What’s it really like to go out with a pop star?

While many fans gaze longingly at their idol on stage and fantasise about being The One, those who manage to get their wish will tell you that it’s no picnic.

The more successful a musician becomes, the less you see them as recording and touring commitments leave them several time zones away for the majority of the year.

Yes, but what if their career goes on the wane? Well, you’ll get to spend more time with them but they’ll probably be intolerably miserable and needy. And somehow less attractive.

However, what might seem like a no-win situation can actually be something pretty magical, so The Pop Cop asked the partners of some stars of rock and pop to explain how they make their relationships work.

You don’t call your new album Belle & Sebastian Write About Love if you’re not in a happy place. When I interviewed Stuart Murdoch in 2009, the band’s singer said of his wife, Marisa Privitera: “I can’t imagine being married to any other person because she’s so tolerant of my entrenched ways. I’m a pain in the arse.”

Marisa’s background is in documentary photography, although recently she has been working more in documentary film, including a behind-the-scenes feature on Stuart’s God Help The Girl project called Girl Singer Needed. She also produced and directed the promo video for Maple Leaves single Golden Ether and has been assigned to a BBC documentary that will follow Scottish bands at the SXSW festival in her native United States in March.

MARISA: “Stuart and I met in 2002 at a music festival in Spain. We dated on and off but became a proper couple in 2005 and got married in 2007. The fact that he is a musician would normally turn me off as I’ve always avoided dating guys in bands! It was clear that Stuart wasn’t your typical pop star, though. I’ve always been drawn to extremely creative people who are passionate about their art and super smart. Stuart is all of those things.

“I dread the long tours because when too much time goes by there’s a tendency to stop telling each other about the little silly details of your day – the brilliant sandwich you had, for instance. Luckily, we’re two chatterboxes on the phone so it’s not a problem. Stuart laughs at me because I enjoy reading Twitter or looking them up on YouTube when they’re away – he calls it ‘Marisa Cam’. It just makes them seem not so far away and it’s fun to see the audiences in such distant lands cheer them on.

“If I’m watching Belle & Sebastian in person and it’s the first few minutes of a gig at the start of a tour, my heart is usually in my throat because I’m so nervous for him, which is just silly because he never gets the jitters. By the third song in, I just go back to being a goofy, adoring fan.

“It’s very good that I’m not a full-time musician, although a little musical talent for the ol’ family sing-songs would have been nice! When you’re with someone who writes songs for a living, there has to be a lot of give in the relationship. Being supportive is easy when you truly respect and love what the other person does. Plus, it’s easy to be supportive of Stuart’s career because he sets such a good example supporting me in mine.

“I’m a great listener both to his ideas and aspirations as well as to his problems or frustrations. Accepting him as he is, embracing his job as part of who he is and not asking him to change –  it sounds trite, I know, but this is something that really matters in relationships. Foot massages at the end of long studio days help as well.”

Does the phrase, ‘What happens on tour, stays on tour’ fill you with dread?
“No, I think you have to have complete trust in your relationship if it is going to work, and I wouldn’t ever allow myself to be with the kind of person who might subscribe to that theory. Besides, with a touring party of about 30 people it would be pretty hard to keep anything secret for long!”

Belle And Sebastian – Write About Love

Jon Lawler will probably be more familiar to you as Jon Fratelli, former frontman of both The Fratellis and Codeine Velvet Club. The Glaswegian is now embarking on a solo career, with his debut album due to come out this spring.

Jon got married in September 2006 to Heather Donnelly, a burlesque performer at Club Noir. Even if you’ve never been to a Club Noir night, her stage name might ring a bell – Chelsea Dagger (it was hers first, in case you were wondering).

HEATHER: “I met Jon five years ago through a friend. He told me he was a musician straight away and let me listen to his demos. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, he’s actually quite good!’ To be honest, it wouldn’t matter to me whether Jon was a musician or a plumber, but what I find most appealing about him is how passionate he is about what he does. He eats, sleeps and breathes music – I find that very attractive.

“Believing in a person is the best form of support you can offer. Jon is an amazing songwriter and talented musician and I’m always excited to see him perform or hear what he comes up with next.

