Sharleen doesn't take it personally any more.
"I've never been to a therapist in my life", spits Sharleen Spiteri. "I wouldn't touch one with a ten-foot barge-pole. I'm in the music industry; that can fuck your head up enough without a psychiatrist joining in. A stranger at the bus stop could give you a lot better help than a therapist ....."
You can picture it. Glaswegian rock goddess, "the most beautiful woman in rock" (copyright Chris Evans), sitting in the bus shelter with a couple of OAPs and the dribbling mad bloke, reeling off her problems. Because she definitely had them. Or her band did. One minute they were double-platinum, the next consigned to the dustbin of music history - if not exactly one-hit wonders then certainly not the major contenders their 1989 debut, Southside, promised. Somehow, Texas lost their way on the road they'd so deftly mapped out between UK and US pop and radio rock and disappeared off the map.
"Texas did have its ups and downs," Sharleen admits, though reluctantly - she's a rare-in-rock, only-a-flesh-wound whinge-free zone - "but only the usual stuff that happens in bands: egos, drugs, all those sorts of things. It was quite difficult - because we got a battering after the success of the first album, an absolute kicking, and I felt personally really let down by that. Between Southside and White On Blonde people in Britain probably couldn't have cared less if Texas made another album in their lifetime or if we even existed. And I was angry."
Then a few years ago, somewhere between '93's Rick's Road (flop) and '97's comeback, White On Blonde (mega-platinum) she had an epiphany. "I woke up one morning - I was around 25 - and all the anger had gone. I looked at myself in the mirror and I saw a diferent person. It was weird. It was as if all the stress had just disappeared from my body. Suddenly, where before I would be really nervous before I'd do an interview thinking, 'Oh my God, I hope they like this'. I didn't give a fuck; I wasn't scared to be a real person. I realised that what had happened with Texas wasn't personal. Music had moved on and we just weren't relevant at that point in time. But we always believed in ourselves so we kept it going. We turned inward as a band. White On Blonde was written by a band that was fighting for its life, and when it was accepted so warmly by other people - record buyers, real people who actually love music, I'm not talking about the press - you feel," she pauses, looking for the right words to describe it, "very positive. Very confident. Inspired. You feel, Christ, we've been given a second chance, let's grab it and hold onto it as tight as we can."
So it was a positive, confident, inspired band that piled into Sharleen's house to record The Hush. Three words that keep coming up when she talks about the record are "freshness", "pride" and "sexy". It is a sexy record. "As you get older you find it a lot easier to be sexy in a song. When you're 18, you're still trying to discover your sexuality and come to terms with it and not wanting to give too much away because you don't want the guy to know how much you fancy him - and you don't want your mum and dad to know that you're having sex ! Now it's all much more natural." Sharleen has been with her fashion mag editor boyfriend since 1995 but says he's not the only inspiration for her lyrics. "Sometimes it's me or my friends and family but I'll even write about complete strangers I've chatted with at the bus stop." Them again.
One bit of gossip those strangers might pass on is word has it Chris Evans was singlehandedly responsible for making White On Blonde a success because he fancied Sharleen rotten. "I've known Chris since he was 18 years old", she says. "Yes, he did stick his neck out, but it was because he loved the record. And at the end of the day people made up their own minds about buying it."
The other thing they might tell her is, Texas may have had a huge comeback hit, but they're still regarded as uncool. "I couldn't care less about being cool," Sharleen retorts. "Who knows what cool is ? Is it cool not selling records ? When people go out and buy my records what that's saying to me is, people like my music which is a very good thing. I hate all this pretentious 'Oh we only make our music for ourselves' bullshit. Okay you wanker, why are you signed to a major record label then?" She snorts. "I can't believe people fall for that shit. I don't go and buy records because fucking NME tells me to."
Ah, but she was inspired to play guitar watching ultra-cool Joe Strummer! "Yes, but I loved the Clash because they made really sound records. And I went out and bought Abba records too..."
There are Abba influences on The Hush. Roxy Music and Human League ones too, as well as the usual Texas-esque Motown and Prince-isms. "I think what it is, is that as you get further away from the era of music that you grew up with, you find it a lot easier to express it. You need that little bit of distance to see it from a different perspective and be able to take Abba and Dexy's Midnight Runners and Roxy Music and The Supremes and mix it all up together. Abba has always been a massive influence. If you put anyone in a room that's the same age as me and put an Abba track on, guaranteed they'll know every word of the bloody song."
And of course Abba, utterly untrendy in their day, have been reinvented as cool and fashionable. So there's hope for Texas there in 20-odd years ? "Honest to God I couldn't give a fuck! I remember looking at Benny of Abba and going, 'That is a bad beard look. Not cool'. But those were great songs. I'd like to think that in 20 years time people will say, 'Texas made some really good records'."
Taken from "Top Magazine", May 1999.
Interview by Sylvie Simmons
Transcription by Sophie van Rooijen.