Top Of The Pops Magazine, March 1995
One Month In The Life Of Eternal
A special pull-out supplement devoted to Eternal in the new Top Of The Pops Magazine.
The girls in 'Die Britische pop formazion Eternal' are sniggering their way through a frankly baffling interview with a rather disturbing-looking German radio DJ (Herman Munster in a Michael Bolton wig). They're nearing the end of a long, drawn-out day of TV and radio promotion, and Gong FM's answer to Mike Smash is grilling Vernie, Easther, Kéllé and Louise with the same set of questions they've been answering all day, translating their consise answers into suspiciously long Deutsche diatribes.
"How did you meet?", "What are your influences?" and "Is it hard being a girl in the music industry?" are all answered precisely and politely for the umpteenth time that day.
Then, out of the blue, the moment all celebrities dread - an unanswerable question, live on radio.
"Zo, you are zingers and you are danzers. What else is it you are doing to perform on the stage?"
What could he mean? Do they juggle? Can they ride unicycles? Kéllé grabs the mic and comes to the rescue, waffling something about being all-round performers and working hard for their success. Meanwhile, the others sink their teeth into their fists and pray that the good people of Munich can't hear their stiffled giggles.
It's time to call it a day.
And what a day. If Eternal's bright young sparks thought they were quitting their studies for a life of leisure, they must surely have come down to earth with a bump. Today's itineray is broken down almost to the point where a Big Mac and fries should take no more than six minutes to eat and digest before their next appointment. Flying in to Munich from Cologne at 10am, having risen at seven to catch their plane, the girls are as shocked as me and photographer Ray to find ourselves in the midst of a winter wonderland. Two cars slip and slide us to the base camp hotel, where Easther, Kéllé and Vernie slip off to their rooms and Louise sits quietly in the lobby waiting for their manager Wendy.
They look tired.
"At the beginning of the day, all you can see in front of you are the things you've got to do," explains Vernie later, "so you feel tired just thinking about it. But really it's all the waiting around that wears you out and frustrates you."
By the end of they day, I feel as frustrated as they do with all the hanging about that has to be done. The difference is, we can go home tomorrow. But they've got to do the whole thing all over again in Frankfurt.
The first job of their day in Munich is to be interviewd then have the video for Oh Baby I shown on a live kids' computer game show caled X-Base. The set is a futuristic sea of bright blue fibreglass pods and stems. The host is Nuri. It's his first show and he's nervous. And he's not very happy that complete strangers are talking to him about it being his first show. He confesses that he's not a big Eternal fan"I hear them for the first time today"and asks me to say 'Hi' from him to the Top Of The Pops readers. So, Nuri says 'Hi'.
Meanwhile, Wendy and the girls are locked away in the dressing room for an emergency meeting. The show's director has suddenly decided he wants the girls to perform the song in the studio, and for it to be intercut with scenes from the video. It seems on-the-spot requests like this are common and the band aren't phased by it at all. The problem is that nowhere in this sprawling building can anyone find four matching stools for the girls to sit on. The director wants them to perch on a precarious-looking bit of blue fibreglass and Wendy is having visions of twisted ankles and cancelled trips. It takes four strapping young men jumping up and down on the set to convince them that it is safe and finally they agree, just minutes before going on air.
Immediately before appearing the girls are very tense. Kéllé and Vernie's foot-tappin', hand-slappin' co-ordinatino exercise is driving Easther up the wall and Louise is looking quietly nervous. A last-minute dash to the loo followed by a Madonna-style group prayer and they're on. Nuri asks the usual questions, the girls give the usual answers, they sing their song perched on a pod and they're off. This five minute appearance has taken four and a half hours of rehearsing, make-up, changing, arguing, waiting and performing. In the dressing room a messenger pops in to ask the girls to autograph a message to Nuri congratulating him on his first show. One more Eternal fan joins the ranks.
Next stop is the first of four radio interviews. After the marathon of the TV studio, the slick in-and-out of the radio show is impressive and comes as a great relief, the only glitch being the interviewer appearing to not be very familiar with Eternal's music. Then it's back to the hotel, via McDonald's, to do two more radio phone interviews followed by a recorded TV interview. Already it feels like it's been a very long day.
Remarkably, the girls look and sound fresher than they did at the start. Able to do this second TV show in their own clothes, they are relaxed and in control.
"How did you meet?", "What are your influences?", Is it difficulte being a girl in the music industry?" All are answered as if they were being asked for the first time. "They don't know that it's the fifth time we've been asked that today," says Kéllé forgivingly. "It's part of the job and if you have an attitude it'll only hurt you in the end."
