Published Apr 23, 2009After first meeting in a synthesizer shop 28 years ago, Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant have developed into one of those rare acts still reinventing themselves and producing their best work three decades into making music. "Right from the beginning, our aim was to create a Pet Shop Boys world of our own where we did things our way," says Tennant. "I think with every album we've tried to do something different, and succeed to greater or lesser extent, but I think the quality of the songwriting has always been good. I guess we have a certain integrity." Their unique sense of style and debonair twist on pop and dance music has never been compromised, resulting in some of the most visual, accessible and demanding material of any mainstream artist in the last quarter century.
Over the course of their partnership they've gone on to sell over 50 million records, win numerous awards and honours, write an opera, a ballet, a score for an old Russian silent film and a Liza Minelli album, and become the fourth most successful artist on Billboard's dance music chart behind only Madonna, Donna Summer and Janet Jackson - in a country that gave up on them commercially decades ago no less. "I feel we're underrated commercially," says Tennant. "But I think artistically Pet Shop Boys get a generous airing from the media. And I think we get that because of the quality of our songwriting and records, over the last 25 years, has been really strong and consistent. People seem to appreciate that."
1954 to 1980
Neil Francis Tennant is born on July 10, 1954 in North Shields, Northumberland. Christopher Sean Lowe is born on October 4, 1959 in Blackpool, Lancashire. Neil attends St. Cuthbert's Grammar School in Newcastle, an all-boys Roman Catholic school at the same time as Sting, who years later will inadvertently play a role in launching Neil's music career. Chris immediately discovers a love for music through his grandfather and mother, and while studying at the Arnold School he begins playing the piano and trombone and performs Glenn Miller songs in a school dance band called One Under the Eight. Neil doesn't fit in at school, and finds solitude at the Young Peoples Theatre at age 11. He begins playing the guitar and cello, and at 16 joins the Literary and Philosophical Society as well Dust, an all-acoustic band influenced by the Incredible String Band.
Neil moves to Tottenham, London in 1972 and studies archaeology at North London Polytechnic; Chris studies architecture at the University of Liverpool. After finishing his degree Neil finds work at Marvel Comics' UK branch as the London production editor where he anglicizes comics for the British reading public and even interviews artists such as Marc Bolan and Alex Harvey. "I had to read them all and Anglicize the spellings, do things like put the 'u' back into 'color,'" Neil explains. "It was very strongly felt that they shouldn't have American spellings because it confused kids. Occasionally you'd get stories where you had to cover up women. Conan the Barbarian in particular was all a bit sexy - the artists were always having to add bras, basically." After two years he begins editing books.
1981 to 1984
A budding songwriter, Neil buys a synthesizer without knowing how to play it. While visiting the store for advice, he meets Chris Lowe and the two bond over music and quickly form a partnership. "We both knew about what the other didn't know - and that was clear quite quickly," admits Neil in the documentary A Life in Pop. "It started off as a hobby, but part of me was watching it thinking that we were doing something quite good." The duo begin writing music under the name of West End, in honour of the London neighbourhood. The name doesn't last, however, and they change to Pet Shop Boys, after some friends of theirs who work in a pet shop. The name appeals to them because it misleadingly "sounded like an English rap group." However, one interviewer tells Neil she heard the name refered to "this thing in New York where gay guys get hamsters and put them in plastic bags and shove them up their asses." Neil eventually lands a gig at Smash Hits magazine as news editor and later assistant editor.
The two write their first song, "Jealousy," which Chris begins on a trip back to Blackpool. "When we started ten years ago what we wanted to do was to make records that would be regarded as dance music, probably Hi-NRG dance music as it was then, and we were trying to marry that to traditional songwriting where the lyrics are interesting and make some kind of personal statement," Neil will tell Gay Times in 1993. Neil is assigned an interview with the Police in New York; while there he tracks down Bobby Orlando of the Flirts and the two meet up for a cheeseburger and some carrot cake two years to the day after Neil met Chris. Neil plays Bobby 'O' a demo tape and convinces him to produce three songs - "West End Girls," "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" and "One More Chance" - at Unique Studios in New York; Orlando plays almost every instrument on the tracks. "West End Girls" is released by CBS but only appears in the UK as an imported twelve-inch; it does however find an audience in American and European clubs. The song has a very urban sound to it, with Tennant rapping in a distinct British dialect. "I deliberately forced myself to do it in an English accent so I wasn't pretending to be a NY rapper," Neil admits in A Life in Pop. "I try to bring things in to the lyrics from outside the normal pop - and that's another thing that therefore ends up sounding English, to use words or phrases that wouldn't necessarily be used. And also I tend to use English clichés, even use them as the hook of the song, conversational phrases, so it's a sort of dialectic."
