It’s been 25 years since T’Pau released their breakthrough album, the quadruple platinum selling, Bridge Of Spies.
To celebrate, Carol Decker and a new incarnation of the band have gone on tour.
Thinking back a quarter of a century, Carol says: ‘I never knew if it was going to last. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know China in Your Hand would be such a big hit and I didn’t imagine we would manage to keep it going.’
China In Your Hand was a No1 here and around the globe in 1987. It spent five weeks at No1 in America. And, just like today’s artists (think Ellie Goulding, Gabrielle Aplin, Paloma Faith), much of the song’s success came from the fact it was used in a TV advert. Remember the Pepe jeans ad?
But T’Pau were no one hit wonders. Bridge Of Spies spent six months in the US Billboard Chart and follow-ups Rage and The Promise also went platinum.
Despite the original line-up splitting in 1991, Carol continued under the T’Pau banner. But, until now, it had been more than a decade since her last tour.
‘I was nervous not having done my own tour in 15 years. I was nervous about whether anyone would come,’ she reveals. ‘But we’ve had good ticket sales and sold loads of albums after the show. It lifts your spirits for the rest of the tour.
‘If the first few shows had gone badly, I’d have thought “oh God what have I done?”. But they didn’t. Instead, we’re having a lot of fun.’
The flame-haired singer-songwriter says it wasn’t hard putting together a band.
‘I’ve worked with many fantastic musicians since T’Pau split. I’ve done a lot of different shows – acoustic gigs, big 1980s tours, festivals – and met a lot of talented musicians.
‘Our guitarist, James Ashby, is only 23. He wasn’t born when I was having hits. We were introduced to him by a neighbour. He teaches guitar and drums and he’s teaching my husband [paratrooper-turned-restaurateur Richard Coates] guitar.
‘I know talent when I see it and he’s astonishing – possibly one of the best guitarists I’ve ever worked with. I’m sure he’ll carry it on into his own career.’
Carol never considered getting the original line-up together. ‘I’ve moved on. I don’t want people my age in the band. I’m young at heart, but most people my age are fat and bald. I want young people in the band. We’re still mates but we’ve all moved on.’
But she made an exception for Ronnie Rogers, her former writing – and romantic – partner.
‘We put T’Pau together so, for the 25th anniversary, I told him “you’ve got to do it. It won’t be the same without you”.’
Ronnie, who now runs a studio and develops artists (as well as performing in a fun pub covers band), was persuaded and cleared his schedule for the first dates.
He had such a fantastic time he decided to get on board for the entire 27-date tour.
Says Carol: ‘He was cautious at first. It is a big commitment, but we’re having a riot. It’s taken him by surprise the response we’re getting from the audiences.’
The pair are talking about writing together again too, having teamed up four years ago for a single called Just A Dream. ‘We’ll probably do it with a couple of guys from the band as well,’ says Carol.
‘I feel reinvigorated. I definitely need to put a new album out. We’ll start work on it as soon as the tour’s finished.’
Carol admits that, although she and Ronnie slipped back into their creative process, it was strange at first.
‘We were involved personally as well as professionally for 13 years, so we had to get re-acquainted as colleagues,’ she explains.
But Carol is used to teaming up with old peers, being a stalwart of the ’80s reunion shows that have been so popular in recent years. ‘I did my first one in 2001 and they’re still going strong,’ she says. ‘They’re great fun and very low pressure.
‘There can be any number of ’80s artists on the bill, all doing between 20 and 40 minutes. You play to massive crowds, which is a nice little ego stroke, then come off and have a glass of wine. It’s easy money and it’s very compatible with family life,’ adds the mum of two in her usual frank and funny manner.
‘The tour we’re on now is far more hard core. It’s touring with a capital T, but it’s more fulfilling too,’ she continues.
Something Carol found even more ‘hard core’ was appearing in the West End in Mum’s The Word.
She remembers: ‘I’d done bits and bobs on the telly and been in a few low key indie movies. It was something different and added another sting to my bow. But I got bored doing eight shows a week.
‘It’s very disciplined. Where as rock ’n’ roll is not very disciplined at all.
‘But I got to move in new circles. Our press night was so star-studded, I had Kate Moss in my dressing room.
‘Afterwards, Imogen Stubbs said to me “you know you’ve got to do it all again now”. I’d enjoy it if you could just do the first night and then do something else, but I used to want to slit my wrists at a Wednesday matinee.’
One role Carol would love is a part in a Bond film. ‘I’m too old to be a Bond girl. I’d like to be a baddie’s sidekick. I’d like to get close to Daniel Craig without him issuing a restraining order.’
Carol adds that, these days, ‘stuff just crops up’. A perfect example is her appearance at the Isle of Wight festival next month. ‘It’s a cool festival. When they phoned me, I couldn’t believe it. It was a real thrill to be asked.’
But as for other things she says: ‘There’s no big plan, like the old days. A well-known person has written a thriller set in the music business. I’m helping with that,’ she reveals.
She’s also been writing for The Sun and doing radio presenting. ‘I have a varied and interesting life now. Rather than having an album and a tour every year, I tend to just do what crops up when the phone rings.
‘And stuff just crops up all the time.’
T’Pau are at the Kings Theatre in Southsea on Thursday May 30, at the Concorde Club in Eastleigh on June 6 and at the Isle of Wight Festival Big Top Stage on June 14.