Feature: Shakespears Sister pair on rebuilding relationship and going on tour

Siobhan Fahey and Marcella Detroit of Shakespears Sister are tickled when they realise their comeback tour kicks off on Halloween.
Siobhan Fahey (pictured right) and Marcella Detroit (left)Siobhan Fahey (pictured right) and Marcella Detroit (left)
Siobhan Fahey (pictured right) and Marcella Detroit (left)

It also happens to clash with the Brexit deadline – 31 October marks the day the UK is due to leave the EU.

“Oh yes, people definitely will need to come and dance away their feelings then,” Fahey jokes.

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Laughing, Detroit suggests the spooky-meets-political date is “very appropriate” for them to kick off their string of reunion gigs, marking their first time on stage together in nearly three decades.

Shakespears Sister – who in the late 1980s and early 1990s were riding high as one of the biggest bands of the time with their goth-tinged pop-rock stylings – parted ways in 1993 following a period of tension and reported in-fighting between the pair.

Former Bananarama star Fahey, who founded Shakespears Sister in 1988 and was joined by American singer Detroit the following year, was said to have been irked that her colleague had sung the lead vocals on their biggest hit Stay.

The 1992 song and its accompanying video, which also focused on Detroit, topped the UK charts for eight weeks and won the pair a Brit Award.

It put them on the map like never before, but things fell apart the following year at the 1993 Ivor Novello Awards when, during Fahey’s acceptance speech for a prize for their second album Hormonally Yours, Detroit was publicly dismissed from the band.

At the time, Fahey said that she wished her band-mate “all the best in the future”. And that was that.

Detroit, who was born Marcella Levy but changed her name in honour of her home city, went on to have a solo career while Fahey continued Shakespears Sister by herself, but she was later dropped by her record label, releasing two more albums under the band’s name much later down the line.

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Now, more than quarter of a century later, Detroit, 67, reveals she attempted to make contact with Fahey several times over the years.

But it was a “clandestine meeting” her husband had with her ex-colleague last year that put the wheels in motion for their reunion.

“He never even told me about it – I was really surprised,” Detroit says.

“He was just trying to see where she was at. The good news is it finally happened and we were able to, in that meeting, clarify some misconceptions that we’d had of each other, and of what was going on.

“It was vital. Not only for many other reasons, but personally, to have that rift going on for so long... it bothered me.”

Of their first meeting after years of no communication, Fahey, 60, says: “There were a few awkward hugs and I certainly got a lump in my throat.

“I was caught off-guard by the emotion of the situation.”

Detroit adds: “We wanted to go into it with open minds. And to try to clarify things and see how we got to the point we got to.

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“It was really all about miscommunication and how things were misconstrued, and people around us weren’t really helping the situation, so it was emotional of course.

“You’d have to be a robot not to have any feelings in that moment.”

The duo – who had two top 10 albums and a string of hits such as I Don’t Care and You’re History along with their mega-hit Stay – are not the only ones feeling joyful at their comeback.

The response from fans has been “incredible”, Irish singer Fahey says.

“There’s been an outpouring of delight and shock. There were lots of gifs on Instagram of people fainting, it was hilarious,” she adds with a laugh.

Shakespears Sister marked their return earlier this year with comeback single All The Queen’s Horses, a fun, punchy, pop-rock track, showcasing their complementary vocals.

Their first new music in 26 years, it was accompanied with a tongue-in-cheek video directed by their long-time collaborator Sophie Muller.

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The video showed the pair fighting and drinking together in a bar in a desert in America, where they had regrouped to write the song, reflecting both their past and their present.

“There was a great anticipation and excitement from fans, and then when we finally were able to reveal the video and the new song, people loved it,” says Fahey.

“It’s actually what they dreamt of but never thought would happen.”

Muller, who had worked with them on previous videos, most notably Stay, was also thrilled that the two had sorted out their differences.

“She had gently prodded me over the years to make my peace with Marcy,” Fahey chuckles.

Following the release of their new singles collection Singles Party, which includes their greatest hits and two new songs, nothing else has yet been set in stone, but an EP is certainly on the cards.

“We’re halfway through a five-track EP so we’ve already got a clutch of what we think are excellent new songs, and we’re probably on a bit of a roll,” Fahey reveals.

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A full album has not yet been discussed, she reveals, “but both of us are totally up for whatever comes”.

For now, the duo are focused on preparing for their UK tour and immersing themselves into that. Although they confess to not wanting their string of concerts to feel too “retro”, Fahey explains: “We’re not dismissing our old records, they still sound really fresh. We’ve got quite an extensive catalogue to choose from, so fans can expect all the old favourites and some new ones.

“It’ll feel organic and authentic. We weren’t ever really a machine-y type of band anyway.”

They are less fussed about chart success, and they admit the current music industry is quite confusing to them.

“There are so many charts now, it’s confusing,” Detroit says.

“It’s not the way it used to be back when we released music, it’s such a different animal now.”

Fahey adds: “Back in the day you could just have the video on The Chart Show or on Top Of The Pops and then millions of people saw it, but now it’s a slow burn, which is frustrating.

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“We don’t really understand how things work anymore. I don’t think anyone does, do they?” she muses.

As they grapple with their future in this new music landscape and put the past firmly behind them, they still can’t help but muse over what might have been had they continued working together over the past two and a half decades.

“We could get a time machine or invent one to take us back,” jokes Detroit.

Laughing along with her co-star and reacquainted friend, Fahey adds: “Somewhere in a parallel universe we’re on our 10th album.”

Singles Party is out now. The Shakespears Sister Ride Again tour is at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall on 8 November, see www.glasgow concerthalls.com