It’s a wonderful life as Carol’s T’Pau goes it alone with lockdown single
They enjoyed their biggest hit 33 years ago when China In Your Hand became an international smash.
Now former Midlands rock band T’Pau are going it alone by releasing music without the help of a record company.
Flame-haired singer Carol Decker has created a lockdown video to accompany their latest single Be Wonderful, which was filmed by her two children, Scarlett and Dylan, who are media students.
And Carol, from Shrewsbury, revealed that the lockdown video had a personal edge because she believed she and her husband Richard, a chef, might have suffered a mild dose of Covid-19.
She said: “Three of my friends have suffered from the coronavirus. Two had just got back from a trip to Malaysia when they became infected and I had lunch with one.
"Then Richard and I felt really unwell for about a week. We couldn’t smell, we had no sense of taste and we had sore throats. We had all of the symptoms except for the high temperature.
"We’ll never know whether it was the virus because we didn’t get tested. Now we both feel in perfect health. We’ve definitely recovered from something.”
Carol said her band was able to operate in the digital world by sending files to each other via email. She and fellow founding member Ronnie Rogers had worked with other members of T’Pau to write a few new songs just before lockdown.
“Fortunately, we got it wrapped up just in time. Ronnie and I had got the vocals finished in February and we thought we’d start putting the music out as download-only singles.
"We had to do a download video and my two kids have both done creative media courses at college so we asked them to make it.”
Carol’s daughter Scarlett had directed T’Pau’s 2018 single Run and was happy to take on her latest project with help from her younger brother Dylan.
“Because of lockdown, we had to film at home using whatever props we could. We also had a bit of a comedy element to it because people are going stir crazy.
“Once we’d filmed it, we’d ping it back and forth to Ronnie, who lives in Wales.”
Carol, who met Prince Charles and Princess Diana during the late 1980s when her band became the biggest in Britain, said she was proud of her two children.
There were, however, a few unexpected challenges when they made the video for Be Wonderful.
“I’m so impressed with my children. They storyboarded the video before filming. Scarlett is doing animation production at university in Bournemouth so she created a shooting schedule before we started.
"But it was quite funny. They absolutely had to stop for lunch. They don’t understand the concept of working until it’s done and then getting drunk. They needed to stop for sandwiches every hour.
“Scarlett is a big fan of the American make-up artist Jeffree Star and she bought me some of his cosmetics. I’m a bit long in the tooth for crazy make-up but I wanted to show my appreciation so I wore it; I was a bit worried I might look like I was in the circus.
“It was interesting working with the kids. They get really sniffy when we suggested something. When we offered a critique they really had their noses out of joint.
"It reminded me of when I was a young musician and the A&R guy would want to bring a song down and I’d say ‘How dare you, that’s my art’.
“The kids think me and Ronnie are a pair of old boomers who don’t know what we’re talking about.
"The funniest moment came when Dylan told me that he and Scarlett had six years’ experience between them at college. We burst out laughing.
"The band has been going for more than 30. So we had a lot of fun but we had our never-work-with-your-family moments.”
T’Pau’s new single will be released on May 8 and the band are hoping to contact people who run 1980s websites and blogs so that they can promote it.
The absence of a record company means Carol and her bandmates have creative control over their output – but they don’t have the budget to spend on a big campaign. “We need to find other ways to let people know it’s out.
“I love that side of it but I miss having record company money for promotion. Anybody can make a film in their bedroom.
"The money comes in with the big campaign and that I find frustrating. You have to rely on your social media. If you’re not Beyonce with millions of followers it is hard.
"The creative side is wonderful but the promotion is harder.”
Carol has kept in touch with her 50,000 Twitter followers most days, offering plenty of laughter along the way.
She sang a version of China In Your Hands – rewording it Wash Your Hands – and has kept fans updated about forthcoming concerts.
“I put things up things that make me laugh on Twitter. But I have to keep away from social media when I have had a few glasses of wine.
"I have a dark sense of humour, quite gallows, and people might think some of the things I post are inappropriate. When it gets past 8pm, Richard wrestles my phone out of my hand.”
Carol said the closure of concert venues had wrecked her band’s schedule for 2020 and they were unlikely to perform now until the end of the year at the very earliest. That meant she would be unable to make a living without her normal fees for performing.
“I’ve had every single gig wiped out of my diary through to almost Christmas. Almost all of them have been postponed, not cancelled, so hopefully I’ll get to see my fans and I can earn a living again when it all comes back to me.
"Some of the things that I was particularly upset about was the 80s classical concert. I did a few last year. We had five arena shows lined up with the London Philharmonic.
"Those have been pulled and the arenas are hard to book in advance so we don’t know if they’ll go ahead. That one has really, really hurt.”
“We have 18 shows in Germany with orchestra, choir and full band, md’ed by the singer and musician John Miles. That looks like it will be next year. It’s definitely being put that back.
“Doing those shows with an orchestra are amazing. I did London Coliseum last autumn and Leeds Millennium Square with a 75-piece orchestra. Hearing China In Your Hands with real strings was emotional.
“But playing the shows isn’t just about having fun. The audience reaction is irreplaceable but putting it bluntly, that’s how I earn my money.
"You don’t earn any money from the records, you have to go on the road to earn a living.
"Although I’ve had a blessed 30-year run, I’m in T’Pau not the Rolling Stones, so I don’t have a private island and I can’t just kick back. I need to work – as much as anything to put my kids through university so that they can make more films.”
Carol added that she hoped people in the region would download the single in May and check out the video online.
"I’ve always had a great association with Shropshire, particularly Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth, which were both home, and we’ve played lots of gigs in the West Midlands, from Bilston to Birmingham. So I hope fans will like the new single.”
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