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Interview with Keren Woodward & Sarah Dallin of Bananarama In conversation with Mark Cooper

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Interview with Keren Woodward & Sarah Dallin of Bananarama In conversation with Mark Cooper

Mark: We have here in your biography that you are the most successful British girl group of all time, .I wondered how that squared with when you started off, whether that was an ambition or whether that was the furthest thing from your mind?




Keren: It was the furthest thing from our mind. mean, we put our first single out on an independent label, and at the time we didn't have any idea it would last this long. Basically, it was just a laugh at the time; we didn't think, 'This is going to be OUR career.' In fact, it took about two years before we actually realised it, sat down and thought, 'This could last for a long time, and this could actually be our career.'

Sarah: It was a couple of years before it even seemed like work; we were just too busy enjoying it. The initial success we were quite lucky in a lot of ways, and we had a few lucky breaks, suppose, the main one being with Fun Boy Three, We just presumed that this was how it would always be, and it wasn't until we had a record out that wasn't a hit that we were taken aback with shock, because we couldn't believe that we had put a record out that wasn't a hit.

Mark: All of your first, four or five singles, then, were hits.

Keren: Yeah, they all went top five or whatever, and we just thought, 'Great, that's obviously the way it is,' and we didn't really have to pay our dues. But think we paid for that dearly in that having to develop in the public eye was a lot harder than doing your work beforehand.

Mark: Right at the start, when you say that it was just a laugh, what were you doing then, when you started? I mean, had you all sung together, and had your friendship existed long before you started singing? 

Sarah: Yeah, we had been friends for quite a while before the group started. Keren and I met at school, and met Siobhan at the London College of Fashion, where we were training to be journalists. But we finished that course and neither of us got a job, so we were both on the dole. And we lived above a rehearsal studio, which belonged to the Sex Pistols, who were then just The Professionals, Paul Cook and Steve Jones, and Paul was a good friend of ours. We just used to go down there and mess around on the instruments, and he suggested that we get our own band together. We'd never really thought about it before, and that's how it all started. 

Keren: None of us, although we'd played the odd chord, wanted to actually sit down and become proficient on instruments, because it would take too long, and it was a spur-of-the-moment thing. Also, none of us wanted to be behind a drum kit or a keyboard; we all wanted to be up front. So it just happened that there were three of us carrying on in the 'three-girl group' tradition. There were originally four, actually, but one couldn't sing, so had to go, unfortunately. It was just a big joke, just because we loved gatecrashing other people's gigs, and we'd get up and do backing vocals, or just dance, whatever just to get up on stage. 

Mark: But from the start you were very different, because when you think of the average group with backing singers, they are very different: You think of a male Croup and a couple of very busty showbiz types, that's the tradition of backing vocalists, mean, you changed that right from the start.

Sarah: Well, we were completely un-showbiz, which is what attracted Fun Boy Three to us in the first place. In fact, it was the moccasins that Terry spotted (which are still worn today) in a picture, and he lust thought it was brilliant, the way we were three really casual- looking girls, as opposed to trying to be glamorous pop stars.

Keren: Basically we just took what we did in discos and clubs and put it on a stage or in front of a camera; it was no, more calculated than that, really, very natural for us.

Sarah: But the voice is an instrument it doesn't mean to say that you are not musical.

Mark: Or that you don't have musical ideas, of what the beat should be there, or what should come in there. 

Keren: But unfortunately a lot of musicians think that they're the only ones who can handle it, that they know best. 

Sarah: But producers are really important to our group, I think more so than your normal rock band.

Mark: Did you realise that from the start? I mean, you've had different producers right from the start; did you ever try and produce yourselves? Or feel that you should be doing that? 

Sarah: No, not really, because producing a record didn't really interest me personally, or any of the others, I don't think, I mean, they've got their job and we've got ours. They are important to us because we often co-write with them; we do write songs on our own, but it's very hard because we can't play instruments to actually put melodies and things down. So it's important that the people we work with really understand the kind of music we want to make, and want to make that music as well. 

