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Night & Day (25 septembre 2005)

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Corr Values: Andrea Corr on why her new album is her sexiest yet

In a searingly honest interview, Andrea Corr, lead singer with pop group The Corrs, talks to Chrissy lley about finally finding love and the terrible infighting that threatened to break up the band.

There is something mesmerizing about the contradiction that is Andrea Corr. Here she is sipping mint tea, all pale skin, dark hair, little strappy dress. She seems to define fragile. She looks full of whimsy, yet she is a grafter. Inside she is full of earth and strength and stoicism. She has recently embraced an acting career, but is best known as part of the sibling group The Corrs. They have been around for 15 years and sold an impressive 24 million albums. And now they are about to release Home, an album of traditional Irish songs.
These are songs that they grew up with— gorgeously sad, beautifully repressed, oddly joyous. Songs that have always been in their lives. Some came from their mother’s personal songbook. Their parents were a lounge act. Their mother apparently had a voice like Karen Carpenter and was an equally tragic figure, as she died of a rare lung disease at 57.
Andrea Corr is forever included in lists of the most beautiful, the most sexy. Her eyes are huge pools, all aching. You imagine that if such a thing existed she would be on just as many ‘Most Sensitive’ lists. She looks a little shocked at this -irritated even. ‘I don't know how it happened that I might have that kind of image. I'm not that sad. People do make me out to be very sad, bur I'm quite a happy person. They think, "She's got it in the eyes." If I was heartbroken I would try not to show it. I think that's Irish nature. You get on with it. I think pride is exactly what you need to get through something. You fight back. Being heartbroken would be giving in.’ In person, she's funny and quirky enough to make you rethink the notion that for many years Andrea Corr was alone, wounded and needing the love of a good man.
‘Yes, for years I was alone - but by choice. I didn't feel like having a boyfriend. I think it's because I stayed quiet. We did interviews and I just didn't want to talk. I used to pull my hair over my face and people thought, dark hair, dark eyes dark thoughts. I think it was from seeing myself too much when I was young. I don't think I started off shy. I think the band made me shy.’
Today her hair is pulled back from her face. She looks right at me as she talks. She’s not shy at all.
Andrea was born 30 years ago in Dundalk, 11 miles south of Ulster, across the border. Her brother Jim had a part in the film The Commitments. He brought his sisters down to audition for John Hughes, who was organising the music. He was so knocked out by The Corrs that he decided to manage them.
Suddenly it seemed they were everywhere. It was a visual onslaught: three ravishingly gorgeous girls and a brother in the background. They made success seem effortless, as if they were a gilded, unstoppable force, but in fact they were relentless grafters.
Andrea went along with it, but felt a little displaced. She was scholarly, academic and all her friends were leaving for college. They alt felt it was their duty to one another to be-in the band. Duty is a big word for an Irish Catholic family.
No one ever felt they could leave, yet sometimes there were terrible clashes, ‘It wasn't that! was being forced to do it, bur the whole team had this work ethic. All of us went along with the idea that we couldn’t let each other down. Nobody knows as well as a family what buttons to press. An argument would turn into World War III. You're stuck. Literally stuck. You would go into an interview and we'd all be on one sofa, all of our bodies touching. Sometimes it was too much.’
Did Jim mind perching on the end? ‘Jim had a good time because we were three clones and a boy.’
I get the impression that Andrea minded being a clone a lot more. ‘Individually we all had different struggles within the band’ she says. ‘The reason I'm so flighty about my acting career is that it's within my control and my control alone’
It seems extraordinary that, with all these struggles, and just a year after their last album Borrowed Heaven, they got together and delivered Home with such speed and emotional force. Perhaps it's because part of that emotion comes from revisiting their mother's songbook.
Andrea talks about the therapeutic feel of going over her handwritten lyrics, but it is more than that. ‘I don't think people will have heard old Irish songs like they are here. They are so sexy, so provocative. It takes you back to a time when people didn't get what they wanted when they wanted it. They had to get married in order to have sex. My Lagan Love is about a man being driven to the point of watching a woman that he hungers for. It's the difference between somebody wearing a bra and shorts instead of a Victorian dress with loads of layers, dark and covered. That’s Ireland. That's what these songs are.’
And is that what you are? Someone who can define herself by profound longing? ‘No - that would drive me mad. I am not a contented person. I don't think I ever will be, but I love contented people’, she says.
Why do you feel you'll never be contented? ‘I think it's a slightly Catholic thing and that's a very big part of my personality. Catholicism isn't about contentment. When things are forbidden they are more pleasurable. I don't feel guilty about being successful because I feel we work hard, we earned it’
She is still a Catholic, but recently she had another traumatic experience in the confessional. 'We were on tour and I walked into this church, found that I was in a queue for confession and went in. The priest was old and I said, "It's been three years since my last confession’ and he said, "Why?" I got defensive and said that it was because women had been so disrespected in the church. Women are told to have so many babies and have to be ‘churched’ - cleansed of the sin of concupiscence. I Started to rant and I was upsetting him. I stopped because I felt bad that I was making him feel bad’
She's laughing about it now, so we move on to her new career - acting. ‘I hate the idea of singer-turned-actress, but it is something I seriously wanted to do before the music. When we were touring full-time I didn't have any time, and now I have’
