"When he pushes a cassette over the desk towards you and says, ‘Here’s a few songs I’d like you to record,’ you can either jump out the window or record the songs."
Following the runaway success of their debut single, Buses And Trains, in 1998, Australian duo Bachelor Girl were tipped for big things overseas. In the podcast, A Journey Through Aussie Pop, Tania Doko and James Roche tell the story of being snapped up by Arista Records bigwig Clive Davis (the man who discovered Whitney Houston and revived Aretha Franklin’s career in the 1980s) and then cast aside by the label when he left his position not long after.
“There was a lot of hype about the Clive Davis signing,” Doko recalled. “We were the first Australian band ever. Two weeks after we released [Buses And Trains in the US], he resigns, so all the focus goes over to his resignation. The song just doesn’t get the love. And so all this hype about us following a similar trajectory to Savage Garden didn’t eventuate.”
Roche added: “The new guy doesn’t want to make the old guy’s projects prosper. He wants to be the new broom, so we were swept.”
However, one thing Bachelor Girl did receive from Clive is one of their biggest songs. When the pair’s debut album, Waiting For The Day, was reconfigured for its US release, some tracks written by external songwriters were added to the track listing.
“When you go and meet Clive Davis, and you sit in his office, he’s a very charming fellow, but when he pushes a cassette over the desk towards you and says, ‘Here’s a few songs I’d like you to record,’ you can either jump out the window or record the songs.
“On one particular occasion, he pushed across a cassette, and there were two songs on it, and he said, ‘Choose one of these,’ so that sounded reasonable. Except one of them was terrible, so it was a joke, right? You had to choose the one he wanted you to choose. But that was Permission To Shine, so we’re grateful for that. He was on the money for that one.”
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Also, in the podcast episode, Doko and Roche discuss why Permission To Shine was only released in Australia as a radio single, as well as the record company machinations back home that resulted in Bachelor Girl being put on hold after their second album, 2002’s Dysfunctional.
“That was the beginning of the dismantling of BMG, our record company because they were being swallowed up by Sony on a global level,” Roche said. “And all of the staff were worried about their jobs and looking over their shoulders and fear stalked the corridors. That was the point where the album just got put aside because nobody wanted to be working something that felt difficult. Everyone on our record label, Gotham, got dropped.”
Doko added: “We were put on pause, Sony gave me a solo deal, and I ended up being dropped from that as well.”
In the episode, Doko revealed how far along in the process she got recording that solo album. The duo also discussed their formation and lengthy path to a record deal, how the success of Buses And Trains overshadowed subsequent releases and their recent return with new song Calling Out Your Name. Listen to A Journey Through Aussie Pop here or on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and all major podcast platforms.