Mark: Has your style of singing been changed much by producers, or has that remained very constant from the start? 

Sarah: It has on this album. I mean, with Jolley and Swain we got very bogged down, in that Bananarama had developed a sound of singing in unison, and they wanted to perfect that sound. So it would mean that you couldn't actually get behind a mic and sing. It got to the point where it was just suffocating, because we'd all have to sing everything completely in time with each other , and in a certain way so nothing stood out, and that's the way they wanted it. On this album, we've been encouraged, really, to get in and do solo vocals, and we've just sung live harmonies and things around a mic, and it's been much more enjoyable. You actually feel like you're singing, as opposed to going through something line by line. 

Mark: Keeping that unison thing, was that something that the producers almost said, 'Oh well, this is Bananarama, so you have to be like that?

Sarah: Yeah, all the time. mean, with Jolley and Swain we did try and do solo things, but they'd say, 'Well, this might be a single, and also it sounds like all three of you but it just sounds a bit weaker because it's only one of you,' which is a really pathetic approach, I think. It sort of sapped all our confidence and we just thought, 'What's the point?'

Keren: I mean, we have all got different voices, that happen to blend very well. We were never encouraged to sing differently in any way, or to develop our own styles. I mean, on this album, each person has sung a bit that suits her better than someone else. And we're not afraid to say, 'Oh well, that suits your voice better,' and we' re not afraid to say can't manage this bit, it's a bit low, I think Sarah would be better,' because we know we're all going to get a chance to go in there and at least have a go at singing.

Sarah: It was like us three were the only ones who wanted a change, and the record company were too afraid to change They found a winning formula with Jolley and Swain and wouldn't change, but they couldn't see that that formula wasn't really working any more. It was wearing thin, basically.

Mark: At the start, it was very rare, I suppose, the unison singing

Keren: It's very hard to sing in unison, I might add. 

Mark: Because you think originally of the sixties girl groups as being very much counter voices, harmonies and high voices, and you sound, initially, as you say, when it started that w as a break from all that business.

Mark: Do you think that struck a chord? I mean, I don't know if you know - or if anybody knows - who their audience is, but you seem always to have had as much appeal for girl fans as for male fans, right from the start. Is it because of that, do you think?

Keren: Yeah, I think our charm was that we weren't too professional. I mean, we couldn't be because we didn't know what we were doing. So I think the fact that we tried to do dance routines which always went wrong on Top Of The Pops, I think that was really amusing. And we always laughed about it on stage, we didn't think, 'Oh my God, we've gone wrong, that's really bad,' we just didn't mind failing in public. 

Sarah: I mean, it was to amuse ourselves anyway, those sorts of things. We just got a bit bored with bopping around next to each other, and we would do it in the dressing room before we went on Top Of The Pops. it was a bit unheard of really, to be so completely unrehearsed. 

Keren: I mean, we didn't behave professionally at all, we didn't even know what camera to look in, and when it did come on us, we looked away and giggled.

Mark: When you talk about it like this, when you talk about the start, you talk very much as if 'that was then, and this is now.' Obviously, things have changed a lot for you; you've lasted a lot longer than you expected to last, and it has become more of a career for you. Was there a point when it changed clearly for you, or has it just evolved? 

Sarah: I think it's just evolved, really. I mean there was a time when we managed ourselves, and we were going to lawyers' meetings and everything. We never seemed to progress any further, because we were always bogged down with the financial side and the business side, and couldn't get on with what we were doing. We did a few albums where we weren't really sure on the direction; we wanted to write all our own stuff, and wouldn't use other people's songs. Then we wanted to be taken seriously, so we wrote heavier lyrics and tried to involve political things, but that didn't really work for us. We were ashamed, in a way, of being just 'a pop band'. 

