/ NEIL / CHRIS
Pet Shop Boys are one of the most successful duos
in the music industry. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe first met on
19th August 1981 by accident in an electronics shop in Kings Road,
London. They discovered their common interest in electronic music
and synthesisers and started to write songs together. They were
first West End but soon changed the name to Pet Shop Boys - inspired
by friends who worked in a pet shop.
Their first single, West End Girls was originally
released in 1984 but it wasn't successful. The record company wanted
to make a new song, but Neil and Chris were convinced of the success
that this record could achieve and so made a new mix, which became
their first number one hit in 1986. Three more number one hits followed:
Always on my mind, Heart and It’s a sin.
ironists cloaked behind a veil of buoyantly melodic and lushly romantic
synth pop confections, the Pet Shop Boys' cheeky, smart, and utterly
danceable music established them among the most commercially and
critically successful groups of their era. Always remaining one
step ahead of their contemporaries, the British duo navigated the
constantly shifting landscape of modern dance-pop with rare grace
and intelligence, moving easily from disco to house to techno with
their own distinctive image remaining completely intact; satiric
and irreverent -- yet somehow strangely affecting - the Pet Shop
Boys transcended the seeming disposability of their craft, offering
wry and thoughtful cultural commentary communicated by the Morse
code of au courant synth washes and drum-machine rhythms.
Shop Boys formed in London in August 1981 when vocalist Neil Tennant
(a former editor at Marvel Comics who later gained some notoriety
as a journalist for Smash Hits magazine) first met keyboardist Chris
Lowe (a onetime architecture student) at an electronics shop; discovering
a shared passion for dance music and synthesizers, they immediately
decided to start a band. Dubbing themselves the Pet Shop Boys in
honor of friends who worked in such an establishment -- while also
obliquely nodding to the sort of names prevalent among the New York
City hip-hop culture of the early 1980s -- the duo's career first
took flight in 1983, when Tennant met producer Bobby "O"
Orlando while on a writing assigment. Orlando produced their first
single, 1984's "West End Girls"; the song was a minor
hit in the U.S. but went nowhere in Britain, and its follow-up,
"One More Chance," was also unsuccessful.
signing to EMI by David Ambrose and his colleagues, the Pet Shop
Boys issued 1985's biting "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of
Money)"; when it too failed to attract attention, the duo's
future appeared grim, but they then released an evocative new Stephen
Hague production of "West End Girls," which became an
international chart-topper. Its massive success propelled the Pet
Shop Boys' 1986 debut LP Please into the Top Ten, and when "Opportunities"
was subsequently reissued, it too became a hit. Disco, a collection
of dance remixes, was quickly rushed into stores, and in 1987 the
duo resurfaced with the superb Actually, which launched three more
Top Ten smashes -- "It's a Sin," a lovely cover of the
perennial "Always on My Mind," and "What Have I Done
to Deserve This?," a duet between Tennant and the great Dusty
Springfield. A documentary film titled It Couldn't Happen Here was
released the following year.
in 1988, Pet Shop Boys issued their third studio LP, the eclectic
Introspective; the single "Domino Dancing" was their final
Top 40 hit in the U.S. The following year, the duo collaborated
with a variety of performers, most notably Liza Minnelli, for whom
they produced the 1989 LP Results; they also produced material for
Springfield, and Tennant joined New Order frontman Bernard Sumner
and ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr in the group Electronic, scoring
a hit with the single "Getting Away With It." The Pet
Shop Boys reconvened in 1990 for the muted, downcast Behavior, produced
by Harold Faltermeyer. 1991 saw the release of their hit medley
of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" and Frankie Valli's
"Can't Take My Eyes off You," and was followed in 1993
by Very, lauded among the duo's finest efforts to date. After a
three-year absence, the Pet Shop Boys resurfaced with Bilingual,
a fluid expansion into Latin rhythms. Nightlife followed in 1999
and sparked the dance club hit "New York City Boy." On
the success of that, they also toured the U.S. for the first time
in eight years. While on tour, Tennant and Lowe were also collaborating
with playwright Jonathan Harvey. Since 1997, the three had been
crafting a musical surrounding gay life and societal criticisms.
Closer to Heaven made its West End debut in 2001 and had a successful
run for most of the year. Pet Shop Boys' score of the original cast
recording was also a hit in the U.K. They still had time to make
a record for themselves, too -- in April 2002, Tennant and Lowe
3 was compiled for release the following year, and in 2005, they
put together a double CD edition of the Back to Mine series.
Neil: The End, depending on who’s DJing, Heaven or talking
to friends in the Departure Lounge.
Chris: Arsenal FC.
Neil: I only eat breakfast at home!
Chris: At home or in a café round the corner.
Neil: From Chelsea, where I live, into the West End, via Belgravia,
The Mall and Charing Cross Road. London is so varied and beautiful.
Chris: Back from the West End to mine in Clerkenwell.
Neil: The secondhand bookshops in Cecil Court or Tower Records,
Chris: Selfridges, Oxford Street.
Neil: From Waterloo Bridge at night. The north side of the river,
illuminated and reflected in the Thames, looks amazing.
Chris: From my flat across London.
Neil: The Groucho Club (sorry, private members).
Chris: The pubs around Soho.
Neil: St John, Clerkenwell. They claim to specialize in “nose
to tail eating” but I just eat the bits in between. Some of
the best food in London.
Chris: Alastair Little in Frith Street (Soho).
for a cheap and cheerful bite?
Neil: The brasserie on Brewer Street, Soho. I can’t remember
its name but it’s great for a quick lunch.
Chris: Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Neil: The Curzon Soho shows the best selection of films and you
can get a good cup of coffee in their café.
Chris: Odeon Leicester Square.
Neil: The Sir John Soane Museum, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. It’s
the 18th-century house of an architect, filled with his collection
of paintings and sculpture. Very atmospheric. Then there is the
National Gallery and both of the Tates.
Chris: Don’t go very often but the Tate Modern.
do you do on Sundays?
Neil: Go for a run by the river. Meet friends to see a film and
then have dinner.