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12 MusicWeek 03.08.12 THE BIG INTERVIEWPET SHOPBOYS


“Although she’s a little bit middle of the road, I’d like to work with Rumer. She seems to be the bastard child of Karen Carpenter and Dusty Springfield. I think she could make a groovier record though” NEIL TENNANT


worked with? NT: Probably Tony Wadsworth, he was the one we had the closest relationship with. The other one would be Jill Carrington, who ran Parlophone in the late Eighties and then became our manager, so we must have liked her. CL:We’ve been very lucky at Parlophone because they’ve consistently just let us get on with it. NT:We were the first artists who created the new Parlophone, really, when it became this artist-driven label. We changed the way things were done and the way things looked. Someone gave me a copy of Music Week from 1986 and it’s got an advert for Please which, compared to all the other adverts, looks likes it was beamed in from the future…


[At this stage, proceedings are halted whilst the interviewer asks for a glass of water after hearing the phrase ‘all the other adverts’ in relation to Music Week]


that was in the Nineties with me still listening to his new album. Our generation, broadly speaking, didn’t grow


out of it. And we still find ourselves enjoying making pop music and listening to pop music.


So what’s it like being 50-something pop stars? NT: The annoying thing is, you take the first single from your album to radio and they say, ‘This is a really great pop record but we’re not playing it, because of your age and what you represent’.


Are you going to tour the record? NT: Yes, a world tour starting in the new year. CL:We haven’t finished the last one yet! It’s in its fourth year now. NT: Something that happened to the Pet Shop Boys this century is we became a festival band, and I never thought that would happen, so we’re on that circuit as well. It really got going when we were ‘the surprise hit of Glastonbury’. Then of course in 2010 we were somehow ‘the surprise hit of Glastonbury’ all over again. We’ve spent a long time working on these


theatrical multimedia shows and the time for that has really arrived; everyone now does those sort of shows. At one time we were unusual for doing them, we were the pioneers of that sort of spectacle.


What’s your favourite Pet Shop Boys single? NT [without a moment’s hesitation]: Being Boring. CL: Er… there’s quite a lot to choose from. I’ll say Before.


What’s your favourite Pet Shop Boys album? NT: This one. CL: Introspective


What’s your favourite Pet Shop Boys moment? NT: Doing Top of the Pops when we were number one with West End Girls. The track started, the camera panned towards us and Chris hissed from behind me: ‘Don’t look triumphant’. CL:When we headlined Roskilde for the first time. It was the first time we’d played a festival... NT: ... it was the first time we’d been to a festival. CL: …there were 80,000 people, they went back as


far as the eye could see. And it was a triumph, which was a huge relief.


“I’m not sure I wanted to be a pop star. I’m still not sure” CHRIS LOWE


Dusty Springfield stars on one of your finest singles [1987’s What Have I Done To Deserve This?]. Are there any modern voices you’d like to feature so prominently on a Pet Shop Boys record? CL: A voice I really like is Marley, who sings with Chase and Status. I didn’t realise that he was a real singer. We saw them perform in Berlin, he came on and I just assumed he was miming to a sample, but it was actually him. He looks great and he’s an absolutely brilliant singer. Oh, and I thought of Peggy Lee last night, but she’s dead isn’t she? NT: I’d like to work with Rihanna, I love Rihanna’s voice. And also, although she’s a little bit middle of the road, Rumer. So many times people say ‘She’s the new Dusty’, about Duffy or someone, and I think [injects just the right amount of cattiness], ‘she doesn’t sound like Dusty to me’. Well Rumer, she seems to be the bastard child of Karen Carpenter and Dusty Springfield,


she’s definitely got those qualities. I think she could make a groovier record though.


When you were young, which pop stars made you want to be pop stars? NT: The Beatles and David Bowie. Maybe Bryan Ferry. CL: I’m not sure I wanted to be a pop star. I’m still not sure.


Is being a pop star how you imagined it would be? CL: I remember doing Capital Radio Junior Disco and you did feel like you were in A Hard Day’s Night. The audience was 100 per cent screaming teenage girls and we thought, right, well, this is what it must be like. And of course I don’t think we’ve ever had that since. NT: A girl waved at me from the right hand side of the crowd, so I waved back. And that entire section waved manically at me. So I thought, wow, let’s try the other side. And they did the same. It was totally great.


Who’s the best music industry executive you’ve


NT: There is a constant problem in the music business every single day of the week, and that is that people think there is a formula that works. Then someone changes the formula and suddenly everyone thinks that’s the formula that works. And the truth is none of them work.


Do you have a view on Universal’s ongoing attempt to buy EMI? Or as artists does it not matter to you whose name is above the door? NT:When you’ve been around a long time, you will have seen changes in regime, so… We’re also not a heavily A&R’d act and never have been. We talk about things with Miles and Nathan, but we came up with Andrew Dawson, we came up with Xenomania, and they support us, which is good. So… I don’t know. Instinctively, I don’t like the fact that… I don’t


totally understand why EMI has to become part of Universal, or why the music has to be a decreasing number of ‘major’ companies. Because another other weird thing the music


industry does is it buys a label, a small label with a strong culture and identity, and then that culture and identity is subsumed in the larger label and destroyed. Why do they do that? Why do they always do that? I guess the guy in charge of the smaller label wants to make a lot of money by selling up, which is fair enough, but large record companies do have a tendency to destroy a small company’s culture. And that’s what worries me, actually. Parlophone’s


culture has survived intact, even as it’s grown bigger, and the culture is what supports the artist, creates the success and attracts new artists. So I hope that culture can survive this new regime. And funnily enough I think Lucian Grainge understands that. Did you know our first ever deal was with


Lucian? When we released West End Girls in 1984, Bobby O, who produced and owned it, did a label deal with Epic while we signed a publishing deal for three songs, with RCA Music: MD, Lucian Grainge – who then left to work at MCA. And when we signed to EMI, Lucian wanted to sign us for MCA actually.


This whole thing is clearly an elaborate plot for him to finally get the Pet Shop Boys. NT: That must be it. CL: And then drop us.


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