'You're in a situation where the life of someone you love is under threat... at that moment you just cannot think of the band'
Rock band Texas have been entertaining crowds since the late Eighties. As the band prepare to once again embark on a UK tour, frontwoman Sharleen Spiteri talks about how a group member's illness affected her, writes Joe Nerssessian.
Sharleen Spiteri is full of energy. Quick-witted, bouncy and plentiful, her Glaswegian accent purrs down the phoneline. It's somewhat of a surprise because it's mid-morning and the 49-year-old hasn't yet been to bed. She came off stage the night before at a sold-out Kelvin Grove and returned to her parents' house to speak to Australian journalists over the phone.
Several hours on she is still going but jokes she will "probably hit a brick wall in about an hour".
It was Texas' third straight gig at the venue and comes off the back of the release of their ninth album, Jump On Board, in May.
The record topped the charts in Scotland and hit number six in the UK but there was a time a few years ago when the band looked as if they may have reached the end of the road.
Following a four-year hiatus starting in 2005 when Spiteri was working on a solo effort, the band were due to regroup and start work on a eighth album before guitarist Ally McErlaine collapsed with a brain aneurysm. He spent six-and-a-half months in hospital and even longer to fully recover.
"It turned everything on its head," says Spiteri. "You're in a situation where someone that you love and grown up with and is part of your life is in a life-threatening place. At that moment and time you can't think about the band you're just like 'our friend has to get better'. Time came to a standstill."
But as soon as McErlaine had made a full recovery, the band knew he needed to get a guitar back in his hands so they put their album plans on hold and went straight to touring.
"I've never even had the conversation with him about that," she says. "I think after what had happened to him he had to maybe prove he could play still. I don't know what it was but he needed to get on stage and play guitar and so that's what we were going to let him do."
She jokes after a break of almost eight years how she was surprised people still wanted to see them but this is a band whose longevity has stuck two fingers up to an industry which doubted Spiteri when they started out.
Now, with Jump On Board bringing in a whole new wave of fans, the band were determined to ignore the obvious decision of making a record about President Donald Trump or Brexit.
"We were trying to make a positive upbeat record to help us escape reality for a couple of minutes a day," explains Spiteri. "We were just making a record for us and we wanted to make something that will stop the crap of real life. For one minute of the day I don't want to hear about the a******* that are running the world, I don't want to hear about disasters or horrible things being done to people and for a minute I just want to put my hands in the air and stand in the kitchen and have a wee hum and escape."
But, as a Glasgow native, Spiteri is not always inclined to escape or turn the other way. Over a near 30-year-career she has acquired quite the kickass reputation.
There was the run-in with Liz Hurley, who once invited her to a party and then asked who she was (Ali Baba, she is said to have replied). While Paris Hilton was also on the receiving end of a tirade after standing on Spiteri's jacket and ignoring pleas to move.
The musician filled a straw with her drink and spat it at the reality TV star before lambasting her.
All this happened quite a few years ago now, but Spiteri doesn't expect she would act any differently.
"I'm from Glasgow and when someone acts like an a****** I don't see it as anything else other than someone acting like an a******," she says. "I look at as you should know better."
It hasn't isolated her from celebrity friends. Former Arsenal striker, Thierry Henry, is a longterm pal and starred in the band's music video for Let's Work It Out.
Despite her reluctance to associate with "a*******" she loves aggressive audiences, and tour dates in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle have her excited.
"It's great, in the north of England and Scotland you get a bit of mouthiness in the crowd which is always hysterical. Those moments are special when someone has got something to say, it's always quite brilliant."
She's been on the road since she was 18 but - other than aching knees - struggles to remember she's turning 50 in November.
"My knees are probably are about 70 to be honest but it's weird, " she says. "In my mind I'm still starting, I'm just beginning in Texas at the moment, it still feels fresh and exciting."
Pausing, she continues: "There's different things you appreciate and you're able to slow things down when you get older so you can really look at something from the outside and enjoy it.
"When we were young the excitement and the adrenalin because we hadn't experienced certain things it goes a little fast so it's great at this point as I can stop and enjoy things."
After more than 30 years together, Spiteri says they are still all about the music.
"It's not about any of the other bullshit," she explains. "It is literally writing great songs and writing great records and putting on great shows. There's a proudness and work ethic within us that makes that our number one priority and aims to make it perfect there and then. We don't always get it right but it's not through lack of trying."
- Jump On Board is out now. Tickets to see Texas on their UK-wide tour in September and October are on sale now