1985 to 1986
Pet Shop Boys sever ties with Bobby 'O' and agree to pay him for future royalties on music yet to be released. They hire Tom Watkins as their manager and he secures them a record deal with EMI affiliate Parlophone. Not long after, Neil leaves his position of deputy editor at Smash Hits to focus solely on music. "I didn't like being a journalist, because I thought it was always really hard work," Tennant tells Exclaim! "When you're a writer and you've got your interview on your tape recorder, I always felt it was lonely work. It didn't really suit me. Even now I get asked to write things and I normally say no, because I find it hard work, actually, and I'm a bit of a perfectionist." They release "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" in July as the first single for their new label; it's a re-recorded version with J. J. Jeczalik (Art of Noise) and Nicholas Froom instead of the one they did with Orlando. It fails to make a dent in the charts.
They hire Stephen Hague to re-record "West End Girls"; the new version refines the production, stripping away the overpowering hip-hop influence in exchange for a more synth-heavy, dance pop direction. The song is released again in October and goes to #1 not just in Britain and most of Europe, but also the U.S. and Canada, largely because of the video, which forces the Pet Shop Boys to think of how to present the music - an influence that will go on to define them as artists. The video is so popular on MTV that viewers force radio stations to play the song. It becomes their signature song, earning them Best Single at the Brit Awards in 1987, Best International Hit at the Ivor Novello Awards and in 2005, Song of The Decade between the years 1985 and 1994, by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters. Much like "West End Girls," they get Hague to re-record "Opportunities" and it becomes another hit for them. Another single is released, "Love Comes Quickly," and then the group's debut album, Please in March 1986. Neil later tells the Gay Times, "Many of the songs on Please are about running away. They're about someone brought up in a middle-class background in Newcastle who doesn't want to have a normal job, who doesn't want to get pinned down to bourgeois values, even though he could do that quite successfully and quite easily." Beginning a trend that will continue throughout their career, they use one word for the title, admitting the inspiration comes from the thought of fans asking, "Can I have the Pet Shop Boys album, Please?" Produced by Hague, the album is actually written as the same time as their second album, Actually.
Led by Neil's unmistakable voice, Please is an extraordinary debut, introducing the Pet Shop Boys' sophisticated and seamless pop music at its simplest; it will go on to sell three million copies. Of the time, Neil admits "I was the severe figure, and Chris was the more street, reluctant figure. Chris didn't want to be filmed." Not long after, because of his public shyness, Watkins says he wants to throw Lowe out of the group due to the fact that "Chris doesn't actually do anything." They release an album called Disco, which collects remixes and B-sides from Please; it's the start of a series that will continue throughout their career.
1987 to 1988
New single "It's A Sin" is released and becomes their second #1 single. A commentary on his bullying as a student and arguably a confession about his homosexuality (which includes Neil reciting Catholic prayer the Confiteor), the song causes an unexpected controversy when Neil's former school, St. Cuthbert's, chastises him in the press. Neil later tells Q: "'It's A Sin' is my attempt at being seedy. Of course, my interpretation of seediness is quite chaste, so we ended up with this Catholic guilt thing." At the same time, British TV personality/producer/DJ Jonathan King accuses Pet Shop Boys of plagiarising Cat Stevens' "Wild World"; King records his own version of Stevens' song, basically ripping off Neil and Chris's arrangement and they successfully sue King, donating the settlement to charity. (In 2001, King is convicted of sexual offences against underage boys and sentenced to three and a half years.) The song also goes on to prove doubters that they aren't just a one-hit wonder. They follow up with "What Have I Done To Deserve This?" featuring Dusty Springfield. Another hit, the song revives Dusty's career and leads to another collaboration on her 1990 album, Reputation, where Tennant and Lowe write and produce the second half of the album.
