Students were “running just as fast as they can” Tuesday to see a long-lost teeny-bopper heroine perform again.

After a decade out of the limelight, Tiffany, of “I Think We’re Alone Now” fame, performed songs for approximately 500 students in Storke Plaza at noon and took on a large line of autograph-thirsty fans for over an hour afterward.

The following excerpts are from an interview with Tiffany following her performance.

Nexus: What made you decide to come back?

Tiffany: I’ve never really not wanted to sing before, and I’ve wanted to ever since I was a little girl. It was just a matter of time. … I wanted to take time and have my son and not be rushed. It was about finding the outlet. I’ve worked on a lot of different things, tried a lot of other styles, but I kind of fluctuated a bit. I didn’t even know I was making an album until we were just rolling with it a little bit.

What happened 12 years ago when you left the music scene?

Music was changing, and as much as I like dancing, I didn’t really want to be a dancer, so I guess I just grew out of it. I noticed that things were changing, and instead of just trying and putting out albums and failing, I said, ‘reassess what you’re doing,’ and I changed management at that time. I had some personal problems with my parents. It was never about the business or the fans or anything; I didn’t get burnt out on that.

What have you been doing in the meantime?

In ’92 I had my son. And in ’93-94 I was just busy being a mom, and then in ’94 I released an album called Dreams Never Die, only for Asia, and then I toured around a little bit. In ’95 I was performing in Vegas on the Dreams Never Die album, and in ’96 I moved to Tennessee, and I was there for ’96-97, and in ’98 I started to really work on myself as a songwriter. I’ve been doing it since ’94. I really started seriously trying to write in ’94, and in ’98 I pretty much moved back to L.A., moved back home – my parents were here – and everyone was pretty old.

What do you think of the ‘old Tiffany’ image from 1988?

It’s so strange because it’s been so many years. I remember a lot, all the traveling and stuff like that, but being the fashion and everything that I did back then, I’m not even the same person.

Do you like that old image?

I think that’s exactly who I was back then, I was pretty low-key. I wasn’t about hair and makeup. I was just jeans and a T-shirt. I don’t do a lot of cheesy cornball kind of stuff – I try not to, but there were times that they put holes in my jeans, for the album, and I wasn’t into that – wearing the pretty hats and all. That just wasn’t me. I think I was more annoyed later on, because they started to elaborate on that image, and I was like, ‘okay, we’re getting a little crazy here.’ I wanted to grow up and do something different with my hair and that was pretty much the first struggle I had in my career.

How do you feel about your current fan base?

It’s very eclectic … it ranges from 40 to 6 years old. I think people can relate to my songs; either they just like the music or it’s a lyric or they like the way I sing. Of course, that’s impressing me, and it’s a goal I have. I didn’t really set out to do an album to impress anyone; I did an album I was happy with, and that I felt comfortable with, and I kind of had to start there.

Were you ever embarrassed about the 1988 Tiffany?

Not of “I Think We’re Alone Now” or “Could’ve Been” or “All This Time” but there were other songs that, to me, I just thought there were better songs out there. It got to the point where we just had to rush an album, and there was a lot of times that I just wasn’t digging those songs. … They were OK, but three or four months later I grew out of them, and they felt awkward to me. I know that a lot of fans like them. … There were just a lot of struggles behind the scenes.

I’ve been told that back in 1988 you were supposed to do a concert at Santa Barbara High School – apparently they won some contest, but you never showed up. The rumor was that you ran away; what really happened?

I remember that only because in 1990 I was doing a radio interview, and I was talking to someone there, and they were really pissed off about it, and I had no clue. When I hung up the phone I was so embarrassed that I researched what had happened and, you know, a lot of times, the artist doesn’t know that people have overbooked them, and that’s exactly what happened – they overbooked me. That came through my management and the record label. So I had no idea about this. I kind of took the fall on that – I never showed because I never knew about it. … I’ve never missed a performance unless I was really sick or because of something stupid like that, being overbooked.