Wherever Clare Grogan goes, her signature song ‘Happy Birthday’ follows her.
“I’ll be out for dinner and someone will come up to me and say ‘it’s my uncle’s birthday, do you mind doing a wee video?’. And, of course I don’t. It’s a real honour that people still know who I am and that I’m still relevant.”
It’s been 39 years since Altered Images created new music, but now they’re back with a new studio album, Mascara Sreakz, which captures the thrills of Clare’s teenage years. She describes it as an incredibly personal memoir.
“I don’t know about you, but I love a big night out,” she told STV entertainment show What’s On Scotland. “I started thinking how a big night out is a little like life itself: the anticipation, the preparation, the going out, the falling out, the falling in love and waking up the next morning with smudged eyes.”
Where did the idea to make new music come from?
“It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?” she says. “But I’m just so genuinely thrilled that it’s happening again.
“I think a lot of us during lockdown had a bit of a re-evaluation and I realised I had such gorgeous, dedicated fans and thought, ‘the best way to thank these people is to create some new music’.
“I had also eaten all the crisps, drank all the wine and watched all the boxed sets, so it really felt like I had to do something creative.”
Clare and her husband, Altered Images drummer and producer Stephen Lironi, set down to work, spending the days in their home studio writing and recording.
Mascara Streakz also involved Bernard Butler, a former Suede guitarist and now acclaimed music producer.
“He lives the round the corner,” she says. “I’ve known Bernard a long time and I’ve always been a huge admirer, but we’d always just been those people waving across the street or chatting in the supermarket, then I just thought, ‘Clare, come on’, so I said, ‘Bernard, I would really like to write some music with you’.”
The Gregory’s Girl star has had a successful acting career as well as being a published author and TV and radio presenter, but getting back out there performing in front of crowds has been a really special experience.
She wells up while saying: “It’s overwhelming. I treat every show like it might be my last opportunity to do it.
“I reached a landmark birthday this year (Clare turned 60 in March) and a lot of people asked me how I felt about it. I kind of recognised that I don’t want to be restricted by anything in life, certainly not by a number. I have a really lovely life in terms of what I get to do – great job, with great people most of the time.
“But this is the one thing I’ve been missing in my life – I didn’t realise how much I missed it until I suddenly had to do it again.”
What’s On Scotland is available on the STV Player.