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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wendy James Interview


FORMER TRANSVISION VAMP FRONTWOMAN WENDY JAMES TALKS TO ROB TOWNSEND ABOUT COMING TO SYDNEY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN TEN YEARS

“I remember playing the Hordern Pavilion. Is it still there? I think we did five nights in a row. They were all sold-out.” It’s fair to say that Wendy James’ old band, pop-rockers Transvision Vamp, were massively popular in Australia, so it’s all the more remarkable that it has been over a decade since her last visit. In that time, she has relocated from England to New York, which she has called home for the past seven years. “I fell in love with it when I was 16 years old. I found myself in a position that if I wanted to move I could, and so I did. It’s just everything I would want from a city. I haven’t had a bad day in New York once. Not through all the years. It’s incredible.” James has also formed a new band, called Racine, since moving to The States, yet it’s her skills behind the decks that bring her back to this city, with a host of appearances including a return to Kings Cross, where she recalls Transvision Vamp stayed last time round. “I remember we always stayed at the Sebel Townhouse Hotel. That was like, you know, Sydney’s version of the Hyatt Hotel on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. It was always very good fun to check in there. That’s gone, right?”

During her sets, James promises an eclectic mix, including some Detroit garage punk, a bit of NYC new-wave, some M.I.A, Santo Gold and a smattering of British indie. “I love The Horrors,” she tells me in the most perfectly proper English accent. She’ll also be playing plenty of old school hip-hop. “That’s what really turns me on nowadays, everything from The Beastie Boys right through to some proper hardcore Wu-Tang Clan. Basically, it’s going to be a heavy night. Whether its rock ‘n’ roll or hip-hop, it’s going to be heavy.” And are there any bombs she likes to drop every time? “If I can get away with it, I always play Grace JonesSlave to the Rhythm, but that’s really for my listening pleasure.”

While she loves DJing, James’ main focus is Racine. “We’re planning for Racine to come over and tour in January. So, while the DJ sets will be rocking nights, they’ll also let everybody know that Racine is coming to town soon.” This is a prospect that clearly excites the singer. “It’s taken time, because we’ve done five tours around Europe and two tours around America but we haven’t been to Australia yet. And yet historically, Australia was one of Transvision Vamp’s main countries. So it’s kind of crazy that its taken this long for Racine or Wendy James to get back out there and play,” she laments. “But now we’ve got it up and running, and its happening.”



James goes on to talk about how she is wilder now than she was back in her Transvision Vamp days, and the passing years seem to have given her a greater appreciation of her life as a musician than she had back then. “I remember it as a whole package of just ‘Wow,’” she says of her time as a teenage bombshell frontwoman. “I was too young to appreciate what was happening. It’s only a few years afterwards that you clearly remember how incredible it was. I don’t know. It’s funny. It’s just something I did.”

I wonder how many people come to see her because they know her from her days in her previous band? She ponders for a moment, then responds. “There’s always a few people who are Transvision nuts, but on the whole it’s a brand new thing.” I suggest that it must be a wonderful feeling to have a whole new generation of admirers, rather than living on former glories. “Yeah it’s fantastic,” she smiles. “There are a lot of girls into me now in their late teens and twenties to thirties. I don’t mean teeny-bop, giggly girls; I mean independent young women. It’s very exciting.” She pauses again. “You know, sexy tough strong young women.”

When I ask James what the future holds, and whether she has the desire to take on any non-music-related projects, she scoffs, and simply responds: “Rock ‘n’ roll till I die baby.”

1 comment:

Jonny said...

Great interview! I look forward to seeing her new band next year.