Carol Decker back in Shrewsbury where it all started
It's funny. Carol Decker feels as though she's reached a point where her biggest success were yesterday – and yet her glory days feel like 100 years ago.
The T'Pau star, whose career grew out of a small boathouse in Shrewsbury's Quarry Park, has never stopped working.
Best known for her UK hits, like China In Your Hand and Heart and Soul, Decker remains a household name.
"I still work a lot," she says. "I'm constantly reliving my past. It feels very recent, and yet it feels as though it was a lifetime ago. There are times when I look at the videos of myself on YouTube and get swept away – and there are times when I watch and I see my daughter, not me. I look so young, so babyish."
Decker is celebrating the 25th anniversary of T'Pau's breakthrough album, the quadruple platinum selling Bridge Of Spies, by embarking on a full UK tour.
Those 28 dates will bring her back to Shrewsbury, where it all began, to play at the town's Theatre Severn tomorrow. There's also a new CD/DVD package, called The Story Behind The Tracks, which is out on Carol's own label, Gnatfish Records.
The Limited Edition package contains an audio CD consisting of 18 tracks and a DVD with a runtime of over 90 minutes. The first 500 copies will be numbered and signed by Carol and Ron Rogers, her former lover and bandmate.
Carol is looking forward to being on the road: "Over the last decade I've done all these big tours, these eighties package tours, and they've been fantastic. To be doing these big events where I trot up for half an hour is perfect. But I've really missed the standalone gigs.
"So on this tour, I'll have the opportunity to get my rocks off. It's a long time since I've done anything like this – I keep waking up at 3am in the morning wandering what I've done. I'm simultaneously excited and terrified."
Decker is very much the Queen Bee. "It's T'Pau MK 8. I'm in charge. I'm not being bossed around by some record company. Obviously I'm in a private jet and the rest will be in a horse-drawn cart. Truthfully, I'm never so happy as when I'm with my own kind – and that's musicians. I do just feel like a girl again. I'll have to get a lot of rest to keep the pipes in good working order. I'll have to get my head down a bit. I'm really looking forward to it."
She's played in Shrewsbury in recent times, starring at an eighties gig in The Quarry Park. "That was a very moving date for me. We had 10,500 people there and as I stood on that stage I remembered the Pengwern Boat Club, where I lived for many years, and all the hard work we did there. I looked up over the fans to the swimming baths, where I worked for many years. It was very emotional. To be singing those songs with the flat behind me, that damp bedroom where Ronnie and I used to live, in that park where I walked my dog twenty-odd years ago – it was all amazing."
Carol's Pengwern years remain seminal. "When we were in Pengwern, we were living more in hope than expectation. But for me, there was no alternative, I had to be successful."
Decker was 28 when she got a proper record deal. It was a long hard road to success – but when it came, it came quickly.
"It was zero to hero very quickly. Initially we went crazy, but in a good way, we were having the time of our lives. But then the pressure to deliver more hits started to hit home. We didn't stop."
T'Pau fell off the climb and disintegrated pretty quickly. "It was horrible because for me, I had a lot of stuff happen in a short space. In 1990 my dad, Kenny, was 57 and died from a heart attack.
"Then the band unravelled, and the record company dropped us and I split up from Ronnie because of the pressure. It was very, very hard. I wasn't in a good place at all."
Carol found a new love and returned to T'Pau, enjoying a successful second phase of her career. And now it doesn't stop. "I act, sing . . . I do the lot. I love it. But, you know, for all the travelling, for all the living in London and Oxford, I still think of Shrewsbury as my home. I've been gone a long time, but that's home. Pengwern was fantastic. I'll never forget those days. Without Pengwern, we wouldn't have achieved all of the things that we achieved."
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