Date: 1 January 1992
Originally published in: Promo CD (UK)
What were you trying to achieve with this album?
Well, my brother, Rick and I sat down just prior to recording the album and decided we wanted to experiment writing with some other writers which we haven’t really done an awful lot before, and it actually coincided with an approach from Rick Nowels via MCA, whether we’d be interested in working with him. So we sort of, we’re only a little bit skeptical only because we had been doing some other writing with some other writers from America and it wasn’t going in the way we wanted it to go, it was going really well, we were writing some great songs, but prior experience hadn’t been that fruitful, so we’d always just like came up with the stuff ourselves, but anyway he came and had meeting with us and like within 14 minutes of actually meeting him in this room we started writing a song and the song was called “A Miracle’s Coming”, that’s one of the tracks we did with him in Los Angeles.
Of course he’s the man that’s been responsible for a lot of Belinda Carlisle’s success as well, wasn’t he?
Yeah, obviously that was a great plus for us, because both Ricki and I both admired Belinda’s records you know the really big sound and a little bit rocky and very acoustic sounding. so we wanted to go for a little bit more of that as well on the album and so we have a lot more musicians involved on this one than we would normally have. It’s more of a bigger liver sound I would say overall.
I take it starting writing after 14 minutes means you hit it off quite well?
It was great, really good, we wrote this song, he actually went back and did Belinda’s album then, and Ricki, my brother and I just continued writing with some other writers. I continued writing with my guitarist, Steve Byrd, and who else? Oh Ricki started writing with a guy called Mick Silver and we just got on recording and writing and then Rick came back and he and I wrote a song called “I Won’t Change The Way That I Feel” and then I went to LA a few months ago and put the tracks down at which point he played me “Love Is Holy”, which knocked my socks off and I thought, ‘Wow that’ll do for starters’ and it worked really well. He’s very talented, he’s very talented you know, very hyperactive as well, very, you know, he wore me out a bit, really it was good.
Were you happy recording some of the album here and some of it in LA, did you enjoy that aspect of it?
Yeah, I loved it, of course, I got to hang out in LA for a few weeks, but I was working with some remarkable musicians and really neat things like Davy Johnston, who’d I’d admired from when I was a kid going to see Elton’s band play live, come marching in nd playing the satara mandolin. I think moments like that don’t usually happen in Knebworth (laughs), although I recorded “You Keep Me Hanging On”, “You Came” and did oh dear, did lots of great records here, so I mean different things happen in different places. I wouldn’t say better or worse, but we recorded really most of the album here in this little studio.
How do you feel this one’s going to be in comparison with previous material?
I don’t know because I remember after we recorded “Close” which is the biggest selling album I’ve had to date. I really just sort of thought I’m really pleased that we’ve finished it, it’s really the best we can do and we put so much work into the songs, but see we did the same on “Love moves” and we didn’t have a very successful album on the follow up album. The difference with this one is that we kind of recognise that perhaps there wasn’t the commerical edge which if you’re gonna be in a race, you’ve got to sort of be able to run it, and as well as wanting to achieve things at an aesthetic and artistic level we could do that really until the cows come home and have a very nice life. So we wanna be in the race and that’s part of it, so we recognise that fact that we’ve got something more on “Love Moves” but just prior to, you know prior to “Close” I didn’t know what we had, I really didn’t know what we had and I think a lot of people when they have a lot of success in their hands, they really don’t know what they have until it hits them and perhaps that’s the best way because if you’re expecting success it invariably walks aways from you in the other opposite direction.
Well a repeat of “Close” obviously would go down quite nicely, if the success of this one was a mirror of that.
Yeah, if this mirrored “Close” I would be well chuffed, you know I think it deserves to. The songs I think are every bit as strong as the strongest ones on “Close” if not stronger, my voice is stronger, my resolve to sort of be what I am at the moment is, I feel muc hmoer confident about where I am just now. I kinda, it’s very easy to lose that when you’ve been making records for 12 years with the ups and downs that go with, does tend to chip off the confidence, you know sometimes it tends to chip away at it and I’ve managed to get a little bit back, really quite a lot back actually.
Can you tell us how “Love is holy” came about in LA?
