Heading into sessions for her 11th studio album Shadows, the goal for pop star Tiffany was to push her music forward while reconnecting with the fun, celebratory tone that defined some of her most well-known songs in the 1980s.
Working with producer Mark Alberici at Rockfield Studios in Wales, Tiffany enlisted friends Johnny Martin (bass) and Scot Coogan (drums) of rockers L.A. Guns. The result is a batch of slick new songs fueled by the pop punk heavy first single “Hey Baby,” a rollicking love song which conjures up images of The Go-Go’s, alongside a rocking reworked rendition of her biggest hit “I Think We’re Alone Now.”
“It’s an evolution thing. I’m growing and you just have to kind of go onto the next thing,” said Tiffany ahead of two shows (5 PM and 8 PM) Sunday at City Winery. “The ‘Mixtape’ tour was a blast and gave me a little bit of the re-connection with the mall tour fans and all of that. And I think this record is a little bit of a throwback to that. That fun 80s sound, punk kind of sound – easy to digest music with a very modern production sound now. It’s the best I think I’ve done in a long time. And it’s definitely a new foundation for me,” said the singer.
“I have lots of fond memories in Chicago. I used to go to Gene and Gorgetti all of the time. And Scoozi. It was so good. I love a lot of things about Chicago. I also have family there. So it’s very nice to be able to see people and hang out. I’m very much looking forward to these shows because they’re going to get to see me after over a year.”
I spoke with Tiffany about recording the new album Shadows, returning to the road, Sunday’s pair of shows at City Winery and launching Let’s Food With Tiffany, an interactive new endeavor geared toward celebrating the art of cooking with her fans. A transcript of our phone conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows below…
You’ve been back on the road now for a bit. What’s it been like getting back in front of fans after the last 15 months?
TIFFANY: It has been amazing. It’s been awesome. I’ve been doing live touring now consistently for like seven years. So it’s been my everything. I did movies and I’ve done some cooking, especially now with my company Let’s Food With Tiffany, I’m growing that more and more. Prior to that I did Food Network and little things that interest me – but mostly it was touring and new music. It feels amazing to finally have the Shadows album coming out and the single “Hey Baby” moving forward and playing that live. And now having people really feel confident and comfortable more and more to come to the live shows – I’m forever grateful to everybody.
So it’s very positive. I’m totally excited. I know that a lot of people are waiting until the fall to really start their tours but, for us, we kept waiting for these shows. They kept getting pushed back – but never off the books. So there was always a little hope. So now to be able to do it? I love all of the venues who are moving forward, working with us and making the “Shadows” tour happen.
Your band now features Johnny Martin and Scot Coogan of L.A. Guns. How did you guys wind up getting together?
Tiffany: Johnny Martin is a friend of mine. I met him through my producer Mark Alberici. He’s been rocking L.A. Guns and I’m a fan of them.
It ended up that we were working on a song together for the record, for Shadows. It was just great to be in the studio recording “Keep on Swinging” – which is a Rival Sons song. And that will be out. But I got to know the band more and more. And we thought what about a guest appearance with Johnny and Scot? That way we could also promote the single eventually and get people to know who we are and why. And then it just led organically to the tour. And we’re having a blast.
Your new single “Hey Baby” certainly leans more in that pop punk/rock direction. It kind of reminds me of The Go-Go’s a little bit. Did you grow up as a fan of that stuff?
Tiffany: I did. Yes. I’m a big fan. Belinda is a friend of mine and she’s lovely.
There’s something about the 80s that was exactly that – celebratory and fun and lighthearted. I definitely wanted to bring that back – even prior to COVID. I didn’t know we were going to be in this situation. But I thought, “We just made a really fun album. I want to do something that’s a little more uptempo and a little more of a celebration – still with my quirky side.” As a writer, it’s still got a little bit of a sharp, cheeky side to it. But it needed to be a little bit more like a throwback. 80s music had so much fun and uniqueness to it. For whatever reason, it was easier to digest. And I’m very proud to be a part of that.
So we have a little bit of that punk – I think that comes from the punk element that my producer Mark Alberici brings to the record. We were very mindful of creating something that had that little wink throwback to the 80s but was still very modern.
