Interview

Shakespears Sister kiss and make up and talk to SDE about their future

Shakespears Sister / interview

Siobhan and Marcella on “laying the ghosts of the past to rest “

Just over 30 years ago, Shakespears Sister breezed into the top ten with their first single ‘You’re History’ and set into motion a perfect and peculiar pop sensation. Originally seen as a solo project for ex-Bananarama Siobhan Fahey, she teamed up songwriter and musician Marcella Detroit to knock up a few tunes. Together, their reign saw them produce a couple of albums and an armful of smash hit singles, as well as the record-breaking No.1 single ‘Stay’.

The collision of Marcella’s lungs and Siobhan’s kookiness may have played out like some campy hyper glam take on Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, but the drama became all too real when, collecting an award for Hormonally Yours at the Ivor Novellos in 1993 Siobhan’s publisher basically dismissed and binned Marcella (who was sitting in the audience) from the band, and, understandably, neither spoke to each other from that point on.

So, when the announcement came that Shakespears Sister were back. Back. BACK! earlier this year, it felt like a genuinely joyous and unexpected thrill. SDE joined Marcella and Siobhan on the phone during a break from rehearsals for their upcoming tour, to have a quick chat about their rebirth and future plans for one of the once thought unlikeliest reunions in pop…

SuperDeluxeEdition: So, the inevitable first question… How does it feel to be back?

Siobhan Fahey: Back in the saddle? Yes, it feels completely natural and wonderful. Marcy is getting a divorce and we’re getting married!

SDE: Have you been feeling the love? There’s been a wave of it since your return.

SF: It’s been really gratifying and amazing that people still remember and love us from so long ago. That our records from back then – people still play them and are affected by them, and they love the new material too, which is little bit of a departure

Marcella Detroit: Oh yeah, it’s been incredible.

SDE: Is this reunion about celebrating the past or a new future?

SF: I think both really. We didn’t really want to come back and do the retro thing at all, and we were keen with our reunion to do some new songs – which we love – and it just feels fresh and exciting and new.

SDE: The new songs seem to sit in quite naturally with your previous stuff – was that the intention, or is that just how you two write?

SF: I think it’s just the way we write together. We’ve got a sound which is me and Marcy and whatever style we do, be it punk or soul or country…

MD: Or rock

SF: Or rock… we’ve explored many different genres but it always sounds like Shakespears Sister’s take on those different genres.

SDE: Who made the first move in terms of getting back together?

M: Well, I’d reached out to Siobhan a few times – this is Marcy by the way, the one with the American accent – I reached out to Siobhan a few times over the years, but it just didn’t happen and then last year we got a call from our manager asking if we’d like to meet up, so Siobhan and I met up for tea, coffee…

SF: I didn’t get the call from the manager.

MD: I did, I got the call. Asking if Siobhan and me wanted to meet up, so we made a plan and met up in, not this May, May last year (2018) and we met up in LA in this little coffee shop and had a talk.

SF: I’d finally found the courage to grasp the nettle and confront the past and I was so very happy that I was able to do that, and it brought a whole new wave of creativity and a reconnection with what we did together and to celebrate that and enjoy that again.

MD: It was quite unique to have such diverse influences and we meet and connect somewhere and create something really unique, so it’s cool.

SDE: Even if you didn’t reconnect to do music, was rebuilding the relationship something that you’d wanted to do?

MD: Yeah, sure.

SF: Our initial meeting was about laying the ghosts of the past to rest and getting rid of all the ill feeling that inadvertently built up through a lack of communication, and that was something that both of us were physically carrying heavily around. As you get older you just don’t want to lug that stuff around with you. It’s just good to make your peace with your past.

SDE: Did getting back with the Bananarama get you more in the mood for it, Siobhan?

SF:Yeah definitely. That was such a joyful experience. It was reclaiming a part of myself that I’d left down the road, and I had another part of myself I’d left down the road that I needed to reclaim too to make myself whole again.

SDE: What was the process of getting back together? Did you each have some songs or started completely fresh?

SF: Basically, we booked an Air BNB in the desert and threw ourselves in at the deep end with a blank slate and with some ideas of what sound we wanted to make. We played each other records and discussed the musical direction and sound and that inspired the songs. We wrote the first two songs in the first four days that we were out there, we wrote ‘All The Queen’s Horses’ and ‘C U Next Tuesday’, both of which we loved and we thought ‘wow’ that we still had this special connection as writers, and as artists it was just really joyful.

MD: It was great. I brought y little portable studio and set it up and we just did it that way. Music software, a computer and some instruments and just started coming out with ideas. Like we did Hormonally Yours, me and Siobhan started that in my analogue studio back then, so yeah, much the same process but a different time.

SDE: Did you feel like there was no pressure this time around, with the record company pressuring to come up with the hits?

