by Dave Robbins
Rob Dickinson and Brian Futter from Catherine wheel were kind
enough to grant us an interview on their bus during a recent
concert. Rob grabbed his acoustic guitar and played all the way
through our little chat. We started out talking about Black
Metallic changed our lives.
- Speaking of Black Metallic. How do you feel about that
song? I guess you guys have been playing it for quite a
- Ummm. It's three chords. It was just part of a
collection of songs that me and Brian got together in
1990 before the band was actually a band. It was
originally just three--three and a half minutes long. It
just developed as we played it live. It was probably
lucky that we did four--five months of touring before we
actually recorded the album because it would have
sounded a lot more ordinary. We never get bored playing
- [Reading an inscription written in Patricia Wentworth's
"Catherine Wheel] "Thanks for keeping the Post-Smiths
era going in the right direction."
- That's something that got thrown up on stage.
- They probably think that's where you got the name or
something. How's the tour going so far? Right now it's
just you and Wax right?
- It's us and Gwen Mars and Wax. Everywhere seems to be
sold out. The hard work we've put in in America seems to
be paying off. We're getting more people at the gigs,
more recognition for the band.
- I saw you when you came through with Greta, but then a
few months later you came through opening for the
- Actually they opened for us
- No, not in Salt lake City
- Oh right. Of course. We did a whole tour with them, that
was the one time they opened because they were selling
well in Salt Lake, so maybe things were a little
confused. We like the Connells a lot, they're great.
- How do you feel about the new album. How does it compare
to the other two in your opinion?
- It's the nearest we've come to making an album that's
representative of how we are. I continue to listen to it
personally, which is a good sign. I'm a little bit
concerned that people think its the hardest, most
aggressive thing we've done. I think that's got a lot to
do with the way the track listing is. I think it would
be perceived differently in terms of heaviness if it
were structured a little bit differently. When people
see us play live understand that the band is a quite
different thing when it plays live than the last two
records were. That's what we wanted to do with this one
is get some of the intensity of the band as it performs.
So if the record sounds tougher in parts, that's what we
wanted to reflect. When the songs are about certain
frustrations or anger it's a useful to tool to use the
guitars, you know the idea of stripping things down and
letting the guitars is what we've gravitated toward
after doing the layered, textural, experimentation thing
when we started. I think it's a more honest reflection
of how we are now.
- It works really well.
- We're very pleased with it. It seems to be provoking a
lot of opinion as well. We're getting opinions back off
the Internet about people who can't stand it, people who
are huge fans, and from people who think it's the best
thing we've ever done. So I like the way it's polarized
- I read somewhere that you think that there are some
"comical moments" on it.
- Yeah I think this record displays our curious sense of
humor quite well. I mean "Eat My Dust You Insensitive
Fuck" is extremely funny. I think "Fizzy Love" is funny,
I think "Little Muscle" is funny. I think it's good
healthy moments of English humor. To write songs as
direct and in your face, and as easy to understand as
that is new for us, and it comes with an acceptance of
how we are, of what the band can do. It's something we
wouldn't have dared to do two or three years ago.
- Didn't you compare "Eat my Dust you Insensitive Fuck" to
"Lick My Love Pump" in an interview I read? What's the
most common misconception about Catherine Wheel?
- Hmm. that's an interesting question.
- That we're miserable.
- Yeah. Or that we still have some sense of this
introverted shoegazing nonsense surrounding us. I think
that people who haven't seen the band are shocked when
they see the band perform because of the vibrancy we
have. Maybe it's misconceptions about how the band
actually is. Maybe this record was a reaction against
the way the band is perceived, whether in this country
or in England.
- You never really had much in common with the shoegazer
- Well, in hindsight I can see that it was a fair enough
thing to be involved with when we started and initially,
coming from backwater England, it was good to be a part
of anything. It kind of meant that we had just started
up the first rung of the ladder of being taken
seriously. But it became old and boring after a couple
of months and a couple of months later it became
inaccurate. We didn't consciously try to dig ourselves
out of that mire, the band just changed. Each time we do
a tour and come back and make a record the band is
different, we're different. People seem to be very
suspicious when your music goes down different avenues,
but that's what keeps us interested in doing this. I'd
hate to make the mistake of making the same record
twice. I think we're incapable of it.
- How much influence have your producers had on your
- It's difficult to say because the two producers we've
had have become fifth members of the band, arrangement
wise. that's where we like to bounce ideas off a
producer. There's no magic a producer can give us in the
art of recording. It's mostly just playing around with
the structure is all.
- I agree. We've been very lucky to have worked with two
people with totally different production values. I mean
Gil comes with a great pop sensibility and a great pop
head and also with a great sense of dynamics and
arrangement, where with Tim Frieze-Green if the intro
lasts six minutes he's happy. We plan to make another
record with Tim, he's played keyboards on the last two
records and he's someone that we're still hugely
- Wish you Were Here is one of my favorite songs in the
world, your cover. It's really hard to find though. Are
you planning on re-releasing it?
- No, not consciously, not at the moment. It was just a
radio promo. Even we didn't get copies of it, it was
that scarce. We're planning on doing a sort of B-sides
record we've got about forty songs flying around that
haven't been on albums. So it would be nice to get
something out after this record, do something as a
stopgap, a kind of cheap cliche collection of songs.
- Kind of a Pisces Iscariot type thing?
- Yeah, and sell three million copies? [they laugh]. It
cost probably twenty-five dollars to put together.
- How was it singing with Tanya Donnelly on "Judy Staring
at the Sun?"
- It was fun. We actually did our parts separately, I did
my bits in England and then me and Gil flew to fort
Apache in Boston and Tanya did all her parts in about
six hours. Then we took it back to England and pulled it
apart and put it back together. It was kind of a
disjointed way of doing it but it worked out very well.
- You probably hate this question, but what is "Judy
staring at the Sun" about?
- It's about a girl who loses any sense of reality through
narcotics. It's purely fictitious. It's kind of half
about a sort of child star like Shirley Temple but not
about anybody directly. We added that "You'll be a star"
sample at the end that came in quite late and kind of
put it into some sort of context..
- Who was that done by? It wasn't Terry was it?
- No it was the receptionist. You know there's a track on
the album called "Little Muscle" and if you listen at
the end you hear two girls giggling. We were at Ocean
Way studios and I was trying to get this receptionist,
this Chinese girl, to laugh. So we were trying to tickle
her because she had this great laugh and I was walking
around with this DAT machine and a microphone. And the
other girl this Japanese girl said "Go on Sushi, you'll
be a star." then we got her to laugh so we used that.
and then we used this other sample at the back end of
Judy. You'll be a star! You'll be a star!
- Are you coming back?
- We are, but I don't know when. Starting in about
- Is there anything you want to tell the world over the
- Have you found Strange Fruit yet? Our little club. A guy
in New York does it. We're kind of on the verge of
dialogue with the Internet. You asked whether there's
anything we'd like to add.
- We've never come up with a good answer for that. We
usually say eat my dust you insensitive f**k.
A few hours later the band took the stage and played an
unbelievable set. They opened with "God Inside My Head" and took
everyone's breath away. Rob told the crowd "You must be on your
feet!" and then the band launched into "I Want To Touch You."
This kicked off the queen mother of all water fights, this one
with flying plastic bottles, empty and full, soaring over and
into basically everyone's heads. Security had to keep coming out
on stage to push bottles out of the band's way. The water fight,
and a gorgeous huge version of Black Metallic that closed the
set, will make this show a vivid memory for a lot of people for a
Copyright © 1995, Rational Alternative Digital