Q&A: British girl group All Saints talk breakup, reunion, Oasis’ Liam Gallagher

TORONTO – All Saints are back — but this time the British-Canadian girl group says it’s for all the right reasons.

The late 1990s act behind the hits “Never Ever,” “Pure Shores” and “I Know Where It’s At” surfed the popularity of the Spice Girls to international fame, with their debut album going triple-platinum in Canada.

Eventually, success began to wear away at the group and they disbanded in 2001 over tension between the four members.

Legend says it all came down to a fight over a jacket during a photo shoot, though the women insist that’s not the whole story.

All Saints’ British founders Shaznay Lewis and Melanie Blatt talked to The Canadian Press about why a short-lived 2006 reunion went off the tracks and how Canadian member Nicole Appleton’s divorce from Oasis singer Liam Gallagher inspired the lead single.

CP: Your new album “Red Flag” was warmly received by critics upon its release last week, but why did you choose to reunite for a third go-round?

Lewis: A couple of years ago we were invited to tour with the Backstreet Boys and we were really up for it. Performing was one of the things we did the least … because we spent so much time doing (publicity earlier in our career). We were able to go on that tour, perform and have fun without any pressure whatsoever. From that point we thought, “OK, maybe we’ll try and do a few more songs.” We could add them to the (live) set, take them on the road and see what happens.

Blatt: It was a much more relaxed affair, the whole thing.

CP: All Saints first returned to the studio for “One Strike,” a song written around the time Appleton discovered her then husband had impregnated another woman. How did that revelation turn into the song? Did Appleton know it was about her?

Lewis: It was inspired by a phone conversation. I thought the song was clear enough and everyone knew what it was about. (Me and Nicole) had a conversation one day and I realized she hadn’t understood what it was about. When I pointed it out to her she loved it. The reality is everybody has gone through that more or less. It’s not a unique situation, shall I say.

CP: Some fans might be surprised All Saints is back together since the last reunion fizzled quickly. What went wrong with the release of 2006’s “Studio 1”?

Lewis: As much as I really love that record … we’d kind of gone straight back into being signed to a label. That whole process happened quite quickly: being signed, making that album. We were straight back onto that pressure train.

CP: And there’s that notorious backstage fight over who would wear a certain jacket at a photoshoot. Is that what really broke you up in 2001?

Lewis: That (expletive) jacket! It was an accumulation of things — it wasn’t the poor jacket. The jacket’s in my wardrobe, but for god’s sake would everyone stop blaming me! (Laughs)

CP: It’s been interesting to watch how All Saints has been portrayed in some past coverage about your breakup. There’s been an emphasis on the female members having strong personalities or short tempers. Would you say that’s a fair characterization?

Lewis: It’s an easy way out … loving to put things in boxes. Nothing is as black and white as that. Things like that can be slightly condescending, maybe, but at the end of the day it’s not part of our world. If they want to drop a label on things, that’s their issue, not ours.

Blatt: We’re wise enough and know who we are as people, and as a band, what we want to do. We’re not very good at being told what to do.

— This interview has been edited and condensed.

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