They were at the top of the charts with ‘I Don‘t Want A Lover‘ before most people even knew what they looked like. But now that the tricky second album is here, how long will Texas‘ honeymoon last? Not even 3 their singer SHARLEEN SPITERI knows, but. as she tells Alastair Mabbott.
she did get to meet Harry Dean Stanton.
o promote their first album. .S‘uut/zs'ide. Texas took to the road fora year and a half. ‘But it didn‘t seem like it.’ says Sharleen Spiteri. who also remembers the band’s Wembley Stadium performance supporting Simple Minds passing in the blink ofan eye. ‘It was really good just being on tour. playing every night. It was probably harder coming home again. I would think .‘
Right back where they started from: Glasgow. in the more optimistic times that prevailed a couple of years ago. When everyone you met either had a deal with a major record label or was blowing their publishing advance in pursuit of one. And although what the A&R men really wanted to find was a young buck with the larynx of Sam Cooke and the body ofJames Dean. it was Texas who slipped past the popticians. country-rockers and bumfluffed bluesmen into the fast lane.
They were four: the firm-jawed. raven-tressed Sharleen Spiteri: Johnny McElhone. veteran bassist of Altered Images and llipsway. already troubled by
touches ofgrey: Ally McLirlaine. baby-faced
guitarist whose fondness for the hot blues licks that made him famous had only awakened a few years earlier: and Stuart
10Thc List 13» 26 September 19‘le
Kerr. drummer. since departed. And they had a vision.
Their moment ofepiphany was in the opening scenes of Wim Wenders‘ Paris Texas: stark desert. a battered figure trudging across it. the mournful. ringing. equally stark slide guitar of Ry Cooder making it the most memorable use of American music in the movies since [)e/z't'erance's ‘Duelling Banjos‘.
Perhaps it can be attributed to the vividness ofthat vision that Texas are at the stage of promoting their second LP. with a top-selling single and all that touring (including stints in Japan. Australia and the States) behind them. It's certainly the touchstone that gave the band an identity and provided the image they tried to re-create on ’I Don‘t Want A Lover”.
‘()bvious|y. Ry (‘ooder‘s been a big inﬂuence on our music as a slide guitarist.‘ Spiteri declares. ‘and the whole thing about Texas was the soundtrack for Paris. Trams. where the music and the visuals came hand in hand. they really captured that sparse feel. That's what we want.
‘We all loved the blues anyway.‘ she continues. ‘people like Robert Johnson and every thing. Iilmore James. the lot. That‘s basically where Ry (‘ooder got it from. For
the first time in a movie. it wasn't just like a soundtrack. When we‘re writing we always feel like there‘s a really strong picture in our head.’
Texas have always lived in Glasgow. still staying in the area they named their first LP Sout/zsidc after. Spiteri's love of blues. country and gospel came from her father (‘A massive Stones fan. lle buys lots ofcountry now. ') and her mother. who ensured that young Sharleen‘s childhood was partly soundtracked by Mahalia Jackson and Ella Fitzgerald.
Texas might seem like modern—day counterparts of the (itls blues-hounds like John Mayall‘s Bluesbreakers and Fleetwood Mac. but. if you're going to make comparisons. Spiteri favours The Rolling Stones.
'A lot ofthe bands in the (ills did the blues thing. but they did it straight off. whereas the Stones took a lot of influences that were going on at that point and made it their own. That for us is an influence — an influence is more in attitude than anything else. We‘d like to take the influence and mix it with what‘s happening now. Some of the album used samples and drum machines with live stuff on top. That for us is what you should do with an influence. You shouldn't take it