Well, I went to LA to do three tracks live with Rick Nowels and when I got there he was very excited about the fact that I was there, he started platying me all of these different songs, and one of them was “Love is holy” which he wrote with Ellen Shipley and he just played it to me on guitar, and I just said to him, how long have you had that song. And he said that he had had it a year. I said, you’ve had this song a year, do you think perhaps we should do it, he said oh yeah definitely, so it was strange that the song had been around for a year, but I’m glad it had.
It leapt out at you when you heard it, did it?
Yeah as soon as I heard it, I thought what a great hook, wonderful melody. It’s all the kind of things that my brother and I look for in a sng, it was really going somewhere, it had real energy to it, the lyrics I thought were really beautiful and the melody was top notch you know, really good melody.
Did you get involved in the “Love is holy” video at all, how much did you have to say about the video?
I’ve got involved at various times in my career with videos and directors. I mean Greg Masuak, who I make a lot of videos with, a close friend. I usually get a bit close on projects when I work with him, although I didn’t make “Love is holy” with him and very often how it works is that a director will submit you a script of how he sees your song, but you can imagine how difficult that is for you to visualise, you know even if I ask you to visualise a sea or see something different than I do, although it’s the sea, so you really don’t know what you’re getting, you can sort of throw them a few ideas, tell them how you see it. But very often when I work with directors, I work with them because I really admire them and I want them to come up with, I want it to be their video in many ways and I want to see what they can do for me and that;s very much what we did with Zanna, we gave her a carte blanche to re-create the song on video. I’m glad we did because I think very often my input would have obstructed her vision of it and I think what we have is a very pure vision of how she sees it, not how I would have seen it at all, but very lovely I feel.
Can you tell us about the second single “Who do you think you are?”
Yeah, that was one of the early songs that my brother and I came up with, and our confidence was quite low at the start of this album, we were throwing loads of ideas away and this was one that was just about to get put inthe bin and so I had this inspired idea for the lyric just at the last moment really and things just came together very quickly. I wrote the lyrics in a few hours and we recorded it very quickly. It’s quite an angry little song, kind of encapsulates how I feel a lot about fame and how people handle it or don’t, and it’s not all together about one person or even a lot of people or it doesn’t even not include myself so it’s a sort of disenchanted view at fame.
Another single will be “A Million Miles Away”, how did this come about?
“A Million Miles Away” was another very early song and we had started writing the album and things weren’t going so well and then “A Million Miles Away” and “Who Do You Think You Are?” came up and we knew that it was going to be alright after we wrote “A Million Miles Away” because it’s such pure melody, it’s a pure melody that Ricki came up with, and it’s a classic Rick song really, as soon as I came in and heard it I knew he’s back on form you know, he’s back on a roll.
That’s interesting, two songs that are obviously quite outstanding on the album nearly never made it then?
Very often that is the case. “You Keep Me Hanging On” nearly stayed on a shelf for a long time and there have been various other songs that we’ve been close to, it’s so difficult. We’re very close to the situation here, sometimes too close and you can become very selfdestructive and every creative team or person would know about that.
Can you tell us about another single “Heart Over Mind”?
Yeah, “Heart Over Mind” was a song that was sent just as we thought we’d finished the album, hence 11 tracks, and you know my brother and I were very happy the way the album was sounding and then Rick Nowels sent over some songs and it was amongst some songs he sent. It was written by Sandy Stewart who I’d met in Los Angeles and David Munday, who luckily for us was living in Hampstead in London. So he came and re-created what he had done on the demo which was amazing he’s an incredible piano player, well just musician really, a very talented guy and I’m sure that Rick and I will be working with him in the future as well, as well as Rick Nowels and lots of people we’ve met on this project. It’s been a really eye opener for us and a real, we’ve worked with really inspired people and it’s brought out really the best in us, both of us.
What especially do you look for in a song?