“Hey Baby” was one of the front runners on the album. And once we got that under our belt, we were like, “Cool. Now we have a sound. Now we know where we’re going. Now we can kind of have fun and experiment.” And then the songs just kept coming.
So I’m very excited about this album.
When did you record Shadows – was it during the pandemic or prior to?
Tiffany: It was done before – late 2018 into 2019. We had it ready to kind of go in the first part of 2020. I was literally high fiving with all of my team. The “Shadows” tour was maybe six weeks away. We were going to start it slowly. We were ready to go. There were so many good things. And I was going to release the record – because it’s always better to release anything you’re doing while you’re out on the road. It’s just better. So this was all happening and literally two weeks after our meeting to push go, COVID happened. It was like, “What?!” Like everybody, at first, it was like, “Oh this will just be a week, two weeks…” Who would’ve known what was gonna happen?
But, in a weird way, it’s perfect timing now. Because this music really is a lot of fun. It is really a celebration of the past and reconnecting. And then rocking out. Which I think people really want to do right now.
The “Hey Baby” single includes a new version of “I Think We’re Alone Now.” What’s the key to taking a song like that, that fans know so well, and putting a unique new spin on it today?
Tiffany: The song is really special. It just can be done so many different ways: ska, rock, punk. I’ve done it a lot of different ways. And that’s the magic of it really. It keeps having its own life. I love to be a part of that. I’m never tired of singing that song. To remake it and do the new video – go back to my high school and include that – it was a blast to really kind of celebrate the life of this song that I recorded when I was 14 and still continues to make people happy.
We rock it every show. It’s a lot of fun. Because I do like the harder guitars on it just for a modern, updated twist with a little more sass – like me. I love it. It’s a lot of fun to play every night.
Can you tell me a bit about Let’s Food With Tiffany? What does that entail?
Tiffany: Let’s Food With Tiffany was really created after I was going on the road for so long and just learned a lot about my body, a lot about my health and a lot about endurance. It’s a full schedule. So eating processed food for me became where I couldn’t do it. I started noticing a lot of fuzziness – things that were building up in my body. So it became imperative for me to eat clean and pretty much cook.
So Airbnb’s were created on my schedule, where I’d house myself and the band. It’s a little easier if you’re staying a few days somewhere. But what it allows me to do is cook and then cook for the band. And that’s how these last two albums were created, Pieces Of Me and Shadows, where we record at Rockfield in Wales. One studio is right next door to the kitchen. They’re creating music and I’m coming in and out but I’m also creating all of these wonderful, delicious meals. So that’s just kind of the way that we work. It brings a little bit of home. It brings a little normality. But, really, you also feel better.
So that led to me cooking for the band. And before I knew it, fans were catching on. They were using some of my recipes. Because I was just saying it, “Oh, I cooked chicken for the band last night and it was this, this and that…” Unbeknownst to me, they had kind of started their own little cooking following together where they were sharing things. It was brought to my attention and I thought, “Well, it would be a lot of fun to do meet and greets where I cook for people. It could be outdoors, it could be at an Airbnb…”
All of these different things were created – and then COVID happened. So it was always supposed to be part of the tour. When COVID hit, I thought, “What could I do that I really love, that I’d like to develop that will keep me sane? It can’t really be music right now. So, cooking!” I’m a very active person. I like to be proactive. Let’s Food With Tiffany was created in the first week of COVID and it’s really about let’s food together. Let’s cook together. Let’s travel together.
The original idea was to travel all over. For people who’ve never traveled before, I go to Thailand or India. That was one thing that I learned about my family. It wasn’t just me traveling and going to other places, it was being introduced to different cultures and different people and different ways of life. So that’s what the road gives me on a continual basis. So why not food together as well?
So Let’s Food With Tiffany, that’s really what it is. It’s a traveling cooking club when you sign up for a membership. You get my recipes and interaction with me on a different level – more insight into my life. So I really enjoy it.
The best thing to do is go to the website. Because this tour does have a lot of pop up elements. That’s the one thing. We’re in the shadows! There’s so many different things as we’re moving forward from COVID and venues are opening up more. I’ll also have in stores where “Hey Baby” the actual vinyl is physically available. So old school! The best thing for all the pop ups is to go to Tiffanytunes.com.
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Two shows at 5PM and 8PM
Doors open at 4PM and 7PM