In Does Rock 'N' Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz a grizzled artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit, who recently reunited as Shakespears Sister after 27 years.
1: Which indie rocker had a poster of Siobhan Fahey on his bedroom wall as a teenager?
Siobhan: “Liam Gallagher.”
Siobhan: “I’ve never met him though.”
Who’s the most unlikely person who’s said they like your music?
Siobhan: “Adam Curtis! I was so flattered. I love his documentaries so I was like ‘What? Really?!’, because I thought he’d be really pretentious and intellectual, but it turns out he really loves pop music and Bananarama. (Laughs).”
2: The Siobhan Fahey/Shakespears Sister song ‘Pulsatron’ is named after a sex toy once belonging to which pop star?
Siobhan: “(Hearty cackle, biting lip) I’m not saying!”
Marcella: “I’m intrigued…”
WRONG. It was Siobhan’s former bandmate Keren Woodward from Bananarama.
Siobhan: “If that’s what you want to put – I’m saying nothing! My lips are sealed! I’m sure the person involved thought it was very amusing though.”
3: Which Christmas number one’s video contains a Marcella Detroit lookalike?
Marcella: “A Christmas number one? I’ve no idea.”
WRONG. It was ‘Mr Blobby’, which topped the 1993 Christmas chart and features a spoof of Shakespears Sister’s ‘Stay’ video.
Siobhan: “What? Does it have a Marcella lookalike in it? (Laughs) Wow! Does that mean I’m played by Mr Blobby?!”
Marcella: “I remember that now. (Camply rolls eyes) I’ve spent years trying to block it out!”
Marcella: “We’re only imitated by the biggest stars – of the calibre of Blobby! We both thought the French and Saunders version of ‘Stay’ was incredible and hilarious. When I first met Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French separately, they both said: ‘I’m so sorry about that!’. ‘Cos they portrayed me as just walking around completely vapid.”
Siobhan: “And me as a stark raving lunatic! Dawn came to the Bananarama reunion show – she’s good mates with [members] Sara [Dallin] and Keren since they did the Comic Relief ‘Help!’ Lananeeneenoonoo single with them. I think it’s brilliant that both my bands have given them great comedic fodder over the years.”
You both have an additional Absolutely Fabulous connection in that Jennifer Saunders based her character Edina Monsoon’s drunken prat-falls on Bananarama, and Marcy appeared in the sitcom..
Siobhan: (To Marcy) “You were in Absolutely Fabulous?!”
Marcella: “Yeah, Jennifer came to see my show when I did my ‘Jewel’ album shortly after we broke up. She asked me to write some music for an episode called ‘The Last Shout’, so I sent some songs to her musical director. Then she said: ‘Would you like to be in it? Marianne Faithfull’s going to play God and you’ll be her angel’. It was such an honour!”
Siobhan: “Oh my God, I have to watch that!”
4: Where was the ‘Stay’ video banned and for what bizarre reason?
Siobhan: “Germany, ‘cos they said it was sacrilege because we were raising the dead.”
Marcella: “We’ll have to do that again! Drum up some publicity! (Laughs)”
Siobhan: “They misunderstood the video and thought we were witches.”
CORRECT. Ever been banned from anywhere else unusual?
Macella: “Not yet.”
Siobhan: “But we will soon. We’ve got a whole tour ahead of us, so we’re working on it!”
5: Which shock rocker did Marcella duet with in 1978?
Marcella: “Elton John. Is that who you mean?”
WRONG. You duetted with Elton John on ‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing’ in 1993 but in 1978, you teamed up with Alice Cooper for the song ‘Millie and Billie’.
Macella: “Oh Alice Cooper!”
Siobhan: “Did you? I love Alice Cooper!”
Marcella: “When I first moved to LA, I was doing a lot of session work for Aretha Franklin, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, Bette Milder among others. I was working with the producer David Foster – he produced my solo album on RSO Records which never came out – and he called me and asked if I wanted to do a session with Alice Cooper. I jumped at the chance because I used to go and see him perform all the time. He was great. All he talked about was golf which I found hysterical. The song was really weird – it’s about two lovers in an insane asylum.”
Siobhan: “At the tail-end of Bananarama, somebody left a huge bouquet of flowers in my hotel room with a note saying ‘Welcome to LA – I’m sat outside’. I went over to the balcony and this guy invited me down for a drink. Anyway, he worked for Alice and said he was his snake roadie. Alice was going to play Birmingham the following month and said ‘Give me your number and I’ll send a limo down to London to pick you up. What do you want in it?’. I said: ‘A bottle of vodka, some Marlboros and chewing gum’. (Laughs) So me and a dozen mates went up to the NEC Arena to see Alice Cooper and hung out backstage afterwards. And in the morning, we had to rescue one of our party from a situation involving a python. Rock and roll stories, eh?”
