If anyone had assumed that Lisa kept herself locked away, hiding behind closed doors for the past ten years, lounging around in her P.J's, eating junk food and watching daytime TV, well you would all be mistaken, it was only nine years! No, I'm kidding. Despite what might have seemed an eternity for some of her fans, that's well and truly in the past and all has been forgiven, because Lisa is back folks and don't we know it!
Lisa returned in a big way in February with her stunning new album "Seven". The album entered the UK charts at No.13 and since then, her feet have barely touched the ground. With a never ending schedule, filled with interviews, photo-shoots and promotions, I knowingly and patiently had to bide my time until I was able catch up with her again. Today could not have come quicker. Lisa just wrapped up the last day of tour rehearsals at a studio in North London, with another scheduled interview straight after me for an Australian morning TV show.
She took some precious moments away from her beloved band who were having celebratory end of day drinks in a nearby bar and picked up the phone to talk to yours truly. Sounding incredibly upbeat in her usual cheery self, envisage this moment with Lisa sitting perched on a doorstep of a busy London bar describing to me how she's sat "bang-opposite London's Pentonville Prison, aww very romantic surroundings" ... and the giggles begin.
With all the pleasantries out the way, I start off by asking Lisa what she thought about her new fan site?
Lisa: Oohhh its brilliant! I can’t believe it coz Mick (Donnelly) was saying to me that there’s loads and loads of followers. Oh and I think you've done a really good job haven’t ya? It’s such an achievement what you've done.
Bev: Awww thanks Lisa. It must feel amazing for you now, coming back after a long break away from the music scene, then knowing that you've still got such a massive loyal following of fans who still so obviously adore you.
LS: Well it’s just really beautiful. You know, when you spend time away and then you bring something else out, I always think, (in an apprehensive tone) Oohhh this is my last chance and it’s stupid, I've said that for ages. But yeah, its like so many people have been into it (Seven) and responded so positively, it is quite humbling in a way! Because if you didn't want me to be here, then I wouldn't be here. But you've all accepted me and its really such a beautiful thing.
BN: When you were quiet and away from the music scene for a while, you had some personal stuff happening in your life, like when your Mum passed away which was obviously a very sad time for you. There must have been a lot of things that affected you during that period.
LS: Yeah, I think a lot of those situations are just like journeys through life and you know, hopefully we grow as a person and you just have to learn to deal with it, and you become stronger as a person.
When all that stuff was happening it did affect me in a massive way. I mean writing-wise, I think it affected me really deeply. Because I think a lot came out of me that wouldn't ordinarily have come out and I didn't know where it came from. But I just kept on writing. I think it was really good therapy in a way. Its sort of like, I don’t know how to describe it... I know it sounds funny, but when you need to be sick, you get it all out of you and then everything is fine. It is lovely to be able to write, because obviously that’s what happens to you, it’s a very cathartic thing, I think. You go through your problems, but you don’t really know what you’re saying to yourself, but you just release it all.
BN: So that’s the thing I sense from your music. You've got this way of telling stories. As with "Seven", there seems to be this common thread running all the way through it. Is there any song in particular that relates to someone you know, or is this stuff that you just make up in your head?
LS: Oh, I've got a really over-active imagination, so I do love writing stories. It's sort of like a journey of one persons life, you know and it has a happy ending, I'm really glad it has a happy ending.
BN: I know…because when I first heard "Picket Fence" I was thinking to myself, what's gonna happen at the end of the album? By the way, that's such a great song, I really love the lyrics and the twist of humour in it as well.
LS: Arhhh, It sounds so good live that song. We also did “The Rain” today, we've not done that one before and it sounds really brilliant live.
BN: Oh, I can imagine, because the arrangement on that song is just outstanding.
LS: I think that’s because Jerry Hey did the arrangement and everything. Johnny(Thirkell) & Mick (Donnelly) did the horn arrangements on “So Be It” and they were like “We've gotta fuckin’ well nail this song, coz it’s Jerry Hey” and it’s like all the best players in the world are on this record.
BN: It's an amazing song, I really adore it, as I do the whole album. It’s probably one of my personal favourites and I’m not just saying that.
LS: Well I think it’s the best album we’ve ever done, I really do!
BN: I think it feels and sounds like you’re in a better place now.
LS: Yeah, that’s because everyone was really really happy and it’s been one of those albums where everyone just laughs all the way through it.
BN: I was gonna come back to the tour which starts in a couple of days. How do you go about selecting the setlist? Does everyone have some input with the selection process?
LS: Yeah you just go through it and you think what works and what doesn’t. Then you shift things around and then you have a playlist and you think, "Oh that one doesn’t work there, so lets move that one to there and take that one out and put another thing in". Yeah, I suppose its because we’ve been doing it for so long, we just gotten used to it. It’s funny when other people ask about that, because it seems a very common place for me to do all of that stuff really, but other people are quite fascinated by it, aren't they?
BN: Well you've been around for a long time with such an amazing back-catalogue of hits. It must be quite hard to whittle down all those big songs for a live show . It must be tough trying to please everyone because everyone's got a personal favourite.
LS: Yeah everyone says… “Why didn’t you do this one or why didn’t you do that one?" But we’ve done quite a few of the new ones and quite a few of the old ones really, just a mixture. But the new ones are really having an effect I think, because I’ve done quite a few gigs now and they seem to be getting quite popular, so it’s lovely really.
BN: Even though the European dates were initially rescheduled from last Autumn I think its great that you’re starting the tour now. I suppose the gap has given the fans the chance to really familiarise themselves with the new album and appreciate the new songs especially in a live situation. Obviously you had your reasons for postponing the initial dates.