Neil and Chris appear on an ITV special called Love Me Tender, commemorating the tenth anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. They perform a cover of "Always On My Mind," which they eventually release as a single. Second album, Actually, is released the next month and becomes their second best-selling album to date, moving over four million copies. It's also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. "We thought Please was a hard album to follow," Neil admits in 1987, "because it's kind of minimal and funny, and yet now Please looks quite weak next to Actually. Actually I think is very, very strong. It sticks out from miles away and it fits the title. I think it's the bow ties that do that - it's a posh word, Actually isn't it?" The album establishes Pet Shop Boys as much more than synth pop, demonstrating their skill for intricate arrangements, best heard on the orchestral immensity of "It Couldn't Happen Here." That song actually works as the title for the group's feature film released the following year. Directed by Jack Bond, It Couldn't Happen Here is meant as compensation for fans, as the two remain apprehensive about performing live.
The result is a surreal and rather bombastic attempt at filmmaking, mixing autobiographical content with fantasy, tying the narrative together with the duo's music. It's poorly received, and to this day has not received a DVD release. Their song "King's Cross," which features the lyric "Dead and wounded on either side/ You know it's only a matter of time," precedes a tragic fire at the King's Cross underground station. The Sun tries to strong-arm the two into releasing it for charity, but Neil and Chris refuse. "Always On My Mind" is released and becomes their third #1, and goes on to be the Christmas chart-topper for 1987. "Heart" also goes in at #1 and features openly gay Ian McKellen portraying Dracula in the video, stealing secretly gay Tennant's onscreen wife. Next single "Domino Dancing" only reaches #7, which leads the group to realize their "imperial phase" has ended. They release Introspective, a mini-album that becomes their best-selling album ever. "All the songs, although it's a dance album, are introspective," they admit in A Life in Pop, although it's a completely different approach, as all of the songs stretch over six minutes. Later on, Tennant will say he regrets releasing the album so soon after Actually because of the "twelve-inch nature of the songs." The video for "Domino Dancing" forces their popularity to decline in the U.S. because of its gay imagery.
1989 to 1992
After five years of releasing music, Pet Shop Boys begin touring and hire acclaimed stage designer/film director Derek Jarman to direct the performances and turn it into a spectacle. "We always like to do musical theatre, turn our show into a theatrical presentation," Tennant says. "It's always based on what the songs are like and we want to put the meaning of the songs across in a visual way." They release a video compilation called Highlights, collecting moments from their Wembley Stadium show in London. Impressed after hearing their work, Liza Minnelli hires Neil and Chris to write and produce her album Results, which includes a cover of Actually's "Rent" and Stephen Sondheim's "Losing My Mind." The album does well in the UK, but flops in North America. They also work with Dusty Springfield again, not just on Reputations, but also on "Nothing Has Been Proved," the theme song to the movie Scandal, starring John Hurt. Both Pet Shop Boys collaborate with New Order's Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr on their project called Electronic; Neil sings, co-writes and co-produces their biggest hit, "Getting Away With It," while Chris co-produces "The Patience of A Saint." Neil also sings on Electronic's "Disappointed," which is featured exclusively on the Cool World soundtrack. "It was 20 years ago, Chris and I went to Manchester to talk to Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner about Electronic, and that was just when the Manchester scene was getting going," says Tennant. "We wrote 'Getting Away With It' and it was quite an exciting time." Looking to use analog synthesizers, they record in Munich, Germany with Harold Faltermeyer (Donna Summer, Sparks, Giorgio Moroder), and come up with Behaviour. Featuring Johnny Marr, Angelo Badalamenti and the Balanescu Quartet, its mature production eschews the big dance tracks for poignant, organic and mostly downbeat pop.
The album is misunderstood upon its release, proving too groundbreaking for fans of the group's more pop-minded singles. Admittedly, Depeche Mode's Violator (released the same year) is a big influence on the album. Says Tennant: "[Behaviour] was more reflective and more musical-sounding, and also it probably didn't have irritatingly crass ideas in it, like our songs often do." A Vancouver-based girl group called West End Girls sign to A&M and release an album that earns them a Juno nomination and a tour with Roxette. In 1991 Pet Shop Boys release a medley cover of U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons' "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," right before they launch their first world tour they title Performance. Designed and staged by opera and theatre directors David Alden and David Fielding, and choreographed by Jacob Marley, the performances consist of numerous costumes, massive set props and backdrops (a giant bust of Stalin for "My October Symphony") and numerous dancers and performers. Before the end of 1991, they compile their hits for Discography: The Complete Singles Collection. Pet Shop Boys found their own label, Spaghetti Records; their biggest hit comes in releasing the soundtrack to The Crying Game, which sees its only hit in the title track sung by Boy George.
