Britpop star Louise Wener returns to her old Camden stomping ground

SLEEPER / BRIGHTON ELECTRIC / Shot by Rob Blackham / assistant Ailbe Elder Blackham / www.blackhamim

Britpop stars Sleeper play The Roundhouse on May 6 - Credit: Rob Blackham

Growing up in London's suburbs in the 1980s, Louise Wener would board a tube from Gants Hill and head to Camden Town as often as possible.

The Sleeper frontwoman will be back in May with a celebratory gig at the Roundhouse to mark the 25th anniversary of the band's second album The It Girl.

There have been gallons of water under the bridge since they charted eight UK Top 40 singles and three albums at the height of the Britpop era, before splitting in 1998. But the 55-year-old songwriter is musing on how the iconic album started.

“I grew up in the suburbs of London and so lots of (The IT Girl) songs are about the mundanity of suburban life and wanting to escape from that," she said.

“I wanted to come to Camden Town on a Saturday. I would get on a tube and come up there as often as I could and go around the markets and thought this was where I wanted to be. And then I would get back on the train to my little suburban house. It was all about escapism so a lot of the album is about getting to the centre of things.”

The forthcoming tour to mark the album's silver jubilee brings back memories of the original '96 trek around Europe, America and Asia amid the hysteria that surrounded Britpop.

“We got mobbed in Tower Records in Bangkok, there were queues of people waiting to see us in a little in-store performance," she recalls.

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“We were just running down the corridor in Tower Records, it really was just the most bizarre thing. Especially looking back on it, you kind of get used to those things when it’s happening to you weirdly, but I think about it now and it seems crazy.”

The years since the split have been busy. Wener lived in Crouch End with Sleeper drummer Andy MacLure, wrote four novels, an autobiography and a radio drama, as well as having two children. She's currently developing two TV scripts with Line of Duty's Jed Mercurio as executive producer.

Louise Wener and band Sleeper headline The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm

Louise Wener and band Sleeper headline The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm - Credit: Nic Serpell-Rand

When Sleeper reunited in 2017 and started performing live again - despite surviving a bout of stage fright on the first show back - she noted how similar the experience was, but also how unburdened the band felt by their return.

“Essentially the thing that is different is that the gigs are just super enjoyable because we are doing it for the joy of it. We are not trying to prove ourselves. We’re not trying to be cool as we were in the 90s, so it doesn’t matter. None of that stuff is surrounding us anymore, we are doing it for ourselves in a very different way.”

For Werner and MacLure, parenthood means a different kind of touring schedule.

She said: “Touring for us is almost like a pop-up. It’s hard because me and Andy are both in the band and we have kids so logistically it’s always super hard, so we just do little bursts of it, and when we do that, it is like escapism for us.

“That’s mirrored by the audience. So you have the shared anticipation between audience and the band that I think works really well.”

After the band's 2019 album The Modern Age, could this upcoming tour signal a new record?

“We would really like to," she admits. "That album was such fun to do so I definitely want to make new music. Obviously we have to fit it into our lives when we can, so hopefully towards the end of this year we will start putting something together.”

Louise Wener is the lead singer and songwriter for Sleeper

Louise Wener is the lead singer, guitarisst and songwriter for Sleeper - Credit: Supplied

Sleeper performs at The Roundhouse on May 6. Tickets from https://www.ticketweb.uk/event/sleeper-the-it-roundhouse-tickets/11425955?REFERRAL_ID=tmfeed