Melody, the hook, the attitude of it, how fresh it sounds, I mean it’s very instant usually. Ricki will play me an idea during the out process of the album and I’ll tell him within a second whether it’s going anywhere and if he disagrees with me then he’ll continue, usually to find that it’s not going anywhere, but then sometimes he proves me wrong (laughs) and yo uhave to finish off songs to find that out, which is a little bit irritating you know, you spend a few days on a song for it not to work out, that’s how it happens, it usually hits us straight in the eye. Ricki nd I are very in tune with about what we’re looking for and until that changes we’ll continue to work together. And people often say you’ve made so many records together for so many years you know ,but so have The Stones.
How do you choose the number of tracks that go on the album?
The ones that make it go on. I mean we had an album quite a few years ago that actually had 13 tracks on it because we felt each one should be on that album at that time and so it just really works out what tracks you are involved in, how muc hyou believe in them and we wrote a lot of songs between us, Ricki and I this year. I wrote with about five other writers this year and it’s a very prolific songwriting year for me and only 11 got on the album. So there’s a lot flying around but you know Rick and I know what we’re looking for and it’s very difficult to put into words, and let’s face it, if we could put it into words then of course or maybe we could sell it in bottles, people always want to know what the recipe for success is and there’s a lot of ingredient, but I don’t think we really know what the essential ingredient is. I think it will always be a mystery to us as well.
How and when and why did you make the decision to get involved in the writing side of it?
Well you know right from the beginning I wanted to but I didn’t really have the confidence to start being a songwriter or the time actually because “Kids in America” came out of the blue as a huge success and then before I knew it I was travelling around Europe and the world and we got to the third album and we were on RAK Records at the time and it didn’t do so well and it was jus ta prelude to the end of our time at RAK Records and the beginning of our time on MCA and so there was time to spare there and that’s when i sat down and thought if I’m ever gonna start writing a song it’s gonna be now and I bought myself a four track foxtext. I moved to London, and I got organised and started writing, in fact the first album that we released on MCA had the first two songs that I ever wrote and I haven’t stopped since, I thought I would actually, I always thought when I wrote them that they would be the only two that I ever wrote.
Was it hard to suddenly sit down and say I’m gonna write a song?
Well first of all, I had to battle with the idea that I couldn’t do it. I actually convinced myself that I couldn’t do it, before i began so that really didn’t help at all, it’s a bit like telling yourself that you can’t diver before you’re just about to dive, so I’d left my home, I mean I set it up really, I left home so that I would find a place of my own, some space where I could develop my writing and it was a slow process. I’d start off ideas I’d start re-creating other people’s songs, writers who I had admired, like Elvis Costello and Tood Rundgren. I would re-create their songs on four track as almost close to the original as I could. That way I learnt about song structure and about layering and about all kinds of the details about putting a track together, from bass drums to string, over dubs and things so I learned a lot on my own, but I never thought that I’d make it really, I never thought I’d make it as a songwriter. I always thought I was gonna be one of those people who wish they were and I still think that sometimes you know even though I’ve written some fairly successful records in the last few years, but I still haven’t realised my songwriting ambition so I want to do much more with that side of things.
How much of a help or hindrance was it working with your family when you started to want to branch into writing songs?
Well they were great actually, I started writing during the time Ricki and Marty were writing songs for the first album we released on MCA on the “Teases and dares” album and I actualy had to take them along the finished what I’d done at home and that was one of the most difficult things that I did. They were brilliant, they just listened to it and they gave it fair criticism and they really helped me to gain the confidence that I needed to carry on, so they were really great, always behind me.
Better to have your brother there than a stranger?
Well I don’t know it’s hard to say, I mean I’ve worked with various other people during the time, you know during my career. Not that many but I have worked with many other people and different situations. I don’t really know, I don’t really think about that side of it, we make good music together and I don’t really get a chance to think about him. I mean it is good fun actually, I have to say because we have a good rapore and there’s not many people that I can talk to the way I can talk to Ricki.
You obviously have a very close working relationship with your brother?
Well, it’s like making, working with one of your best mates. I mean I’m a sort of solo artist I get to spend a lot of time on my own, you know travelling, promoting on my own, doing everything on my own virtually, so the time that I get to spend with him when we’re making the album is a really special time. Because it’s a time when I feel really close to the music and to him. And then when we go away it’s a bit sad really, I wish we were more like The Eurythmics, I wish that he was really into being a performer, but he hates it.
