Voted style icons by Vogue, the Guardian and the NME, it could all have been so different for Sheffield quintet the Long Blondes. They could have been a barbershop quartet.

"Did we say that?" asks bass player Reenie Hollis, incredulously.

"Hmmm. No, we were never going to be a barbershop quartet. We used to make stuff up - but we don't any more. It's easier to tell the truth."

What about the article which said frontwoman Kate Jackson's mum was famous? "Er, we probably made that up too. But if you ever met her mum you'd think she was famous. She's the most glamorous woman you've ever seen - much more glamorous than anyone in the band."

White lies aside, this much is true: The Long Blondes are named in homage to their fantasy peroxide pop group, a heady and busty mix of Jean Harlow, Mae West, Edie Sedgwick, Nico, Nancy Sinatra and Barbara Windsor.

They formed in 2003 after meeting up at university, with four of them falling in love shortly after.

Hollis goes out with spectacled drummer Screech, while Dorian Cox and Emma Chaplin share more than just keyboards and guitars.

Despite countless media appeals for them to be signed, Reenie says they were voted Britain's Best Unsigned Band an "embarrassing"

number of times before finally signing to Rough Trade last spring.

Their debut, Someone To Drive You Home, full of infectious pop songs steeped in kitchen sink drama, came out to reviews that shone as brightly as one of Jackson's lame blousons.

It was produced by former Pulp bassist Steve Mackey, who Reenie says would reward them after a hard day in the studio with nuggets of Brit Pop gossip.

"I can't tell you anything really," she says. "It was all filth. He did give us some good advice though.

"One time we were about to film a video and he said, Be careful what you wear - videos last forever.' I think he was speaking from experience."

Much is made of the band's look, to Reenie's annoyance. But then appearances in Vogue and the shoots in the Guardian style section are probably sending out mixed messages.

"Kate (singer) likes to be looked at," says Hollis matter-of-factly.

"She enjoys the attention. I like bands that are stylish but I think sometimes it's maybe the reason we weren't taken seriously at first.

People thought we were a case of style over content - and obviously we're not."

The band have proved themselves - they supported Franz Ferdinand before they were signed, their single Once and Never Again was never off Radio 1, and later this year they'll start on their second album.

"Despite how it might look, our lives aren't very glamorous," she says. "When we were touring we looked so grim. We'd finish a gig, take off our make-up and get into our pyjamas, and say to each other, If any fans saw us now'"

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