LS: Oh yeah, I'm really sorry about that…(in an apologetic tone), it’s not my fault, so don’t blame me… but I'm really really sorry!
BN: Listen it was worth waiting for, I swear, 10 years and the extra few extra months of waiting didn't change very much for me. But I think that some of the fans were initially disappointed at the time, but I think they all understood in the end.
LS: Oh I felt terribly guilty about that. I apologise to everybody who did that (rescheduled their plans) coz I know it’s a lot of money and I feel very very guilty about it all.
BN: So do we expect any new surprises? Have you revamped or done any new arrangements on the old stuff?
LS: Just done some different things yeah which is lovely . I've got lots and lots of lovely new frocks…(giggles), you know, I've got some lovely new dresses (Laughs uncontrollably).
BN: So you’re gonna be looking like a sexy diva on-stage?
LS: Hopefully, yeah (breaks into some more laughter).
BN: Talking of sexy, I've seen some recent photo shoots you've done, whereby you look incredibly stunning. It seems like you were having a lot of fun for Viva and Eva magazines, really relaxed and happy.
LS: Yeah, I think I'm in a really good place at the moment, yeah I really am.
BN: So you don’t mind posing for the camera?
LS: I think it’s just one of those things when you've been doing it for so many years, you just do it. I don’t know, if you’re doing a photo shoot and the music is good then you can tell in the photographs that you’re enjoying yourself.
BN: So how do you select which publications or interviews you choose to do?
LS: Well its kind of weird in a way, now we’re running our own record company per-say at the moment, so we've just got an independent press person doing that. And Rachel, (our manager) has been absolutely incredible... she has WORKED HER ARSE OFF, she really really has!
BN: By the way, I saw your new video the other day for “So Be It “ filmed by Ian.
LS: Ooh, do you like it?
BN: Yeah it’s so lovely, with some familiar faces in there as well.
LS: Oh he's done such a brilliant job on that.
BN: So how did you come up with the idea for the video?
LS: It was funny, because we were saying that it should be about honesty and about being yourself and all this sort of thing. We got talking to a friend, John Moore, he was in The Jesus and Mary Chain. He just started to talk about being photographed or maybe having your portrait taken and then we just thought, wouldn't it be lovely to do it in a photography studio with people getting ready to have their portrait taken instead of being all formal and lets just be ourselves and just do what we wanna do. It was lovely, especially when all the family got together, it worked out really well.
BN: I know you've talked about the storyline of the album and perhaps making a mini-film. Are you going to release those as a DVD in the near future?
LS: We want to, at the end of the album, before we release the other album. Yeah we want to do a DVD of all the other stuff and make some sense of it all.
BN: Coming back to now, this year is a massive year for you in many ways. With "Seven" the tour and then it’s the 25th anniversary of "All Around The World" and "Affection". Do you have any celebratory plans to perhaps release some specials or any re-issue editions?
LS: Oh my god, I don’t know! I don’t ever think about things like that to be honest. I’m very naughty actually…. you know what I’m like, I’m a very contrary person. I sort of never really think about stuff like that, but it’s a good point though!
BN: Well just incase you’re considering doing something on these lines, I’ll be more than happy to help out. I’ll do the liner notes for you if you like?
LS: Ooohh alright then…. (giggles away)
BN: Are there any artists you think you would like to work with now?
LS: I don’t ever think about working with other artists really. If the opportunity arises then fair enough, but I’ve never really acted to achieve things like that really. But I really really just love
Emeli Sandé, I love John Newman and I just love Adele as well. There’s a lot of people out there that have just got so much talent right now.
BN: I wanted to round up with a couple of questions from some of the fans. -
What do you think about Madonna?
LS: Ooohh what do I think about Madonna…? Oh God, I really do think she has been a ground-breaking woman, not just as an artist, but as in “woman-kind”. She really has done a lot. Some of the things she’s done I think are a bit tossy, you know, like when she did that Sex book thing. I didn’t really think that there was any need to do it. Because she’s also said that she regrets doing it as well , hasn’t she?
BN: Funny enough, I’ve actually got a copy of that book.
LS: Ohhhh someone I know has got a copy of it too, but has never taken it out its sleeve. He says, "don’t because it’s going to be worth sooo much money!"
BN: How have you managed to remain so down to earth after all these years?
LS: Oh gosh, that’s so strange, because I’ve always been surrounded by people who are very down to earth. It’s like me and Ian. I suppose we don’t allow ourselves to get so twatty when we're together.
BN: Do you think it has anything to do with being surrounded by your family and keeping the same friendships from years back?
LS: Yeah, exactly! And I think it’s really important that you are around family and friends because it really keeps you like that. You know, there’s no need to be something you’re not. I don’t even know how I would go about being like that! On the other-hand, I can really lose my temper! But I never pretend to be something that I’m not. But you know, if I want to tell you to “Fuck off” I will do (She explodes laughing at the very suggestion).
She swears like an absolute trooper, does our Lisa and we love her for it. Not only because she's stayed true to herself, but because she comes across as the most genuine and down to earth person anyone would ever want to know . Signing off with Lisa's favourite "F-word" seemed to be a poignant moment to wrap it up. Even after an assiduous day of rehearsals, Lisa still manages to find time for everyone and perpetually makes time for her fans wherever she goes. I truly believe, that Lisa genuinely appreciates her loyal following, probably more so now, than ever before. However, one thing's for sure, no matter what happens from here, she can always count on me!
© Bev Nathan - www.lisastansfield.net