Coming up next is a film with Saffron Burrows and Linus Roache. Before that was a rather intense movie called The Bridge, where she played a psychiatric nurse. ‘I don't want people to see me and know I'm a singer. I want them to go, "Oh really? She has a band?" I’m serious about it, but I don't want to scream about it. I feel that I wouldn't be doing right by myself if I didn't do it. You know there is that hunger’
Her own favourite films are Midnight Cowboy and All About Eve. ‘I like films that are quite dark, about lonely people, where you can explore dependency and the need for each other. Sometimes love comes out of need. Sometimes it's about looking whore love comes from’
This is an interesting dilemma, as she's already said that for many years she felt she just didn't need anybody. She was linked with Robbie Williams, Pop Idol's Simon Fuller and even Mick Jagger, but more of that later. Real love didn't come until recently.
'I was fine being single. I didn't think it WAS right to think, "I must have somebody." If you’ve been single for a long time and all your experience of relationships is that they haven't worked out, you are used to moving on. In the past I would often find a boy who looked sad the most attractive. I just thought they might be more interesting than Mr Happy - but that's not a good idea and I don't think like that any more’
The first person to break this mould was probably Giles Baxendale. He works in the industry, now in management for Charlotte Church, but that affair faded away.
Then, over a year ago, on the set of The Boys from County Clare t Andrea met and became involved with her on-screen love interest Shaun Evans- He was the flautist, she was the fiddle player, ‘Life imitating art’ She gives a reticent smile.
And they all lived happily ever after?
‘Well, we'll see’ she says, and you feel her recoiling. ‘I'm very private about my own personal love, because when I look at things written about people in love it seems demeaning, especially when somebody proclaims, "I've never been so in love," and it's their third husband. I am romantic in that I want to keep it a secret place, but I'm very happy. You know, it's good and it's been longer than I've ever been out with anybody before.'
Was it because it was the right time and he is the right one? ‘No, I think it's him, really. I think it's the way he is. He suits me and I suit him. It's more than being open or ready for it. You know you can decide you're ready for it, hut if that wasn't the right person that's pretty much it.’
What makes him different to the other 'wrong' people? ‘He's not possessive. There's a truce about everything because he wants the best for me. Possessiveness would make me go mad. I like freedom. I like to be able to experience life fully.’ And then she looks right at me, checking I understand. ‘I'm not saying I want an open relationship or anything. We are very much together. And no, he's not Mr Happy sitting in the corner, but at the same time he's not sad or in pain. He's not indulgent. He has a sense of adventure and a lust for life and an excitement about it all. I don't know why I looked for those intense guys. I liked the silent ones before I realised that the fact they're not speaking meant they had nothing to say.’
Maybe they were embracing pain in the way you were ignoring it? ‘Maybe,’ she laughs, and she's laughing at herself. It was difficult to get her to talk about her boyfriend. But that over with, she switches mood. Now she doesn't mind talking about the fabricated romances. The ones that were pinned on her through her single years.
‘Robbie [Williams] and I were friends. We went out a couple of times. He sent me flowers with a note that said, “What Can I Do To Make You Love Me?” and I said, "Entertain Me." It was fun, it was cheeky and we'll both be grandparents before we can forget it.’
Speaking of grandparents, did you really have a thing with Mick Jagger? The dark eyes gaze heavenward. ‘I would never say anything derogatory about him. We are friends. We played support for the Rolling Stones. I'm good friends with Ronnie. I have played with him a couple
of times and I sang with Mick when they were playing in Dublin, so we hung out. No relationship. I love the Rolling Stones. I love the things about music that can make men perpetually boys.'
It’s a testament to her gravitas as a rock star that she can get away with saying, ‘I am friends with the Rolling Stones’ without it sounding ridiculous. You feel sullied for even enquiring if anything else had been going on.
‘As for Simon Fuller, that one really shocked me. I had a chat to him at the Brit Awards one night and that was it —someone just made something up.’
It’s that kind of paparazzi glare that she finds a little o uncomfortable. That’s when her shyness returns. I wonder, is it because part of her had to grow up too quickly that another part of her remained not grown up at all?
‘I don’t think it works the same for women as for men. They can get away with being boys forever. For women in music, you’ve got to get savvy. You've got to watch your back, your front, everything.’
Does she mean that it's so much easier for a man to be old and sexy and act or sing? ‘I don't think about that too much,’ she says. ‘Anybody trying to be sexy ultimately isn’t sexy. If you're going, “I can't be sexy now because I'm getting older,” that's not sexy in the first place.’
Despite all those Most Beautiful lists, she says, ‘I don't think we were born to love ourselves and I don't think that I'm in any way perfect.’
Is there anything she'd want to change about her body? ‘I've got a couple of scars.’ She points to one on her brow that is invisible. Even feeling her skin it’s implausible. I tell her she's seeing things. Then she says there are so many more scars. A worse one on her leg. ‘I fell over my school bag and I got on to the bed and curled myself into a ball. I didn't cry or anything. My mother heard a massive thump and came running upstairs. “Andrea - are you OK?” She looked at my ankle and she could see the bone. It was split open. Then I started to cry, but it took a while to realise. It's not that I've got this weird sado-masochistic thing. It's just that I don't want to feel it, so I pretend in my head that I don't have it.’
You get the feeling that Andrea's life, her supreme success, has been against all the odds. For a family band from Ireland to become one of the best-selling international acts takes hard work and the kind of belief that says your ankle doesn't hurt, even though your bone is spilling out of it.
The Corrs album 'Home 'is released on September 26.

[i]Scans: GaëlleF[/b]

Le 22/05/2006 à 15:15 par GaëlleF

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