Interview: Texas Frontwoman Talks Touring and New Music Ahead of Doha Concert

Sharleen Spiteri chats about the pointlessness of New Year’s resolutions and how it feels to sell 35 million albums
Sunday , 19 January 2014
Interview: Texas Frontwoman Talks Touring and New Music Ahead of Doha Concert
© Christian Behring/Future Image/WENN.com

Scottish band Texas is rocking into Doha this week to headline the entertainment for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters 2014. We caught up with lead singer Sharleen Spiteri to talk about producing hit songs and their new album, The Conversation.

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions?
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions—they’re bull…t. I can be the grumpiest person in the world, saying bah humbug. When something’s got to be done, something’s got to be done, and I’m probably like everyone else in that over Christmas I was a bit lazy, especially after four months of touring, and I’d just pig out while I was at home for a while, so the New Year has just been a bit of downtime.

If someone had predicted after your first gigs in the 80s that you would have sold 35 million albums down the line, how would you have reacted?
I would probably have kissed them. But as a band, we never really look back - we’re always looking forward. Over the last 25 years since the release of Southside, as a band we’ve been successful because we are always looking ahead, rather than looking at what we’ve achieved. But I guess, looking back at it all, we do get a bit of a “wow” when we do look back—but that would be pretty much like any other band. I just feel very proud and very fortunate to be doing what I do. It was always something we had dreamt of doing, and now it is very real.

You’ve been having hits over four decades. What’s the secret to this longevity?
I don’t really think you can just point at one thing, but it probably all started off because we weren’t doing this to be famous. For us it was about being songwriters and making great records. The thing that gives me the biggest reward is when we write a great song—that’s the one thing that makes me smile so much, and it makes me really happy when people get to know our songs so well. We go out and play on stage and see how our songs mean something to people, and that’s why we do it and love it. All the other stuff that some people love is not for us. I have no interest at all in being a celebrity and in being famous. I know that comes along with what we do to a certain extent, but I don’t feel I look at it from that side. I look in from the outside, rather than being caught up in it in my own mind.

Your first album went to number three, you’ve had multi-platinum records and you’ve even danced the sexy tango on a video with Alan Rickman. Out of many achievements, what has been your proudest?
Right now, my proudest thing is the fact that we’re still here, and people are still interested in hearing the band and seeing the band live. We were touring over the second half of last year up to Christmas and the reaction I think we were getting from the public was astonishing. It was funny because we were getting mothers with their daughters, and fathers with their children so we were seeing a new generation coming to see us alongside a generation that had grown up with us. That is a very good feeling, that there is still an interest out there after all this time, and we see people of all ages dancing and smiling and enjoying our shows. It feels fantastic.

What was the background to the band’s hiatus in 2005 and your solo recordings?
I wasn’t pursuing a solo career; I had made it very clear when I put that first record out that I was making it for the reason that everyone in the band wanted to take a bit of time off. I had split from my long-term partner and was in a place where I wanted to make a very gentle and feminine record before I could move on to making another Texas record. You know, I wasn’t in the greatest place back then. Once I could get that off my chest, we could move on with Texas, and that was basically what happened. I had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles for a week and record an album with [award-winning recording engineers] Phil Ramone and Al Schmitt, who are people who made Frank Sinatra records, Barbra Streisand records—all that kind of stuff. It was stuff I wouldn’t do with Texas. I was always still part of the band and was always going to stay with Texas. We were going to come back and make a record when we were ready. I didn’t realise it was going to be such a long time. I think it was five years ago when Ally [band co-founder Ally McErlaine] had a brain aneurism, and that stopped us in our tracks for a long time. But if you take that time he was out away from our hiatus, it wasn’t really that long.

What impact did Ally’s aneurism have on Texas?
It’s often written that that reunited the band, but the band was never ‘ununited’. We are not a band that goes our separate ways between tours. We are all always around each other and we just hang out outside of Texas. I love the romanticism of the idea that it brought us together but it had no impact on Texas whatsoever because at that point we weren’t releasing a record. It had an impact on us as his friends because he was in hospital in a coma. It wasn’t until about a year later when he was getting better that we felt we started to think about what would happen if he didn’t want to tour any more. But he was the one who decided that he wanted to get out of hospital, that he wanted to get out with the band again, that he wanted to go out touring. I asked him if he was serious, and he said he was ready. It was only after Ally got well that the question of Texas came to our minds, but before that, we didn’t think about it at all. We had had a successful career and we all had a very nice lifestyle, so there wasn’t any panic wondering about what we were going to do.

2013 was huge for the band, wasn’t it?
It was a very exciting time because we had been signed to Universal for the whole of Texas’s career—I’d been with them since I was 17 or 18 years old. And as a band we were free of the contract, we had a new album out and we went out to tour and play some of the new songs live—although we didn’t think at the time that anyone would be really interested. But it was new and it was fresh, and the success of the album has been unbelievable, while PR [new label Pias Recordings] has been fantastic. The album has been successful all over Europe, it’s sold a huge number of records. We made a new record because, I guess, we needed to as it had been so long since our last one, but we had no idea how successful it was going to be.

What sort of direction has your new album, The Conversation, taken you in?
It’s funny because I’ve been knocking around since 1989 and we’ve gone left and right, and we’ve U-turned and gone round roundabouts over all the years since. And I feel The Conversation has elements of South Side and White on Blonde mixed in with other things from the journey.

INFO: Texas will play the Doha Golf Club on Friday 24 January as part of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters 2014. Tickets: QR325 season ticket (4 days golf and all evening entertainment) or QR150 for entry to golf and concert on Friday only, Virgin Megastore at Villaggio and Landmark or online at www.virginmegastore.me, as well as Doha Golf Club, 4496 0777