Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BOW WOW WOW: When the Going Gets Tough Annabella Takes Charge

Text by Julia Masi
© FFanzeen Magazine, 1983
Images from the Internet

The following article originally appeared in
FFanzeen Number 11, which was issued in 1983.

“I didn’t expect anything. I didn’t expect to be anything by myself. I’m just doing what I want to do. The environment changes you. The music business really changes you. A lot of people are greedy. A lot of people are just out for their own end and they don’t give a damn for anyone but themselves. And I think that’s a damn shame,” says Annabella Lwin, vocalist of Bow Wow Wow, reflecting on her four-year flight to fame. Slipping away from the crowds at the New Music Seminar, she shad on the bed in RCA’s suite at the Hilton and tried to explain what it is like to be the center of attention in an extremely hot rock'n’nroll band.

“I enjoy performing live. It’s the only time I get to stand next to the audience and have any real contact with them.

“I can’t really build up any solid relationships. People in your record company, you build up a relationship with, but people you met at gigs, you talk to them. And you’re on tour for four-and-a-half months; you leave and never see them. You meet so many people it’s hard to remember who they are. It’s the faces I remember.

“It’s really interesting being on the road. So much can really mix you up. You have to look after your heath, that’s the first thing. So many things can happen to you. Look what just happened to Matthew.” Earlier this summer, when the band played at Great Adventure Amusement Park in New Jersey, lead guitarist Matthew fell from the stage and broke his hand. And the band had to cancel the remainder of the tour to give Matthew time to recuperate.

“All those people are disappointed. Even the waiter in the restaurant the next day (after the accident) said, ‘We’re really looking forward to seeing you play.’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry, but the tour’s been cancelled.’ He was really disappointed. We’re disappointed, too. It wasn’t our fault. You’ve got to explain, that’s what we’ve been doing for two weeks. We’re all having a bit of a break.”

The past two weeks have not exactly been a vacation for Annabella and band. Their days have been heavily scheduled with interviews and appearances on local talk shows. Most of the band’s publicity centers on Annabella. And even though she is extremely loquacious, she’s often a little uneasy about all the attention.

“When I first joined the band, I was young and too naïve to know about the business. And sometimes people can push until they push a bit too far and push you over the edge.

“There was always a lot of controversy about album covers and stuff. Because I’m a girl and I was young. The media picked up on that right away. And I was being looked at differently. And it was really just me doing what I wanted to do.

“[The press] just see an image. They just see this shell,” she runs her hand in front of her face and torso. “Because I am what I am to people, they don’t seem to realize that there’s a different person underneath this shell. I’m a different person. They let their minds wander as far as images concerned. When people meet me, then they know what I’m like.

“It makes me laugh inside when I see these people; they act a certain way because they think I’m my image. Then they put on an image themselves just to talk to me. And I want to,” she collapse on the bed, points to the corner and laughs, “’Why are you doing that? Don’t you look funny!’ But I don’t. I just,” she sits upright, demurely crosses her legs and appears to be biting her tongue, “say, ‘Yes. No. That’s interesting.’ It’s really funny!

“That’s another thing I learned being the lead singer: I have to be the focal point. I have to do a lot of the plugging. The rest of the band doesn’t really understand the responsibility. You don’t understand that responsibility unless you’ve had it, and they haven’t.

“When the band started out it wasn’t meant to be [just] the lead singer; it was meant to e a band. Everyone in the band is one-quarter of the band. Me and Dave came over to do the interviews because we’re half the band. But they see it as Annabella of Bow Wow Wow. It puts more responsibility on me.”

She is very careful about how she handles the stress that accompanies her lifestyle. She watches what she eats and eschews liquor. “It’s not worth poisoning your body. Or poisoning your mind. Another thing I can’t understand is why people take drugs.” She quickly considers all the usual excuses and rationalization for indulging in chemicals and how prevalent it is in the business. Then she adds, “If they can’t handle the responsibility then they should get out of the business.”

Annabella, of course, has no desire to shed the spotlight. But if she did retire, she muses that, “I’d probably work in the dry cleaners. I’d probably make more money because of my success. When I left, they put a sign in the window: ‘Girl wanted to work in dry cleaners. Please don’t be able to sing.’ Actually, I’d always wanted to work in a cake shop. I love to bake anything that’s edible.”

Enough though Bow Wow Wow performs a concert scene in the soon to be released movie, Scandalous, staring Sir John Gielgud and Robert Hays, Annabella is not planning a life in the cinema. “I can’t act to save my life.” That’s probably a blessing in disguise because it’s her honest, on and off stage, that makes her appealing.

The following interview is from cable access show Videowave; other great interviews with various artists can be found on YouTube from this program.

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