1993 to 1995
Although Tennant questions whether they should "chuck it in," Pet Shop Boys reinvent their image by flirting with CGI and using bold, bright colours and symmetrical shapes while promoting their fifth album, Very. The video for first single "Can You Forgive Her?" finds Tennant and Lowe in orange bodysuits with candy-stripe dunce hats, while in "Go West" they sport bowls on their heads, corresponding with their yellow and blue bodysuits. Neil admits in A Life in Pop that he felt the Village People's "Go West" was too naff to cover, but it becomes a smash hit when they turn it into an elegy for those suffering from AIDS (the two end up performing the song with the elderly Welsh Miners Choir at the 1994 Brit Awards).
The album's mix of vivid artistic motifs and a Hi-NRG club sound revives their pre-Behaviour popularity, and Very shifts over three million copies. Says Lowe in A Life in Pop, "We often react against our previous release, and Very was just exactly what we felt we wanted to do at that time, uplifting, slick pop. Definitely a reaction to the previous album, Behaviour." The CD is packaged in a solid orange plastic case with raised bumps, adding to the promotional theme of artistic futurism; a limited number of copies are released as Very Relentless, which includes a second six-track album of mostly instrumental songs that didn't fit Very's commercial sound. Appearing on the cover of British gay magazine Attitude, Neil outs himself, saying, "I do think we have contributed to, through our music and through our videos, and the general way we've presented things, rather a lot to what you might call 'gay culture.' I could spend several pages discussing 'gay culture,' but for the sake of argument we have contributed a lot. And the simple reason for this is that I have written songs from that point of view. What I'm saying is that I'm gay, and I have written songs from that point of view. So, I mean, I'm being completely honest with you here, but those are the facts of the matter." Pet Shop Boys remix Blur's future hit, "Girls and Boys," which becomes a huge club hit and leads them to remixing artists such as David Bowie, Madonna, the Killers and MGMT. They write a song called "Falling" for Kylie Minogue's self-titled album and then release a charity single for Comic Relief called "Absolutely Fabulous," featuring samples from the British sitcom. They follow-up Very with Disco 2, another collection of remixes and singles presented as a megamix by house music heavyweight Danny Rampling. They also collect 30 B-sides for a rewarding compilation called Alternative, which surprisingly charts at #2 in the UK. Chris makes a cringe-worthy cameo on Australian soap opera Neighbours as himself, driving along Ramsay Street in a white Porsche.
1996 to 2001
Pet Shop Boys produce a track called "Confidential" for Wildest Dreams, the new album by Tina Turner. They release their sixth studio album, Bilingual, another about-face that finds them indulging in a variety of styles, mainly Latin music, the result of touring South America on the Discovery tour. The album is arguably their most uneven to date, suffering from its faddish ways, but the Brazilian sway of "Se a vida é (That's the Way Life Is)" helps it become a massive club hit and summertime anthem. Neil joins indie glam act Suede live onstage to duet with singer Brett Anderson on Suede's "Saturday Night" and Pet Shop Boys' "Rent"; both songs are later released as B-sides on Suede's "Filmstar" single. Neil curates a Noel Coward tribute album called Twentieth-Century Blues, featuring Paul McCartney, Sting, Elton John and Pet Shop Boys reinterpreting Coward's songs. Neil sings backup on Robbie Williams' hit "No Regrets." The duo begin writing a stage musical with playwright Jonathan Harvey; a lot of the music ends up on their seventh album Nightlife, including "In Denial," a duet with Kylie Minogue, where Neil portrays a father coming out to his daughter.
Tied to their collaboration with Harvey, the album is an unsuccessful attempt to sound up to date at the time of electronica's peak. Neil tells Exclaim! in 1999, "Nightlife is about what goes on at night - why people get wrecked and have fun. How some people are happier at night, while others feel very lonely." Like with Very, Neil and Chris assume a radical change in presentation that finds them wearing yellow/orange spiked wigs, Kabuki eyebrows and culottes, which reportedly came from their belief that pop stars need "bigger than life" images. In 2000, they win another Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. They get back to work on their musical and in 2001 they debut Closer to Heaven on stage in London; partially set in a gay club, the musical uses themes sexuality, pop music and drug use (one scene finds everyone high on ketamine). The reviews are mostly negative, with The Mail On Sunday calling it "closer to hell," while in The Daily Express review the writer asks "What have we done to deserve this?" The first run is successful, but it closes before its extension due to poor sales.
