Friday 19 January 2018

Sharleen Spiteri: 'I turned down The Voice of Ireland role - it's not my thing'

Charlene Spiteri
Charlene Spiteri

Chris Wasser

She may be back on the road with Texas, celebrating 25 years of the Glasgow pop rock outfit, but as it turns out, things could have been very different for frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri in 2015. For a start, she was offered a coach position on The Voice of Ireland.

"Well, I was asked to do it," says Sharleen over tea at Dublin's InterContinental Hotel. "I said no.

"I get asked to do those sort of programmes all the time, and I'm like 'I don't really want to do TV, it's not really my thing'".

Such a shame, then, that we got S Club 7 instead. "Who's got S Club 7?" she asks.

Charlene Texas
Charlene Texas

We do. Rachel Stevens is on the judging panel, Sharleen.

"Seriously? I don't know, does Rachel Stevens even sing?" asks Sharleen, before breaking into the chorus from Don't Stop Movin'.

After 35 million album sales, a couple of solo records and her fair share of heartache, Sharleen is once again front and centre of the band that conquered the airwaves and travelled the globe throughout the late '80s and '90s.

One of the most recognisable female singers in rock, hers is a voice that has stood the test of time. But what I really want to know is if the renowned Scottish musician ever wishes she'd stuck with the hairdressing. You know, so that she could live a normal life for a change.

"I was brilliant at hairdressing," she recalls.

"I was such a good hairdresser. I was on the artistic team and I used to travel to New York, Italy and France to do shows, so it was pretty glamorous. But are you f***ing joking? Would I want to go back to hairdressing? Not a f***ing hope in hell!"

Sharleen Spiteri kept it simple in red lace. A glamorous pair of chandelier earrings could have topped this look off fantastically.
Sharleen Spiteri kept it simple in red lace. A glamorous pair of chandelier earrings could have topped this look off fantastically.

Oh yes, Sharleen has got a cracking sense of humour. For a while there, Texas were everywhere. After seven albums, a long list of hit singles (I Don't Want a Lover, Say What You Want, Summer Son) and a relentless, decade-and-a-half touring schedule, the band eventually decided to pull back. No break-up (they're all best mates). Just a break.

"Everyone was just a bit frazzled," remembers Sharleen. "Also, we felt that the public were a bit frazzled from us. We thought, 'let's back off a bit, give everybody a break, and reconvene when we think it's right'. We thought it'd be like a year and a half.

"Then what happened in the year is I split up from my long-term partner after ten years. I had a one-year-old daughter.

"It was a bit of a public split, the whole thing was in the papers and everything, and it was something that I was not used to, something I had never experienced.

"I had been in the public eye for my music and suddenly I was in it for my private life and I just…I wasn't happy. So I backed right off."

Her bandmates rallied round. Sharleen didn't care if she never made another record. Yet, out of various writing and recording sessions, she managed to produce the first of two solo albums.

Sharleen Spiteri
Sharleen Spiteri

She had just completed the second in 2009 when Texas guitarist Ally McErlaine suffered a massive brain aneurysm.

"We weren't even thinking about Texas," recalls Sharleen. "We were just thinking about our pal."

The band showed their support by gathering by his bedside to tell stories from their past, in an effort to improve Ally's memory functions.

"It's not something that we ever do - it's a bit like doing 'the 25 years', we never go back, we're always trying to go forward, and it was funny because it was that thing where you're talking about all the things that you've done and what you'd achieved and how you had grown up together, and suddenly you go 'wow'."

Thankfully, Ally has gone on to make a full recovery. In 2013, Texas put out their eighth studio album, The Conversation. Earlier this year, Texas 25 - a collection of new and re-recorded tracks - was released.

Certainly, it's all systems go for Sharleen, who isn't one to rest on her laurels. Actually, she doesn't do much resting at all. A lot of people are quick to point out that the 47-year-old doesn't look her age. That's because she makes an effort.

Sharleen Spiteri
Sharleen Spiteri

"You've gotta do it in a very honest way," she nods. "If I was a couch potato, eating loads of f***ing ice cream and pies all day, and then went on stage and was slow and lethargic and not myself, am I making a big effort to put on the best show? No, I don't think so.

"I ain't a gym bunny, but I do get to that point where I will kind of go 'oh, my trousers are a wee bit too tight there'."

It's important to Sharleen, then, that she stays fit. Just don't tell her that she still looks 25.

"Some people go 'oh, you just look the same'," she smiles, "I kind of go 'aye, I've still got my teeth and my hair and I'm alright - and you need your cataracts done because, honestly, you must be looking through a really soft focus. I looked way better than this when I was 25!"

Back to the TV shows. In 2010, Sharleen was a judge on Sky 1's short-lived reality series, Must be the Music. She also made a brief appearance as a guest mentor on the French X Factor. But again, reality singing competitions are not for her.

"With this whole reality thing, what I find really difficult is, it's seen as a stepping stone," she explains.

"There's people going into these shows that don't really wanna be musicians, they don't really wanna be singers, but they're thinking if 'I can get my face on there and my personality, I can be a TV presenter' and it's a bit like, 'don't f***ing take the p*** out of what I do', because I care immensely about music.

"Everything is great," she finishes, "and to be honest, if it wasn't, I don't think I would be going out on tour. But I'm a pretty positive person."

Texas play the Killarney Festival of Music & Food on June 28. Texas 25 is out now


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