Welsh songbird and Grammy and Brit Award nominee Bonnie Tyler is one of the few icons from the eighties whose success has continued long past her peak years. With hits that include It’s A Heartache, Holding Out For A Hero and her signature power-ballad, Total Eclipse of the Heart, Bonnie was a multiple chart success story throughout the eighties as she flew the musical flag for the UK with her catchy and timeless hit singles.
Over the course of a career that has spanned close to 40 years, Bonnie Tyler has released over a dozen studio albums and has had songs featured in numerous films including the Kevin Bacon classic, Footloose.
It has been announced recently that Bonnie Tyler will be representing the UK at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. Watched by up to 600 million people around the globe, Bonnie will be performing her latest single, Believe In Me. The song is taken from her forthcoming sixteenth studio album, Rocks and Honey, scheduled for released in May.
Ahead of her highly-anticipated appearance at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, we got to speak with Bonnie Tyler about her performance, her career and the creation of her upcoming record, Rocks and Honey. Here is what she had to tell us:
Brendon Veevers: You have recently announced two projects that we here at RenownedForSound.com and your fans are very excited about. Firstly, you have a brand you record coming about called Rocks and Honey and, secondly, you will be representing the UK at this year’s 58th Eurovision Song Contest. Let’s start with your latest record. Can you tell us a little about the new album and what we can expect?
Bonnie Tyler: It’s a mixture of songs – there are ballads, there are power ballads. It’s a pop/rock album with a tinge of country. I have two songs on there which are out and out country. There is a duet on the record that is with Vince Gill who is absolutely incredible; a 27 time Grammy award winner. When I was offered this duet I just though “Oh wow, I wonder if Vince Gill will do it”, you know because about 7 years before I really fell in love with his voice. So we got given this duet and we asked him and he said yes and it was absolutely brilliant because he has such an amazing voice. That’s why we call it Rocks and Honey – I’m the rocks and he’s the honey.
BV: You are known for your anthemic, power ballads like Total Eclipse of the Heart, It’s A Heartache and Holding Out For A Hero. Would you say the new record carries the Bonnie Tyler ‘sound’ that we are familiar with or have you decided on a different direction for Rocks and Honey?
BT: I think, over the years, my voice has matured. I don’t find the huskiness is as strong as it was before. It is completely different. There is only one Jim Steinman (writer of Total Eclipse of the Heart) and his production is a bombastic, mega production. This has more of a Nashville feel with some rock creeping in as well. It’s a totally different way of producing and the producer, David Huff, has captured this really fantastic production. I’m not very technical at explaining what it is but he has done a really great job and I am really happy with him. So much so that I want to make another album with him.
BV: Rocks and Honey is your first studio album since Wings back in 2005. Why such a lengthy delay between records?
BT: I have been touring a lot but also, I didn’t have the songs you know. I only wanted to tour another album if I believed in every song, not just one or two on the album – every song. We went to Nashville to look for the songs, so, not knowing what was gonna happen, we had all these appointments with different publishers all over Nashville. We went and they just pulled out all of these great songs for us to listen to and it was like “Wow”. I left Nashville after about a week thinking, “this is amazing”. I left my manager, Matt Davis, there because he had a few more meetings to go to and I had to go to New York, so I get a phone call from him a few days later saying, “Bon, I know we got great songs but you wanna hear the ones that I’ve heard in the last few days as well”. I said, “come on, they can’t be as good as the ones we’ve already got”. I then said, “I’ll come down to Wales when I get back from New York and we can listen to the songs”. He played the songs and I was like, “Bloody hell, these are incredible”, you know. “Wonderful”. So obviously I’ve got some songs that we’re not gonna use on this album, ready for the next album and then we’ll go back to Nashville again.
BV: Are there any key tracks on Rocks and Honey that we should listen out for or that hold a particularly special place in your heart?
BT: All I Ever Wanted, Sunshine, This Is Gonna Hurt, Little Superstar and What You Need From Me, which is the duet with Vince Gill and that is about friends staying friends instead of becoming lovers.
There is also a beautiful song on there called Mom. The song is about a child talking in heaven before he gets born, before he comes down. Well, when I heard the demo I was all dressed up, waiting to go onstage, make-up all done and I thought while I was waiting I’d have a listen to a couple of demos that this incredible songwriter that we went to see while we were in Nashville had sent me. I started to listen and all of a sudden I thought “I’ve got to stop listening to this” because my make-up was running because I was crying, you know. This song is so beautiful that I had to put it off or I would have had to have done my make-up again before going back out onstage.
So when I came back offstage, I had done my show and I couldn’t wait to listen to the rest of the song. I played it again and I was crying my eyes out. This happened about 4 or 5 times before I could actually sing it but I thought, “I gotta do this song” because it is such a lovely song. Have a listen to it. You have to listen to every word. It’s not good having somebody around that’s talking because you’re hanging on for every word because you want to know that full story. It’s a country song and they’ve all got stories, haven’t they. The man who wrote it is Wynn Varble.
BV: Success has followed you in your career for an impressive four decades. As a successful recording artist, what would you say has been the highlight moment during your career?
BT: I was nominated for two Grammy Awards. It was a nomination for Best Song for Total Eclipse of the Heart and a nomination for Best Video but I lost that to, it was either Thriller or Billie Jean from Michael Jackson (laughs).
BV: Being so widely recognized for songs like Total Eclipse of the Heart, It’s A Heartache and Holding Out For A Hero, what are your feelings about those songs after 30 years performing them?
