The surprise return of pop sensation All Saints in recent years has had a different pace to the mania that surrounded their early releases, as the multi-million-selling four-piece continue their return from a decade long hiatus.
With the digitalisation of music, different styles topping the charts and an audience that have grown up with them, though, Nicole and Natalie Appleton, Melanie Blatt and Shaznay Lewis are enjoying things just as much second time around.
“It’s funny because we never got a chance to properly tour after our first album so it’s so nice being able to perform live regularly and see our fans, I feel like we’re closer to them now than ever before,” Natalie Appleton says of the return. “We do have our families around at loads of shows now, which is amazing for us. They’re all so supportive and we love seeing them out in the crowd.”
Lewis, the group’s core songwriter, sees huge changes in the industry since the band’s heyday with ‘Pure Shores’, ‘Never Ever’ and ‘Bootie Call’ in the late 90s, ones that have been clear in the style of their return.
“Everything in the industry’s changed this time around,” she says. “It’s all about streaming rather than CD sales. As a band, though, we’re stronger than ever and loving being back together making music and doing shows.”
Despite the changes, the process of putting together an album is still very much the same, with ‘Red Flag’ (released in 2016) and ‘Testament’ (in 2018) having emerged since the band’s reformation, accompanied by major tours with Take That.
“I think the songs all mean different things to each of us,” Nicole Appleton says, “but then sometimes Shaz will play something for us and we won’t realize until the end that she’s based it on a story we’ve told her.”
“It all starts with Shaz writing in the studio and coming up with a vibe for the records, then getting to work writing songs with different producers and collaborators. ‘Testament’ didn’t come out that long ago, so we’ve no plans to record right now, but watch this space.”
‘Testament’ saw the band return to working with electronica legend William Orbit, who played a strong part in All Saints early career, and co-wrote ‘After All’ with the band.
“We worked with William on two songs from ‘Testament’ and it was great,” Lewis explains. “It definitely brought some of the magic from our second album back. ‘Pure Shores’ and ‘Black Coffee’ are such special songs to us and our fans so it made sense to get back in the studio together.”
“These last two albums are both on our own terms and we’ve been able to call the shots in terms of music, videos, artwork,” Blatt explains. “We always wrote our own material from day one, but this time around we’ve been across every part of the process and that’s been great.”
“We definitely have a new appreciation for it,” she continues. “It’s been amazing coming back and being accepted by both our original fans and a whole new generation who maybe didn’t follow us the first time around.”
Despite the high-profile touring, the rebooted form of All Saints is one that moves entirely at its own pace, and makes its own calls, then.
“We so don’t play that fame game,” Blatt concludes. “We just like to hang out with our families, friends and each other! So we try to not get too caught up in what people say or write about us.”