Annie Waite

11:50 26th August 2004


The Pearly Queen (of Filth) was a veteran of the Britpop scene with the band Powder; Pearl Lowe has since had kids with partner Danny Goffey of Supergrass and enjoyed a brief stint in Lodger, but only now has she chosen to branch out on her own and try her luck with a fresh ‘n’ flirty (not to mention dirrrty) brand of rock. Gigwise catches up with her at one of her packed out shows, to get the lowdown on her new band, Pearl.

After three years in completion, Pearl reckons she’s finally sober enough to unleash her debut album and matured charms on the music market. “I haven’t drunk for six months now. The record was delayed so long because I drank too much. I was a monster. I was at Ronnie Scotts in January doing a gig and the show went down well. That was the night I stopped, I realised I could do it.

Since I’ve been sober I’ve managed to mix the album and get a single out!” The album was “half done in the house and half in the studio in Ladbroke Grove”. The single ‘I Wanna Love You’ (backed with ‘Lotta Love’, a Minnie Ripperton ‘Loving You is easy cos you’re beautiful’-esque smooth number) is a gushing, craving nugget of pop with a bit of sultry pouting sprinkled on top.

She’s back to hitting the gossip columns with full force, this time not because of her drunken antics (circa 1995 the NME used to joke that as she spent so much time in the Dublin Castle, her then-imminent baby would be born in the pub’s toilets), but because of all her famous friends joining the Pearl party.

Some might consider it a handy bit of press manipulation, but Pearl’s got an innocent explanation: “It’s not manipulative and it’s (the press attention) not why we’ve recorded with certain people. It was really just our mates that happened to be hanging around”. Along with husband Danny Goffey, the group of mates includes Jackson Scott, Brett Anderson, Sadie Frost, Rhys Ifans and Heather Nova, amongst others, “We thought the song ‘Bardot’ would really suit Brett’s voice, but we were all getting drunk and Rhys turned up at the studio one day and said ‘I’m singing it!’. With Heather Nova, her boyfriend was producing it, so she was an obvious choice”. And Jackson Scott? “Well, he’s a friend and also a very good guitarist. He does little things on the side like acoustic parties and stuff, but he’d just come over from Spain and didn’t know anyone so I thought I’d help him out”.

PearlHaving already racked up a fair amount of celeb collaborations, is there anyone else you’d still like to work with? “I’d love to duet with Tom Waits before he dies”. Talented indie-scene stalwart Darren Berry (aka Mankato) is also another mate that’s onboard as Pearl’s effortlessly energetic drummer. Pearl’s original band Powder toured with Darren’s old band Elcka way back in ‘95 on the Melody Maker tour. “In those days I had the time of my life, it was a riot! Pulp, Blur, Elastica, Menswear - we were all mates and we’d all hang out. The festivals were different then ‘cos the bands didn’t move (to an alternative site) so it would just be one mass party the whole weekend from Thursday until Tuesday”.

So, what’s changed since Britpop fizzled out and its main-players moved on? Since Powder, Pearl has made plush curtains for the stars, received voice coaching, and scratched her musical itch with Lodger, but as Pearl she now has the chance to change direction: . “Now I can write and sing more heart-wrenching songs. In Powder, I resented singing lyrics about nothing. I would be there crying with my friends as I was singing about things with no significance. Mark wouldn’t let me write the lyrics. He controlled the band and told me how to sing”.

She makes Powder sound like an unlikely dictatorship, but the band are all still in touch, and surely the good times must have outweighed the sacrifices she had to make? “I’d sometimes be on tour for six weeks at a time so it was hard to leave my daughter, but it was just one big party! We had a lot of fun… too much fun!”. Back then, at 23, Pearl had a four year-old daughter and lived with her mother. Now the daughter has grown up and is soon to be following in her mother’s footsteps modelling for Vogue (Pearl was on the Agent Provocateur books).

Giving up the grog (“That’s all in the past – I’m clean and serene now!”), getting back in the gig groove and watching her kids grow up, Pearl also plans grow older gracefully with talk of an imminent move from the comfortable confines of Primrose Hill, to the leafy peace of the Buckinghamshire countryside. With all these changes afoot, has she any predictions for a new UK music trend booting out the stale remnants of the ‘New Cross scene’? “Well lived women and people that have been to hell and back, singing about their pain and debauchery”. I never knew the life of a popstar could be such a trauma!

Well, despite the suggestion of this pained batch of shouty miserabilists taking over the airwaves, with Pearl’s rich, confident album and dazzling live dates to add to the melting pot, it looks like we’ve got some cheery times ahead.