2002 to 2005
Recording their eighth album, Pet Shop Boys experiment with hip-hop but decide to strip down their sound using guitars (with Johnny Marr on a number of tracks) and pianos, keeping synthesizers to a minimum. The result is Release, a downbeat "rock" record that becomes their worst selling studio album (800,000 copies) and receives mostly negative reviews (NME calls it a "substandard Oasis"). Despite its commercial disappointment, Lowe and Tennant's songwriting shines in the context of guitar-based pop, revealing not only a more emotional side, but also that they're real musicians outside of the dance music arena. "We did the album Release when everyone was expecting us to make an electroclash album," Tennant tells Exclaim! "For some reason we wanted to make a provocative late night album that you could play at home. We should have got Rick Rubin to produce it! He'd have done that album really well. I mean, Johnny Cash could have sung that entire album. I think it's such a beautiful album. I know people think it's not the most electro-y one, because it's got guitars on it, but in fact it was made exactly the same as the rest of our albums.
I love the entire feel of it, and it's got quite a personal meaning for me." They release Disco 3, a collection of remixes and B-sides from Release, as well as new songs and a Bobby Orlando cover. They launch two new labels in the place of the defunct Spaghetti Records: Olde English Vinyl and Lucky Kunst; neither produce any significant releases. Pet Shop Boys release a two-disc retrospective called PopArt: Pet Shop Boys-The Hits, which acts as a testament to their remarkable body of work. The compilation is split into two halves: "Pop," which gathers the pop songs, and "Art," which collects the more artistic expressions. Because of their constant label hopping in the U.S. (EMI, Atlantic, Sire and Sanctuary), PopArt doesn't see a release overseas until 2006. Q Magazine honours Pet Shop Boys with the 2004 Q Inspiration Award. They record a score with the Dresdner Sinfoniker orchestra for the 1925 silent film Battleship Potemkin, which they perform at a public screening in London's Trafalgar Square; they release the music as a soundtrack the following year. Says Tennant, "I'm very proud of Battleship Potemkin. I love the section from about 20 minutes in till about ten minutes to the end. And I love the collaboration with the composer [Torsten Rasch] we worked with.
I think that's one that most people never hear, but I think the song 'No Time For Tears' is really beautiful. In fact my father died recently and at the end of the crematorium we played 'No Time For Tears,' and it was so appropriate for the circumstance, it was so beautiful. So it's amazing to have written a song that is so perfect for such an important moment in one's life." Along with Grace Jones, Belle and Sebastian, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Seal, they perform at a Prince's Trust concert titled Produced by Trevor Horn, honouring the legendary pop producer. They compile a CD each for a Back to Mine mix, which together comprises the "Pet Shop Boys sound." Pet Shop Boys headline the Moscow edition of Live 8, held in Red Square.
2006 to 2008
Working with Trevor Horn again ("Left To My Own Devices") on their ninth album, they return to the combination of synths and strings. Elaborate, orchestral and glorious, Fundamental does well with both fans and critics, selling over a million copies. Lowe and Tennant also use it as an opportunity to get political, dedicating the album to Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, two Iranian teenagers who were publicly hanged for homosexual acts. Aside from the title, which is a jab at Britain's religious fundamentalism, the album is peppered with politically minded lyrics, primarily "I'm with Stupid" (the "special relationship" between George W. Bush and Tony Blair, which is depicted in a video starring Little Britain's David Walliams and Matt Lucas), "Indefinite Leave to Remain" (immigration) and "Integral" (UK's national identity cards). A limited edition remix album is included with Fundamental called Fundamentalism, which includes remixes by Richard X, Trentemøller, Michael Mayer and Tiga, along with a guest appearance by Elton John on "In Private."
Channel 4 airs A Life in Pop, a documentary that looks back at the Pet Shop Boys' career; an expanded version is later released on DVD. Another girl group called West End Girls emerge, this time from Sweden; an unabashed Pet Shop Boys tribute act, they do straight-up Euro dance versions of selected Lowe and Tennant songs and release two albums: Goes Petshopping and Shoplifters. Pet Shop Boys produce two tracks for Robbie Williams' Rudebox album, including a cover of My Robot Friend's "We're the Pet Shop Boys." Philip Hoare and Chris Heath compile a visual book called Catalogue, which collects every photo as well as the design for record sleeve, videos, tours and fan club magazines in their 20 years. They release Concrete, a double album recorded at London's Mermaid Theatre featuring the BBC Orchestra conducted by Trevor Horn, and guests Robbie Williams, Rufus Wainwright and Closer to Heaven's Francis Barber. Pet Shop Boys earn Grammy nominations for Best Dance Recording for "I'm with Stupid" and Best Electronic/Dance Album for Fundamental. Neil serves as executive producer and sings backup on Rufus Wainwright's Release the Stars. The group release Disco 4, which assembles the band's remixes for artists like the Killers, David Bowie, Madonna and Rammstein. New Zealand comedy folk duo Flight of the Conchords parody Pet Shop Boys for the video of their song "Inner City Pressure," a pisstake on "West End Girls." Pet Shop Boys co-write and perform on a song called "The Loving Kind," with chart-topping UK group Girls Aloud; as a result, they strike up a relationship with the chart-friendly dance pop producer Xenomania aka Brian Higgins (Annie, Sugababes), who agrees to work on their next album.
