Stephen Taylor / Special to The Daily Yomiuri
|Corinne Drewery in Dalston, London, in September 2010|
"We're working on some stuff. When we have our own place and our own studio, it tends to take longer, because you haven't got the deadline of starting and stopping when you're booked into a studio," singer Corinne Drewery said in an interview for The Daily Yomiuri at the group's studio.
"We can change our mind, we don't have to stop at the first conclusion or the first decision. I think it's a more organic creative experience when you've got your own studio, 'cause you can just stay all day, all night, but it tends to go on indefinitely sometimes. We've changed our mind about the album we're doing several times, but it's a mixture of old and new, referring to some things from the past, but taking them to new places," the 51-year-old said.
Drewery and musical partner Andy Connell, who form the nucleus of Swing Out Sister these days, have enjoyed success in Japan since the 1980s and earned themselves a Recording Industry Association of Japan Grand Prix Single award in 1996 for the single "Now You're Not Here," after it had been used as the theme song for the popular TBS drama Mahiru no Tsuki (Midday Moon). Twenty years on, what can the group's legions of fans expect on stage this time around?
"I think we'll reinterpret some of the songs, if we're doing some of the same ones, and there'll be some different songs, some newer songs added. We have a flugel horn player with us, so that makes for a different sound," Drewery said, adding that it's unlikely they'll be resorting to any radical methods of mixing things up.
"I suppose everybody could swap instruments one night or wear each other's clothes or sing the songs backwards," she said with a laugh.
Swing Out Sister's jazzy style of pop is well-suited for the sophisticated surroundings of cabaret venues, where listeners enjoy music between mouthfuls of pasta. Drewery is conscious that getting the audience grooving requires a slightly different approach.
"Somewhere like the Billboard venues, where people are coming for dinner and then they're watching a concert after dinner, I don't know if it'll give them indigestion to get them up jiving and twisting straight after they've eaten," she said with a giggle and speculated on what best suits the group's audience nowadays.
"I think people do want to be part of what you've created, as long as it's at the right point and it's nearer the end, everyone seems to want to join in. We've got quite a mature audience--though there are a few young whippersnappers--so I don't know if people would want to stand up and dance for an hour."
Drewery reckons that she has made more than 30 trips to Japan since first touching down in Tokyo in the early 1980s after being plucked from London's night club scene as an amateur model for a Japanese fashion company. Whenever she is in the country, a trip to an Ippudo ramen shop is always near the top of any must-visit list, having received some special service from the chain's founder after discovering the food that made Hakata famous when the band played in Fukuoka a few years ago.
"Shigemi Kawahara invited us to his restaurant, donned his apron and promptly began cooking," Drewery recalled, adding she wasn't aware of the enormity of what had just happened. "His business manager, Ted Matsumoto, was visibly shocked and said, 'I haven't seen Shigemi cook in one of his restaurants for years,' so I said, 'But I thought he was a chef,' only to be told by Ted, 'Yes, but he only cooks on TV!'"
After a tasty bowl of ramen, Drewery can think of nothing better to wash it down with than a uniquely Japanese beverage.
"Calpis is the thing I crave as soon as I arrive in Japan--sparkling in a can, still in a bottle or concentrated to add to water or cocktails. I always bring a few cartons home," she said.
Swing Out Sister will play at Billboard Live in Osaka on Nov. 11-13, (06) 6342-7722, and Billboard Live in Tokyo on Nov. 15-16 and Nov. 18-20. For more information, call (03) 3405-1133 or visit www.billboard-live.com.
(Nov. 5, 2010)