2010 sees the return of one of Britain's most underrated acts - The Pipettes.Since losing two members back in 2008 - see NME's story here - the then Brighton-based band went their separate ways. For fans of The Pipettes, it's been a long-awaited return. But now they're back, from outta space - quite literally it seems, as they release their comeback single 'I Was Saved By A Spacemen'
Today's 'Backstage With...' interview sees me talk to original remaining member Gwenno about the new line-up change and a brand new Pipettes' sound.
The Pipettes are now fronted by original member Gwenno (left) and her sister Ani
Gwenno (right) with her old bandmates
Lauren: What have you been up to of late and are you excited to get back 'out there'?Gwenno: I don't think I could ever express how excited we all are to get 'back out there' as it were.
As a musician you are completely intertwined with your work, it is your identity and of course, I can only speak for myself but I don't exist really unless I'm creating or performing on stage. So, to answer your question, we are very excited!
Lauren: The Pipettes have a brand new line-up. Please fill us all in...
Gwenno: Well, we're now a six-piece pop group and it's myself, Ani, who's my sister, Jon, Bobby, Seb and Alex.
Joe, Rose and Becki left during and after the first album and the four of us who were left wanted to carry on.
Over the next couple of years we tried to emulate that three girl line-up that had served us well the first time around, we recruited my sister, Ani and two other girls, Anna and Beth, over that period but it never felt right. It didn't feel like an evolution. Then we met our producer, Martin Rushent, as a two-piece as one of the girls hadn't turned up and he declared us the new ABBA and so that really established the idea of us being a streamlined double vocal disco outfit. We tried having a third voice for the album after that but again it didn't work out and the songs hadn't been written with three girls in mind really and so it was always the case of the third girl having to find a harmony that wasn't there. That's the basic gist of it, it's pretty long winded but it's been a few years and a lot can happen in that amount of time!
Lauren: It also seems you've altered the band's sound, from cheery retro inspired pop to electro funk. Was this new direction deliberate?
Gwenno: It was very deliberate. We sang a lot about dancing the first time around, and the girl group era was a great place for us to start as we wanted to re-address our own musical history, but we were always going to evolve from that.
Although we got together and conceptualized the second album the dance/disco element came naturally, we wanted to create high energy and songs that we could get lost in and could make a whole field of people move.
Lauren: Are there any current UK bands you feel are over hyped?
Gwenno: I think on the whole it's just a shame that bands or acts are overhyped as they just don't get a chance to develop naturally. There's just so much pressure on you immediately and acts are generally put under a microscope before they find their feet or have had a chance to gain any experience.
I think it would be far more interesting if bands could somehow survive and have a good few years under their belt before anyone hears about them, especially if their acts that need to develop organically.
Lauren: If The Pipettes could support any act, who would it be and why?
Gwenno: The Human League, as they're touring soon HINT HINT and are obviously rather amazing.
I can't think off the top of my head. I personally would love to share a stage with Shirley Bassey, she's a hero of mine and would blow us off the stage, perhaps we could be her backing singers though?
Lauren: Will The Pipettes be keeping their old trademark polka dot dresses, or have you gone for a new look on stage, too?
Gwenno: No no no! Those dresses came about for the most practical of reasons.
We wanted to avoid fashion the first time around as it wasn't a common interest within the band really. It was a really good way of always having something to wear but got really boring very quickly and so this time around - and as Ani has a first in Fashion - we've decided to just go for it and experiment a lot more.
It's so important that as women we are not restricted by our own image - and certainly one that relies on old fashion ideals of what women should be - and that's why we've decided to evolve.
We'll always have fun with dressing up. I just don't want to self-impose the same tired old boundaries and there are so many outfits out there that we want to wear!
Lauren: Who, if anyone, are your style icons?
I think as a band we're more interested in getting our influences from all sorts of areas rather than having 'style icons' in the traditional sense.
We would rather make works of art rather than take influence from a famous person's personal style.
Lauren: Finally, what's in the pipeline for the band?
Gwenno: Touring and more touring please!
We're happiest as a band when we're on stage, that's when it all makes sense and so we're just really excited about getting a chance to play our new (and some old) songs to people and to get to take this album to as many music lovers as possible!
Don't forget to check out The Pipettes site here and I'll leave you with an old Pipettes' favourite of mine...'Judy'.