Keren: It was down to the press really, the press seemed to slag us off, firstly for being unprofessional: 'They can't dance ' and all that. Then it was like, it just wasn't enough to be a pop group, you had to be something deeper. I think there's a bit of a change coming about now, and pop seems to be much more acceptable. And certainly last year, after the last album, when we moved on to Stock, Aitken and Waterman, it was just like a breath of fresh air, because they are unashamed pop producers, and all they're interested in is a song that people want to enjoy and dance to. It doesn't have to say anything; it's just there for what it is, and we just decided that that's what we should be doing anyway. We are a pop group, and I think that through the success we've had in our hit singles, the most successful ones have been pop records. I mean, any time we've tried to put out a more serious record, it hasn't been received in the same way, and so we have got over that, and we're not embarrassed anymore. We've just made a classic pop album in the traditional sense, and we are really proud of it.  Mark. So in this 'depressing' period, do you feel that you were led astray, or was it something that you tried to become that you weren't?

Sarah: Both, really. I think it's something we had to do, and I'm glad we did it; we don't have any regrets about doing it. I mean, it didn't sell as well as our lighter stuff has, but still think it was necessary to go through that sort of period.

Mark: Has it been frustrating or difficult for you because you didn't start off as musicians, having in a sense had to learn how to be musicians? I mean, during the course of making four albums now, you've had to learn how the studio works.

Keren: The thing that is frustrating is that you do have musical ideas, and it's very difficult because you can't just sit down and say, 'No, it should sound like this,' and play something to them. You have to use words and sometimes it's really hard to describe something you want. It's sometimes a bit touch and go whether you get what you're after, you have to keep redoing it. But it's a lot easier working with Stock, Aitken and Waterman anyway now, because they're less precious about the musical side of it, and they're willing to listen to 'non-musicians.' I mean, we are non-musicians in the sense that we don't play an instrument very well. 



Keren: But we did all want to sing together. If any of us had wanted to be a solo singer, we would have done that long ago. We wanted to all sing together, and we wanted to sing in unison; that's how it started. But there comes a time when you just want to develop. 

Mark: When you talk about different voices, can you describe what each voice is like? I know it's hard to describe in words, but do you think of each other as having a certain kind of voice? 

Sarah: I think Keren and I can sing quite harsh, you know, like 'Walking in The Sand' well, not quite as good as that, but that kind of voice, more nasal. Also, I go quite low; Keren can't go quite so low, and Siobhan's got a sort of rich, low voice as well. 

Mark: There is a lot of contrast there obviously, which you felt wasn't coming out.

Sarah: But when we do get to sing in unison, it's amazing. We've been doing it for so long now that you can't tell one apart from the other when we're actually singing in that way, because we've learned to blend with each other; automatically, one goes back or forwards. Even phrasing has become such a natural thing; we all tend to just do it automatically just like the Bee Gees.

Mark: How do you rehearse your sort of singing? You say you write now with your producers. is singing something you sort of do very much for the albums, do you practice it a lot when you're working on an album how does it evolve?

Sarah: Well, with this album, we just wrote a song in one day, and we'd go in that day and record it; you just sing it through a couple of times.

Keren: We sing it through a couple of times in front of the mic, and we change the melody around if we think it's sounding a bit boring. I mean, we just sort of work it out, it's usually really quick. It's just a case of agreeing, you know; I don't like labouring over something; it just becomes really boring.

Sarah: Yeah, that was one of the reasons why we just had to move on as well.

Keren: If it doesn't work when you sing it through, that's it.

Mark: So it was all becoming like hard work, in a sense?

Sarah: Yeah, I mean this album we've enjoyed making so much, just because everything was so quick. You can hear it in the songs, you can hear that we're enjoying ourselves. OK, there might be the odd bit where we're out of time with each other, but I think that adds to it as opposed to taking away; it makes it far less bland I think we were in danger of completely blanding out vocally on the previous couple of albums. We're more back to how we were when we started now, when we used to just get up and sing. It's the same thing, we're back to enjoying ourselves.

