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ALISON STEWART, host:

Thanks for listening to THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News.

Well, they're British, they dress in polka dots and they put a postmodern spin on songs that throw back to the days of Phil Spector and the girl group sound. They're, well, you know what, we'll let them introduce themselves.

(Soundbite of song, "We Are The Pipettes")

THE PIPETTES (Singing Group): (Singing) We are the Pipettes and we've got no regrets. If you haven't noticed yet, we're the prettiest girls you've ever met. We are the Pipettes.

STEWART: The ladies known as The Pipettes, all choreographed hand movements and angelic harmonies, visited the BPP studios yesterday.

(Soundbite of rewinding tape)

So let's start things out so everybody can get used to your voices.

Ms. GWENNO PIPETTE (Vocalist, Keyboardist, The Pipettes): Right.

Ms. ROSE PIPETTE (Vocalist, Keyboardist, The Pipettes): Yeah.

STEWART: Okay. You are?

Ms. R. PIPETTE: I'm Rose.

STEWART: And...

Ms. BECKI PIPETTE (Vocalist, The Pipettes): I'm RiotBecki.

Ms. G. PIPETTE: I'm Gwenno.

STEWART: All right. When did you all meet? I know that's sort of a basic question, but also when did you discover you had the same musical sensibility?

Ms. B. PIPETTE: We met in 2003, at the end of 2003 through our lovely guitarist over there, Monster Bobby.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. B. PIPETTE: And a previous member...

LUKE BURBANK, host: Bobby will wake up at some point, I'm positive.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. R. PIPETTE: Bobby's mute.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Yeah, he only speaks through the language of song.

Ms. R. PIPETTE: Music.

(Soundbite of guitar chords)

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. B. PIPETTE: There you see, he's talking. But, yeah...

Ms. R. PIPETTE: That means "I'm tired."

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Yeah, it was he and Julia, our previous member, who got everyone together, and kind of suggested doing a girl band and the rest we just thought it was good idea really. So it wasn't kind of like we were all hanging out together and just kind of happened to jam and thought it would be a great idea. It was quite specific in its intentions. But about a year and a half into it, Julia decided to leave and we got Gwen.

Ms. G. PIPETTE: And I thought it was a good idea. Hey...

BURBANK: I understand that you were a fan of the group.

Ms. R. PIPETTE: Oh, bull's end.

Ms. G. PIPETTE: No, she wasn't really.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: Is that Wikipedia lying to me again?

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Yeah, it is.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Can't trust Wikipedia.

BURBANK: Oh, man.

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Yeah. No - but I had bought a ticket about two months in advance for the show.

Ms. R. PIPETTE: But she was coming to see the band that we were supporting and...

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Yeah.

Ms. R. PIPETTE: ...not us.

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Yeah.

STEWART: So all right. So you see this band on stage, it's not who you originally showed up to see...

Ms. G. PIPETTE: And I thought

STEWART: ...and you thought?

Ms. G. PIPETTE: I just thought they were amazing. I thought it was the most perfect pop band I'd seen and I wanted to be a part of it and just found out that Julia was leaving and got talking to everyone and kind of tried out a couple of times and moved down to Brighton.

BURBANK: What was the tryout like?

Ms. G. PIPETTE: It was quite nerve-wracking really because it was a bit like an audition in a way.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: And we worked her hard.

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. B. PIPETTE: The thing was — because she turned up knowing all the dance moves and all the parts. And I was like, I don't actually even know half of this stuff myself, so I think maybe I should be the one being replaced, but, yeah, it's kind of all made sense I think.

BURBANK: Were you researching it on YouTube?

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Yeah, no, because there was a concert that was available on the Internet; I can't remember when it was fed, so...

Ms. B. PIPETTE: At Leeds.

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Yeah, so I saw that and I was like, wow, if I'm going to be in this band, I'm going to have work, and I'm going to have to learn all the moves because I knew the dancing was really important and that was, you know, like the show element of it as well was something that I just thought was really important.

STEWART: It's interesting you mentioned that because for people who are hearing this, you have to run to YouTube and type in Pipettes and - and so you can what's going on because there's a whole - you have...

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Loads of stuff.

STEWART: ...amazing-looking costumes and outfits and the dance moves and all. Who's the choreographer or do you guys just work it out together?

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Yeah, we do just work it out together. We kind of, when one of the songs is finished, we'll maybe kind of have a little tape of it and go around to one of our houses and just sort of dance, you know...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. B. PIPETTE: It is quite one of the more immature parts of being in The Pipettes, which is a good thing.

