The Saturdays Interview
They’ve not been around for a year yet and already The Saturdays appear to have achieved the unthinkable. A girl group ? Selling records ? With my reputation ? What would that Louis Walsh make of it ? He’d probably think it was “fantaaastic” but, hey, this was the guy, remember, who, in this year’s X factor, got landed with the groups and plumped for the caterwauling of the hideous Girl Band and Bad Lashes. Result ? They were the first two acts voted out. “The public doesn’t like girl groups”, spluttered Walsh. Right – tell that to Girls Aloud, a reality show creation who, along with the ever reliable (but nowhere near as interesting) Sugababes, have exerted something of a monopoly on all things girl pop over the past six or seven years.
And now here come The Saturdays, who, with four top 10 singles, a top 10 album and a summer tour of sizeable venues in the offing, look like they’ve crashed the party and broken a mini-cartel. Frankie, Rochelle, Vanessa, Una and Mollie must think they’re daydreaming. The first two, as you’ll know, were S Club Juniors, Vanessa is this lot’s Nadine (seriously big voice), Una plays instruments and stuff and, it says here, is the songwriter of the bunch. Mollie will, being lithesome and blonde, end up the being labelled the “fittest”. Hey, guess what – they can all sing ! Outrageous ! For those of you hankering after performance figures (vocally), I’d say aside from lead belter Vanessa, they outgun the market leaders in that difficult ‘Close but no Mariah’ middle ground (ie Sarah Harding.)
If I was a Saturday, I’d never go out. Hang on, no – what I meant to say was, If I was a Saturday … I’d be turning up at the next board debrief - sorry, Artistic Planning Meeting - and saying “Look, you fat, cheaply-suited, ‘unit’ obsessed tosspots, this much is clear. Give the plebs some above average eye candy, a bag of decent tunes and a group who can actually sing them and people, not half as stupid as you lot like to make out, will part with their hard-earned. So, let’s not cock this up eh ? We’re all free for the next five years, so let’s roll. And let’s get rich. Now, me and the girls were hoping we could start with going over that royalty percentage once more …” Or something like that.
Those of us who, ultimately, know that our dalliances with earnest acousto-chroniclers of the heart and off-the-rails sonic guerrillas, mean nothing next to the lure, the thrills, the shady balm offered by the promise of pure, honest-to-goodness POP, grasp whatever we can, whenever we can. The Saturdays may yet prove to be a flash in an ever-shrinking pan but I hope not because their marvellous debut album ‘Chasing Lights’ is worth your time and is a credible antidote to whatever bloke-rock is sending you into the red zone this week. (It can’t be just me, surely ?) The chart-hugging ‘Up’, debut single ‘If This is Love’, and now, a smart cover of Depeche Mode’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’. Gosh – it’s enough to make any middle-aged Gahan acolyte tear up his mohair sweater and go out and find a wife.
With the five piece doing as much junket coverage as is humanly possible, interviews are being done singly and I get ten minutes with Frankie. She’s a charm, talks for England and laughs in the right places. What more can you ask for ?
Here we go ... My eleven year old daughter owns everything you’ve ever put your name to and just last week held a massive pile of S Club Juniors singles back from the threat of the bin during a rather brutal room-tidying session. (She and her mother are now back on speaking terms.) Care to comment ? “Oh, wow, you’re joking ! That is so sweet ! Thank you.” Well, that’s teeny-pop for you. Hard to let go when you’ve spent entire afternoons learning the moves to ‘One Step Closer’ in your bedroom. (The daughter, not me.) So, Frankie, congratulations indeed on how things have gone for you so far. And, gotta say, a cracking album. It doesn’t necessarily fit our ‘alternative’ brief but could I care less ? With all the industry power I wield, I went for a generous but fair 8/10 on release. You can thank me later. “I’ll thank you now ! Gosh, that’s really cool. I’m so glad you liked it. Thank you so much.” (She probably thought I was from the NME. I won’t tell if you won’t.)
Not an easy market to break into, this girl pop, if yer Walsh fella is to be believed. Why haven’t The Saturdays seen their debut single stall at no 37 and had their album pulled ? “Mmm. I wish I knew. I don’t know. I’d like to think we’re a little bit different, but who knows ? We’re not really trying to be anything we’re not, you’re know. We’re pop and proud of it. Maybe that’s it.”
You’re were making records and on the telly when you were still at school. What’s fame like second time around ? “Ooh, to be honest, it’s not really very different. I think the main thing is I’m a bit older and it’s more of a job now.” For any new act, it must be a nightmare, crossing your fingers, hoping against hope your record does okay and that you get the chance to even release another one. After all, no-one wants the blood of the next Clea on their hands. When did you first allow yourself to think it might be working out ? “Actually, I don’t think I had that feeling until this year, so quite a few months in. I just think we’ve been so busy. We’ve worked non-stop. The weird thing now is that people recognise us and that’s takes some getting used to. But all the work we did last year was worth it.”
Was there any pressure ? Must have been scary ? “Yeah. Expectations, certainly at the record company, were really high but we were very hopeful. We really hoped it would go well. We knew we had a good record.” Now that’s confidence. “Well, yeah, but it doesn’t mean you have to be arrogant. I’ll try my best not to cross that line. My family’ll knock me down a peg or two if I ever get that way.”
So, what’s next in Saturday land ? “Well I think there’s gonna be another single from the album and hopefully a tour.” (The Work Tour was announced shortly afterwards and takes place this June.) “There are plans to go to the USA, which would be awesome.” And album number two ? “We’re gonna start writing that soon. We’re gonna have a lot more involvement in this record.” Did you not have much say in this one ? “Well, the main thing was we just wanted to make sure we had the right songs and we’re not all songwriters. So we were presented with these brilliant songs and we just went with them. To be honest, we weren’t fussed about them being our songs but now I think we’d like more involvement in that side of things, so we’ll be collaborating on this one.”
The clock ticks down and half a dozen planned questions bite the dust, most notably, Why oh why change those fantastically acerbic lyrics on the lovelorn ballad ‘Issues’ ? “Boy I wish that I could resist you/Don’t know if I should stab you or kiss you.” Shame. (I guess the Daily Mail were never really going to understand that choosing to "stab" someone rather than taking the more socially acceptable option of opting to simply "leave" them conjures up an altogether more affecting picture of romantic disharmony and is therefore considerably more artistically valid. I bet Nick Cave keeps it in when he covers it.)
So thanks, Frankie, and best of luck. One more thing. Did you get to go to The Brits ? They finally ‘let in’ Girls Aloud this year, after all. “No, sadly. Now that would be good. It would be great to be nominated but, as you say, it takes time to be recognised. You know, it would be great just to be there, let alone be nominated.” Careful what you wish for ...