Published on April 30th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Glasgow hit-makers Texas return on 20th May with The Conversation, their eighth studio album and first since 2005’s Red Book, so Rocksucker enjoyed a quick natter with leading lady Sharleen Spiteri in order to find out a little bit more about it.
Along the way, we spoke about their guitarist Ally McErlaine’s remarkable recovery from a Grade 5 brain aneurysm, the various stellar guest musicians to have contributed to The Conversation, and whether or not Sharleen is still in touch with a certain Arsenal FC legend…
Welcome back to the fold! How does it feel?
It doesn’t feel like I’ve been away!
You’ve done your solo albums in the mean time, to be fair…
It’s weird because I don’t feel as if I ever made a solo record! It’s almost like it was something I did to get some things off my chest then get back into Texas.
So, what brought about the return of Texas?
It was always the plan to make more records, we just didn’t plan for there to be a gap of eight years. Life got in the way – babies, marriages, this, that and the next thing – and Ally our guitar player suffered a brain aneurysm. Even when he started getting better we thought there probably wouldn’t be another Texas record for the simple reason that he might want to go on a permanent holiday.
However, he was the one who said, “I want to go back out there and play” so we went out and did some dates in 2011, by which point Johnny [McElhone] and I had started writing a new record. We tried out some of those songs live so it kind of went from that.
It sounds as if Ally has pretty much made a full recovery, which is quite remarkable.
It’s just the weirdest and greatest thing ever: when you’ve got doctors scratching their heads, unable to explain why it happened… He’s walking, talking, doing everything he normally would. The only real difference is his neck: he can’t turn his head really easily so he moves his whole body when he turns around, which is hysterical! Apart from that, there isn’t a noticeable difference.
Is the single (above) a good indicator of what we can expect from the album?
There’s a really good mix of up-in-your-face tracks and slower ones; it’s very much Texas going back to our roots, the sparseness and the openness of it. We made sure that what we were making something honest but also very up-to-date and modern. It’s definitely contemporary.
The video guest stars Peter Mullan. Is he a friend of the band?
Yeah, Peter is someone that we’ve known for many years, so it was great fun to hang out for the day and make that video together. We had a few laughs.
How did you go about roping in the likes of Barry Cadogan, Bernard Butler and Richard Hawley to appear on the album?
When you’ve been around a long time you get to know some good musicians, because they’re the ones that tend to last. We’ve known Bernard for years and I worked with him on [2008 solo debut] Melody; Bernard knows Ally so we stayed in touch over that. We mentioned we were going to make a new record and we ended up writing some songs together.
I met Richard Hawley through a friend and we became mates, so I went up to Sheffield and did a bit of writing with him. I also did some writing with Karen Anne from A Girl Called Johnny, who’s a friend. Little Barrie played some guitar on the record when Ally was away with Red Sky July.
It was a really exciting record to make because there wasn’t really a masterplan, it was just about playing music, and we’re happy that we got to share that with musicians and songwriters that we really respect and who are friends of ours.
Do you still keep in touch with Thierry Henry?
Yes, I am. He’s a good friend of mine.
How did you come to know each other?
We met because I used to live near Arsenal and he lived one street behind us. I actually met him through Patrick Vieira and his wife Cherie. Thierry had only just come to London, just started playing for Arsenal, he lived round the corner from us and I showed him around London. We basically became friends from that and we’ve been friends ever since.
What new music have you been enjoying lately?
I’m really enjoying the Valerie June record; I think she’s a really interesting artist and I actually did a duet with her in Paris a couple of weeks ago. We were doing a TV show together in France called Taratata, which is like their equivalent of Jools Holland. We were playing on that and Valerie joined us for one song. I think she’s got a great voice with a real ‘old blues’ feel and passion and fire, it’s really emotional, and she’s such a lovely person. I’d heard about her through The Black Keys, who I really like too.
Finally, if you had to spend the rest of your days with the back catalogues of just five different musical artists, whose would you choose?
Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Dusty Springfield and The Pretenders.
Sharleen Spiteri, thank you.
Texas’s brand new studio album The Conversation will be released on 20th May through PIAS Recordings.
For more information, please visit the official Texas website.