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Whats On

Carol Decker heads for Rewind

Meet the fiery red-headed singer who’s iconic voice was the lynchpin behind 80s superband T’Pau
Everyone takes the piss out of the fashion but we didn’t all wear stupid legwarmers and Wham! t-shirts

Nowadays Carol Decker is most likely to be seen around the streets of her adopted home town – Henley on Thames. And what better place for an icon of the 80s to live!


We talk to Carol about her work, life and her very short commute to this year’s Rewind Festival, Henley.

Recently you’ve been on tour to promote your new album, but I hear that you’ve had a problem with your voice. Is that any better?

My voice is 99.9% recovered. What happened was I caught the flu, which turned into bronchitis.

I tried to keep going because of the way the tour was scheduled; we were playing on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday, then we had the other days off. So when I started to feel unwell, we thought not to worry because we could rest from Monday to Thursday.

So I kept on going and because of that, my vocal cords completely swelled up and I could hardly swallow. It was really quite frightening. I had to see a specialist in London and he said that I had to stop straight away to avoid long-term damage.

In a 30-year career, I’ve pretty much had a bulletproof voice. You can count on one hand all the gigs I’ve had to pull over all those years. It was really scary and it really knocked my confidence as well, because I’ve never had anything that wouldn’t go away or I didn’t know what it was.

I stopped, and it was awful because we were doing really well and having a great time on the tour. The album, Pleasure & Pain, was being played on Radio 2 and was brilliantly reviewed, so to not be able to carry on supporting it was quite a blow. But I could barely speak so there was nothing I could do!

Speaking about Pleasure & Pain, is it hard to have the new material played when there’s so much focus on your old stuff?

A simple answer to that question is yes, it is. We got ‘spot’ plays. For example, Radio 2 is the new Radio 1 for our age group and I got spot played, so Terry Wogan had me on the show for an acoustic set, and played a track. Graham Norton played the lead single Nowhere, Ken Bruce had me on the show… Regional radio were very good to us as well.

If you’re not either hot new tickets or you’ve managed to stay as big as you were, it’s very hard. That’s where social media helps. I have a very healthy working life: I never stop gigging and generally doing things, but you’re right, it’s very hard to get the new stuff over and for a creative person that can be frustrating. I always count my blessings for the wonderful life I have courtesy of my hits in the 80s and I’m a really lucky girl but creatively, it can be a bit annoying.

So there’s the massive 80s revival at the moment, but where do you think it comes from? Are we all on the rebound from X-Factor style stars?

The thing is, Rewind always hogs the attention because it’s a massive animal now but I did my first “80s” tour in 2001, an arena tour with Kim Wilde, Paul Young, Heaven 17 and others. I was back in all the places I used to sell out in my heyday, like the NEC and Wembley.

I haven’t stopped since. I’ve been to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Singapore, you name it. The whole 80s thing just travelled, so it’s been going on for 15 years.

So what sort of audience are at these shows? Is it your old fans who have matured with you?

Yeah mainly, I’d say mostly 40 years old and up. There are quite a lot of 25-30 year olds though, and my guitarist is 25!

Lots of people know all the 80s hits because they still get played on the radio. Modern music is still peppered with the massive 80s hits.

HMV Canada are about to stock my new album because we did so well back in the 80s in Canada. I personally think that it was a massively creative decade, but a controversial decade politically as well. That wasn’t good, but on the other hand you had music videos, the Walkman, MTV was born, computers started becoming available, there was loads of technology in studios all of a sudden. We could sit in our bedrooms and write songs. Ronnie and I wrote Heart & Soul because we had a keyboard with a brand new sequencer in it. It was just this new toy and we pressed buttons and lights flashed and it made notes!

Also, everyone takes the piss out of the fashion but we didn’t all wear stupid legwarmers and Wham! t-shirts. If you think of all the diverse characters like Spandau Ballet, Boy George, Kim Wilde, and even me, all the hair and jeans and stuff…everyone was very individual and it wasn’t slick and corporate. I just think it reminds us “people of a certain age” of happy times. I can’t speak for the youngsters coming into it. We’re not as our parents were at 45 or pushing 50, we are still plugged into the world or at least our version of it.

I’m not sure if you agree but how I see it is there used to be a certain age where you’d just stop going to gigs and festivals, but nowadays it’s fine for people in their forties and fifties to carry on doing those things.

I think because the market’s there. It’s all diversified. If you love the 70s, you can find 70s festivals. But the 80s was the biggest decade! In a retrospective way, it’s still the biggest. When thinking of Rewind, eventually I’ll die, and the audience will die, so they’ll go on to the 90s, but will the 90s be that interesting?

Lastly, did you live in Henley first and suddenly you had this 80s festival on your doorstep, or did the festival happen first and then you happened to move to Henley?

No, I actually introduced David Heartfield, who runs Rewind and is one of the best promoters I know, to the idea. He was already doing “one-off’s” in stately homes and I’d already done a few gigs for him, and he decided to start his own festival, as opposed to just putting a show on somewhere. I said to David that he should really get into this, because he’s so good at what he does. That’s why Rewind is so magnificent, I think, because he does it really well. Now of course there’s Cheshire, Scotland, South Africa, Dubai, so the brand really travels.

Yeah, but I’m sure the Henley one is the best for you because presumably you can just do your gig then go home for a cup of tea!

Yeah, I can go on my bike!

 

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Thanks to Noble PR