“I always feel very proud watching him on stage. I like to stand in among the audience, watching their reaction and listening to their comments. You can’t help but feel slightly annoyed if you hear someone saying negative things but you just have to let it go.

“I have a fear of flying so I hate it when Jon has to fly anywhere. It sounds ridiculous but it’s the only time I get really nervous. However, I’ve spent quite a lot of time on tour with him and I love it. You get to travel with a great bunch of people and visit amazing places – it really is an incredible way to see the world.”

Does the phrase, ‘What happens on tour, stays on tour’ fill you with dread?
“I think you would drive yourself nuts if you were constantly thinking about that phrase! It is difficult being apart from one another but if you don’t trust your partner then there’s really no sense in being together.”

Jon Fratelli – Rhythm Doesn’t Make You A Dancer

Lou Hickey also has ties with Club Noir, having performed for them as a singer before forming Codeine Velvet Club with Jon Fratelli. The break-up of the band saw Lou focus her talents on her solo career and she will be releasing her debut album this year (check our her website for free downloads and more).

She has been going out with Sean Flanagan, bar manager at the HMV Picture House in Edinburgh, for the past seven months.

SEAN: “We met when Lou was performing at the Picture House. I think the fact I work for a music venue – and have similar, random working hours to her – does help. It would be hard dating someone who worked 9-5 when you work in live music.

“Her work takes her on tour and involves late nights but it’s what she loves doing so I’m happy. I know Lou likes the fact that I am ‘normal’, i.e. not a musician.

“I try to be supportive in any way I can. I help carry her gear, listen to mixes or new songs and call after shows to hear how it went. If I’m watching one of her gigs, I just have a few drinks and hope she doesn’t tell the audience too much!

“I wouldn’t say the fact that she is a musician makes her more appealing. At the end of the day it’s her job and she’s the same girl no matter what she does. Also, she has a great ass.”

Does the phrase, ‘What happens on tour, stays on tour’ fill you with dread?
“Not at all. Lou can talk for Scotland, so I know she’ll tell me everything!”

Lou Hickey – Minutes Hours Days

Canadian rock band Billy Talent have sold over two million albums worldwide. At T in the Park last year, lead singer Ben Kowalewicz announced from the stage: “I love Scotland so much I got engaged to a Scottish girl.” So The Pop Cop tracked her down.

As it turns out, Rachelle Turner was actually born in Toronto, where she runs an antique shop, but her family is from Scotland. Her father, Robert Turner, was raised in Hawick and played rugby throughout the Borders in his younger years before going on to study architecture in Edinburgh. Her uncle, Jock Turner, was capped 20 times for Scotland’s rugby team.

RACHELLE: “Ben and I have been friends for 15 years, a couple for six and engaged for almost two. I used to go to their shows to support him and the boys when they first started out as Pezz. I’ll never forget those days, some of the best! I love that he followed his heart and lives his passion.

“We have built a life around his incredible career and I take care of it when he’s not around. I hold down the fort and stay positive through thick and thin.

“When he is on tour I most worry about his safety and frame of mind. The road can be hard on anyone and I just wish I could be there to bring him some comfort and positive reassurance. I have joined them on tour here and there. It’s great as it’s a novelty for me but I think I’d lose interest if it was more than a week. The boys are great to travel with and very respectful of the ladies.

“If I’m watching from the side of the stage, I get nervous looking out at the crowd. I just don’t want anyone to get hurt. I love watching the fans – they know every word and sing with real heart and emotion. It’s incredible.

“My Scottish contingency are very supportive and proud of Ben. He is one of the family. As a first generation Canadian, when asked your background you always refer to your parents’ hometown. I suppose it’s a very Canadian thing to do as our country is so very young. I still have family in Earlston, Melrose and Gala. I miss them more than they know. I’m a Turner through and through.”

Does the phrase, ‘What happens on tour, stays on tour’ fill you with dread?
“Ha-ha, no. When on tour, Ben calls me 15 times a day. Literally.”

Billy Talent – River Below

2 Responses to “What’s it really like to go out with a pop star?”

  1. Greg Says:

    January 21st, 2011 at 13:47

    Aaaahhhh. A story about music and rugby. Gotta love it.

  2. jamie Says:

    January 21st, 2011 at 20:01

    ahh yes family cant beat it. they are great couple and great people.miss them lots.

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