90s chart-toppers hope to hit old Hamster heights

Brother-sister duo Ricardo Autobahn and Jenny McLaren are the band Spray. The pair come from Chipping in Ribble Valley.
Brother-sister duo Ricardo Autobahn and Jenny McLaren are the band Spray. The pair come from Chipping in Ribble Valley.

A battle with Cliff Richard and Westlife for Christmas number one in 1999 may have been the highlight of their career but a brother-sister duo is now hoping for another chart-topping hit.

Ribble Valley band Spray, comprised of Ricardo Autobahn and Jenny McLaren, reached number four in the UK singles chart selling more than one million records with its song Cognoscenti vs Intelligentsia and after 10 years out of the studio the band have come back with a new release.

Despite spending three weeks at the top of the chart, Cliff Richard’s ‘Millennium Prayer’ was knocked off the top spot by Westlife’s ‘I have a Dream’ and ‘Seasons in the Sun’ single for Christmas number one leaving Jenny and Ricardo’s former band The Cuban Boys in fourth spot.

Their song was re-released in Canada in July, 2000 as ‘Hamsterdance’ and became one the first examples of internet memes.

The Chipping pair’s fame shot even higher in the early 2000s when they helped Glen Campbell to a number one hit in the US with ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ as well as working with rapper Daz Sampson to create his song ‘Teenage Life’ which came 19th in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest and eighth in the UK chart.

“It was a great time,” said Ricardo, whose real name is John. “We just lost out on the Christmas number one, but the song was a big success. Unfortunately it didn’t take off in Europe which would have made it really big. Then the work with Glen Campbell went great and we had a trip to Athens after helping Daz with ‘Teenage Life’. We’ve both being doing bits and pieces since then but there’s no-one making great records at the moment so it was the perfect time for a comeback.”

'Hamsterdance' a song re-released in July 2000 from the original Cognoscenti vs Intelligentsia performed by The Cuban Boys. The band included Chipping pair Ricardo Autobahn and Jenny McLaren.

'Hamsterdance' a song re-released in July 2000 from the original Cognoscenti vs Intelligentsia performed by The Cuban Boys. The band included Chipping pair Ricardo Autobahn and Jenny McLaren.

During the band’s break, keyboard player Ricardo, 37, has been working on TV themes with his music included on ‘Worst Plastic Surgery Disasters’ and ‘The Secret Of Quantum Physics’. Jenny, 32, has had a successful sideline career in vocalising club/dance records but now heads a department at John Lewis in Liverpool.

And with most of the band’s hits being recorded in the family home’s recording studio in the village, Ricardo is hoping their new album ‘Enforced Fun’, which was released late last month, can go on to hit ‘Hamsterdance’ heights.

“The album is very 80s-tinged synth-pop, with catchy choruses,” Ricardo said. “It’s not exactly avant-garde but we’re hoping people will like it as it’s similar to our old stuff.”

The album is available now on all music downloads sites.

Brother-sister duo Ricardo Autobahn and Jenny McLaren are the band Spray. The pair come from Chipping in Ribble Valley.

Brother-sister duo Ricardo Autobahn and Jenny McLaren are the band Spray. The pair come from Chipping in Ribble Valley.

'Hamsterdance' a song re-released in July 2000 from the original Cognoscenti vs Intelligentsia performed by The Cuban Boys. The band included Chipping pair Ricardo Autobahn and Jenny McLaren.

'Hamsterdance' a song re-released in July 2000 from the original Cognoscenti vs Intelligentsia performed by The Cuban Boys. The band included Chipping pair Ricardo Autobahn and Jenny McLaren.