Interview and jingle-recording duties over, the end is in sight. Alex, the band's 22-year-old German driver, who idolises Billy Joel ("He's a crazy guy"), assures them that the last appointment at Gong FM should be a breeze as it's Munich's "coolest" pop station. Eternal aren't fooled.
"We've been here before and we know that there's no music scene like there is in England," whispers Easther before encountering Herman Munster for the first time.
"The last time we were here the interviewer asked me what soul was. I said 'If you don't know, I can't tell you'."
The interview ends, with reassurance that there was no audible giggling on the radio. Herman goes back to playing The Scorpions, and the four girls from die Britische pop formazion Eternal head up the wooden hill.
Farewell Munich. Hello Frankfurt.
Jan 1: Had a nice lie-in until around 1.30 after partying hard over Christmas and New Year. Slobbed around the house and watched kiddies films with my brothers Joe and Sam. In the evening we had loads of family and friends around for drinks and a bite to eat. Spent most of the evening playing games and didn't get to bed until 2am. It was a great night, really good to see everyone.
Jan 2: As I'm on holiday, I thought I'd better make use of my time and hit the shops. I had to force myself out of bed and out of the house. I met up with my friend and headed towards Kensington. Couldn't find anything in Kensington. Headed for Knightsbridge. Still couldn't find anything, so we moved on to the King's Road, starting to feel tired. Soon gave up and went for something to eat in TGI Friday's (I had chicken fajitas) before going home. Friends came over in the evening and we watched True Romance on video. It was a bit too violent for me, but Christian Slater was good.
Jan 3: Today I had my wisdom teeth out. I didn't feel too worried because my dentist, Robert, had said it wouldn't hurt too much. My mouth is killing me, my face is swollen and I'm feeling really sick. I was put out around 5pm and didn't come round until 7pm with a mouth full of stitches. My friend Abby came with me and drove me home. I crashed out as soon as I was through the door. I can't write any more, I'm feeling too sick!
Jan 4: I'm still feeling a bit rough today, but an awful lot better than I did last night. I was pretty lucky because my face didn't swell up too much. I had a driving lesson at 2.30. It went OK until I nearly hit a bollard in the middle of the road. After that I drove home... slowly! My friend phoned me about 7.30 to go to the cinema. Saw Pulp Fiction and I was ready to leave after half an hour. It made me feel sick it was so violent. Sloped off to my friend's house and ended up staying over. Had a great laugh.
Jan 5: Got up at about 10am and hung out at my friend's house for a while. I had another driving lesson and it went much better. I cooked shepherd's pie and had a quiet evening in watching the telly. At 12.30 the phone rang. One of my friends had broken down in Croydon. Phoned Sophie who collected me and we drove to the rescue. All came back to my house and crashed out. Oh, I had a toothache all day.
Jan 6: Had to get up early to go back to the dentist. I didn't sleep all night and, in the morning, I realised my mouth was bleeding. The dentist sent me home with some painkillers which basically meant that I slept through the next two days.
Jan 9: Can't say I was majorly ecstatic at having to get up at 7am but, once up, I was ready to go as it was a start to the new year for Eternal. As I sat in my car I had butterflies in my stomach - we might be nominated for a Brit award. Then, just after 11am; Best Newcomers, Best Album, Best Dance Act, Best Group. What can I say, here's to 1995! PS. I've forgotton my cousin's birthday... again. I think I'll give her a call.
Jan 10: Only Easther and Kéllé were needed to do interviews... MTV, VH-1, etc, so me and Louise have the day off. Drove down to Dudley (where I lived while studying at Wolverhampton University) and visited a few friends still living there. Why I don't know as we always called the place Deadly Dudley.
Jan 11: A car came at 8.30am to take me and Easther to Heathrow. We met the others at Terminal 1. Kéllé was sleeping on the nearest bench to the checking-in desk as usual. When we got off the plane we had a couple of drivers to take us to the TV studio. Passing a particular road, our driver says, 'Down there is hallowed ground.' Easther, Kéllé and I all look down the road expecting to see a church only to see a football stadium!
Jan 12: It was an 8am start for Heart and Soul, a new gospel Sunday show for kids. We sang our gospel EP Crazy. Straight after the show we made a dash for the airport to catch the 5pm plane home. A long day ahead tomorrow, shopping for the Brits.
Jan 13: Shopping isn't exactly my favourite pastime and I don't suppose it being Friday the 13th helped - I kept being knocked into shops by shoppers out for a bargain. We knew what we wanted but sizes were a problem. We eventually had to buy our suits from two different places. Later we went to see Jodeci in concert and they were phat (the best). JoJo's my favourite.