Mark: You say that from the first Stock, Aitken and Waterman were perfect, because they understood that way of working. They are also producers who've produced a lot of women singers, Why are they so good at that, do you think?

Keren: Well, I think Pete is a bit Motown-obsessed, and would like to think he had a mini-Motown in the making. He's not actually much to do with the producing of the records; he's more the ideas man, and he manages it, really. We're not like the other girl singers that they have in their stable; I don't think we're like the other groups that Peter Waterman has, all of them are just vocalists. They don't have any input in the writing of the songs, or how the songs should sound, so I think that that is what makes us a lot different. But we always get lumped into the same category, which I find insulting really. We do add quite a bit when we record stuff. 

Sarah: I mean, they mostly do hit singles; people want a hit single and they go to them, and so they write a song and they say, 'Sing this, this is how it goes.' And also, the Mel & Kim album is a Stock, Aitken and Waterman album; they just came in and sang what they were told. I think, apart from Dead Or Alive whom they work with, who must be the only boys whom they work with, we must be the only other group who actually goes in and has input, we co-wrote with them, because they don't co-write with anyone, not that I think there's anything wrong with it.

Mark: But the other women singers are very much completely in their mould in that sense; they make it all, and they are very much the vocal on top of it. And they are all sort of image singers, Samantha Fox, Mel & Kim, the image is very much the forefront. Obviously, your image is important, but there is obviously a lot more to it; otherwise you wouldn't be the longest surviving girl group in history, as we've said before. This record ('Wow'), though, is very much a dance record. Did you always see yourselves as a dance group, or is that something that's  

Sarah: I think when we started off we did, and then we kind of went off on a tangent, and lost our direction completely. 

Keren: I think it's because Jolley and Swain when we went to them it was because we liked Imagination, and that was sort of dance music at the time. But then things progressed to the way they are now, and they didn't move on, and they weren't dance producers. And when we tried to do dance records, they didn't quite hit the mark; they were more pop records, whereas this is more dance/pop, I suppose. They wrote 'Respectable' (the Mel & Kim song) for us, and they played it to the record company, and they said, 'They can't do that, it doesn't sound like Bananarama.' It was too far away from Bananarama, which I was really pissed off about when I heard.

Mark: So, the dance thing, there was a point when you were doing more ballad-y type stuff, there in the middle, wasn't there, rather than.

Sarah: There's always been a few ballads on our albums, but every time we release them, they are never hits, because I think the public has a very set idea of what kind of records Bananarama should make, and so they don't really accept us doing anything else. So I think we've always got to plan the release of singles very carefully. We've got two very good ballads on this album, one of which we really want to be a single. 

Mark: Which one was that?

Keren: We all love 'Come Back', but it is just a different type of song. It's more grown up, really, in the production and everything, and we would love to put that out; but you have got to pave the way first, because we are very wary of putting out something like that too soon. I think if we could get a few hits up front and gradually change it, with one that's in between, then that might work. But if we stuck that out tomorrow, I don't think it would be accepted. We have learned by our mistakes in that respect I think, a lot.

Sarah: Also, there is a big difference between Europe and America. What you release in Europe you do not necessarily release in America. Our next single is not being released in America because they don't think it's right for North America. The album's quite European sounding, I think, a lot of the tracks.

Mark: Yes, the production seems to mix; there are very state-of-the-art dance tracks, then there is HI-NRG in there, there's Miami music, there's House music. They are very good at assimilating everything around them, and so are you obviously, in mixing it all together like a sort of cocktail or whatever.

Keren: We have always thought that it didn't really matter what sort of music we attempted, because it always comes out sounding like Bananarama. And there is no mistaking a Bananarama record, as people have told us time and time again.

Mark: Are you fans of dance music? Do you follow what is happening in dance music with 12-inches or whatever? 

