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Music Interview

Pete Burns: 'Kangaroo testicles? I've had worse things in my mouth'

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Pete Burns

Almost exactly 28 years ago, Pete Burns-fronted Dead or Alive released their breakthrough hit 'You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)'.

The track, which was produced by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman (SAW), charted well across the globe and was the start of a string of hits helmed by the production trio.

With Waterman gearing up to celebrate almost 30 years of pop music with the likes of Steps, Kylie Minogue and Bananarama at this Friday's Hit Factory Live concert, we caught up with Burns to reflect on his years in the spotlight and whether any more reality shows are on the cards.

Hello Pete! So you're playing this 'Hit Factory Live' gig on Friday...
"To be honest I'd forgotten all about it. It was supposed to be in the summer and then they cancelled it. I'm filming a TV show at the moment in Doncaster, but I'll be in rehearsals with the dance troupe and the band for the rest of the week."

You haven't performed live for a while. Are you feeling nervous?
"No! Where do I start really... I'm not interested in gigs unless I really want to do them. I walked away from music in 1997 and then there was a greatest hits in 2002. Thank God it didn't do too well because the record company wouldn't promote it. Maybe twice a year someone will get in touch to book me or Dead or Alive. The reason I'm doing this one is because Pete Waterman asked me personally."

Pete Burns


That must have been better than some anonymous events company phoning you up.
"What a lot of people don't realise about me is that I have no idea what's going on in the media. I don't pay any attention to it as I consider it mind pollution. The last time I touched a computer was in 2001 and my phone is too old to use the internet. I just don't enter into it at all on any level."

You have quite a few imitators on Twitter.
"I know - there are about 20 of them! Let them f**king knock themselves out - I'm not interested. Unless I've got 15 personalities and a computer jammed up my arse, it's not me."

Back to the gig, are you looking forward to seeing any of the SAW lot?
"I'm not sure how to answer that. I have no interest in seeing any of them. Moving swiftly on!"

It seemed very cosy between you all back in the day...
"Not on my part. Dead or Alive were the first of the lot to want Stock Aitken Waterman to produce our songs. We wrote our own material and by the time we'd finished with them, that's when everyone wanted to work with them. They were a clique - they came in, did a vocal and were sent home. At the time I suffered from painful musician snobbery. I used to say, 'It's the chef that f**king cooks the food, you don't start kicking the waiter'. That's how I saw those artists."

Some of the SAW artists, like Kylie Minogue, have gone on to be huge successes though.
"I know and I genuinely think that's great, but I wouldn't want what they had for a gold clock. I'm not criticising, but Kylie said something very interesting on TV the other day about her album The Abbey Road Sessions, saying it was the first time she'd really listened to the words of her songs. That really jarred me."

Because you write your own songs?
"She's got a lovely voice and her records are catchy, but then again, so is herpes. Moving on!"

Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan - Especially For You CD back shot


You once said you wanted Pete Waterman to write you another hit song. What out of their catalogue did you want?
"I wanted 'Respectable' by Mel and Kim. That was the one really. That and 'When I'm Good and Ready' by Sybil. I'd have crawled on my belly through broken glass for those songs, but it wasn't meant to be."

Back in the '80s you experienced some success abroad, but then it all ended suddenly. What happened?
"I released something like nine albums in various territories that were successful, two and a half of which did well in the UK. No-one took the success away, the way music went just wasn't my place. I felt like my time was up."

The Hit Factory show celebrates 25 or so years of Waterman classics. Has it been nice to reflect?
"I'm not really the sort to reflect or look forward. I prefer concentrating on the now. Occasionally I'll go out and shake a leg, but it's not my raison d'être. The idea of travelling all over the world singing the same songs sounds like hell. How people like Tina Turner still do it with enthusiasm is beyond me. I'm 54 years old now - I want to go home and have my cocoa!"

Over the years you've battled over your love for 'You Spin Me Round'. How do you feel about the song these days?
"Every time I walk around my six-bedroom house I really appreciate 'You Spin Me Round'. I f**king hated it for years because I wasn't allowed to move on. Once you hit the mainstream and your next single only goes to ten, you're forever deemed a failure. I almost actively self-sabotaged my success. Look at Judy Garland, she first sang 'Over The Rainbow' when she was 14 and at 47 she was still hollering it out off her tits."



Have you seen any of this year's X Factor?
"I saw bits and pieces. When Ella left I thought, there's something really wrong with this show. I can't help but feel sorry for the acts after the show because their success will dry up so quickly."

What's next for you?
"I'm doing TV work, and it's fabulous. They negotiate ridiculous fees, they send me a blacked-out people carrier and someone to carry my clothes. They put me in gorgeous dressing rooms and dress me up and feed me, then I go on screen and do whatever I want, and then I'm back home by midnight. I study a lot as well."

Would you do any more reality TV?
"Absolutely. I'd definitely be up for that. I have done a few and they weren't reality - they were structured reality. What we're doing at the moment is absolutely hilarious and should be coming out in March. Big Brother was about as real as it got. I did it purely for the money and I'm still the most remembered one even though I came fourth! I may even be doing I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! next year.

Is there enough money in the world that would make you eat kangaroo testicles?
"Do you not think as a screaming queen I've not had worse things in my mouth than kangaroo testicles?"

Perhaps it's best we don't go there.
"Fine, but you asked the f**king question!"

Pete Burns plays the Hit Factory Live alongside the likes of Steps, Jason Donovan, Hazel Dean and Kylie Minogue at London's O2 on Friday, December 21.

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