Sharleen Spiteri, Scottish songwriter and lead singer with Texas chats with Kevin Cooper about her solo projects, how she cries to Amy Winehouse’s Back To Black, Texas’ latest album Jump On Board and their forthcoming tour of the UK.

Sharleen Spiteri is a Scottish singer and songwriter from Finnieston, Glasgow, and she is a founder member and the lead singer of the rock band Texas. Founded in 1986 with Johnny McElhone they made their performing debut in March 1988 at the University of Dundee.

From their debut album Southside they released the single I Don’t Want A Lover in 1989 which was an instant international hit. With the album reaching number three in the UK charts, their subsequent releases, Mothers Heaven and Ricks Road were not quite so commercially successful.

In 1997 their fortunes changed when they released White On Blonde which entered the chart at number one and became their biggest seller. Other albums followed and in 2005 Texas went on hiatus and Spiteri launched a solo career by releasing two solo albums. Finishing their break in 2013 the group has since then been releasing albums and touring regularly.

Whist taking a well earned break, Spiteri took some time to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what she had to say.

Sharleen good morning how are you?

Hi Kevin I’m not too bad thank you, how are you?

I’m very well thank you and let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

Not at all.

And just how is life treating you?

Life is treating me very well I have to be honest. It’s no hardship making records and releasing them; it’s very enjoyable and things are going well, so yes I am currently in a good place.

I have been playing the new studio album Jump On Board for a few days now and I have to say that I absolutely love it.

Thank you, I am so glad that you like it.

In my opinion there are lots of positive messages to take from the album. Would I be correct in saying that?

Yes you would, very much so. I feel that it is a very positive, upbeat record and that is what we really wanted to create. There is also a little bit of escapism for us where we just wanted to make a record where you could just put your hands in the air and forget about real life for a minute.

I think that we all need that at this moment in time.

Trust me we need it now more than ever.

And the title Jump On Board, is that an invitation for the fans to join you on the journey?

Yes it is, I think that what happens a lot of the time is that these things are always about the band and us on our own but you have to remember that the fans and the public are so very important to what we do as well as the band. It’s a bit like ‘come on get with this, it’s going to be fun. Why not just throw caution to the wind and enjoy it’, which is exactly what we have wanted to do.

Were you happy with the response that the album received?

Yes I was, unbelievably happy. The reaction to the album has simply been amazing. The album went straight into the UK album charts at number six and after thirty years in the music business that is extraordinary. The album went to number one in France and was top ten all over the rest of Europe. Someone recently pointed out to me that it was number fifteen in Thailand which even I have to admit is crazy (laughter).

It must make you feel good whenever your work is received so well by the fans and public alike?

It does, it really does. I love what I do and my band love what we do as well. When I was seventeen years old and I had just started out in Texas I still to this day feel like that seventeen year old going ‘oh my god this is so exciting’ (laughter). I truly do still feel so excited by the whole thing. I simply thoroughly enjoy it.

You mention that you and Texas have been in the business now for some thirty years. When you formed the band could you ever envisage that you would still be doing it today?

No not at all. What you have to remember is that we were all young kids at the time and as such none of us really had any concept of time. So if someone had have told me that I would still be in the business in thirty years’ time I would have screamed “thirty years” (laughter). When I was seventeen I couldn’t even imagine being thirty years old so for me to still be doing this after thirty years is mad.

The two standout tracks on the album for me at the moment are For Everything and Tell That Girl. I really do think that they are fantastic.

That’s great and obviously whist I love both of those songs For Everything is for me a great song because it says everything about who I am and where we are as a band at this moment in time. There is a line in the song that says ‘for now when I am old I have a peaceful mind’ and believe me I couldn’t have written that song ten years ago. However, I think that as you get older you find it very easy to show the flaws as well as the good stuff which is the stuff that you try to hide when you are younger. You don’t really want to show anybody your weaknesses but as you get older it’s like ‘hell yeah, this is who I am. I don’t always get it right but there you go’ (laughter). I think that it is easier to say that as you get older because you finally get to see the bigger picture.

A lot of your fans are saying that it is your best work to date. Would you agree with that?

(Laughter) really, are they really saying that, I like that. In all honesty I would have to agree with them. I think that this is a great album. It’s that thing where you always want to make great records, you don’t always get it right but hell you try. Every time that we make a new record we try to make it our best work and always try to improve on the last record. Certain things happen in your life; you are in a certain headspace, you make certain records that are maybe more insular, but the great thing about this record is that there is not a moment of that within this record.

Are you looking forward to playing the new album live?

Yes I am and I have to tell you that we have actually played quite a bit of it live already. We have played a couple of pub gigs around the country just around the release of the album where you simply couldn’t move. The drum kit was literally up my backside (laughter). It was truly an amazing moment where we literally went back to our beginnings. There were no flashing lights, no seventy metre stage, it was just like ’hello, I’m in your face’ (laughter). Having said all of that it was great fun. It was lovely to see how well the new songs stood up against the big hits. Sometimes we will put up a song against the likes of Inner Smile, Black Eyed Boy or I Don’t Want A Lover and you think does this really work, but with the new songs they literally all work within the set. In fact they worked really well.

