Carol’s a cool cat
The later part of 1987 was a golden period for the pop single, when every song that hit No.1 truly merited its place in Pop Music’s Hall Of Fame.
One record, by a group who had begun to make their mark a few months earlier was particularly refreshing. When ‘China In Your Hands’ made it to the top, it cemented the name T’Pau in our hearts forever.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of that event, founder members Carol Decker and Ron Rogers are taking T’Pau back on the road for an extensive 28-date UK tour.
A DVD/CD package ‘The Story Behind The Tracks’ documents the long journey from joining The Lazers, before evolving into T’Pau and achieving huge album and single successes, and has rare insight into the recording of ‘Bridge Of Spies’ album with all of the original demo recordings plus six previously unheard tracks.
I had the opportunity to meet Carol and we began by talking about the tour.
‘Looking forward to it, and I think we’re now able to confirm that Ronnie will be doing all the shows, which I’m really excited about, because – really -T’Pau was me and him.’
You were both together in The Lazers.
‘That’s right; he left his band The Cats and joined The Lazers and we began to write songs at home and submit them to The Lazers, and then we decided to leave because the guitarist, Julian Ward had his own style, very Wilko Johnson influenced but it wasn’t my influence, Ronnie and I had a more pop style, then we weren’t in a band for a while, writing songs and scraping together the money to build a studio.’
I found the ‘Story Behind The Tracks’ documentary very interesting and informative, I wasn’t aware that you had had such a long struggle to rise to the top.
‘It was a long time and we found it very hard.’
It was good to see that both you and Ronnie placed so much importance on having the hit record, whereas many groups dismiss that form of success.
‘Oh no, I wanted the pop single: never one to be deep meaningful – I just wanted to be massively successful, I just wanted to believe in my product, make it big and be on Top Of The Pops’.
‘I wanted to be various people: as you move through being a kid, I wanted to be Rod Stewart for a while; really it has to be Chrissie Hynde. I loved her look – the way she dressed in leather and played the guitar, and, of course, The Pretenders music was so influential plus two of The Pretenders came from another market town not that far from Shrewsbury, and I figured if they could make it big, then so could I.
‘We played some of the pubs they had previously played in Hereford, so we just hoped that some of the pixie dust might just rub off on us’.
Your first album ‘Bridge Of Spies’ delivered a huge number of hit singles.
‘I wanted the album to be a good album, but if it doesn’t have singles, what is the point? You need the single to draw attention to the album’.
It must have been strange to have been both rejected and signed by Virgin on the same day.
‘That’s true: we got home and there was a rejection letter from Virgin on the day we signed for Siren, which was one of their satellite labels, like Ten, which took groups that didn’t fit the MO of the main Virgin label.
‘It is good to be backed by a big label because they bank rolled us, even though you have to pay it all back, and enabled us to explore and make the records that we did. It’s just not there anymore and I miss it.’
Your new album is coming out on Gnatfish Records, which I understand comes from an old nickname of yours.
‘Yes, it came from my former manager, Will, who said I had the memory of a goldfish and the attention span of a gnat, and we sort of blended the two animals together, and he even found an old engraving of what was supposed to be a gnatfish and that became the logo of my record company’.
You’ve done a couple of reality/celebrity programmes.
‘I did ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ and ‘Just The Two Of Us’ – but they were reality TV shows that were music-based and had some creditability. If they ever asked me, I might do ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ because you learn a skill, but I’m so not into the shows like Big Brother or the jungle, where I’d become famous for eating a kangaroo’s whatever and not for everythingelse I’d previously done.
The T’PAU25 TOUR starts at Buxton on April 9 and continues until June 22. The full list of dates can be found at www.tpau.co.uk with details of how to get signed copies of the new album.
Jim Stewart 2013