“You keep me hanging on” was a huge hit for you, did you ever think it would be such a huge hit?
Well you know, it’s such a long time ago, I find it hard to even remember what I thought about it at the time. I do remember that it was a song that nearly, very nearly got neglected. It was a song that Ricki had worked on, like many other hits that we’ve had that got worked on and then put aside for a little whiile until they sort of got brought out last minute, sort of jobs, and turning out to be a smash hit. It’s very disconcerting, we’ve probably got about a hundred lef tin the studio somewhere, I don’t think so though. No but it nearly got overlooked. It nearly did.
Are there any other covers you have done or would still like to do?
Well we re-made a Todd Rundgren song on the “Close” album and we did a Shirelles number on the “B” side of “Rage to love” years ago, but the motivation for doing “Hangin’ on” was such, it was so spontaneous that to sit down and actually think up one would almost take away the reason to do it. You know, either you get an idea and you think oh yeah we’ve got to do it, which I’ve just had recently actually, but I won’t tell you what song it is, and that’s a great reason to do it, but to sit down and say we are going to do a cover what should, shall we do, now that is a recipe for disaster. I think a lot of artists do that and make big mistakes and put out very lacklustre covers. So the inspiration has to be very spontaneous and we’ve never really had that spontaneous inspiration to do it again and we’re very keen on creating music, you know writing and putting out stuff that’s original. I think it’s important.
Do you like doing duets with other artists?
Well again, working with Junior was a very spontaneous idea, but yeah I love working with other people, other singers and I don’t do it enough. And yes I would like to do it more. But usually it works better in a live situation, you know and if someone came to me with a really great recording project then I’d be realy up for it, but you know that really hasn’t happened.
So just as long as the project was right?
As long as the project’s right yeah, and you know we have been offered all kinds of things, all kinds of projects and we’re very careful about what we do and very careful, perhaps too careful, but in the end I think we’ve pretty much made the right decisions.
Did you learn anything from the Michael Jackson tour?
Things that are hard to put into words in many ways, you know things that probably sound quite boring just to talk about them. You know, a way of being on stage, a way of moving and I think the most important thing was I’m quite an understated sort of individual, I think most British people are actually. They’re quite laid back, that’s my experience of them having travelled quite a lot of Europe, I think the Brits are quite a pretty laid back lot, so for me it’s never been an easy sort of step into being a performer. It’s always, I’ve always felt a little bit kind of ‘what am I doing here’, but with the Michael Jackson thing I had absolutely no time to sort of ponder upon how embarrassed or how self-conscious I was becasue I was in a ridiculous situation. It was going to be sink or swim. I was either going to go down very badly or not and I just made a decision not to, it was a very clear decision, it was very calculated. I am not going to fail, I’m not going to be seen in front of the world’s media falling. It was just more than I could bear, the whole thought of it not working out you know, and it was that sort of determination that got me through it really and I think the most important thing that I learnt was (a) that I love doing it and (b) that I can be kind of good at it and (c) I think a very important thing was how audiences work and they really feel very strongly what you’re giving off, so you could be standing in front of 20 people or 20 thousand people, 200 thousand people and they’re all feeling the same thing and that is a really weird thing to come to terms with. It’s hard to describe but they know exactly if you go out there a little bit weak, they’re a bit like wild animals and they’ll jump on you and sort of kick you off. So if you go out fighting you can sort of give that back to the audience and there fight with you – that’s what I found.
On the tour it must have been a help to you to know that you’re unlike a lot of British artists as you’re incredibly popular in Europe too?
Well yeah, that was the, that was actually one of the main things tha tgave me the most courage, my fans, and my fan base all over Europe especially, and the pleasant surprise was when I did so many gigs in the UK, those were the pleasant surprises because although I’d had a lot of success here it had been quite sporadic of late at that time and I wasn’t really, don’t know what to expect and I had probably some of the most overwhelming responses here in my own country, so that was really fantastic, fantastic thing for my confidence. It really boosted my confidence and boosted my resolve to do my own tour when the time was right and hopefully soon the time will be right.
Are you now more confident about what you’re doing?