Sarah: Not religiously. We all like dance music and we go to certain kinds of clubs, but we are not snobbish about it, you know, won't dance to only one thing. I just like all kinds of music.

Mark: You mean when House music's in, you won't only dance to House music records?

Keren: I cannot bear places which will play just hip-hop or something. I'd rather hear something right across, ranging from Tom Jones to Madonna, to hip-hop, so there's everything. I mean, you do notice certain songs sound better than others to dance to, and we quite often go into the studio and say we really like the sound of this record, and there's a really good instrument, or the drum beat's really good or whatever, you know. And we do get ideas from that, but normally Peter's got in first anyway, because he does follow dance music really closely. I mean, like with the Spagna record, he came into the studio months before anyone had even heard it and said, 'This is going to be the biggest thing throughout Europe, and it will be a hit here as well,' and we said, 'Yeah, yeah, sure' And it was. He seems to have an ear for that sort of thing.

Mark: 'Yes, one of the tracks on the album, the remix 'Mr. Sleaze', in the rare-groove style, he did, didn't he? 

Keren: That was something we wanted to do. It was on a day when we had been trying to write a song in the studio and it just hadn't come off, so he said, 'Let's do it, then.'

Sarah: Yes, the last track. There wasn't much thought put into that, we just all sang what we thought

Mark: But it does add up well, doesn't it. It's almost like a guide to all the different types of dance music that have been happening over the last year, all mixed together in different styles. Lyrically, did you write all the lyrics for this album, or do they have a hand in the lyrics as well?

Sarah: Well, we do work together, but I mean, lyrically we were always strongest, but I don't think the lyrics on these exactly tax the brain. We just went off the traditional Motown kind of lyric. They were very simple, relationship-type songs, and we thought, why be embarrassed about it, you know.

Mark: From the cover onwards, it is very much a boy-and-girl sort of

Keren: I think classic pop songs always are we didn't want to get heavy with lyrics and try to write heavy political things; they get lost in pop songs anyway. It seems like a bit of a waste of time. We are not the sort of group where people take much notice of that sort of thing. I mean, we just went in to write a classic pop album in the same mould that Motown used to do it, and therefore we wrote about the same sort of things. think one goes with the other; it really suits the tracks, those sort of lyrics. 



Mark: One of the things that had been very strong about the group from the first is that you have always been very good at projecting the group in videos, and having ideas for videos and different settings for them. 'I Heard A Rumour' is I think one of the best videos you have done. I don't know what you thought of that. 

Sarah: Well, I think our group is based on a sense of humour, really, and that's what we try to get across; but the first couple of videos we were all a bit shy and didn't know how to work with the camera, and then we worked with different directors who didn't understand our sense of humour, so it didn't come across at all. And now, after six years we have found people that really know what we are about, really understand our humour, and we have confidence in them to actually do it on camera so the last few videos, from 'Venus' on, I suppose, it really worked. 

Mark: Because 'Venus' is a bit of a classic, isn't it?

Keren: I think it was once we actually got all our ideas in, and people who actually listened to our ideas and didn't get wound up in their own ideas and what it should look like. Finding people who understood us, who would work with us and listen to us, and who wanted to do something that might sound really ridiculous on paper, all the dressing up sort of thing it is very camp really, we have got that sense of humour all the time, and getting the boys in. We are not trying to be goddesses or anything like in the 'Venus' video, it is just a big joke really, a bit of a piss-take.

Mark: Have you always liked camp things? 

Sarah: Yes, when we used to go to clubs, we used to act out our songs rather than dance seriously you know, gyrate around the nearest pillar, or the nearest man, whatever.

Mark: That's really there in the 'I Heard A Rumour' video, it's full of toy-boys as I remember, parading around you in one form or another.

