Sharleen Spiteri on the new Texas Album: Texas 25
“With this album, we didn’t just want to make a Greatest Hits again - that can be a bit lazy!”
When Texas started work on their new record, they didn’t begin by writing songs – in fact, they put their guitars to one side and dug out some old photo albums. “25 years already felt like a really significant anniversary, but it was only when we looked at all the old photos that things felt so much more real,” explains Sharleen Spiteri, who formed Texas when she was a 17-year-old hairdresser with her friend Johnny McElhone.
“With this album, we didn’t just want to make a Greatest Hits again - that can be a bit lazy!” the straight-talking Scottish singer laughs. “We wanted to document our history – 25 years, as a band, when you think about it, that’s like ‘woah!’ Also, it’s important, because there are really not that many female-fronted bands who make that.”
Those photo albums – filled with snaps of Sharleen taken by world-famous photographers Ellen von Unwerth, Juergen Teller and Rankin, among others – inspired the band to completely revisit the most iconic songs from their discography. “We play these songs all the time, so now they just feel like part of my everyday life and routine,” explains Spiteri, but this anniversary prompted the musicians to listen to their tracks with ‘fresh ears’. As soon as they hit on this idea, Spiteri knew exactly who to call.
“I’d already worked with the producers Truth and Soul on my solo album Melody, and I really loved the way that they put a record together,” she says. “I knew they would have a great approach to this album, because although our fans and people who know us have grown up with these songs, the Truth and Soul guys hadn’t heard them before we went into the studio with them. They wouldn’t know a Texas song if it hit them in the face! So when we played ‘I Don’t Want A Lover’ to them, it could have been a demo, for all they knew. They were coming to it completely fresh.”
The band worked with the producers in their Brooklyn, New York studio to rework their hits, and this collaborative process gave Spiteri a chance to re-hear the songs she has been performing for a quarter of a century. “The songs took on a whole new meaning for me, because we considered them so much more. Parts of the songs which might not have seemed so important suddenly became so poignant to me, I suppose because I was singing them with a whole new perspective now,” she reflects.
Another contributing factor to Texas’ new approach was the involvement of new songwriting collaborators, Jack Townes and Karen Anne, who worked on the new single, ‘Start a Family’. “When we are all writing together, different parts of each song mean different things to each of us. And then that changes again when I sing the songs; when words come out of my mouth, they can mean something totally different again. It’s natural because I’m going to add my own emotion to them,” Spiteri says. She appears in the video for the track with actor Alan Rickman, who is a longtime Texas fan – and who previously danced the tango with Spiteri in the video for ‘In Demand’, back in 2000.
The haunting single is a melancholy, contemplative track. Spiteri explains the thought process behind their new offering: “’Start a Family’, to me, is about choosing different paths. Even beginning the song with that line, ‘You can start a family/Or you can start a war’, sums it up, essentially. It is about all the different paths in life and the various choices you can make. I definitely consider personal choices to do with life and love with more experience now.”
The singer will be sharing some of that wisdom and experience when Texas hit the road in April, for a UK tour with a difference. The interactive set up of ‘An Evening With Texas’ will give the audience the chance to pick the set list for each show, with Spiteri sharing stories and anecdotes between the songs. With 25 years’ worth of hits to choose from, the shows will be a true homage to Texas’ successful quarter century of making music together. As Spiteri puts it: “We’ve had a real ‘producer’ moment in music over the last year or so, with people like Pharrell Williams and Mark Ronson doing so well. With this album and tour, we really wanted to get back to songwriting, so that is exactly what this is: a celebration of songwriting.”