- - Monday, March 6, 2017

Of all the bands to come out of the New Wave movement of the 1980s, none appeared to be having more fun than Glasgow, Scotland’s Altered Images. Led by sweet and cheery singer Clare Grogan, the band released several solid CDs and scored hits with “Happy Birthday” and “I Could Be Happy.”

In 1987 the original lineup of Altered Images faded from the musical landscape — or so it seemed, until Miss Grogan reactivated the band in 2004 as an all-female group to play a series of 1980s-themed festivals. The young year sees the band playing to sold-out audiences “happy” to see them again.

At a recent stop in Los Angeles, Miss Grogan spoke about the band’s return and what makes her really “happy.”

Question: How was it to be back playing in Los Angeles 34 years since you last played here?

Answer: I’ve been pacing nervously all day. I had no idea how it was going to go. It was also lovely.

Since I arrived a couple days ago, I’ve been quite surprised. Even the immigration guys remembered [Altered Images]! One of them said, “Oh, my god. ‘I Could Be Happy’ is the best 12-inch ever written!”

I had a feeling that it was going to be a great show because everywhere I went to in L.A. this week, people have said, “Oh, my god!”

Q: How did the new all-female lineup come about?

A: Honestly, there have been lots of different lineups. We had the original lineup, then the next original lineup, followed by the third original lineup.

The beauty of having a band called Altered Images is you can change it. I’ve always wanted to be in a girl band. I really did. So this gave me an opportunity. As a matter of fact I am working with [backup vocalist] Charlotte [Pearce] and [lead guitarist] Gillian [Bickerstaff] longer than any of the original members. But I am married to one of the original [members], Stephen Lironi.

Q: Was he supportive of relaunching the band?

A: Yeah. I just like working with really good people with great attitudes and amazing abilities that want to have a laugh as well. That’s important to me.

My husband is way more successful than I’ve ever been, and he doesn’t need it.(Laughs.) (Mr. Lironi is a well-known producer.)  

I’m glad to be able to do this again. I’ll just never get over being a lead singer. (Laughs.)

Q: What do you appreciate more this time around?

A: I’ll tell you exactly what I really love: When I was young and I was singing those songs, I had no life experience. Now when I look out into the audience, I know all he [stuff] we’ve all been through. I don’t know how to describe it other than that. And we still want to come out and have a good time. And connect to a part of our lives where we didn’t have mortgages and stuff going on.

I really feel it in the room. I look out there and am thankful we are all still standing. And the fact that we are all jumping up and down together is brilliant.

Q: Why do people still love the music of the ‘80s so much?

A: [Spandau Ballet singer] Tony Hadley and I were being interviewed together at one point, and somebody asked him, “Why do you think the ‘80s thing just keeps on going?” Tony summed it up: It’s because the songs are really brilliant. None of us thought they would last, but they have.

He’s right, the songs are really brilliant. I think that is a big part of it.

Q: Who is in the audience these days?

A: When I do shows in the U.K., I see lots of people bring their kids to the show. Which is perfect because I am the world’s most embarrassing mom.

Q: How do your kids feel about their mom being a pop star?

A: My daughter Ellie is so annoyed that she is not here right now in Los Angeles. But I’m only here for three nights, and it would have been almost like an act of child cruelty if I brought her from London. But she’s annoyed. She made me promise I have to come back to America and do more shows so she can come the next time.

Q: Are there any plans to do new Altered Images music?

A: You know, I occasionally write some new songs. I was in a TV series in the U.K. called “Skins,” and I got to write some music for that. But when it comes to writing songs, I’ve always got to be commissioned to do it. I won’t write unless someone has got a real genuine purpose for it.

I write songs with my daughter, but I can’t imagine having an album out again. I know people think that’s weird. But I just like singing. (Laughs.) But you never know what will happen next. It’s always been like that for me.

Q: How does it feel to play shows with fellow ‘80s survivors?

A: There is always a really nice feeling when you share the bill with people. For me, when we were doing it in the ‘80s, we were all genuinely kids and quite shy, because a lot of performers are. When we go on stage, we get to be a bit crazier then. So none of us really spoke to each other back then.

But now, because we’re all grownups, we can look each other in the eye and talk to each other. It’s good. I love all of it. And I’m not just saying that. Like everyone else in the audience, the music takes me back to somewhere.


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