Keren: Well, the one that we have just done, 'Love In The First Degree', we even designed our costumes for the boys. It was going to be like a spoof of 'Jailhouse Rock' but we decided instead of the boys having long trousers and jackets they would just have mini-briefs and a very short vest.

Keren: And they were made out of striped material like our version of a prison uniform. They felt like complete prats; when they put it on but we thought it was hysterical.

Mark: Yes, I must say, the last couple of videos you have really put the boys through their paces. 

Sarah: Give them a taste of their own medicine. 

Keren: Yes, there are so many male groups who use women to doll up the sets.

Mark: The fashion in American videos for ages - I think ZZ Top started it, but at least ZZ Top had the sense to stop. 

Keren: Well, getting a long-legged vampy woman in so we just decided to turn the tables a bit. I think 'Venus' was such a brilliant record to start doing it with as well, because of the lyrical content, and from then on we didn't really want to get away from it. So whatever the lyrical content we still keep the same theme. 

Mark: I suppose one of the things about being in an all-girl group is that you are bound to end up doing it in a female sort of way.

Keren: We used to be a lot more embarrassed about it, a lot more conscious that we didn't want to play on being women, and 1 don't think we were remotely sexy when we first started off, we were very girly. 

Sarah: Boys used to write to us and things, but it was in a completely different way. It just comes from being used to being in front of the camera as well. Now, we aren't serious, but we are more grown-up, anyway - we are women.

Mark: It is true though - I mean the last record and the album before and the videos from it are very much more mature in that way, but at the same time they are probably even more humorous than they probably were before.

Keren: I could never get in front of the camera and try to be a vampy, sexy woman.

Sarah: Oh, I could!

Keren: But if you are doing it with a sense of humour, you could go more over the top!

Mark: It must be really difficult for those people who do actually, when you see all those videos. It must be an appalling role to have to play with long legs, and you know you are only there for your legs. Has that been part of the whole process of lasting with Bananarama? From what you are saying, has it been getting more say, in a sense, or making sure that your voice, or what you wanted to do, is heard now?

Sarah: We have always done what we wanted to do, no one's ever pressurised us, it's just that people do not always understand what we wanted to do, so they try and do what you have said, but it didn't come out the way we wanted.

Keren: It is just getting it to go in the right direction, getting everyone else around you working in a team, which we didn't have before.

Sarah: Now we have English management, American management, we never had anything like that before.

Keren: We have also let go of a lot as well; we had to. There has to be sometimes a state of compromise, which we would never ever go for earlier on. We just had to do everything our own way, we would not listen to anyone, we were just bloody awkward really. We were before, and I think it has done our career the world of good as well. We now take care of the things that we should be taking care of and leave other people to do their side of the business.

Mark: So it is really getting to a point where collaboration really works.

Keren: Yes, you all do your own bit, you don't try and do everything like we used to do.

Mark: Has being in a group that's lasted this long, which began with a friendship and then became a group, has that changed the friendship a lot. Because I know there was a period two or three years in, you all bought houses in the same street supposedly, and now obviously one of you is about to be a mother, one of you already is has that friendship changed a lot during the course of the years?

Sarah: Yes, it's changed but I think it was good we were friends before we formed the group, and that we weren't put together by anyone. That's, I think, the key to why we've lasted so long but you would think that it would be such a strain that there would be splits in the group, I think we went through a bad time when we all lived together, as everything ran over into your domestic life, and we were just continually arguing. And then we bought houses next door to each other, which was fine.

Mark: Why did you do that?

Sarah: Well, I found the house first, actually, and everyone else came to see them. There just happened to be four houses in the same street, the only four houses, so we all bought them. 

Mark: Good for borrowing milk and sugar.

Keren: Yes, we got a discount on them, buying in bulk. 

Mark: Was there a period when you just didn't want to be separated?

Keren: Well, we all rely on each other, just because of the fact that we go through the same things, the same pressures, and most people outside the group think it's a piece of cake travelling around the world, and you're really lucky to be doing it. They don't realise that there's so much work involved or that there can be so much stress. We've all been close to breakdowns on several occasions.

