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An Interview with Sharleen Spiteri from ‘Texas’

An Interview with Sharleen Spiteri from ‘Texas’

5 September 2017 |

Founded in 1986 by Johnny McElhone (formerly of bands Altered Images and Hipsway) and Sharleen Spiteri, 'Texas' was named after the 1984 Wim Wender’s film, Paris, Texas. Since the release of their debut hit single I Don’t Want A Lover, the Scottish rockers have sold over 40 million records including three number one albums, and are set to bring their instantly recognisable sound to Oxford’s New Theatre on September 13.

She may have the voice of angel, but Sharleen Spiteri swears like a sailor. Her feisty spiritedness appears to be borne partly out of rock and roll bravado, and partly out of years of having to kick back at an industry which expects its female stars to play the pliant gazing ingenue; something Spiteri has never been willing to do.
 
“The industry does change you if you've been in and around it for a long time, but I can't imagine what else I would be doing now,” muses Spiteri. “Yes, it's tiring at times, but my life has become entwined in the stories, the art, the experiences, plus the fact that every time you go out there with a new record, or stand on that stage behind the microphone, you are taking a risk.”
 
Their ninth studio album, Jump On Board, released earlier this year, suggested the band were finally confident in both their sound and influences, happily marrying moments of sultry disco with punchy, punk-inflected pop anthems. On their lead single– Let’s Work It Out – lyrics like ‘life’s too short, let’s work it’ and ‘let’s not fight anymore’,’ suggest their lead singer may have mellowed out somewhat. A fair appraisal?
 
I wouldn’t go that far…” says Spiteri with a smile. “I think age does come into it, although it's never really been something that's troubled me or I've thought about much over time. It's difficult not to think about age when you reach 50, just like when people make it to 40 - it's a milestone isn't it, whether for good or for bad, but beyond that it doesn’t mean much to me.
 
“I think removing yourself from a situation and taking time to think is useful though,” she continues, referencing the demands of the band’s 30-year career. “I had some time to myself in India last year and, as harmonious places go, I don't think you can free the mind anywhere like you can in India because it's such a culture and place so far removed from what we're used to.
 
“The experience really reminded me of the need to be tolerant and accepting in what we do, and they're usually the first things to go in busy, hectic, crowded, hurried environments. So there was a huge amount of clarity for me - it crystallised a few things and made me realise what's important and who around are important. It also mapped out my forward direction a bit and that's what I'm following now. So if anyone wants clarity in their life - head to India!”
 
After so long in the spotlight, Spiteri’s address book is brimming with equally starry names, many of whom are more than happy to drop in on the odd Texas video shoot. Late actor Alan Rickman was one such friend, who danced a sensual tango with Spiteri in a seaside petrol station in the video for In Demand back in 2000 – he also appeared in the video for 2015’s Start a Family. For Let’s Work it Out, Jump on Board’s lead single, the honours fell to one Spiteri’s sporting pals, ex-French national footballer and Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry, who drives the raven-haired chanteuse around a moody, neon cityscape.
 
Jump On Board began in early 2016, written and self-produced in the band’s studio in Glasgow, where the songs flowed easily, and the seasoned musicians simply revelled in the delight of continuing their musical journey together. But anyone who has had the privilege of seeing the band live will know it is on stage where they truly come to life. Not only does it become evident that the records have never done justice to Spiteri’s stunning vocals, but they also cannot convey what a formidable performer she is, shimmying about the stage with glory and gusto.
 
“Playing live is being free,” she says. “It’s addictive and the reason we keep coming back.
 
“We can’t wait to tour this record and play a number of favourites. I think the music industry is so fast-moving these days… so quick to judge, that slowing it down with proper songs and unpretentious gigs is really the best antidote to the madness.”
 
Kicking off their world tour with two nights in Dublin on September 8 and finishing up in sunny Brisbane on December 19, the band will drop into Oxford’s New Theatre right at the start of their mammoth journey. “I’m looking forward to the show as the Oxford crowd are always very receptive and lively,” says Spiteri, adding with hearty chuckle. “I also hope we don't lose our keyboard player like last time to the late-night partying the city has to offer!”
 
Texas play the Oxford New Theatre on Wednesday 13 September 2017. More information can be found here.

 

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