Music Q&A:
Swing Out Sister

Swing Out Sister are back with new album Almost Persuaded, on which Corinne Drewery and Andrew Connell show how their songwriting versatility has developed over the three decades

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Great to see you’re finally back with an album. Why the 10-year wait?
We have been working on our album – honest! Although there were a few distractions along the way, like touring and recording another couple of albums.

We had rehearsed for a tour of the US when the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökul erupted and all European flights were grounded so we recorded the live show and put out an album, Private View, to make it up to the people who had bought tickets for our cancelled shows in America. It was released in the UK and also Japan, along with a DVD of our Japanese tour.

We also recorded an album of big band arrangements of our songs – as yet unreleased as we would like to record the vocals in Portuguese to give it a Brazilian feel but need to find a translator. Also we translated some of our songs along with some Manchester anthems for a show at the Lowry in Salford celebrating the paintings of French impressionist Valette, who settled in Manchester and painted its urban landscapes. That was fun, singing French versions of The Smiths, Oasis and the Buzzcocks in front of an art gallery audience.

Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind this album and the recording process?
The inspiration comes from all kinds of places – a conversation, a headline, a film, an episode of Columbo, a train journey or a long drive – but we usually start writing in Manchester, as we spend our time between here and London. We did most of the recording in London and then mixed it in Manchester in Rose Hill Studios in Longsight with Yvonne Ellis.

How have you evolved as a band over the years?
We have grown… and shrunk. I think we are more self-sufficient. You have to be these days. When we first started out we were signed to a major label. Now we have our own label, Miso.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
We released our album on Pledge Music and to keep people updated we worked with Gersende Giorgio, a video artist, to make short films to accompany the work in progress, which we streamed to those who had signed up. Since the internet has eclipsed MTV and music videos it seems there has been a return to a more personal style of films and clips of bands. It’s been interesting developing short films for our music.

When you go on tour what is on your rider?
Corinne: Guinness.

Andy: Beer and a fine red wine for after the gig. Bananas and grapes and a few crisps. No food until after the gig, then maybe Japanese ramen noodles or Vietnamese pho. But chips are always welcome…

Tell us your most surreal or embarrassing experience as an artist?
Corinne: When Chaka Khan handed me the mic to me to sing Ain’t Nobody on stage at her gig at Hammersmith Odeon. I was in the audience as she had invited us along but when I opened my mouth to sing nothing happened.

What song do you wish you had written?
Corinne: Alfie

What is your worst lyric?
Corinne: Why would I want to tell you?! I usually work quite hard to eliminate anything bad. That’s why we take 10 years to make an album! Some of the words I sing to as a guide to remember a melody before the song is written are pretty silly. Twilight World was called Trousers Down until I came up with the title. Some of the others I can’t repeat but they are just temporary words to remember the melody.

Have you any tour plans?
Later in the year. We are just trying to work out how to interpret our new songs live, which is always fun. We start with two or three in the band and keep adding more.

What can we expect moving forward from Swing Out Sister?
A slightly more abstract jazz sound. Let’s see how things develop. We always like to experiment in the studio. We have just set up our own Miso label so we may do a few limited editions.

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