Mark: Travelling around America for three weeks, six and a half months pregnant, for example, that must be pretty tough. 

Keren: I don't know, that wasn't so bad, because I knew before I went that there was no way I was going to enjoy it, so it wasn't as bad as going and hoping you were going to have a good time and not having a good time.

Sarah: Having a number one there made it all worthwhile.

Keren: When you see results you can go through anything really. We accept it now, we accept the bad with the good, and we know it's got to be done, and we just get out and do it. We're much more professional, we try not to complain too much.

Sarah: We're more organised now, so we actually sat down at the beginning of the year and decided we should take more time off, because we just lived Bananarama every single day for four years, and it became a bit of a treadmill.

Keren: We never went on holidays, we never had much time off, we were always there waiting.

Mark: We were talking about changing the friendship: you'd described the time in the houses, but that's all ended, hasn't it? You've all moved away from that area?



Sarah: Well, Siobhan obviously, because she married Dave Stewart, has now got a completely different lifestyle, but think that has worked in our favour, really. There's not so much pressure on us to be available all the time, we just have a life outside Bananarama. 

Keren: It just means you do the same amount of things but concentrate them into two weeks' promotion instead of two months. 

Mark: Has it been difficult adjusting? As you say, from the start, the public has this idea of Bananarama as a girlie group. Do you find that a constant problem, that people's ideas of you are quite different from what you're actually like?

Keren: I'm not sure they are any more. They must see the change in us; it is quite a shock for me to look back and think that one of Bananarama has had a baby, and another one is married with one on the way. It doesn't seem to fit in with how I imagined the group, but then we've all changed so much. The people who were our fans in the beginning have all grown up as well, they're six years older.

Sarah: I just think that after six years, people have had to take us seriously, even if they don't particularly like the group. They realise that there is something there because we're still having hits. 

Keren: We've had our first good album reviews in years on this album, and I just think we've had our bad times in the press, it's never bothered us before. But there does seem to be a change in the way people are writing about us, and it probably has got something to do with the press noticing before we did, we didn't have a clue, that we were the most successful group, and that we've been going for six years, and however hard they've been trying to beat us down and say we're rubbish, we still keep coming back year after year.

Mark: Does it hurt, this sort of battering that you describe?

Keren: Not any more.

Sarah: Yes, it always does, for me. 

Keren: I ignore the reviews now. 

Sarah: But you still have to read them. 

Keren: think the hurtful thing is the way the gutter press write personal things. Siobhan went through a really hard time over the wedding, probably through a lot of jealousy and the fact that they didn't accommodate the press in what was a private family wedding, so they got slagged off for it, and they said, 'These people didn't turn up ,' and 'Those people never turned up.' And those were the people who weren't invited anyway; it was family and friends. As it was, they let the press in on a coach, so they could all take a picture, to try and get rid of them, but that just wasn't enough. They probably expected to be invited to join in. I think it's really sickening. All the time before the wedding, they were trying to rake in the dirt 'What was Siobhan like before you went out with her,' all that sort of thing. It's really disgusting that youu have to go through that, but then a lot of people in the public eye have to go through that. It's part of being famous.

Mark: But you've had to go through all this in the public eye! so you were really thrown in the deep end in that sense, weren't you?

Sarah: They were very kind to us to start with. It was when they started to be nasty you think, 'Why don't they like me?'

Keren: We did get really upset at one time. We felt, 'What is the point in us doing this?' No one bloody likes us, everyone hates us, there's never a nice word written about us. But it didn't make any difference to record sales really; they really haven't got as much influence as they like to think they have. They write one thing one week and it's forgotten the next, it doesn't last. I think the more intelligent members of the public can make up their own minds.

Sarah: It was a big problem for us because we got so depressed about it we used to complain and moan in interviews all the time, so all our interviews were really depressing to read. 

