Romeo’s Daughter first emerged from the UK in the late 1980s, the latest act to be nurtured by acclaimed songwriter and producer Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange, the man responsible for bringing AC/DC and Def Leppard into the mainstream.
With the hit singles Don’t Break My Heart and I Cry Myself to Sleep at Night, the band soon found themselves regular staples of the British rock press.
But it would be the track Heaven in the Backseat that would introduce them to the American public with its inclusion on the soundtrack to the horror sequel A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child.
Following the release of their second album in 1993 they eventually disbanded, before reforming once again in 2008 for a series of live shows. Since then they have toured the UK supporting FM and are currently working on new material.
Singer Leigh Matty recalls Romero’s Daughter‘s earlier success and what the future has in store for the group.
Romeo’s Daughter appeared at a time when rock music had become mainstream. How supportive did you find the industry towards your band, particularly with regards to the press and other groups?
I think that one of the biggest problems we faced as a band was that we actually released the first album right at the end of the ’80s, when rock music was going through big changes. We didn’t actually fit into a neat box as we weren’t heavy rock and we also weren’t a ‘pop’ band so falling somewhere in the middle was a problem for us. Also, at that time it was virtually impossible to get a rock track played on Radio 1 (although I think it still is!) so we had to rely on smaller radio stations to play the singles that we released.
Maybe if we had been an American band we would have had an easier time as they tended to embrace all styles of rock music – in fact, we had a fantastic response to Heaven in the Backseat in the States – we were actually there doing a radio tour when it charted and the video was a big hit on MTV. We did have a really good response from all the big rock magazines at the time as I think we surprised them when they came to see us perform – I think that we sounded a lot heavier playing the songs live than on the record so we were taken a lot more seriously within the whole rock industry.
Which singers were you inspired by and were you forced to change your style at all when you were signed to a label?
The singer that inspired me the most was Annie Lennox. To me, she not only had a fantastic voice but she had incredible style and she was very much her ‘own woman’ which I thought was wonderful! I was very lucky in that when we worked with Mutt Lange, he just got me to sing as naturally as possible. He didn’t try to change my style of singing; he just made me more aware of the stronger elements of my voice and encouraged me to be brave and bold.
With the exception of Vixen there were very few rock bands at that time with a female singer. Did you feel that you had to prove yourself more because of this and how did you like being considered a sex symbol?
To be honest, I was very new to the whole rock scene so was blissfully unaware of bands like Vixen. I of course knew that there were very few female fronted rock bands around but was hoping that would go in our favour, especially as I hoped to be taken seriously as a singer rather than just an ‘attractive’ front woman! I honestly don’t think that I was seen as a ‘sex symbol’ at the time because that was something that we never promoted in the press, but in hindsight we should have made more of the fact that we were quite a novelty!
How did the track Heaven in the Backseat come to be used in the movie A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and do you feel that this movie fit well with the image of Romeo’s Daughter?
We were with Zomba Publishing at that time and they got the track on the film score. I don’t think it particularly suited our ‘image’ at the time, but we were quite excited about it being used. Back then, the Nightmare movies were hugely successful so we went along with the flow!
You were originally to have shot the video for the song on the set of the movie but instead chose to film the band performing on stage whilst you were in a limo. Did the violent content of the film cause problems with the shoot and how do you feel about the video that was shot for the single?
The shoot was an absolute blast! It was the first big budget video we had made and we were so excited!! All the Freddy scenes were edited in after we finished so there was definitely no violence involved. I loved the whole process of making the video; in fact it was definitely one of the highlights of being in RD. It always makes me smile when I happen to see it, especially the bits in the back seat of the limo!
Your track Wild Child was covered by Heart as the opening track to their hit record Brigade. How did this happen and were you pleased with the results?
Out of all the covers we had on the 1st album, we were the most proud of the Heart one! Craig and I actually went to see them at Wembley and they opened their set with Wild Child – we couldn’t believe it!!
It is always very interesting to hear how other artists record/perform ones songs, but of course we would have preferred our own versions to have been as successful as the covered versions!
Romeo’s Daughter were regularly featured on shows such as Power Hour and Raw Power, did you make many other television appearances at that time?
We made lots of trips to Germany and Holland to feature in different TV shows as they had many more shows that featured music than we did here in the UK – Power Hour and Raw Power were pretty much the only shows that played rock music at that time (we obviously never made it on to TOTP!).
With the rise of grunge many bands from the late 1980s split up soon afterwards. Did you struggle to find the same kind of success with your second album and what prompted you to split?
We certainly did! We definitely brought the first album out one year too late as when we did, in 1989, it was pretty much over for mainstream rock bands over here and in the States. We had also had to wait for so long for Mutt Lange to produce the 2nd album that when it worked out that he couldn’t actually do it, we had lost all our momentum not only with our fans but also with the rock press. We ended up doing the 2nd album on a ridiculously small budget with a much smaller label and even though there are a few tracks on the album I really like, we realised the writing was on the wall for us! We had been a team for so long, that it was really hard to break it all up, but at that time there was nothing keeping us together.
There has been a renewed interest in ‘80s rock over recent years and Romeo’s Daughter has once again been performing. Do you have plans to release a new album and do you think it is possible to achieve the same kind of success you enjoyed twenty years ago?
We were so pleased to be asked to perform at Fire Fest last year and it just worked out that we were all available at the same time so we said yes! We had the most incredible response on the day and were greeted back like we had never been away! On the strength of that gig, we decided to do a few more this year, and to also record a new album, which we are doing now. We have already opened for FM in Birmingham and we are doing so again in London at the O2 Academy in Islington on July 9th. We are also recording a live DVD/Audio in July which we are really looking forward to as we never did anything like that when we were together the 1st time around. We will also do a tour next year hopefully to promote the new album – watch this space!!