SF: I don’t think that was a pressure back then, we just came out with some very quirky records that we wrote back in ’92.

MD: Yeah, definitely.

SF: I think that there are less people around us now, it’s just us two with a whole new understanding of each other. Back then there were different managements and camps, and that never really reared its head in any way while we were writing. We were always pretty autonomous when we were creating.

SDE: So there’s a new EP and the tour, can we look forward to a new album?

SF: I’d love that definitely.

MD: We’ll see, as right now we only had time to do an EP with our initial writing sessions, and the time we’ve had, we had to come over here and do promotion and the big announcement that we were back together, so there’s really been no time to do more than an EP, but you know, we’ll see what happens. We have our EP coming out – on vinyl – it’s really amazing and looks fantastic.

SF: Great artwork, great production – it sounds amazing. Produced by Nick Launay, mixing by Alan Moulder who always mixed Shakespears Sister. I think we’re the only – I’m not sure you’d call us ‘pop’, but pop loosely speaking – but both of them are more rock and roll producers and mixers, and the record just sounds amazing.

SDE: I like how you’ve gone for a physical object, as it’s very easy to just bung a tune online

SF: Oh my God it’s so brilliant that we’re releasing it on vinyl. It was always so sad to see vinyl replaced by CDs, I thought it was such a con. Vinyl is vastly superior, but a little less portable, but it’s a really beautiful object. Because vinyl has made such a return we had to book the pressing plant six months in advance, which was another reason why we really wanted to get new material out for the tour, which is another reason why there wasn’t time to do a whole album as well.

SDE: I suppose as you had only the two albums and they were so spot on and perfectly enshrined the whole Shakespears Sister sound and outlook, that you didn’t end up having to dilute your vision over the years.

MD: Oh thank you.

SF: Aw thanks. We’re actually finding it difficult to keep the show to an hour and a half, and there’s so many songs to choose from and we can’t do them all!

SDE: You look like you’re really enjoying it judging by the Sophie Muller videos

SF: Oh yeah they’re fantastic aren’t they. And we’re very lucky to have her as like a visual third member as her videos have been so groundbreaking a crucial part of our artistic output. I was so happy when I played her the demo of ‘Queen’s Horses’, and she went “Oh I’ll make the video!” and I was like “Yeah!” There’s no one else to do it really.

SDE: I guess there’s that shared experience and humour and that you didn’t need to have to explain yourselves to a new director

SF: Yeah, she’s always creatively fed off the relationship between me and Marcy’s unusual relationship and brought out this ludicrous humour in that. She was very interested in trying to recreate that in the video, that very first meeting again!

SDE: Are there any plans to bring the first two albums out as expanded editions or vinyl?

SF: There is! Absolutely. Apparently around about Christmas time. On vinyl.

SDE: Great news. I recall there was some issue about reissues a few years ago, with Cherry Red and Sacred Heart? [readers should see this post for context – Ed]

SF: Oh I didn’t know anything about that.

MD: Me neither.

SDE: What was it like having ‘Stay’ at No.1 for eight weeks? I can imagine there was a ‘yay!’ when it reached there, but how was it come week five or six?

SF: Getting to No.1 was surreal.

MD: Couldn’t believe it really. After week four and it kept staying there and selling.

SF: And we’d be going back to Top of the Pops week after week, ‘here they are again’ ‘Yes it’s us! We’re back again!’

MD: It was really cool. You have to be grateful for that level of attention that happens with a mega-hit that still holds the record for the longest running number one for a female band in the UK to this day.

SF: Amazing

MD:We’re really proud of that.

SDE: Does it surprise you that you haven’t been beaten after all this time, even by things like the Spice Girls?

SF: Oh yes, I mean there’s not been that many records that have been No.1 for eight weeks by any artist, so I guess it’s a pretty difficult record to beat. But it’s incredible, I mean, what was it, a couple of decades ago?

MD: 1992, so it is incredible that no one has come along and broke that record, but no!

SDE: Don’t worry, 1992 seems only like three weeks ago to me

SF: I know!

SDE: What can we expect from the live shows? Is it a full band or something more theatrical?

SF:We’ve always been a spit and sawdust rock and roll band live, haven’t we?

MD: uh huh

SF: It’s the same set-up as what we went out with back in ’92, drums, bass, additional guitar and keyboard and it’s a fantastic band.

MD: It’s sounding great. We’re in rehearsals right now.

SDE: It must be great to feed off each other’s energies in a band

SF: Oh my God, your own songs live with a full band is one of the best experiences in the world and we’re going to share those songs with people that love them and still love them to this day. I think it’s like a group soul when you go to a gig, it speaks from the soul and to the soul. It’s gonna be pretty… I think I’ll get emotional.

