I was looking through some old emails to see if anything still existed of my days as an online music writer. The stuff I did that was printed - in proper mags - is still out there in dentist waiting rooms of course, but I was eager to revisit my terrible interview with The Residents and my hysterically over-egged review of Arcade Fire. Actually, my interview with the 'Fire, their first ever in this country (wahey!) was a blast too.
Anyway - no sign. Lost, presumed deleted into an uncaring ether. Probably not a permanent blight on mankind... we'll survive. But I did find this, which a niece or two of mine might find funny. A record of the day I interviewed Girls Aloud in an office of Universal Music in Kensington on the morning of October 10, the year of our Lord 2006. Seems like, ooh, three years ago. This originally appeared on PlayLouder.com and here it is reproduced in its entirety:
PlayLouder and Girls Aloud? Together? In the SAME room? With our reputation? With THEIR reputation? Someone's got to be having a laugh, eh?
But no. It happened! The world's greatest 21st century pop band gave a five minute audience to our good selves on the crest of what will be their biggest year yet.
"Something Kinda Ooh" is already downloaded onto everyone's pods and into everyone's noggins, and their best of – 'The Sound Of Girls Aloud' – will surely be on smarmy Santa begging letters from Cricklewood to Hollywood.
This was hardly going to be anything like our usual swearathons with the likes of Electric Eel Shock, so we bathed and shaved before our date with these proper pop stars. Hope the girls appreciated the effort.
It didn't half feel weird, mind. Your correspondent doesn't mind telling you he felt like a fish out of water. Pleasantries were easily exchangeable, but where would the common ground lie? Do any of them have a Membranes album at home? Do Girls Aloud, like us, dream of a Jacob's Mouse reunion? Will they be buying the new Bo-Peep LP?
It would seem not. They like Lemar and that new one by James Morrison. We don't. We only like that bloke out of Keane because he went nuts.
So why speak to PlayLouder, girls? You know... have you even heard of us?
"Sorry, no," says Nadine - one of the few gobby ones. "We're doing strange interviews this time. But then, we're strange characters."
Cheryl: "We are a pop band, you know. We would never try to pretend that we're cool indie people or rockers or anything like that. But the type of music that we've been doing, right from the beginning, has always been down to us. We're always interested in changing."
Aha. So maybe a change is in the air, eh? The new single has got some spunky beats to it and... hold up! The girls did V in the summer. Rockin'!
Nicola: "We knew that we would stick out a bit, there. We went down really well in the tent at V, but we don't have any plans to become a festival band at the minute."
Cheryl: "We were shitting ourselves. You hear so many horror stories - don't you - about people weeing in bottles and throwing them on the stage. And booing. Especially when you're a pop band going into the festival thing. It's a scary business but we went down really well. We're really grateful. The tent was rammed and people couldn't get in."
Those that did make it inside were treated to something a bit special. Something kinda ooh-eck, you could say: a Girls Aloud cover version of Kaiser Chiefs' 'I Predict A Riot'. By all accounts, that went down rather better than Sporty Spice's murdering of 'Anarchy In The UK' a few years previously. So what was all that about then?
Nadine: "We did that for our arena tour this year and it went down well. It could have gone either way at the festival, but luckily people really went for it. They were jumping up and down right to the back – it was brilliant."
You like your covers, eh?
Cheryl: "People go on about it like it's a bad thing but we've had that many original tracks, and credible ones at that, that we feel we can do some covers from time to time.
"If we like the song anyway, we enjoy covering it. And sometimes if they don't get covered people never get to hear about them, and they're often great songs. It's good to bring a great song back."
Do you think your fans are hearing some of these songs for the first time then?
Nicola: "Some of them, yeah. Some of our fans are really young."
The subject turns to reality TV. We want to know if they feel the girls feel lucky to have survived this long. Most of their comrades have fallen by the wayside. Look at Hear'Say. And Gareth Gates. Can anyone remember that fat girl's name, even?
It's a question they have clearly been asked a million times before -and the mood of the interview changes dramatically and hilariously the second it is posed. The Others might fend off a million identical questions about guerrilla gigs with a quip, a shrug and a stiff upper lip. Not so, Girls Aloud. They hold no pretensions and groan more than audibly. Arms are folded, eyes are rolled into sockets, one of them glares at your correspondent in an 'I hate your life' way. Funny.
But Cheryl has a go at answering all the same:
"People want to be impressed and they're a lot wiser to pop music these days, "she said. "They won't fall for a shitty pop record. If someone's coming up with something that's not good enough it won't last."