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Bones' interview

Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1993 20:44:28 CST
From: Bones (

Well, it's finally here. It took a long time and alot of work but here it is. Note that I was experiencing technical difficulties throughout our talk (bad phone line, etc.) so I have tried to be as accurate and possible.

Special thanks to Toni Halliday for the interview and for putting up with the probs.

Thanks also to Glove and Skrawl of Sanctuary for helping spread the word as to fan participation. And thanks to those fans who asked questions.

It was really tough to get this done, but I hope everyone enjoys it.

DISCLAIMER: PLease note that I was experiencing technical difficulties throughout the talk ... bad phone lines, bad recorders, so I tried to stay as true as possible to what I got. And as accurate as possible as well.

It's been a pleasure and I hope everyone enjoys it. Thanks again for your participation and questions!


* Honors Algebra Quiz--Word Problem Solving.  Show all Work.                 *
* Name:   Bones, Inner Sanctum of Sanctuary, U38956#UICVM.UIC.EDU            *
* In the song "ringfinger" by Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor says: "If I was  *
* twice the man I could be, I'd still be half the man you need."             *
* Assuming Trent is 1 man, how much man would his former girlfriend need?    *
* (10 pts, SHOW ALL WORK)                     Answer ======>__________       *
So, without further adieu ...

Toni and I started out by talking about the performance in Chicago Curve did on the 4th of December. It was very powerful and featured songs like "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus", "Unreadable Communication", "Superblaster", "Turkey Crossing" and "Missing Link" from their latest album Cuckoo to older favorites such as "Clipped", "I Speak Your Every Word", "Ten Little Girls", "No Escape From Heaven", "Coast is Clear" and the ever-popular "Fait Accompli." With the performance still seared into my mind, I just had to ask:

Bones: Is there a certain methodology you employ to perform your music? Are you trying for a certain effect at all?
Toni: If there's any, like one method, it's whether it happens or not. There's no, like, we can't [get the audience excited and then] give up doing certain music saying, "Oh, God. I can't do this. I can not turn it on anymore. I really can't and I don't want to." You know, ... we don't want to be like that, on that kind of level where--I know it's bad for the audience--you turn them on every night but it's difficult to do that. There's not really like a real method. We love Chicago. We have a really, like, affinity to the place as a city. And it's though every night club we come into has a very European basis. Like Toronto, actually, and like the other places we go to in America, and Montreal is so European as well. I mean we've just come from Vancouver and that was very European and--I don't know, we just have an affinity to that city and there's always a good vibe and all ... the kids are really up for it and they just go ... berzerk! They just go mad and you know, you really see [the fun]. I mean, you really, really do. Everyone seems [to have fun]. Now I think that ... we've just done this three-day journey from Vancouver to Chicago to get to that gig. We were all very very, kind of, you know, tired and quite depressed and then we get to Chicago and it's such a great great place to be it's like ... civilization! (laughs). Y'know, it all became quite [great] to just see and [to be in] civilization basically after three days of driving through nowhere.
Bones: Is that why you commented at the show that you think of Chicago as a second home?
Toni: Yes ... I mean, I absolutely adore Chicago ... I mean, this isn't for the whole band--this is for me. I just said that for me. 'Cuz I've spent quite alot of time there and I do absolutely adore Chicago.
Bones: It's a great place, isn't it?
Toni: Yeah, it's a great city. Yeah.

