I had one simple request - to see the Cocteau Twins. What I didn't realize
is that we would be embarking on an adventure. It took a lot of finesse,
talking with the right security guards, and finding the road manager. This
lead to an invite to the after show party and to other shows. Every
journey starts with one step, and the adventure began in Salt Lake City.
Salt Lake has tons of Twins fans, and they were psyched for the concert.
The acoustics sucked, and people kept pushing us to get closer to the band.
But Liz came out and started to sing, and her voice had a mesmerizing
effect on the audience. The best thing about that show was that Liz came
out into the crowd and danced next to us while Luna played their set.
After road-tripping with the Twins (we also saw them in Portland and
Vegas), I think the Portland show was definitely the best. The Civic
Auditorium had the best acoustics, and you could see the light show that
accompanied the music. Plus their energy level was high, and that show was
great. The band was in top form that night, and they were really pleased
about their performance. The only bad thing about the Portland show was
this stupid middle-aged woman who either was the promoter or part of an
organization that brought the Twins there. She made stupid comments and
told Robin that she was late for the show because she had a horticulture
class. Eyes rolled!
The Vegas show was disorganized. The Twins were taping the Tonight Show
with Jay Leno, and their flight was late in arriving from L.A. At the
venue, no one knew exactly when the Twins would be arriving - some
organizers said that the bus didn't show up to pick them up, other people
said that they just barely called from the plane. On top of their rushed
travels to get to the Vegas show, they were really bummed out by Kurt
Cobain's death and dedicated an extra encore to him. It did make the
evening end on a more somber note. There was no after show party that
night because the venue didn't have the facilities so all of the Twins fans
gathered around the tour buses waiting for Liz to come out.
What was it like road-tripping with the Twins? Well, it was interesting at
the least. Travel tip 1: Fly to the concert area if you can. Avoid the
one-night roadtrip because it'll kill you. The audiences that attended
were diverse - you saw older people who had no idea who the Twins are;
preppie, clean cut kids; to gothic-dressed fans. The Twins wanted to meet
the locals in each area they toured, and they were really nice. Rolling
Rock was available at the after show parties along with Evian and Pepsi.
Most of the band members that smoked, smoked Marlboros. And the band
itself, well, they were really nice and signed a lot of stuff for us
The band on tour consisted of Liz Fraser, Robin Guthrie, Simon Raymonde
(bass), Mitsuo Tate (guitar), Ben Blakeman (guitar), Benny DiMassa
(percussion), and Dave "Polf" Palfreeman (percussion). They didn't have
major attitudes, and they all were really nice when they dealt with their
fans. They all had separate opinions about previous albums, their former
record company, the current tour, and life in general.
Because the Twins were 4AD's biggest band, it was surprising when they
switched to the Fontana label. Benny told us that "they left 4AD for very
personal reasons." We didn't push the issue further, but we heard that
they left 4AD because they didn't want to be known as a "4AD Band."
Robin had very strong opinions about several of their previous albums.
When asked to sign my Moon and the Melodies cd, he exclaimed, "This is
shit." (This "shit" cd happens to be one of my favorites.) Robin also
told us that "This Mortal Coil (TMC) is rubbish. Throw it into the Great
Salt Lake! TMC is too depressing. They put in all these violins and stuff
that ruins it." Benny heard the conversation and said, "TMC IS Robin and
Simon." Robin interrupts and says, "This is why Benny got the job - he's a
good brown-noser." Robin also talked about another project that he
produced called Peace Together. "I hate Peter Gabriel, so I cut his part
out of the song. If I would brag, my song is the best song on the album."
I dislike Peter Gabriel so I laughed when Robin said this.
When asked how they go into a recording session, Simon said, "We don't make
demos." Instead, they go into the recording studio cold and create their
albums that way. They feel most comfortable and relaxed when there are no
The camaraderie between the band members was apparent. They all laughed
and joked with each other after the show or between songs on stage. Polf
described the pre-concert ritual: "We're very close. Everybody hugs each
other before the show."
What will Polf do after the tour? "I'm gonna take a long holiday and spend
some time with my cat. Then Cabaret Voltaire may get back together to do
more stuff." About the tour, Polf, a member of Cabaret Voltaire who is
just with them for this tour, described this tour, the European tour and
the Twins' guitars: "Moose is touring with us in Europe. Seefeel toured
on the first leg." Robin added, "Moose is great. Their guitarist made all
of our guitars. They look like Strats but if you look very carefully,
you'll see that they're not. Moose's guitarist doesn't only make guitars,
he's also a very good guitar player. Moose is a very loose band."
About the rumored semi-autobiographical book by Liz, supposedly titled
"Service and The Tree," which would contain insight into her lyrics and
about life in general, Liz said, "What book? It'll be more like a
pamphlet. It'll read 'I don't know.'" About her lyrics, she said, "I make
up my own words and steal things from languages I don't understand." So
don't tax your brains trying to figure out what she really is singing - she
changes her lyrics even during the concert.
Travel tip 2: Robin says, "So you're going to Spain? I have one thing to
say to you - THIRD WORLD COUNTRY. It's not too bad, just watch out for the
About the use of live percussion over the drum machine: Benny said, "It
took lots of drum work to get the sound right and in sync." And whether he
would be staying with the Twins, well..."There could be some collaborative
work with live drums after the tour, but we can't really say anything right
About their fans and other places to tour: Polf said, "We have a big
following in the States and in Japan. Mitsuo writes articles about the
band, and we're big there. In the UK, it's small. We can't afford to go
to Australia because we'd lose £30,000, and would have to pay money to tour
Robin and Liz are separated and are not planning to reconcile. One eager
female fan in Portland flirted outrageously with Robin and kissed him when
she left. Immediately following this, Robin leaned over and told Jeff,
"Being single is great." Jeff replied, "I kinda like it myself." Robin
replied, "You don't understand, in the States, I'm single." But for all
you pining for the love of Liz, Jeff has first dibs.
Liz always arrived late to the after show party. Her assistant said that
she usually called her children after a concert. Upon her appearance, she
was humble and really appreciated our praise for the concert. On stage,
she told us she drank hot water and juice.
After hearing the screams of fans during the concert for Song to the Siren,
I asked Liz why she didn't sing it. She replied, "It reminds me of a
really difficult time in my life, and I don't like to sing it."
About Kurt Cobain's suicide, Benny said, "It's a great loss, and we will
The Twins were great! All of the band members were really nice and pretty
down to earth people. Simon took off in Vegas to go gambling with some
friends. And Benny invited us to follow them to more cities. I enjoyed
every minute of our adventure even though I got no sleep, missed a lot of
school, and got sick on our last leg. Travel tip 3: Be prepared! If you
meet the Twins, you never know where you could end up on their tour. If I
had the money and the time, I would have followed them from Portland to
California, to Vegas, to Phoenix, and eastward. The primo trip would have
been to see them in Hawaii. One last bonus tip: Watch out for cops!