Interview – The Pipettes’ Gwenno Saunders
– by Shawn Conner
The Pipettes‘ 2008 debut We Are the Pipettes was a fun, catchy and sugary concoction that provided a winking throw-back to classic girl-group pop.
After going through a lineup change that finds Gwenno Saunders, a Welsh actress/dancer/singer and daughter of Cornish poet/linguist Tim Saunders, the only remaining singer of the three girl singers that fronted the band on that record and subsequent tour, The Pipettes have returned to North America in support of album number two, Earth vs. the Pipettes. Along with Gwenno, her sister Ani has joined the band, and a group of guys calling themselves The Cassettes, including band mastermind Monster Bobby, are still playing the instruments.
Gwenno answered some questions via email at the start of the current tour, which includes a Vancouver show at Venue April 29.
Shawn Conner: There’s been a major lineup change since the last time the band came through town. In fact it looks like there’s been several major lineup changes since then. Are you, Gwenno, still in the band?
Gwenno Saunders: I am, just about! Yes, there have been many many line-up changes, it’s the nature of a conceptual Pop band I guess, where the idea of the collective is greater than the sum of its parts.
SC: If so, who’s in the band now besides you and your sister Ani?
GS: Well that’s a question. I suppose that there is a pool of us that are in the band, and it’s a matter of logistics as to who plays a ‘The Pipettes gig’ at any one time, and in fact, the line-up has changed every single gig or tour that we’ve done and so we’re forever transient.
SC: How did your sister come to be in the band? Did you engineer a coup d’etat?
GS: Of course!
SC: The song “Pull Shapes” off The Pipettes’ debut is on the soundtrack for a movie called Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. On first hearing the title, it sounds too British for North America. Is this the case?
GS: It is very much a British teen film, and a sweet and well executed one at that. And “Pull Shapes” was used in a wonderful scene at a disco birthday party where the dad of the main character turns up, it made me cry. Wonderful stuff!
SC: How similar is it to the old Carry On movies?
GS: Oh, it’s not in any way like a Carry On film, no sauciness at all.
SC: Are you in negotiations for a reality show to find more Pipettes? If not, why not?
GS: Now there’s an idea. We haven’t ventured into television as a band yet (although most of us have quite a great deal of TV experience) [ed.’s note: in 2001 Gwenno had a role in a Welsh soap opera Pobol y Cwm] and the past three years would have been both tragic and hilarious to document, but you know, the problem with reality television is that it’s incredibly formulaic and I wouldn’t say that The Pipettes as a band or in its own history would fit into that formula per se.
But, if there was an opportunity to create a new program format then we would definitely be all ears I’m sure.
SC: What’s the story on Earth vs. the Pipettes? Is it available in the UK and/or North America, if not what is the release date? Will there be polka-dot vinyl version?
GS: Earth vs the Pipettes is available both in the UK and North America, to download, on CD and on vinyl. The vinyl is a classic black though, sorry to break it to you!
SC: You’re playing the same venue (“Venue”) in Vancouver as last time, which was a great, fun show. What should we expect from this one that is different from the last, besides new songs, and new lineup? Actually, that’s already lots….
GS: Well there are of course some new songs, and I think that we probably sing more in tune as we’re siblings which is a slight improvement, and obviously we’re absolutely hilarious and Ani cracks a few jokes that will have you in stiches, and generally bullies Bobby throughout, so it’s a show not to be missed!
SC: Will you follow our site on Twitter: @guttersniped?
GS: Do you tweet about your eating habits, or post interesting, fun links?? Oh go on then!