MD: It will be amazing. I suspect on the first night – I don’t know what that’s going to be like, you know, try not to have too many expectations.

SF: Of the original band from ’92, our bass player Clare was quite emotional when she first heard about it, and we’ve got a special guest on additional guitar – Marcy plays guitar and harmonica – but we’ve got Marco Pirroni who was in Adam & The Ants, so he hasn’t played in a band for 20 years, so he’s coming out of retirement especially for us.

SDE: Are you hoping to record on the road, so to speak?

MD: No. It’s three nights on and one off, it’s going to be pretty intense.

SF: I know they say women can multi-task but I’m not one of them!

SDE: Is there a message to the fans you’d like to impart?

SF: Thank you… Thank you for your interest

MD: Yeah, and your support over the years. We have some fans who are diehard fans who have been there all this time

SF: And they’re still here now

MD: We really appreciate that

SF: It’s really moving actually that our music means so much to so many people, it’s been quite a discovery really.

SDE: I suppose it’s been great in recent years with things such as social media, is that fans can parade their passion and show their support

SF: That’s really, I suppose, how we know, and we get a much more direct reaction from the fanbase. It’s complimentary and supportive and excited and that’s amazing.


Thanks to Siobhan and Marcella who were talking to Ian Wade for SDE.

The Ride Again EP is released today. Ordered a SIGNED copy of the white vinyl edition from the SDE shop using this link or the button below.The UK tour starts in Nottingham on 31 October.

 

 

32 responses to Shakespears Sister kiss and make up and talk to SDE about their future

  1. Nick Love says:

    Hadn’t heard of this group so I popped over to Wikipedia and quickly discovered that Marcella Detroit is one and the same as Marcella Levy. I’m a big Clapton fan and she is all over Slowhand.

  2. Marcel F G Rijs says:

    Great interview, Paul. It made me listen to the new track and I subsequently ordered the CD-single (since I don’t ‘do’ 12″ vinyl anymore). Great to see that these girls are back and embracing physical product instead of worthless streaming.

    • Paul Nesmith says:

      Marcel,the interview was with Ian Wade,not Paul and streaming isnt worthless,its a convenient means to access music you would otherwise not hear,physical product in isolation could be considered worthless as it puts the power back into the hands of the record companies who have ripped us off for decades

  3. Robbert says:

    Ian- thank you so much for the interview. I am such a huge fan of Siobhan and all of her projects. I am elated SS are back together. Now if only they would do a few live shows in the US. Loving the new songs, especially Dangerous Game. Long Live The Queens!

  4. Jeremy Rance says:

    Let’s just all be grateful for the fabulous E.P. that arrived last week , sounding amazing , beautifully package and great artwork
    I never thought a tour would come , so let’s enjoy these couple of weeks and hope the reception they receive leads to further material which is surely more important

  5. The new music is absolutely fabulous, it’s like they just picked up where they left off. All The Queen’s Horses and When She Finds You is two of the best songs this year. I met Siobhan at the Bananarama reunion, she looked so happy and energetic at those shows. While I’m sad I could not make it to the UK this time I’m stoked they are back together. Thanks for the interview.

  6. blink says:

    I have been looking forward to deluxe versions ever since the one for Sacred Heart was announced some years ago (and then never materialized).

    If they come out on Vinyl only, that would be a major disappointment. I stopped buying Vinyl some 30+ years ago and have no intention of ever buying that again.

  7. Nick Mischel says:

    I too am in the camp wanting expanded deluxe-editions of the CD’s, but more than anything — I hope their new material goes beyond just an E.P. These ladies each have talent separately – but together they really shine!

  8. Gorecki says:

    I can’t help thinking if ever there was a time to release deluxe editions of the albums this would be it: you know, while there’s a tour, other records, TV appearances, press, momentum, interest…. but I’m not some fancy clever music industry type so what would I know! ;)

  9. Fil says:

    I too was kinda surprised that Marcella was very non-committal about recording a full album. Doesn’t want to get her hopes up, I suppose.
    And what is with Siobhan supposedly not know about any Cherry Red reissues? Wasn’t it her label that was going to re-release it instead??

  10. Dr Brown says:

    A deluxe remastered edition of Hormonally Yours with Remixes, B Sides and rareties would really get my blood flowing. Very glad they mentioned it in the interview. Im looking for the digital release, which you know they will release if they release the vinyls.

  11. Lee R. says:

    Good read – I’m a big fan of Marcy’s – I would encourage anyone to get her solo albums if you don’t already.

    And I’m a little surprised Siobhan didn’t get annoyed that Ian said there were only two SS albums – there were only two with Marcy, but Siobhan did about three more after that under that name. I know it’s implied he meant ‘the two they did together’ but yeah.