Yes, I am, it’s got a lot to do with getting older and being experienced and seeing that, that kind of lack of confidence gets you absolutely nowhere and you know I could get from A to B going through all that rubbish or I could get from A to B a lot quicker more directly with less hassle. So those lessons unfortunately take years to learn you know, too long for some of us and I mean really ambition isn’t something that is breed in British schools to British kids that look tell you to go and be ambitious, they tell you to do well in your exams and go to university or something, they don’t tell you to be ambitious for your life and no matter how much my family tried to give that to me, society doesn’t breed ambition, which is probably just a swell, there’s too much of it, as places such as Hollywood, maybe parts of America so that’s the other extreme. So I’m glad I’m on this side of the extremity.
How did you react to your sudden stardom when “Kids in America” became a huge hit?
Well I just sort of fired my nose a bit in those days, I’m sure everybody gave us much more credit than we were due, they sort of had this idea that we all sat down and planned it meticulously, the Kim Wilde campaign and she was gonna sort of wear this T-shirt with Bardot on, so that people may make this sort of tenious parallel, that somehow, I didn’t know there was none of that, I bought the T-shirt by accident in a market, put it on, I don’t even know who it was I jus tsort of thought it looked quite nice, the next thing I know is that the tabloids have got it “Bardot of Rock”. Mind you I can think of a hell of a lot of other people who they could have compared me to, I won’t have been quite so happy about (laughs). But I’d say a lot of it was say, was just very spontaneous and natural and all the mysterious, yo uknow it wasn’t a calculated affair, so I just had fun with it really.
What is your relationship like with the press nowadays?
Well I like the press because I don’t really, they’ve never given me a hard time, I’ve never given them a hard time and I appreciate that they’re just doing their job and they’re just doing the job, so some of them I personally like better than others, and some of them I just don’t like a tall and that’s just life, but because they’re a journalist doesn’t sort of give me an automatic response to them at all. I have a lot of admiration for a lot of journalists, they do a lot of investigative work and I really, I wouldn’t talk to them that much if I didn’t like them and I do a lot of press, as everyone knows, so if I had a problem with them I wouldn’t deal with them and anyway, I mean, a lot of people who don’t get on with the press I don’t know. I wonder sometimes really (laughs) what they’re trying to hid, but I can appreciate that the press are bastards to some people and that th’ve always been good to me.
What are the highlights of your career so far?
I think initiatlly getting the BPI Award in ’83, it’s meant a lot to me then and I wasn’t expecting it and when I first saw one of the songs tha tI’d written in the top 10, which was “Another Step” which I worte for Junior Giscombe and myself. The Michael Jackson tour was an amazing time for me, we did 35 shows and just that was just an amazing learning process for me about lots of things, not just performing and those would, I would point those out really, as the main ones and then plus all the wonderful opportunity to travel, travelling the world and it’s just a wonderful experience and continues to be.
What is your favourite place outside of Britain to visit and play or perform?
Well, I don’t know if there’s a favourite country or anythnig, I mean we do better in some towns you know than other towns. I like France very much. I spent quite a lot of time doing a lot of promotion there and speak a bit of French and they took to me in a big way. Sooner than any other countries bar Germany perhaps, but France is a sort of special place for me really. I think it was helped by the fact that I was encouraged to love France as a child at school anyway and loved the language from a very young age so those sort of things went in its favour.
And of course then a million of them went out and bought “Cambodia”?
Yes, and they’ve responded to me in such an overwhelming way and sometimes you know I remember once I was taking this milk trani up to Bradford doing some TV and my career was doing alright you know. But it wasn’t so great that I couldn’t – I had to take the milk train up to Bradford and I was sort of thinking oh God, you know really when does this schlapping ever end, and it was fun but it wasn’t very glamourous, and then the next week I was doing a TV in Paris and I got picked up at the airport in this beautiful white Rolls Royce and I just thought this is so ridiculous and you know I lfet the UK and they weren’t interested in me at all you know, the paparazzi would run past me and there I would be in Paris being fated and it was so, that’s why I’m very ambivalent about fame, I’ve seen it rush past me and I’ve seen it sort of rush to me and it doesn’t really mean anything to me anymore.