Pet Shop Boys are awarded the prestigious honour of "Outstanding Contribution to British Music" by the British Phonographic Industry at the Brit Awards, where they also perform a medley of their hits with fans Lady Gaga and the Killers' Brandon Flowers. The next week sees PopArt re-enter the charts. Says Tennant, "I think we were a surprising choice, seeing as they normally give it to rock bands. The musical climate right now in Britain seems to be favourable to electro pop. I think with the general public at large, we've been a bit underrated recently. It was quite gratifying to go on the Brits and do that performance. And then to have that response in record sales, I think it sort of reminded people that had forgotten maybe." The duo release Yes, their tenth album.
Co-produced by Xenomania, Yes returns their sound to its commercial potential, while perhaps more than any album best exemplifies Pet Shop Boys' pure pop expression with songs that are modern, accessible and trendy, yet feel right at home in their speckled career. "Songwriting is the focal point of what we do," says Tennant. "And with the records, we try to present them in a way that makes the whole thing seem fresh to us. We have a kind of theatricality, but we don't just follow fashions. On this album we worked with a currently successful production team, which isn't something we often do. A lot of these songs are so poppy that we just thought it would be great for Xenomania, and Brian was really into it. It was a very new experience because he had the real hit factory going there, with intense musical quality." Johnny Marr returns to work with the duo for a fourth time. "We like to work with Johnny because he's a brilliantly inventive guitarist, but he gets pop music and he likes pop music. And I think we're almost the only pure pop group he ever plays with." Also on the record is Toronto's Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy, whose arrangements Neil heard on the Last Shadow Puppets album. "I thought that Owen's arrangements were very good because they're kind of muscular. He did two tracks for us: particularly 'Beautiful People,' it's a very muscular arrangement, where the cellos are and where the brass is. He does this slightly '60s thing, where some of the rhythm's in the orchestra, like playing gorgeous chords or something. And on 'Legacy' he appreciated that it was meant to be a bit of an epic. He wrote beautiful stuff in that. The trumpet has an amazing nautical kind of theme." Pet Shop Boys reveal they're working on a ballet. Explains Tennant, "It came along because one weekend as a coincidence, a ballet dancer we know, Ivan Putrov, the principal dancer for the Royal Ballet in London, phoned me up and said, 'Do you think you and Chris would write a ballet for me? Sadler Wells has asked me to do a ballet.' And to be honest, I'd forgotten about it, and then two days later Chris phoned me up and told me he'd been reading Hans Christian Anderson short stories, and there was one that would make an amazing ballet. And I said, 'Wow, that's really weird because two days ago we were asked to write a ballet.' We decided the omens were right, and we met with Sadlers Wells and it turned into this big production with over 35 people in it. It's not going to happen until 2011, and this started three years ago. We have written quite a bit of dance music over the years, electronic-based music with an orchestra, but it's sort of different as well, like a Tchaikovsky ballet in that it has a story, like Swan Lake has a story. Unfortunately, we're not Tchaikovsky!"
PETA Europe formally requests that Pet Shop Boys change their name. The note reads, "You have many loyal fans of the Pet Shop Boys here at PETA. We have a request that may at first seem bizarre, but we hope that after considering the following facts, you will understand why we are asking this of you: will you please consider changing your name from the Pet Shop Boys to the Rescue Shelter Boys?... Most dogs and cats sold in pet shops are sourced from profit-hungry breeders who may have bred them in cramped, filthy conditions... Many animals end up with abnormalities that result in both heartbreak and high veterinary bills for the unsuspecting people who buy them... It would encourage your millions of fans to consider giving a home to an abandoned or unwanted animal from an animal shelter." Via their website, Lowe and Tennant respond by saying "they are unable to agree to but nonetheless think raises an issue worth thinking about."