple Minds situation being written alone, as opposed to being in a relationship with the band. I was completely free to do as I wanted.

Describe your drum style and how you got to this juncture.

My drumming style is heavy funk but with tinges of pop. But it wasn’t always like this; I started as a jazzer, [and] then progressed to funk, then on to the heavier style for which I’m known for now, I guess.

How about gear? What are you using these days? 

I’m using Natal Drums exclusively now. They make incredible-sounding shells, and I’ve been with them for many years now. I also use Techra sticks, which have great carbon fiber construction.

Is this your best album? Why or why not?

It’s my first [solo] album, so for me, it’s my best. It’s taken time to achieve, but I cannot judge it on anything else because it’s my only one for now, but there is more to come. I’m sure of that.

Which songs mean the most to you, and why?

Every song has a special meaning to me. They all have significance for me. But some of the standout tracks have to be “Run” because of the eclectic vibe, which kind of fuses country pop and rock. “Little White Lies,” which has a strong pop message. “Why Can’t We Live Together,” which sends a message of hope that we can all get on and live together in peace.

What is the best record you’ve ever been a part of?

That’s a difficult question. They are all special—all the Simple Minds records. I’m particularly proud of also Tina Turner’s recordings, and Sir Elton John’s, too. They all played an instrumental part in my career.

What’s next for you in all lanes?

The next and most important thing is to tour this album and visit as many countries as possible, with fans all over the world. I also want to be as visibly active in the music industry as possible, and more importantly, I want to make people all over the world as happy and as peaceful as possible. These are my goals.

An Interview With Mel Gaynor, Formerly Of Simple Minds article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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