Jan 14: Today we performed for Woolworths to thank them for all their support since the release of our album. Michelle Gayle, Boyzone, Reel 2 Reel, PJ & Duncan and loads of other acts performed too. So you can imagine the staff were buzzing through the whole night, which was great.
Jan 15: Woke at 10.30am and got ready for church. We sang a few songs and the message for the day was 'love thy neighbour'. Got home around 1.30pm to find a couple of my friends had stopped by to say 'hi'. Later we decide to go to Granneries, a local Croydon club that's always pretty good on Sundays.
Jan 15: Tomorrow we're going to Germany for three days, so I stayed home with some friends and caught up on the gossip. I love my job, but I hate being away from home. At these times I realise I'm lucky to be in a group. We have each other, who do solo artists have?
Jan 16: Arrive in Germany. I feel a bit sick today. I think I might have flu. I took some tablets for it and now I feel really drowsy. I've got a whole day of press and promotion to get through today, so I hope I don't drop off and embarrass myself. Now I'm home and I managed to get through the day without falling asleep. I did my stomach crunching, said my prayers and now I'm in bed. I've only been here for a day and already I'm homesick.
Jan 17: This morning we flew to Munich. Although the flu medicine is making my cold feel better, I feel tired. I slept on the plane and in the car. I never know where I am, and one city looks much like another. After the usual TV and radio interviews we headed back to the hotel. I called Louise and had a chat. She's a bit down at the moment. I hope I helped her. God gave me many gifts and one that I cherish is the ability to listen and understand.
Jan 18: Today we've been in Frankfurt. We had a BBC film crew filming us on the road for Newsround.
Jan 19: Back in London. We went to Marcus Studio to record a song called Redemption Song by Bob Marley as a tribute to him. We finished work early, I called a friend and we went to see Stargate. I love hanging out with my friends and doing regular things.
Jan 20: DAY OFF! I did my housework today and sorted out my bills, which I don't mind coz I can't stand mess. In the evening, my mum came over and we watched Mrs Doubtfire on video.
Jan 21: One of my friends is in the UK to record his own album so I went to catch up with tricks. Now it's Saturday night. I'm young, free and single and I have the night off. Time to ring my friends and hang out. My best friend is away at Uni and I miss her but I'll be here when she gets home. Friends are really important to me, especially true friends, who I can trust. They're rare and I cherish them.
Jan 22: Church with my family and on to rehersals for the International Dance Awards. After the soundcheck there's a press conference, a couple of hours for lunch them back to perform and pick up the award (another one!!) for Best International Dance Act. We don't hang around afterwards as we're all really tired, so it's home to bed by 11pm.
Jan 23: A lie-in! I thought about tidying my room. I didn't, but it's the thought that counts! We had a meeting with our accountants at 3pm (yawn!) and a stylist meeting at 4.30 about ideas for outfits and videos and stuff. It didn't drag on and we got home early to eat with the family.
Jan 24: At 9am a car picks us up and takes us to Top Of The Pops to meet the producer Ric Blaxill. We're presenting the show tomorrow and have to find out what we've let ourselves in for. The rest of the day was ours, so I went out to see Interview With The Vampire with a couple of friends. The little girl was the best thing in it.
Jan 25: Whole day written off for Top Of The Pops. Presenting the show means that we have to be on call from first to last. All the crew were nice and really patient when we made mistakes. I guess they've had to cope with worse than us. With N-Trance, Real McCoy and Rednex it was quite a dancey show. It was hard work and a really long day (we didn't finish until 8.30) but we had a really good time. Got home about 10.30 fit for nothing more than climbing into bed.
Jan 26: Today was a whole day of interviews. It's days like this that I'm grateful for having the others around. Solo artists must go mad being asked the same questions over and over again. It was dark in the morning when we went to the hotel to start and it was dark by the time we left for home. Did the sun come up today?
Jan 27: Almost exactly the same as yesterday to be quite honest, though we finished at 4.30. I went home for something to eat, then went out for a drink with some friends to catch up on the week's gossip. Tomorrow's a day off, so I don't roll in until about 2am. That's me being really bad!
Jan 28: It was midday before I woke up. What a great feeling! I finally felt relaxed enough to clean up my room. A few members of the family came over for lunch, then I phoned some friends to arrange to go and see Stargate - Kéllé has been raving about it. We've got tomorrow off as well and I'm going to make the most of it coz I know the rollercoaster starts again on Monday.