After an eight-year absence, Texas has marked its 25th anniversary with comeback album The Conversation. Georga Spottiswood talks to front woman Sharleen Spiteri
Sharleen Spiteri can be described as many things: rock chick, tomboy, former hairdresser. One thing she is most definitely, is candid.
“I’ve always enjoyed a good rant; we’re a band and we don’t f**k about.
“If I don’t like something, I say what I think, especially if it’s about the music we make. I am very protective of the band,” said the 45-year-old Glaswegian.
After an eight-year absence, Texas recently released The Conversation, a single from their new album, of the same name.
“People have said it’s definitely a Texas record, which sounds funny, but then, when you listen to it through someone else’s ears, I can see what they mean.
“We’ve gone back to our roots with the feel of it. The reaction has been amazing. It’s already coming in at number four and the album has gone gold in France.”
Back in their heyday, Texas were huge – they’ve sold more than 30 million records, released a string of multi-platinum albums, and toured the world.
“Part of the reason we took the time out was that we felt people were a bit fed up of us,” Spiteri admits.
“It was getting a bit too much. We were playing festival after festival and people were becoming blasé about us.
“We felt as if we should give the public a bit of a break. We never really thought it would be eight years later, but then there was Ally’s (Ally McErlaine the band’s guitarist) brain aneurysm.”
That happened in September 2009 and friends and family were told he only had a 20 per cent chance of survival.
That McErlaine defied all medical odds and recovered was miracle enough. However, neither Spiteri nor co-writer and founding bassist Johnny McElhone, expected their fate-mocking guitarist to be the catalyst demanding Texas get back on stage at the earliest opportunity.
“That was really tough. When you’re told your best mate is in a coma and possibly might not come out of it, that’s hard.
“Yet three months later and the lunatic wakes up and says ‘what’s happening’.
“I brought a guitar to the hospital and he started playing it and it sounded brilliant, even though he was cursing himself, he was the one who later said ‘I want to go on tour’.
“At first, we went, ‘What are you talking about?’
“So from Ally’s aneurysm nearly being the end of Texas, his recovery ended up being a new beginning for Texas.
“We did a few gigs not long after that to see how he’d get on. To turn round and see him standing next to me, happy as a pig in s**t was just amazing.”
That’s not the only tough time Spiteri has been through.
“In 2004 she split from long-term partner Ashley Heath after he cheated on her.
The singer went on to release two solo albums, one of them – Melody – in which she sung about the break up.
“It was tough because it was public. I had not been in the public domain apart from my music.
“The national newspapers came to my front door telling my about it (the affair). That was hard.
“When you write songs you open up about what goes on in your life.
“I just felt I needed to get it out my head,” said Spiteri, who is now with Welsh chef Bryn Williams, whose restaurant, Odette’s, is on the same street as the cafe where they met (they are very much part of the Primrose Hill set and count the likes of Madonna, Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow amongst their friends).
Spiteri and her ex-partner remain on good terms as they have an 11-year-old daughter, Misty Kyd, together. “You get on with it, we have a kid together. I do what’s best for Misty.”
The band, who were signed to Universal for more than 20 years, have released their new album with PIAS records.
Spiteri explains: “It was a difficult decision to make, but really, for us, we felt yes, we’d had massive success with the label, but they were now working with a different bunch – Rihanna, Lady Gaga - and they couldn’t give a s**t about Texas.
“PIAS came to us and were really excited, wanted to push us.
“What was even more interesting was a few more independent labels also approached us as they had heard we were working on an album.
“That was really flattering. It made us feel pretty proud.”
Now the band is set to head to the North East to perform as headliners at Hardwick Live Garden Party, in Sedgefield, County Durham, on September 14.
They’ll be joined by Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, Alison Moyet and Loveable Rogues.
“I’ve always loved the North East. You get a good honest reaction from people, it’s a bit like playing in Scotland.
“I love that honest vibe,” said Spiteri, who will be belting out Texas classics, as well as new tracks from The Conversation.
* For details visit www.hardwicklive.co.uk