Saturday, April 21, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

80s pop queen Tiffany dishes on malls and Debbie Gibson ahead of Tampa show

Children of the 80s, Tiffany is calling.

The former pop princess doesn’t play malls anymore, and three decades after her I Think We’re Alone Now success, she’s refined her act to an energetic mix of past and present. Expect less of a Casio backbeat, a bit more of a country take on her classic hits and some of her new material.

Ahead of her Sunday show at the intimate Jaeb Theater at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, Tiffany took the time to answer some questions by phone. We talked about the death of malls, Debbie Gibson and a 2008 documentary I Think We’re Alone Now (a must-watch) about obsessive fans.

How many times a week does someone ask you if you think we’re alone now?

If I’m on the road, maybe once a week. Reporters like to throw it out there. I laugh like I’ve never heard it before. I don’t really get tired of it. I think it’s really funny.

In the same vein, how fast CAN you run?

Pretty fast, depending on what I’m trying to get away from!

So you were my second live concert in Pittsburgh in 1988, when I was 9. Had I been doing the choosing, you probably would have been my first. Who was your first concert — who was your Tiffany?

My first concert was Patti LaBelle. My cousin took me. Before that I was listening to country music, because that’s what was played in my home. It totally changed my life as a vocalist, I think, because I was more of a chesty, deep belcher. Patty LaBelle has this great range where she doesn’t really hurt her throat. Totally changed me, and her performance on stage really impacted me.

What’s your favorite song?

I have a lot of them, but I would probably say Landslide by Stevie Nicks.

I’ve got this crystal-clear memory of the energy and excitement of your show back then. What’s the Tiffany concert experience now?

Probably still more high energy. For me, back then, I always loved what I was doing, but I was so worried about being perfect with the vocals — and letting everybody know that I could really sing — that I didn’t talk a lot. Now I can really engage more with the audience, which I love.

We do old-school retro, with a little twist and a flair. Not so much a modern take on it, but just some guitar sounds and the like so that it’s fitting into my life now without taking away from the fun.

I love my ballads, my Could’ve Been and All this Time. You’re going to get a blend of a great night of music, the new and the old.

The set list on the show is always changing. Keeps you on your toes — and that’s the premise of the show. I don’t want people to buy a ticket and then that’s it, they come back to the next show and it’s the same thing. It’s ever revolving.

I put on your first album and was shocked by how it took me back. Does that happen for you?

Every once in a while I will put on the albums. Listen to Spanish Eyes or Ruthless. I never liked Mr. Mambo, still hate it now. But I have to be sensitive to the fact that my fans do like it. Some of the songs were way too happy for me, even then. There’s a little cheese factor there I have a hard time with.

I’ve seen the documentary and how you handle awkward fan encounters with grace. Are the fan meetings still fun for you after all that?

You never know what’s going to happen, but I’m very open to people. I think that’s the key for me. I enjoy my fans and I enjoy spending time with them and hearing their stories. I’ve never gotten burned out on people. I look at them as an extended family. And I love hearing the stories! I mean, sometimes it’s a little too much information, but we laugh and have a good time. I don’t let the awkward or strange events keep me from opening up to somebody else. I come into the moment with eyes wide open.

So you launched your career with the mall tour. Does the death of the American shopping mall feel a little personal?

It does, actually. I think it’s a shame. Really, malls were destinations. Yes, online shopping is really convenient, and I’m all for small business. I’ve had my own boutiques in Nashville. But there was something magical about the mall. Everybody went there on a Saturday and you met your girlfriends for lunch. For young kids, it was an opportunity to look at things that you probably couldn’t afford or to just laugh at. Go look at hot guys and play at the arcade and go to the music store.

But they’ve taken a lot of those things out. People now just go to run in and get their packages and go. Our lifestyles are really fast-paced. I think we don’t really take the time anymore to go old-school. We’re missing out on some of those activities that were just fun and connected people.

I’m hitting 40 this year, Tiffany. Is it a good decade?

Yeah! You feel more comfortable in your own skin. I’ve never really been one for an age thing, I just don’t really look at life that way. Everyone wants to be happy, but happy comes and goes, you know. But if you’re grounded and you have great people around you, you’re healthy. I look at every birthday and every year as an extension of my life. What am I going to get up to this year? I get compliments were people are like, "You don’t really look your age or act your age." And I say, "Thank you!"

My friends keep comparing you and Debbie Gibson to Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. Did you know this was still a thing?

Well, I would never sabotage Deb, put it that way! I love her, she’s one of my dearest friends. The rivalry thing was never really from us, but we’ve had fun with it over the years. We are definitely really different. Our common denominator is our childhood and that we do have so much in common with being on the road and everything. We’ve learned to really get to know each other and respect each other.

We are totally different, I’m much more the edgy one who’s a bit more free spirit, Deb’s thing is a bit more arranging and pre-planned, doesn’t really live on the fly too much. But that’s okay!

