An Interview with Carol Decker of T’Pau
By Roger Crow
As one of the creative forces behind T’Pau, Carol Decker and the band scored huge hits in the eighties with ‘China In Your Hand’ and ‘Valentine’. Ahead of their gig in Wakefield, she talks about three decades of T’Pau, how she thought their debut album was finished before it had a chance to begin, and the highs and lows of putting her heart and soul into her autobiography.
So, 30 years since the massive breakthrough. Where has that time gone?
I know. It’s crazy isn’t it? It doesn’t seem that long ago since it was eight years ago; 10 years ago, recent history if you like. And then all of a sudden everything sped past really quickly. Oh my lord. How did that happen? I can’t believe really. Thirty years! I never thought I’d still be singing songs. I didn’t have a plan when I was young, that’s why I was in a rock band. Like most musicians. We’re sort of like pirates really.
I bought your debut album Bridge of Spies the other week to take me back to the old days.
Did you get the 30th anniversary box set?
No I didn’t.
It’s got everything on it. It’s called The Virgin Anthology, and if you are a longstanding fan, you’ll love it; B-sides; demos, everything.
“The 80s was a creative and dynamic decade”
As readers of a certain age will remember, on this side of the Pond, some of T’Pau’s success came down to a jeans commercial.
Yes, ‘Heart and Soul’, our first release, as I’m sure you know, was a huge flop in the UK, and we thought it was over before it had begun. It was a bitter blow for me and Ronnie (Rogers) because it had taken us nigh on six years to get a deal. All the writing… we had some close shaves.
Finally we get a record deal and they hate the album we deliver. You just think ‘Oh this is never gonna work out for us!’ So it had a simultaneous release in the States, and it went flying up the Billboard charts. It got re-released over here, and that’s when Pepe (jeans) picked it up as well. Pepe decided ‘We’ll have have that for our cinema campaign.’ So we got a reprieve, and then the rest as they say is history. But it took off so cataclysmically that we never expected that.
There was something quite magical about that late 80s era.
I think the 80s was a quite creative and dynamic decade wasn’t it? There’s all those massive movies like Ghostbusters, Back to the Future and Wall Street. Great stuff going on in the cinema, Platoon and Full Metal Jacket and things like that.
And then I think it was a huge decade for technology. Computers; the first pop videos; MTV was suddenly around, so it was a fantastic time. A lot of firsts happened. A lot of people of a certain age remember it fondly as part of the soundtrack to their youth.
“The band didn’t end well”
Of course the band name is inspired by a character in Star Trek. Are you a fan?
I’ve got to be honest with you, I was never a Trekkie. It was just a word. I had the TV on, we were looking for a band name, we couldn’t agree on that one. We had the album finished, and we were ready to deliver it, but we didn’t have a name for the band. And I was just pottering about in the flat, tidying up, doing a bit of ironing, and just had the telly burbling in the background, and this episode of the old Star Trek was on and I kept hearing this name T’Pau. It was very onomatopoeic and that’s why I chose it. It was enigmatic, catchy and it did us proud.
Your autobiography, Heart and Soul, came out last year. Was it cathartic to write?
No, I found it more poignant than cathartic. Obviously there were some really fun times with the band, and the main aim of the book was to make you laugh. The sort of professional banana skins we slipped on, and the best laid plans that go wrong. All the sort of ‘Spinal Tap’ moments.
But of course the band didn’t end well, so it was hard to revisit that. My relationship with Ronnie foundered, so it was hard to revisit that. My dad had died, and my mum died in 2014, so there were some bits… having a full and rounded life like most people, there are some bits, when you are forced to revisit them, (they) hurt.
So I didn’t really find it cathartic. I found it sad in places. But you can’t write an autobiography without doing that. The publishers want a full and frank experience for the reader.
“I always do a meet and greet afterwards”
Have you’ve got some new material in the pipeline?
Ronnie and I were due to go in the studio this week, but we’ve had to postpone it for a couple of reasons, but there is an album called Pleasure and Pain that came out 18 months ago, so that’s up on Amazon and iTunes, and when I do a show I always do a meet and greet afterwards, and I’ll sign copies if people want to purchase it at the gigs.
Thanks for your time and good luck with the gig.
Thanks for the interview.