So just how many of the new songs have actually found their way onto the set list for the forthcoming tour?

Well we will normally play a two hour show but because the shows that we have been doing have been about an hour, let me try and work it out. I’m trying to think what is on the album, my brain has turned to mush (laughter). I tell you what, let me log onto Amazon and get Texas up so that I can look at it while I am talking to you and I will then be able to literally tell you what is in the set (laughter). How unbelievable is that, I can’t even remember the tracks on my own album. We are playing five new songs when we do an hour’s set so I would think that there will be a few more added in there when we start the full tour later this year.

Will it change your thinking regarding a set list when you play the summer festivals?

Yes it will and again we will most probably put about five new songs into the festival set list. What you have to remember is that whenever we play at a festival it is not the full Texas show. It is usually sixty minutes of literally ‘there you go, this is what we are about. Why not jump on board and come with us’ (laughter).

Is touring the best part of the job for you?

If touring was the job all of the time then I think that I would get bored with it but then again, if I was in the studio all of the time then I would get bored with that. I love the fact that my job gets switched about day in and day out. At the moment my job involves me promoting the album and the forthcoming tour so I find myself doing TV shows, radio shows, interviews and all that kind of thing. I will be travelling all over the world doing that. Then I will go into touring and whenever you come out of promotion and into touring it is like ‘yes’ (laughter). You talk so much shit that eventually it always turns into the me, me, me show. I literally get so fed up with the sound of my own bloody voice. It also becomes mind-numbing simply because it feels so self-indulgent sometimes (laughter).

It’s like ‘yes I’m amazing, play my record because it is great; we really are a fantastic band’ and that just seems to go on and on. What I find frustrating is that a lot of the time you are talking about the music and the truth is as a singer and a songwriter I made music because I wasn’t that good at talking. And then suddenly you are back to doing something that you really are not comfortable with. Someone will say to me “so tell me about the record’ and I will be like ‘just what the fuck do you want me to tell you. Surely the record tells you about the record”. So really it is all one of those weird contradictions. When I finally get to go out on tour it will be like… ‘and breathe’ (laughter).

You will be bringing the tour to the Royal Concert Hall here in Nottingham on Monday 2nd October. What can we expect; any surprises?

That maybe I will be a bit arseier than I normally am, I don’t know. If you hadn’t noticed Kevin I can and do get a bit arsey when I am on stage (laughter).

On the subject of being arsey, I was lucky enough to photograph you the last time that you were here in Nottingham in 2015. I got some great photographs but there is one in particular where you are looking straight at me with a look on your face that screams ‘just what the fuck are you doing here’ (laughter).

(Laughter) really, well all that I can say is that I am so sorry about that but what you have to remember is that when I am on stage I am so in the moment. I love being on stage, I love singing and I love performing. Being on stage is where I feel the most comfortable in my life so all that I can say is that I am sorry if I frightened you in any way (laughter).

I will forgive you then (laughter). On the subject of music and more specifically making music, you released your debut solo album Melody in 2008, and then followed it up with a second solo album The Movie Songbook in 2010. Are there any thoughts to release any more solo work?

No not at this moment in time. They were just two projects that I undertook back to back. I asked the rest of the band if they were all okay with me doing that and they all said that if I felt that I had to make a solo record then I should go and do it. It’s quite hard to explain to people because I guess that there are not that many bands like Texas as in we will always be Texas. Texas is first and foremost within all of us; that is always our number one priority. And if anyone else wants to do something outside of Texas then everybody is always okay with that and they go and do it. Every one of us supports each other especially when one of us is off doing something else.

That is the way that we work. We all like each other and more importantly Texas has never been a job to us and it has never become a job. Lots of bands start off doing something and they say ‘this is what we do and it’s amazing’ but then eventually it becomes a job to them. But I have to say that it has never become a job at any moment to us. Admittedly there are times that are a wee bit harder than others but seriously it’s not exactly rocket science.

What was the first record that you bought?

That’s easy it was Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello And The Attractions.

Who did you first see playing live in concert?

That was Simple Minds at Tiffany’s in Glasgow on Sunday 1st March 1981. I was only fourteen years old but that concert helped me to decide that was what I wanted to do with my life.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

I think the song that always makes me cry from the very first time that I heard it and when I felt really emotional and I continue to feel emotional whenever I hear it, is Back To Black by Amy Winehouse. It is a song that I wish that I had written. I love the way that Amy poignantly delivers the words, you just know that is exactly how she feels. I think that we have all felt those words at some point when she sings ‘we only said goodbye with words, I died a hundred times you go back to her and I go back to black’. That has hurt everybody at some point in their life and everyone has felt that at some point.

On that note Sharleen let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been fantastic. I will see you here in Nottingham.

Thanks Kevin, you take care and please do come and say hi in Nottingham. Bye for now.