We’ve learned to really respect each other’s working form. And as friends, we talk as girls. We don’t have a problem.

I think it’s really cool that we learned to become friends since everyone had us as this kind of rivalry, and we were like, "we don’t really know each other." It was really the movie (Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, 2011) where we got to know each other.

Okay, one last question, and this one is for a very specific HGTV audience. Do you REALLY like that chair you bought on Flea Market Flip?

(Tiffany was on a train in London. The call dropped. We’ll never know.)

Comments
Record Store Day 2018: Vinyl lovers flock to indie record shops across Tampa Bay

Record Store Day 2018: Vinyl lovers flock to indie record shops across Tampa Bay

Record Store Day returned Saturday, and with it hundreds of early-rising vinyl lovers hoping to score exclusive records by Prince, Neil Young, Arcade Fire, Run the Jewels, the National and many others.At spots like Bananas and Daddy Kool in St. Peter...
Updated: 2 hours ago
RIP Avicii, an EDM superstar who helped break rave culture in America

RIP Avicii, an EDM superstar who helped break rave culture in America

Here's all you need to know about this decade's explosion of electronic dance music in America.In September of 2011, Swedish DJ Avicii played a late-night show at a nightclub on Ulmerton Road in Clearwater.By June of the following year, he was headli...
Published: 04/20/18
Producer and DJ Avicii has been found dead

Producer and DJ Avicii has been found dead

Avicii, the Grammy-nominated electronic dance DJ who performed sold-out concerts for feverish fans around the world and also had massive success on U.S. pop radio, died Friday. He was 28. Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the Swedish per...
Published: 04/20/18
Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — HGTV fanatic that he is, Spencer Chamberlain sees a metaphor for his band in the ever-evolving St. Petersburg skyline."When you go downtown and you look at the ONE, that used to be a dirt parking lot," said the singer, referring to a...
Published: 04/20/18
New Hot 101.5 Summer Jam bringing Meghan Trainor, Liam Payne, Alessia Cara, more to Amalie Arena in Tampa

New Hot 101.5 Summer Jam bringing Meghan Trainor, Liam Payne, Alessia Cara, more to Amalie Arena in Tampa

A new radio mega-festival is on its way to Tampa Bay.Hot 101.5 on Friday unveiled plans for its inaugural Hot 101.5 Summer Jam, June 29 at Amalie Arena.Based on the lineup, it sounds like a proto-version of the Jingle Ball. Best New Artist Grammy Win...
Published: 04/20/18
Joey Fatone’s hot dog food truck is coming to Plant City this weekend

Joey Fatone’s hot dog food truck is coming to Plant City this weekend

We're still a few weeks from Justin Timberlake's nearly sold-out concert in Tampa. Until then, you'll have to make do with Joey Fatone's hot dogs in Plant City.Timberlake's 'N SYNC bandmate has a burgeoning wiener empire in Orlando, Fat One's Hot Dog...
Published: 04/19/18
Huge concert week in Tampa: Foo Fighters, Kenny Chesney, 98 Rockfest, more

Huge concert week in Tampa: Foo Fighters, Kenny Chesney, 98 Rockfest, more

PURE NIRVANA: Foo FightersDave Grohl may be America’s last unquestioned rock god. He’s played with Kurt Cobain and Jimmy Page, Tom Petty and Trent Reznor and St. Vincent, and he also leads a pretty decent group — perhaps you’ve heard of them — called...
Published: 04/18/18
Updated: 04/20/18
SoundBytes: Steel Panther, Surfer Blood, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and more

SoundBytes: Steel Panther, Surfer Blood, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and more

— Florida's own indie rockers Surfer Blood are returning to Crowbar on Aug. 24, with the Blonde Tongues opening. Tickets are $13 and up. Click here.— Hair metal satirists Steel Panther are coming to Jannus Live on Aug. 16. Tickets go on s...
Published: 04/18/18
Shinedown’s Barry Kerch talks Jacksonville, rock festivals, the demons that inspired their new album and more

Shinedown’s Barry Kerch talks Jacksonville, rock festivals, the demons that inspired their new album and more

There was a time in the lifespan of Shinedown when Barry Kerch wasn't all that keen on festivals."Backstage for the bands has gotten a lot better," he said by phone before Shinedown was set to play a biker festival in Arizona. "It used to be an extre...
Published: 04/18/18
The Flaming Lips have a Record Store Day beer. Here’s where to get it in Tampa Bay

The Flaming Lips have a Record Store Day beer. Here’s where to get it in Tampa Bay

It's no surprise the Flaming Lips are behind one of the most unusual collectible items this Record Store Day. This is a band, after all, whose past Record Store Day stunts include an album encased in a life-size chocolate skull and another infused wi...
Published: 04/18/18