Bones: I imagine you like performing live over studio work and the band seems to have a much different sound live to the point of being very energetic (Toni agrees). Any tour plans for the future in places such as Sweden and Norway?
Toni: Yeah. We've already done a Scandinavian tour around 2 years ago but we go out again at the end of, um, January to do our European tour ... we're due there in a couple of weeks. Then we're going to Scandinavia to Sweden and [then we go to] France and we'll go to Belgium and we'll go to Norway. Then we'll come back straight through Germany. Then we do Germany ... 6-8 dates in Germany then when we come out of Germany, we'll do a couple in France ... and, we always [try to do gigs] in Spain because then, um, we do extremely well there, but the thing is that they can't set up the gigs how we want them to be set up. And so, we just think, well, this is what the band's about, this is what we do ... But, y'know, we'd like to go into Spain and Portugal. It's actually one of my favorite places in Europe.
Bones: Any plans to go to New Zealand, Australia, that area?
Toni: Yes, what we're going to try and do is we're going to go back into America in March, the beginning of March, no, darn, the end of March, sorry, beginning of April with our second American tour. We'll be out there for a couple of months I think and then we go from there straight on to Japan and if we get to Japan, I would like to go to Australia as well.

Bones: Some fans have noted that many of the members appear to be quite young.
Toni: Yeah, we're really young. Debbie's (guitarist) 25, Alex Mitchel, the other guitar player, he's 24. The drummer's (Monti) as old as me and the drummer's like 30, 31. But we've all got a young attitude (giggle). That's all is really. We've got quite a lot of energy and a very young attitude and that's all that's needed.

Bones: Yeah, I've noticed that as well. Apparently, you've been doing work with none other than the Aphex Twin, Drum Club, The Future Sound of London, and Recoil. Are these merely interludes, or do you hope to continue working with them on a long-term basis?
Toni: No. They just, y'know, [are] things that happen at the moment. I mean the thing that happened with The Future Sound of London is quite different because we approached him because he loved our records and we said y'know, "See if you can be inspired by this" and they took it on immediately and we didn't realise this because we said exactly the right thing because we didn't go to him and say, "Can you make it dancy now?" like everyone and he very rarely remixes anybody's stuff. And they just have to 'cuz they get record company people coming to them all the time saying, "Can you make this one dancy?" and they go, "No, we can't. We're not really interested in that." But we just [came] up and [said], "Can you do something with this, are you inspired?" (laugh). And so they took it on and they say, "Yeah, but what you've got to do is, you've got to do something for us." So, I ended up doing a track for them, for their album. It's like a reciprocal kind of thing for their new album when it comes out. I had to perform, to sing on it. So, that's how we did that. We tend to never ever work with remixes. We only ever work with other artists and the reason we approached the Aphex Twin is because [Curve had a track and] we just thought it was a brilliant, brilliant record ... and we just went on and that was it ... and then when we came back, we said, "This is crazy. Let's send him a track to see if he's inspired by it." And we sent it to him and he just did it. And we didn't even realise that he was doing it ... and he sent me this thingy back and it was like, what, it was just absolutely wild! So we always go on that kind of level ... None of them are long term. There anything long term with Curve. We would always be interested in going off with people who are really brilliant, but it still always has to come from what we're doing. That's our last thing.

Bones: Any plans to do soundtrack work at all?
Toni: Yeah, well, we get approached all the time to do works in films but we don't want to do that--we don't want to end up in like "Pet Sematary 5!" I mean, with loads of other bands, right, I mean what we'd rather do is we'd rather do [background music] ... we're more interested in doing "landscape" kind of music, we think, instead of doing singles that end up being on albums. You know, like pop records. Do you know what I mean? Much more interested in doing the actual film music.