STEWART: Hmm. There's got to be something about a girl group sound that you liked. I mean, you actually decided to change your life...

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Yeah and, of course.

STEWART: ...and join a girl band.

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Yeah and, of course. No, of course. Right.

Ms. R. PIPETTE: It's just a very prolific sound that people have kind of forgotten about as well. And there's a spirit that was captured back then that doesn't exist in music anymore. You know, it's either really gratuitous or just yeah, bland, and think that that was what we thought was lacking for music and we thought needed updating. The girl group formula, you know, you can't go wrong with it really.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: No. And like really strong choruses and tunes. I think - we like tunes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. R. PIPETTE: So that was kind of partly where it comes from as well.

STEWART: Well, can we hear one?

Ms. R. PIPETTE: Yes.

STEWART: A tune?

Ms. R. PIPETTE: Yes, let's have a tune.

STEWART: What song is this?

Ms. R. PIPETTE: This is "Why Did You Stay." One, two, three, four.

(Soundbite of song, "Why Did You Stay")

THE PIPETTES: (Singing) You used to tell me that you love me everyday. I didn't know what to say. But there was never any doubt, I always knew that to me you stayed true. But my heart never could be so committed, so all my transgressions you permitted. Why did you stay? Why did you stay? Why did you stay when I treated you that way? I was so cruel. But he was so kind. Why did I feel I had to leave you behind? But he was so sweet. Oh, yeah. Well, I've had just about enough of sweet. Why did you stay? Why did you stay? Why did you stay when I treated you that way? Why did you stay? Why did you stay? Why did you stay? Why did you stay? Why did you stay? Why did you stay with me?

(Soundbite of applause)

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: That was The Pipettes. That's "Why Did You Stay?"

Ms. R. PIPETTE: Yes.

STEWART: That was great. You don't know how many people came running into the control room.

BURBANK: I know. Everyone from...

STEWART: We could see all these people come running in.

BURBANK: ...the 19th floor. You have such a distinct kind of look and sound. Is it sometimes a little frustrating because so many of the questions about the band from people like us and when people perceive it as about kind of how you look on stage...

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Yeah.

BURBANK: ...and you're wearing polka dots and stuff.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Not at all. I mean, it's so important that it's so easy to define. You know, we're a pop band. And if you can't sort of instantly recognize it, then you're not going to be able to engage with it, you know - and so it's - I mean, it was something that we - you know, I mean, it just makes it a lot easier for us and we do have to explain ourselves just a little bit because we're not doing the same as what the other people are doing certainly from where we're from, you know, and, I mean, that's something that's quite good for us, you know?

STEWART: I have - full confession, when we first decided to have you come in for interview, I thought, well, they're great performers, but I wonder if these girls can actually really sing because, you know, the outfits are so great and it's dramatic and the videos on YouTube are really fun, but you have these incredibly rich, beautiful - I mean, you're singing in the morning with a guitar a cappella and it's really - it's mind-blowing. Are any of you trained professionally...

THE PIPETTES: No.

STEWART: ...or is it just a God-given talent?

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Goodness, no.

STEWART: Really?

Ms. R. PIPETTE: Yeah. But, you know, I think - and we're also quite different singers, you know, because we're influenced by different things and I think that's important. And that, you know, I think if we were trained and I think if we knew what we were doing too much...

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Yeah.

Ms. R. PIPETTE: ...I don't know how...

Ms. B. PIPETTE: We never wanted to be, like, really slick and kind of, you know, there's so - there are already enough pop bands that kind of came out of stage school and that's cool, that's fine, but...

Ms. R. PIPETTE: Yeah, it is great, but...

Ms. B. PIPETTE: ...I think there should be pop bands made out of...

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Nothing.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: ...ordinary folk.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: You guys have this amazing video for the song "Pull Shapes," which is "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls." Somehow you're superimposed in there. How did that - explain, please.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Oh, we're not superimposed. It's a...

Ms. G. PIPETTE: No, it's a shot for shot.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: ...shot for shot, yeah. I don't know really. We just got approached by a director who'd actually done an edit of the original film to our song and we just thought it was kitsch and camp and frivolous and ridiculous and horrific at the same time, but it was technicolor and it was - you know, it was just strange. And Russ Meyer is great cult figure as well and he kind of doesn't really fit well with regards to girl bands.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. B. PIPETTE: You know, I think that that's...

