Q&A with Sharleen Spiteri of Texas
If Dubai’s competitive entertainment press agreed on one thing last year, it was that Texas put on a decent show. The Scottish pop group’s January 2014 gig at The Irish village won both What’s On’s Favourite Music Event and Time Out Dubai’s coveted Best Gig (up to 3,000 capacity). It’s just a shame no one took the time to tell lead singer Sharleen Spiteri. Naturally, Texas are back for another crack at the same venue tomorrow. We caught up with a surprisingly candid, often contradictory, Spiteri from her London home, where she was sitting on the sofa “with Steel Magnolias on the television and my dog lying at my legs – it’s bliss”.
Congratulations on winning the UAE’s two biggest live-music awards.
I had no idea. No one told us. I don’t think we’ll ever see them, mind.
There was a hiatus between 2005 and 2011 where you put out a solo album. Do you regret the break now?
Regret it? Are you joking? I was still trying to get rid of them – “just stop phoning me!” We’re family. There wasn’t really any time apart. In reality it was only a two-year gap, and in that time [guitarist] Ally [McErlaine] had a brain aneurysm, there were children, a lot of different emotional and difficult things happening within the band.
There’s a lot written about you facing prejudice as a woman in the music industry. What are your views on this?
I’m a woman and that’s it. You’re in a man’s world and that’s just the way it is. In the music industry, it’s always about jobs for the boys. But it’s the women who sells loads of records, so it doesn’t really bother me. But you’ve got to work to prove yourself a lot more, you’ve got to stand up for yourself, be tough – really tough – because it is really sexist.
So you think you’ve had a harder ride?
If I was a man in a British band right now, who had had a career as long as we’ve had, I’d be a hero. I’d be a national treasure – are you joking? If we were an all-male band then I’d probably be working at the UN by now. And if you don’t think it is [down to gender], then you’re being naive.
You also collaborated with both German metal band Rammstein and legendary US hip-hop collective Wu-Tang Clan. Honestly, who was weirder?
None of them were weird at all – I think Rammstein probably thought my band were weird. My keyboard player was trying jump into a river in Sweden. It was one of those nights; I actually had to get on the plane in a wheelchair.
That was a great night. It turned surreal when we got a phone-call from our manager the next day saying we’d been banned from the studio because we apparently had guns and were doing crystal meth. We were like “what?” – only a couple of people in the band even smoke and I certainly don’t carry a gun. I know I’m in a band called Texas, but that’s taking it a bit too far.
Yes, the name. Ever wish you’d thought it through a little more?
It’s had moments of carrying such massive preconceptions of what we do. When we were touring America everyone thought we were a country band.
There was a very surreal moment when I went to this Lionel Richie thing – he was amazing, hit after hit after hit, in a very small venue of about 30 people, absolutely mind-blowing – and I was introduced afterwards. “I’d like to introduce you to Sharleen Spiteri from Texas.” He said: “Nice to meet you, whereabouts in Texas are you from?” I said: “I’m not actually from Texas, I’m in a band called Texas.” And he was really puzzled. This went on all night. Lionel Richie would go off and talk to other people and then come back and say: “Texas?” And I was: “Just give me a break with Texas – enough!”.
Texas perform at The Irish Village on Thursday, November 5, doors open at 5pm. Tickets are Dh195 from platinumlist.ae
Updated: November 3, 2015 04:00 AM