6: Which purple icon did Shakespears Sister support at Glasgow’s Celtic Park in 1992?
Siobhan: “Prince. I’ll take that to my grave.”
Siobhan: “He came out and watched us from the wings. He especially asked for us to support him. That’s my pinch-me moment.”
Did you get a chance to talk to him?
Siobhan: “No, we didn’t. He had his army in his section and was surrounded by bodyguards, so we couldn’t exactly bump into him backstage.”
Marcella: “I befriended his drummer Michael Bland, who I wrote the song ‘Built For Speed’ with for my ‘Dancing Madly Sideways’ album a few years later.”
7: Which band’s performance did Bananarama drunkenly gatecrash during their 1985 lip-syncing turn on the Netherlands show ‘Countdown’?
Siobhan: “The Cure.”
Siobhan: “In Holland. Well, we didn’t ‘gatecrash’ – they asked us. (Laughs) We were all drunk. They were like: ‘Get up onstage with us!’ during ‘In Between Days’. That was really fun. I love all of The Cure’s singles – Robert Smith is a pop genius.”
He once commented that ‘Bananarama are the first people I’ve met who’ve managed to keep up with us drinking’.
Siobhan: “(Laughs) Those were the days! I’m a lightweight now!”
Legendary Pogues caner Shane MacGowan once said something similar about the ‘Nanas being able to drink him under the table…
Siobhan: “Well, Shane used to come round to ours. In the early days, we were signing on the dole and living in a hard to let council house that was basically a squat we paid rent on. All of our boyfriends were Irish and in the post-punk Paddy scene. I remember Shane coming back to the Bananarama flat and us drinking through the night. When he fell asleep in an armchair, the boys blacked up his nose and drew whiskers on him in boot polish. He stumbled off in the early morning dawn to find the Tube with a mouse face on him. (Laughs) Happy memories!”
8: Which 1991 rap song heavily samples ‘You’re History’?
Marcella: “I know Tricky sampled ‘Moonchild’ [for his track ‘Overcome’] but I’ve no idea.”
WRONG. It was ‘History Rewritten’ by Urban Rhyme Squad (URS). Siobhan, you once said rapper Rick Ross told you he wanted to do a dancehall remix of Bananarama’s ‘Cruel Summer’…
Siobhan: “Oh yeah! That’s a very well-loved anthem in the states. It’s funny because nobody remembers Shakespears Sister there but everybody remembers ‘Cruel Summer’. (Laughs) Unfortunately, we nipped it in the bud too soon. (To Marcy) Mea culpa! Because you’ve got to be around longer than that to dent the consciousness of that vast sprawling culture – although we did have a top five with ‘Stay’.”
9: Who presented you with the Best Video award for ‘Stay’ at the 1993 Brits?
Marcella: “Oof…was it Chrissie Hynde? No! Naomi Campbell!”
Siobhan: “Well-remembered! The Ivor Novello for the Most Outstanding Song Collection of ’92 for ‘Hormonally Yours’ was the greatest honour to receive. For me, to be awarded as a songwriter felt like vindication.”
Marcella: “Agreed! I keep mine on my bookshelf, but one of its feet has broken off.”
Siobhan: “Mine’s very well used as well. But they’re so solid and heavy, not like most awards you get – which are spray painted balsa wood.”
10: The Shakespears Sister and The Holy Ghost track ‘Prehistoric Daze’ appears in the 1994 film ‘The Flintstones’. Can you name any of the other bands on its soundtrack?
Siobhan: “Were The B-52s on there? I don’t know!”
CORRECT. They covered the ‘(Meet) The Flintstones’ as The BC-52’s. Among others, you could have also had: Stereo MC’s, My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, Big Audio Dynamite, Crash Test Dummies and Weird Al Yankovic.
Siobhan: “I was on holiday in Jamaica and it was a really tight deadline so Dave [Stewart, her ex-husband] called his mates who had a local studio and I was practically marched off the plane to there, because it had to be done that day. As I walked into a studio, a cloud of heavy ganja hit me. (Laughs) I took a few blasts on the strongest weed I’ve ever had and then wrote these hilarious – well, what I thought were hilarious in that state – words. They got this bouncy reggae track going and I just stood up, stoned, sang my hilarious vocal and The Holy Ghost toasted over it. It was fun!”
The verdict: 6/10
Siobhan: “I’m glad that all three brain cells are still working!” (Laughs)
Marcella: “Those are shared between us!”
Shakespears Sister’s comeback single ‘All The Queen’s Horses’ is out now. A greatest hits compilation ‘Singles Party’ follows on 21 July. The band begin their tour in Nottingham on Halloween.