Keren: We were all trying to say, 'Look, we do this, we do that, we write all our own songs, we can sing.' We got sick of saying it.

Mark: It's an odd progress, really, isn't it? Now that you have been going six years, does that make you more confident about the future, or does it remain a day-to-day thing for you? 

Sarah: I think it'll always remain a day-to-day thing for us, because we just can't be organised, it just never seems to work when we plan things, nothing ever comes off. It's like the tours that are always planned, and then twice people have got pregnant. Perhaps I'll go solo. 

Keren: I think we're a lot more confident than we've ever been, we've found where we should be at, but we could never say, 'Well, next year we're going to be touring in March, and we're going' to make a new album in August. It never ever works.

Sarah: I think we're not the kind of band who will do a six-month tour round the world, I just think we'll do the odd show here and there. It's not going to be like the usual bands. 

Keren: It's a really burning ambition for us all to get up and do proper gigs in front of a live audience, and I'm sure we'll get around to doing it one of these days. But it has to be done in a completely different way from your usual rock 'n' roll tour, because we're just not that sort of group, and we couldn't bear it. We're not very good travellers, to be honest. We like to settle in places for more than a night. I couldn't bear it.

Mark: When you meet other musicians, are you very conscious of that, that you aren't like other rock 'n' roll bands, in a sense? 

Keren: No, we're more likely to get on with rock 'n' roll groups than pop bands, or people who have been in the business for a long time, because then I think you have a mutual respect for having lasted so long. Whereas you get bands who have had one hit and then they go, and you think 'serves you right.' They get a bit big-headed and carried away with it all, and I don't think we've ever done that. Most people, sort of old timers like Lemmy from Motorhead, just people like that We've got no real friends in the music business, but we've got a few. People like the Cure, whom people would think was a complete mismatch, but we actually get on brilliantly with them, in fact, we're going to one of their weddings in a few weeks, that should be a laugh.

Mark: So is there almost a class, of when you started, of people who have been around since then, who have lasted, who are the class of six years ago, what, 1981?

Keren: There's very few who've lasted. George Michael started around the same time, I know Wham's not going but he started about the same time. Spandau were around a bit more, and they seem to have disappeared for the moment. There's really not many whom I can think of who are still going.

Mark: Do you think that people can start groups nowadays with the same sort of attitude that you had, or do you think it's harder now?

Keren: I think it's a lot harder, there's far more interference from the record company, because it seems to be that you have to have a marketable image these days, and it's got to be pre-planned, and the music has to fit in even, everything has to fit in with a certain type. You've either got to be a Cure or a pop group.

Sarah: Especially in this country, I don't think it's true in America.

Mark: But that sort of thing, the way you started, which is as you say by accident, and for fun, is harder, obviously. 

Sarah: I'm just very surprised that there haven't been any other girl groups who have started up, I mean, six years, and there still aren't any other girl groups apart from us.

Mark: But again, also, that design thing, the fun of Bananarama has been, yes, a lot of design, and thought about the group, but obviously at the same time it has remained fun.

Keren: Well, there isn't really any design or thought about it; we've never thought about an image.

Sarah: I think that's why it works. When people ask you about your image, don't really know what they're talking about because this is just me as I am, and I'd be this way no matter what job was in. 

Mark: The new record, with the sleeve and the videos, is more showbiz, but it's almost like you are playing the showbiz in a Bananarama way.

Sarah: We're not too keen on the sleeve; it wasn't how it was meant to be bit of a sore point, we'd rather not talk about it. 

Mark: But the video is planned I hope, and that's much more theatrical and

Keren: It just gives us an excuse to get camper and camper.

Sarah: When we actually do a show, it's going to be like Vegas. sequinned dresses, and things like that. We'll try not to, but the temptation's there to go on stage with a whole group of male dancers ; and things like that. The possibilities are endless it's whether the money is there.






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