BURBANK: Not a natural pairing that would occur in your mind.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: No, and that's pretty - at the same time, you know, it was kind of very fetishistic. He was obsessed with big, strong Amazonian women, you know, and I think that that's - there's a lot of empowerment in Russ Meyer's films, you know, I think. And so it was kind nice to associate that with us.

BURBANK: For Americans who don't know the term "pull shapes," what does that mean?

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Just pulling moves on the dance floor. It's just a term, you know, go out, do you want to go and pull some shapes.

STEWART: Is it a, the equivalent of "bust a move"?

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Yeah, that kind of thing, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: Something like that.

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Pull a shape.

STEWART: It's interesting you talked about the Russ Meyer and the Amazonian women because one of the things I thought while I was listening to your CD was I kind of like the - and I hope you're not offended by - the girl power anthemness of your songs, is that intentional?

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Yeah, I guess so.

Ms. R. PIPETTE: Yeah.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: You know, I think all girl bands need to kind of sing it for their sisters so to speak.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. B. PIPETTE: You know, it's like, if you think of Bananarama, for example, which is kind of like a girl band that we were brought up born on the '80s, you know, they couldn't really dance and they couldn't really sing, but they were kind of - they were just approachable for both men and women and I kind of think that that's - that is something that's really nice about about girls.

Ms. R. PIPETTE: To aspire to.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Yeah and if you take, like, even the Spice Girls and even if you go back to The Shangri-Las, they're all the same, you know? It's just very normal women, and I think that that's really good.

BURBANK: Do you think you guys - could you do "Pull Shapes" for us?

Ms. R. PIPETTE: Yeah.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Yeah, man.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. B. PIPETTE: One, two, three, four.

(Soundbite of song, "Pull Shapes")

THE PIPETTES: (Singing) Dance with me, pretty boy, tonight. Dance with me, and we'll be all right. There's a whole floor before us, just for you and me. So follow my lead, and we'll 1-2-3. Pull shapes, I like to disco. Pull shapes, I like to rock n' roll. Pull shapes, well, I like to hip-hop. We can do it all, just don't let the music stop. Pull shapes, I lead with my left hand. Pull shapes, I stomp with my right foot. Pull shapes, well, I just wanna freak out. I just wanna move, I don't care what the song's about.

Dance with me, pretty boy, tonight. Dance with me, and we'll be all right. There's a whole floor before us, just for you and me. So follow my lead, and we'll 1-2-3. Pull shapes, is there a drumbeat? Pull shapes, and is the bass sweet? Pull shapes, well, then the rhythm is complete. Well, get up on the floor, it's time for you to move your feet.

Dance with me, pretty boy, tonight. Dance with me, and we'll be all right. There's a whole floor before us, just for you and me. So follow my lead, and we'll 1-2-3.

What do you do when the music stops? What do you do when the music stops? What do you do when the music stops? What do you do when the music stops? Pull shapes. What do you when the music stops? Pull shapes. What do you do when the music stops? Pull shapes.

Clap your hands if you want some more. Pull shapes. Clap your hands if you want some more. Pull shapes. Clap your hands if you want some more. Pull shapes. Clap your hands if you want some more. Clap your hands if you want some more. Clap your hands if you want some more.

Dance with me, pretty boy, tonight. Dance with me, and we'll be all right. There's a whole floor before us, just for you and me. So follow my lead, and we'll 1-2-3. Dance with me, pretty boy, tonight. Dance with me, and we'll be all right. There's a whole floor before us, just for you and me. So follow my lead, and we'll 1-2-3. Pull shapes.

STEWART: The Pipettes, thanks for coming by.

Ms. B. PIPETTE: Thanks for having us.

STEWART: It's a blast.

BURBANK: Good luck. The Pipettes. Go to our Web site, which will link to what The Pipettes are doing. They're going to be touring up and down the East Coast of the States and then you're going to be in Japan.

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Yeah. And Oz.

BURBANK: I don't know if we have any listeners in Japan, but...

STEWART: We might.

BURBANK: ...if we do, go see The Pipettes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BURBANK: Wherever you are in Japan, fly to where they're playing. Thanks, guys.

Ms. R. PIPETTE: Thanks a lot.

Ms. G. PIPETTE: Thank you.

BURBANK: Thanks, Bobby.

(Soundbite of guitar chords)

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEWART: That was Bobby on the guitar.

Hey, if you'd like to see a video of The Pipettes and an extra performance of one more song, you should go to our Web site. Visit our blog, friends, that's npr.org/bryantpark.

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