THEY sold millions of records as popular group The Beautiful South.
Now the band – most famous for its 1990 No1 A Little Time – have reformed and are set to hit the road for a major UK tour.
Now called The South, the band features original members Ali Wheeler and Dave Hemingway along with mainstays from the original band: keyboard wizard Damon Butcher and the potent horn section of Gaz Birtles and Tony Robinson.
Speaking to WoW before the start of the tour, singer Ali said they had been planning a comeback since the band split in 2007.
Former frontman and ex-Housemartin Paul Heaton has launched his own solo career but Ali said it had taken the rest of the band a bit longer to get going.
She said: “It was really upsetting when we split.
“They felt it had come to a natural close but I was still champing at the bit. Nobody really talked about it, we split up and went our separate ways.
“Then Dave called me out of the blue and said I’m thinking about putting the band together and continuing the sound and music of The South.
“I’d been sitting on my laurels, looking after the kids, waiting for them to get in to school before I got back into music.
“I’d dabbled with some old uni friends but it was a godsend of a telephone call when it came.”
With band members spread across the country the reformation proved hard to get off the ground and was further delayed when Ali fell pregnant again.
But the nine piece group are now ready for a big push and are setting off on a four-week tour of the UK on February 11.
The tour stops off in Huddersfield on March 7.
Ali said: “We’ve done a few small tours but this is the first large tour.
“We’re just looking forward to getting out there, it’s been unbelievably difficult trying to coordinate nine people as a lot of us need to work to pay the bills.”
One of the band’s last big gigs before the UK tour was a two night stint at Holmfirth’s Picturedrome last December.
And Ali said the double-header had been one of her favourite performances ever.
“I absolutely love Holmfirth!” she gushed.
“It’s such a good environment, it’s an unbelievable village, it’s such a nice place to play.
“We were really overwhelmed that we did two nights there, which we’ve never done before.
“Up north, northerners are fantastic at having a good time.
“When they said they were putting on a second night on the Sunday we were a bit unsure but it almost sold out so we were really chuffed.”
The South are now working on new material and plan to release a track a month online.
A new album is also planned.
Their Small is Beautiful tour arrives at Queen Street venue, Tokyo, on March 7. Tickets: 0844 5771000.