Has there ever beena point when you’ve said “I’ve had enough of this”?
Yeah, I mean not many but two or three key times really but I’ve got a really great team and we’ve been the same team from the beginning, my family, my brother, Nick at the office and Edwina all the people who work with us very closely have been there right from the “Kids in America” – right from the word go and before, so success for me isn’t a personal thing really. It’s a shared experience and so if I gave up, I’d be giving up for everyone, so I can’t do that (laughs).
I don’t think a lot of people realise that, they think it’s just deciding to stop but there is a lot else involved.
Yeah, there are and people who buy records as well, you know I mean I don’t know I would really love what I do and respect it. I’m not about to throw it away for anything even just feeling a bit down sometimes doesn’t warrant it. Everyone feels that if you love something you’re bound to have bad times with it.
Do the movies or TV appeal to you?
Well not, not really, no.
Have you been approached with offers?
I have been yes, but I have to add to that, that none of them have ever made it to the cinema or you can tell the sort of things that I’ve been offered. Mind you I was reading in the paper the other day that you know like there are some great actresses around that haven’t seen a great script for years, so I don’t know what hope there is for me to find anything half decent, I haven’t had any acting training. I’m interested in musicals, and I’m interested in music and acting. I had a sort of, I have an interest in as a spectator, I don’t really know if I’d cut it as an actress. I might have fun trying one day, I don’t think so (laugh).
Have you ever been asked to advertise anything?
Well I’ve been asked to advertise many things, but I don’t get involved in advertising for purely financial gain or anything because I think it sort of compromises me and I don’t do them.
So what does the future hold. Do you have any other ambitions?
I’d like to continue to make albums for the foreseeable future, for at least another three albums or maybe more, maybe more and, but really I would like to get a lot more songwriting done and I’d love to see another artist have success with a song that I’d written and I’d like to go up and get an award for songwriting instead of singing, and I don’t know I’d love to be involved in a great musical on all levels just more on the creative level really than, I can see the sort of, the public person, the public persona, that sort of just gradually taking a back seat and more of the creative stuff hopefully coming through, but I’m talking over a ten year period. I don’t want to frighten my record company. No I’m 31 now, I don’t want to be making records and strutting my stuff when I’m forty, it’s not my style. I admire people who do, but it’s certainly not my life plan, so you have to make a plan and that’s mine.
So you’re not after the sort of Cher, Tina Turner image?
No, I don’t think so not that. I hope that other things will be a priority at that time in my life.
Obviously now you’ve moved back into the country. Is that all sort of part of he creative process?
Yeah, it was in the same way that moving out was eight years ago, moving back was as well and it was a very important step for me to find a home, because I was living in a flat in London that always felt like an extended hotel room and I’d never sort of hang clothes up, they’d always be in suitcases and I felt constantly on the move and there was no stability and I was mising all my family and growing up. There’s lots of children in our family and I wanted to be part of their life, I didn’t want to be a sort of transient pop star, you know Auntie who? Is it Auntie Kim or something, I wanted to know, I wanted them to know me as an individual not someone they saw on the telly and in the newspapers and my life really changed dramatically when I left London, I found a lovely home here which I adore and my life just sort of suddenly blossomed and it was a turning point in my life. And it happened just prior to the album being written and conceived, so really for me the albums very much a celebration of that in many ways.
Do you want to make a prediction on the success of this single “Love is holy”?
I never like to, the response we’re getting now is a little overwhelming, I have to say and I’m not used to it so I’m very suspicious of it, so I’m really just holding back. I can feel great things just might happen but I just daren’t say it.
It’s like you said if you knew about all this success you’d bottle it up?
Yeah definitely, I just known now that I feel more confident than ever and that’s a really important part. The reason it’s important is because it helps you enjoy your success and for the first time in a long time I’m actually starting to really enjoy it on a real real sense, not sort of go “oh yes, I’m having a good time”. You know it’s really inside I’m really enjoying it, everything that I do is much easier to do. All the interviews, the photo sessions, making a video, it’s all easier, because I’m more confident about it.
So it’s all still good fun is it, even after 12 years of slogging it?
It’s more fun than it was yeah, ’cause I’m enjoying it more now, it is.