"Just because Bananarama has turned into a baby factory, that doesn't mean we're splitting up."
A seven-months' pregnant Siobhan Fahey was denying the rumor the British female vocal trio is going to disband. It started last year when group member Keren Woodward had a baby, and heated up this year with Fahey's marriage to the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart in August and her pregnancy.
Actually, Fahey said there was some concern that Woodward might bow out of Bananarama when Woodward announced her pregnancy last year. At the time the group was red-hot. Since it was formed in 1981, the trio has had hit singles like "Cruel Summer," "Shy Boy" and the current "I Heard a Rumor"--but nothing as huge as its remake of Shocking Blue's "Venus," a No. 1 single last year from the "True Confessions" album.
"When she first told us, I wasn't sure what she would stay," Fahey said. "That would have been devastating. But she stayed and she's more into the group than ever.
"Last year she even did a promo tour of this country when she was 5 1/2 months' pregnant. No drinking, no smoking--I didn't see how she could do it. Now I'm doing the same thing."
Fahey said her marriage to Stewart won't affect Bananarama: "It's a matter of compromising. But he and I will have a lot of compromising to do if we want to stay in both groups.
"It will be different for me because I'll have new priorities now--Dave and the baby. I'll be working in a entirely different framework."
Fahey, who normally lives in London, is now "stranded" in Encino with Stewart, because flying is inadvisable after 28 weeks of pregnancy. "He doesn't just live here, he lives all over," she said. "I suppose I'll be living all over the place now, too."
"I'm eating like a pig," Fahey said slowly during a late lunch at a French restaurant, almost spitting out the word pig . She sneered at a forkful of her entree before shoveling it into her mouth. "There will be consequences for eating all this, but I can't worry about that now. I'm hungry."
For Fahey, 27, the baby will be just one thing to celebrate this year. The other big reason is the success of Bananarama's "I Heard a Rumor" single, which is featured on its new PolyGram album "Wow!" and on the sound-track album of the Fat Boys' movie "Disorderlies."
But despite the hit single, this is a quiet period for Bananarama. The group isn't touring. The only work Fahey, Woodward and Sarah Dallin are doing is interviews. "How can we perform with me like this? It's at the boring stage of the pregnancy now," she said. "I can't do anything. Everything is off-limits."
She took a sip of tea and held up the cup. "I'm not even supposed to be drinking this now," she said.
"People in this country look at me and say, 'You're having tea and you're pregnant?' It's like I'm crazy or something. They don't understand. I live in England. I need tea to survive."
Some cigarette smoke curled in her direction. A look of ecstasy enveloped her face, as if she had just sniffed some out-of-this world fragrance. "I'd kill for a cigarette," said Fahey, normally a heavy smoker, fanning the smoke at her face. "But my husband would kill me if he found out I was smoking again."
Bananarama is one of the few major groups that has never toured. Early in the group's career, it did some disco dates, singing live to the accompaniment of taped instrumentals. But since then--nothing.
Said Fahey, "Early in our career we didn't have a manager. We handled the management ourselves. So there was no one pushing us to go on tour. And we didn't know the first thing about forming a band, so we never did it."
Their touring debut was scheduled for last year, but Woodward's pregnancy intervened. Woodward, who lives in London with her boyfriend, now has a 9-month-old son.
Delayed until this year, the tour has been put on hold again because of Fahey's pregnancy. "Hopefully we'll do it next year," Fahey said. "But you watch, Sarah will get pregnant and it will be put off again."
Meanwhile the group has maximized its exposure on music video shows. "Actually, videos are much more efficient in reaching the music audience than playing live," Fahey said. "We've really done fine without touring. Maybe we'll forget touring and just sit around and have babies."
Fahey noted that the British music press, known for its allegiance to the piranha school of journalism, jokes about Bananarama's tourophobia.
"They think we're afraid to tour. Other people may think that too. But we're not. One reason we formed this group in the first place is because we loved being on stage. But circumstances have gotten in the way. We're not worried about what the British press say about us. They don't like us."
The American press isn't crazy about Bananarama either. For the most part the media condemn Bananarama's songs, which the trio co-writes, as light, fluffy confections.
The group sings harmonies in an icy, detached tone. What's striking about their songs is the contrast between the coolness of their vocals and the often emotional lyrics and the mostly dance-oriented music.
"Our current album is our brightest, poppiest yet," Fahey said. "It's guaranteed to annoy the critics. They treat us like a disease or something. They wish we'd go away, but we won't go away."
Just then the waiter came to the table. Fahey sheepishly ordered a lemon tart and cappuccino--with lots of chocolate.
"I'm embarrassed about eating all this," Fahey said, scooping up the last morsels of her entree. "But not embarrassed enough not to eat it."