  12. Mark says:

    I thought Marcella communicated a hesitant and non- committal to the idea of SS recording further music.
    I wish them both well and hope their reunion works out for the best for them both.
    Meanwhile, I don’t recall the previously announced Sacred Heart SDE including the Live In Leningrad footage and hope they consider unearthing this amazing footage of their massive band which included Dave Stewart and Ray Cooper.It was an AWESOME performance and it appears the entire concert was professionally filmed.( I have seen footage of the song Sacred Heart from the concert as well as the 2 tracks released as b sides- Heroine and Dirty Mind)

  13. SG says:

    It is lovely that artists do vinyl releases for the vinyl collectors but i am also in the “must have” CD deluxe edition camp. Probably most of us left vinyl behind when record players became obsolete for some time and likely most of took our collections to CD.
    I am presuming most here are physical format lovers and have never embraced the download era.

    So the CD physical fans really need those deluxe editions on CD as i imagine there are more of those fans than vinyl although vinyl is a great option also of course.
    I also hope that “#3” and “Songs from the Red Room” get the deluxe works also.

    All 4 Shakespears Sister albums in deluxe glossy book format like “Singles Party” with insights into each album and fantastic photos included would be amazing and would compliment the fantastic “Singles Party singles collection” deluxe.

  14. joel ivins says:

    totally enjoyed the interview…glad the question about the deluxe versions was asked…hopefully something will come of it…regardless of the genre of the songs, it was always specifically SS sounding…looking forward to getting the cd so i can bump it up in the car…also very glad the interview didn’t go on ad nauseum about their break up and reunion…again, great read!!!

  15. Weston says:

    Same as to most of what you other peops have said. But it is a life changer for me. To have this group back. I do hope this comes out on c.d too. But gotta admit, I do miss my paper magazines lol. Smash hits, but then you wouldn’t get that interview and write up like that. Well done and thank you.

  16. Norn Cutson says:

    I feel that we can ALL get some healing from this!
    I would pull out my YOU’RE HISTORY or HELLO (TURN YOUR RADIO ON) from time to time, but I couldn’t really ENJOY them anymore because of all the bad feelings around SS.
    Now I can re-listen with pleasure and maybe it will inspire us to re-build some bridges in our own lives?
    Thank you for the great interview!

  17. COLM Kiernan says:

    Great interview! Should have known it was Ian Wade’s hand by his smile inducing Smash Hits reference- ‘back back BACK!’ Who can he interview to weave in the Uncle Disgusting moniker? answers on a postcard please…

  18. Alan Connor says:

    Great read. So looking forward to seeing them in November.

  19. Dave R says:

    Good read. One release I would like to see though is an official CD reissue of Marcy Levy’s pre- Sister solo album ‘Marcella’. Very overlooked piece of work.

  20. Dan says:

    Nice interview, I’m looking forward to seeing them in Manchester next month.

  21. MINO GAGLIARDI says:

    But why did they split up? On the interview you talk about a publisher’s fault

  22. Daryl says:

    Just showing my hand for CDs too. Vinyls are noce to hold and to look at, but CDs are far more practical (at least IMHO).
    I would definitely get the CDs! :)

  23. Robert Laversuch says:

    Very good read. Would also like to see the first two CDs expanded. Maybe you could turn the interview into a limited publication. That would be cool.

  24. Kauwgompie says:

    Great interview thank you Paul, but yes, those deluxe versions better come out on CD as well. That would be massively disappoitning if they did not. Even artists are telling the CD “don’t let the door hit you on the way out”. So disappointing. Given that most of Shakespear’s Sister’s fans probably bought CD’s in the 80’s & 90’s, they want to see CD’s now, like me. I’m never going back to vinyl.

  25. Tim says:

    Love the new single that has Richard Hawley involved. Not a whole lot about him in this piece and I was hoping that his presence on this album would be more pronounced (ala A Girl Named Eddy).

  26. Gary Hunter says:

    As always Paul, a very enjoyable read.

  27. Jason says:

    Brilliant interview and reunion Paul. Those fans like us never thought we’d see the day, and it truly is a special gift (and a top music story in my home this year). They are an inspiration to everyone who goes through things that you really can have it again if you want it, even if it’s not exactly the way it was. The new music has been smashing and we cannot wait to hear where they go from here. We missed SS! Iconic!

  28. jeremy says:

    I won’t be miffed. I would love to see those albums on vinyl. But any expanded versions will probably be on CD. It would be good to have both.

  29. Rickjapan says:

    Thanks for the interview, Paul, so good to see the girls back together again.
    Just downloaded the EP and looking forward to listening to the tracks.

    But if those first two albums FINALLY do come out as deluxe editions, people are going to be a tad miffed (to put it mildly) if they’re only vinyl, me included!!!!!

    My prayers are in for some luscious CDs, and I’m not ashamed of that feeling!

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