An Interview with Carol Decker from T’Pau

Having attended the Rewind Festival South last year, which took place in Henley-on-Thames, I have been asked to interview some of the acts in the lead up to this years festival which takes place on the weekend of 21st to 23rd August 2015.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke to Andy McCluskey of OMD and this week it was the turn of Carol Decker from T’Pau. Carol is one talented lady who writes all of T’Pau’s lyrics, 

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Photo Credit: Rewind Festival

Renowned for their hit singles ‘Heart and Soul’ and ‘China in Your Hand’, I spoke to Carol about her thoughts ahead of this years festival, T’Pau’s new album and ‘that’ X Factor incident. T’Pau are performing at Rewind Festival South on Sunday 23rd August.

What are your memories of performing at Rewind?

This is going to be my fifth Henley Rewind and, because I live there, it is great to be able to do a local show. In fact, I performed at the first Rewind and that was really special. I know David Heartfield, the founding father of Rewind, and I helped with the whole set-up. My children came on stage at the end and everyone knew them because it was such a local gig. Since then, Rewind has grown into a massive global brand, which is great! Despite losing the edge of it being a local gig, I am so pleased to see how successful it has become. That first gig was so special to me though.

How do the audiences compare now to those from the ’80s?

When our Mums and Dads were in their mid-40s, you became an ‘elderly person’ but these days we are all much younger and want to go out there and party. What I think is good about it now is that you can go and party to the soundtrack of your youth. The younger ones can still go off to Glastonbury but we can still do our thing. The audiences are so enthusiastic. They have gone into a bit of a weird fancy dress mode – I personally didn’t dress like that in the eighties! 

If you could choose another song from the eighties to perform, what would it be?

 It would have to be something massive like ‘Living on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi or ‘Holiday’ by Madonna.

Which of T’Pau’s songs is your favourite one to perform? 

Heart and Soul. I love it.

And do you have a favourite lyric from any of the songs you sing?

‘I Will Be With You’. I am very proud of the lyrics to that one. 

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Photo Credit: Rewind Festival

What would you have done differently back in the ’80s?

Towards the end of the original line-up, none of us were getting on very well. There was all the usual cliches which you tend to read in the biography of a band, where you started out really close and then it disintegrates into back-stabbing and creative differences. That happened to us. Because I was younger, I didn’t really know how to handle it, but knowing what I know now, I would have fired a lot of people that I put up with! I didn’t realise the power I had. I wrote all the songs, I was signed to the label and certain people weren’t and I could have got rid of them! 

What have you been doing since the ’80s?

Oh, loads of stuff! T’Pau split up in 1991 and I was doing some song writing with different people. Sadly, Ronnie and I split up in 1993 after 15 years together. The early ’90s for me was really charged; emotionally, professionally, and then my dad died. All sorts of crap happened. Then, in 1997, I was out in LA writing (some of those songs are now on our new album) and when I came back I met my manager,  who introduced me to my husband, Richard, and took me back on the road with a line-up of great, young fresh muscians. I also put out a solo album. Then I had my two kids; Scarlet, 16, and Dylan, 12. Then in 2001 I did my first huge ’80’s tour. 2003 I was acting on the West End stage in a comedy play called ‘Mum’s the Word’ which also starred Cathy Tyson, Imogen Stubbs, Jenny Eclair and Patsy Palmer. I also appeared in a few TV shows including ‘Doctors’. Then I really got scooped up into Rewind and lots of similar tours. It has kept me really busy. I was 40 and 45 when I had my children so I was an older Mum as well so, coupled with all the work, I was doing the school runs.

A couple of years ago, there was an incident with Gary Barlow on the X Factor when he suggested that you sung out of tune. How did you feel about this?  

I have never met Gary. We have been in the same room on occasion but I don’t know the man. We don’t actually watch the X Factor but a friend who works for Sky News as producer called me up to say that they had had a heads-up on the song list and that Amelia Lily was going to perform ‘China in Your Hand’. So, we all get together as a family with crisps, dips and wine and sat down to watch the show. It was a mature song to sing for a young girl and I thought she did a really good job but when Gary said that he preferred her version because it was ‘in tune’,  I actually felt like I had been physically punched. I just was not expecting it all. I was speechless. The kids and my husband just looked at me and then, within seconds, my phone started ringing! The Xtra Factor called me and asked if I would speak to him – I agreed but he wouldn’t come on the phone! But we then realised that all they were trying to do was to stir things up. They wanted controversy and they got it.

What has happened with T’Pau over the last few years?

2013 we went out and did our 30th Anniversary tour to celebrate our quadruple platinum album ‘Bridge of Spies’ and Ronnie came back on the road with us – which was great. Since then, we have decided to record our new album ‘Pleasure and Pain’ which put out on my own label back in February, and we had a host of songs which we never quite finished from the first time around and a couple of new tracks which we wrote with our new members. Ronnie and I just harvested the best bits of our part-written songs. We went off on tour at the beginning of the year.

What is next for you?

In October I go out on a 30 date tour with Nik Kershaw and Go West. We have all known each other forever! Then, next year, I go out on a small acoustic art centre tour and will probably be promoting my biography which I want to be anecdotal and funny. 

Finally, which song is your hidden gem that you believe people should go and find?

I would recommend one of our new songs called ‘Sammy and Dave’. I fought hard to get this onto our new album and it is about two good friends of mine who, long ago, were a couple who lived in Greenwich. They were together for 7 years when he decided to go travelling as they had reached an impasse in their relationship and this is their story. 

Carol Decker is the lead singer of T’Pau and they will be performing at the Rewind Festival on Sunday 23rd August 2015. Find T’Pau on their website or on Facebook, their new album on Amazon and Carol Decker on Twitter as @caroldecker

You can order tickets from the official Rewind Festival website: www.rewindfestival.com. You can also find them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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12 Comments

  1. May 8, 2015 / 9:01 am

    Such an interesting interview – used to love T’Pau – this has made me want to dig out some of their songs on iTunes 🙂

  2. May 6, 2015 / 10:21 pm

    Brilliant as always. The first time I saw Carol the sound system was awful so I’m afraid I sniggered at Captain Barlow’s comment!

    So annoyed my dizzy spells have stopped me booking ahead for concerts, the tour is coming to Cambridge and I’ll be gutted to miss them all, as you may know I’m a bit of a fan of the other two! 😉 x
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  3. May 6, 2015 / 10:03 am

    It’s great to hear a bit of Carol! I was a massive fan back in the day and their songs really do stand the test of time.

  4. May 3, 2015 / 10:07 pm

    What an interesting interview, thanks for sharing. it’s weird when the bands you grew up with are now on the nostalgia circuit though!
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  5. Joanne Fisher
    May 2, 2015 / 5:15 pm

    Always love Carol Decker. Even wanted to be her (teenager). Had/have the motif on my art folder.
    Heart and Soul my Favourite too. It should’ve been No 1.
    The piece got to the heart of T’Pau….
    I just wish I could afford to go and see T’Pau with Nik Kershaw and Go West in Blackpool. Jox

  6. May 2, 2015 / 4:20 pm

    Hi Victoria, I’ve still got the very first T’Pau album (in vinyl) up in the loft. I can’t remember what the name of it is, but I refuse to part with any of my vinyl LPs. What I like about Carol in your interview is that she sound so down to earth. She’s right when she says that when we were young people in their 40’s were old, but now they still know how to have a good time.

    Go West and Nik Kershaw are also pleasant blasts from the past. Bet they have a fine old time!

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