BT: I’ve always loved performing them and I still love performing them. Even though when I will next be touring I will be performing a lot of the new album, because I am so excited to do these songs, I feel so honored to have these songs, I will always include Total Eclipse of the Heart, It’s A Heartache, Lost In France and Holding Out For A Hero because people want to hear them and I love singing them and they are the lighter jobs. They get everybody going and I go “are you ready?” and they go, “Turn around” (sings the opening line from Total Eclipse of the Heart).
BV: So, let’s talk Eurovision. How does it feel to be flying the flag for the United Kingdom at the 58th Eurovision Song Contest this year in Malmo, Sweden?
BT: I was honored to be asked. At the beginning I though “Oh, what?” Then it suddenly dawned on me that this is incredible.
They asked me to do it in 1983 but I wasn’t able to do it then because I was too busy. It’s kind of the perfect time, this time. I just wish my mother and father were alive. They just loved Eurovision and they would be so proud. I’ve got a big family and unfortunately they couldn’t get tickets to go because they had all sold but they’re all rooting for me and I’m very happy and delighted to be doing it.
I’m realistic as well. It’s going to be great taking part in it and I’m sure the camaraderie will be really good with all the others. We’re all in the same boat, you know. Your own country can’t vote for you so we’re all relying on other countries to vote for us so let’s not take ourselves too seriously and just enjoy the night and hopefully enjoy the performance and do our best. I’d love to win but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t.
BV: What do you think you will do differently than previous UK Eurovision artists?
BT: Well, Katrina (and the Waves) was the last one to win it and she had a great song (1997’s Love Shine A Light). I think we have got a great song and she had a great song. Even though the singers have been good in the past, like Blue and Engelbert Humperdink, he has a great voice and should have had a great big power ballad or something and then maybe it would have been different. I think that was the problem there. So, hopefully the difference is that I have got a good song.
BV: The track you will be performing is called Believe In Me. Can you tell us a little about the track?
BT: Yes, the song is called Believe In Me and I am hoping they will believe in me (laughs). The song is about a couple and she is saying things like, “come on, let’s pull together” and “let’s be one” and “we can do it” and “we’ve got something special”. It’s like a “believe in us” kind of thing, you know?
BV: The track was co-written by Desmond Child who has not only worked with some of the industry’s biggest artists including Ricky Martin, Roxette, Cher and Bon Jovi but who you have worked with on numerous occasions during your career. What was it like for you to get to work with Desmond again?
BT: What’s funny – there is a bit of story behind this. When I got to Nashville and I was searching for songs, as I told you earlier on, I worked with Desmond in 1987 and I was talking to my producer, David Huff, and I said, “you know, I’ve lost Desmond’s number”. The last time I had Desmond’s numbers and everything, he was living in Florida. He said, “He’s actually living in Nashville now”. I said, “I don’t believe”. David said, “I’ll get hold of him”. Do he gave him a ring and he said to Desmond, “Bonnie’s in town” and Desmond said, “Oh great, come over for dinner, tonight”. So we went to this dinner up at Desmond’s house and we had this big dinner party. There was another guy there, I didn’t know him, right, but everybody knew him. He produced for Pink Floyd. It was that kind of dinner party.
So at the dinner I said to Desmond, “do you have any songs for me?” So the next day he sent a song down to Blackbird Studio in Nashville which is a famous studio where a lot of artists have worked over the years. So, I was listening to the songs and I really loved Believe In Me. He said, “yeah, but it’s not finished yet – there’s got to be another verse”. He said “how about coming up tomorrow night for dinner again and I’ll finish it at dinner?” And he did. (plays the verse from a voice-mail left by Desmond Child on Bonnie’s phone).
BV: What can we expect from your performance at Eurovision – are you planning any type of visual spectacle or are you opting for a more stripped back performance?
BT: There won’t be any ‘ripping off of any skirts’, although Bucks Fizz did that very well (laughs).
There’s going to be 3 boys and 2 girls; 2 boys on guitar and 1 on keyboard and 2 girls on backup vocals and 2 of the boys are backup vocalists as well. I’m not gonna be dancing round because I’m not a dancer. I’m not going to have any choreography – it’s just a performance. I’ve been in the business for a long time so it’s gonna be stuff I’m comfortable with. No shoulder pads (laughs).
BV: Have you been offered any advice from previous UK Eurovision contestants?
BT: I have had a couple of phone calls; one off Katrina and she’s been in touch a few times and Nicky from Brotherhood of Man because she’s an old friend of mine and she has been in Eurovision. Also, Graham Norton himself. He said, when we were in a radio interview, off air he said “Bonnie, you’ve got pace yourself. It’s crazy over there so you’ve gotta pace yourself”. The girls were lovely. They were both saying, “it’s hectic as hell but it’s fun”. They said “don’t forget to enjoy yourself because it’s a great experience”.
BV: Going back to your new album – will you be taking the record on tour at all this year?
BT: Definitely! I’m just hoping Rocks and Honey does well when it’s released here. The pre-orders are going really well I’ve been told. I’m number 4 in pre-orders on Amazon. Hopefully if the album does well, the tour will do well. I’m looking forward so much to touring with this album. I have got a lot of shows already in Scandinavia, Germany and South Africa. I’m doing the Rome ‘Harley Davidson Festival’. I’ve also got gigs in Spain, so it’s looking good.
BV: With so many things already planned for the year I feel almost scared to ask you if you have anything else planned for 2013 but….is there anything else on the calendar for the year that fans can look forward to?
BT: Watch this space because it is changing all the time. Like today, Spain and Denmark came in which wasn’t on there already, you know. I’m doing a big thing in Denmark in September and the Princess of Denmark is going to be there.
BV: That’s amazing. Thanks for talking with us Bonnie and good luck with the album and your Eurovision performance.
Bonnie Tyler’s upcoming album, Rocks and Honey, is released on May 6th in the UK and May 14th in the US.