When they sat backstage in anticipation of the opening night of their first live show in years in 2014, the world-conquering West London original All Saints, Nicole and Natalie Appleton, Shaznay Lewis and Melanie Blatt temporarily forgot what they’d achieved in their pop primacy.
Those 12 million+ record sales, the five number one singles, two multi-platinum albums, the double Brit award winning generational anthem Never Ever all faded to distant memory. Instead, what they felt was huge pangs of nerves at facing an arena crowd for the first time in years.
“After the performance,” says Mel, still warmed by the recent memory, “we went backstage and our kids came running into the dressing room, crying their eyes out.” “We thought something had happened,” recalls Nic. “I was saying ‘are you all alright?’ and they just said ‘we’re so proud of you.’ That was it.”
"When people think of us,” demurs Nic, “they probably think of cargo pants”. “There has never been an agenda with us,” says Mel. “Those thought processes of, OK, this is our market place, this is who we want to sell to, that never ever has been a part of our band. It was just about wanting to be in a band.”
“It wasn’t about being a girl-band, even,” says Nat. “it was just about being in a band.” “We were always more like boys anyway,” notes Nic.
“I think emotionally, even though musically they weren’t similar at all, the closest predecessor we had was probably Bananarama. They didn’t give a shit about what other people thought either. They just had a laugh.”
Melanie Blatt moved back from a four year residency in Ibiza to rejoin All Saints last year. “You know what,” she says, “nothing would’ve made me leave Ibiza apart from these girls. It’s totally worth it.” She is currently living with Nicole Appleton. “It’s our dream really,” says Nic. “She’s been my best friend since we were 11. Eventually, it was going to happen and eventually, it happened. And we haven’t changed.” All Saints’ happy endings start here. “Seriously,” says Shaznay, “I got on such a roll writing and recording with the Girls again, we’ve started getting material for the next album together already. This couldn’t feel any more right.”
“When I write, I just think about what’s on my mind,” says Shaz. “The lyrics for One Strike came from somewhere very real. Nic was going through a lot of things at that time. That was at the forefront of my mind because it was the heaviest thing going on.” The song was written as a direct response to the younger Appleton sister’s marriage dissolving. “We spoke for hours and hours on the phone,” Nic says. “The first few times I heard it in my car,” says Nat, “I couldn’t stop crying because I could hear so
"We didn’t force ourselves into this situation,” says Nat, “and it couldn’t have happened at a better time in all of our lives. I just missed being with the girls. It makes us happy. Listen, if you can work with your favourite people, then why not? I have such a good time and I spend more time laughing and having fun than I do working.” “The album,” says Shaznay, “could have been made a lot quicker if we’d spent less time joking around while making it.”
“You always get real with Shaz,” notes Nat. “Even when we were teenagers the songs always sounded so real to me,” adds Nic. “Never Ever feels like an experience that has been lived and we were kids back then.”
They are here again, in 2016, for all the right reasons. “We’re not doing this to conquer the world,” says Nic, “we want to have some fun now.”