BACK in the late 1980s T’Pau could do no wrong. A string of massive hits like China In Your Hands, Heart and Soul and Valentine were matched by number-one album Bridge of Spies and countless sellout gigs.
But by 1991 no-one was even remotely interested in the once popular band fronted by flame-haired singer Carol Decker.
“It was very hard,” she admits. “We had been massive and you think it will go on for ever but suddenly we dropped like a stone. It knocked my confidence for years, which is probably why I couldn’t write any decent songs.”
She turned to family life, bringing up her two children, and was just grateful that she’d made enough money “not to have to work in a dead-end job like when I was a kid”.
Carol eventually made tentative moves back into showbiz with “a bit of acting and radio-presenting to help pay the rent”. She admits: “It was all based around my name and there were several comedy programmes which wanted me to basically take the mickey out of myself.
“I took a calculated risk, but looking back I think it was OK. The stuff I did with Dom Joly I thought was funny. I was quite nervous about what he would do in the edit, so it was a bit of a risk, but it turned out fine.”
Then she got a lucky break as nostalgia for the 1980s started to take off. “All that stuff about big ’80s hair has gone from being a laughing stock to retro chic,” she laughs. “But for me, the ’80s thing kicking off meant the phone started ringing again and eventually gave me the urge to get out there and play again. It cheered me up a bit, definitely.”
Crowds flocked to last year’s 25th anniversary tour by T’Pau and now the reformed band are back on tour again – this time with a new album, Pleasure & Pain.
“All my recent work has been about the ’80s, and I hadn’t been very creative,” admits Carol. “But now I’ve come up with some good ideas. We have the new album and new single, Nowhere, which has had a really good reaction.”
Many of the ‘new’ songs are actually old ones written with T’Pau guitarist Ronnie Rogers 20 years ago.
“I decided to try them again after encouragement from my husband, some of my band members, and my lovely mum who nagged me constantly to record music again,” she says.
“Sadly, we lost her last year, but I managed to play her Demolition Man and Nowhere while she was in intensive care.”
Fans will get to hear some of the new songs – as well as all the old hits and some covers – on the current tour, and they’ll also be the first to be able to buy Pleasure & Pain.
“We’ll be selling the album on the road before it goes into shops and online in February,” says Carol. “It means the devoted fans get their hands on it first, which is only fair, and of course I’ll come out and sign them afterwards and have a little chat.”
She also says she’s pleased the 1980s is finally being recognised for being a creative decade, rather than a time to be forgotten. “It was actually an incredibly diverse, creative decade on every level,” insists Carol.
“It was the birth of keyboard music and sequencing, there was a lot of new technology suddenly available in the studio, so we could all play with different toys. The mobile phone, the birth of MTV, there was a lot going on.
“Everything was very exciting. I know I was young then and you’re probably more excited about life when you’re young, but there was a lot going on and some very memorable, well-crafted songs came out of that period.”
As for her own hits, she admits: “Occasionally I think: ‘If I have to sing this again then I might have to kill myself’ but other times it sends shivers down my spine and I think ‘You lucky cow’…”
T’PAU will play at Camberley Theatre on Thursday (January 22).