Bones: Apparently you've been listening to "industrial"-type music such as Ministry's "The Land of Rape and Honey" and Nine Inch Nails. (Agrees). But you also listen to much older gothic-type music, such as Siouxsie's "The Scream."
Toni: "The Scream is one of my favorite albums of all time."
Bones: What aspects of these types of music would you say influence you the most?
Toni: Well, I don't think ... it really pisses me [off] because I get really sick of people saying, "Oh, goth rockers" and all this kind of stuff because I really don't understand it, that's all. Y'know, just because I listen to Siouxsie Sioux records, and I've got black hair and makeup, fine. It's unbelievable, it really is, it's so short-sighted and one-dimensional. But no human being can be THAT one-dimensional, I'm sorry, they just can't. But, the influences that fascinate me, if you really want to go back to my influences, then we'd have to start talking about Leonard Cohen and then we'd have have to start talking about my mother's music which is The Stones and The Beatles, and Joan Baez, y'know, loads of folk music, Katey Segal (giggle). Those are like my first. My main influences came from that kind of singing and it later developed into the Velvet Underground, which I'm sure came from my mother as well and I really really got into Nico and Edie Sedgewick ... and then I started [getting into] Patti Smith. And then I turned my mum onto Patti Smith and it all just went, y'know, in this kind of way and it was newer--and then Siouxsie was the next logical extension, really ... but then it used to go back to Chrissie Hynde or Deborah Harry, obviously, or all these other people. So, there's alot of things--there's never one thing ... and then Dean is completely different again on top of that! I mean, Dean started out with Little Richard and, y'know, his mum, watching his mum dance around the front room ... (laughs), and then dance all day and all night and she used to listen to ... Chuck Berry and all that kind of thing--that's what Dean remembers. Really strong memories. I mean, really old rock n' roll and then when he decided to develop his own tastes, which was an extension from that, he went straight into [rhythm and blues], into the funkadelic part of him, y'know, James Brown. Then he got into like weird, like jazz scenes. The interests were fascinating.Yeah, exactly, y'know, the interests were enormous. And so when someone just hones it down to like, oh, Siouxsie Sioux, y'know, blah blah blah blah blah, it just pisses me 'cuz it's just like, you're missing the point. The point is that someone could have come ... from like Joan Baez and Leonard Cohen all the way over to this (giggles). Because that's what the human spectrum is capable of, you know, sucking in. But they try to hone it down into one thing, and it can never be like that! If people, to me, if people know music, your whole thing is to have no limits, no limitations at all about music ... you can say, "Well I hate Country and Western" but you can bet your fucking bottom dollar that [one day] you're gonna hear a Country Western song that you absolutely adore. So, like to me, like people, who have really serious, trained, spotted kinds of attitudes toward music shouldn't be involved in it. I mean, it's about being unlimited and expansive and using your mind and your feelings and, you know, your ears, and your eyes, and being aware of all your exterior possibilities. The fact that you should stay on top of and be aware of that ... When people stop and say, "Well, no, I'm not gonna be aware of that either even if something good comes up"--that's just wrong. That's really really wrong and we don't have that attitude towards music because ... This is not Curve ... I don't come from that area.
Bones: Yeah, it's a pity, isn't it?
Toni: It is! It is! It's a pity because people are not taking in what they should take in.
Bones: Yeah, they tend to be influenced by what other people think instead of what THEY think.
Toni: Yes, they're all very ... clown-like and shit ... all your attributes are there for you and no one can take that away from you. That's just something that belongs to you. But it's a pity. It really is.

Bones: Does Curve have a philosophy about the makeup of their albums vs. EPs? Some fans have noted that the singles come across as very very strong while the albums tend to be less so.
Toni: Well, y'know, we're still learning, that's what we do. I mean, the thing about it is that people have their different places about what goes on and [the] EPs are strong, yeah, I believe in that, but we're still learning and we still find it very very difficult to make albums that ... y'know, with the way that Americans consider each record, we could carry on just making EPs and EPs--we could really make an EP every 3 months, a really really strong EP, I mean not an American copy ... in America they just want albums and that's how they do it and we are signed to a record label to make albums, and we're still learning. We know how to make EPs very well, you're right, we do, but when it comes to sustaining an album's 10 tracks. But I think that anyone who's into Curve will be into the development of Curve. They'll be there right from the beginning to see how it progresses and how it goes along and that's how I was when I was, well, I still am actually (laughs) when I say "albums" like a fan, but i still am a fan, that's the problem with me recently. So, but, I get sensitive about that sometimes, others weaken--it doesn't make me responsive it makes me feel like I've evolved. The progression is something that I find as intrinsic and important to my life as someone who speaks to me and sometimes they're going to speak to me from a weak position. And I can understand that because I, like the fans ... I mean to take 2 steps back to take one forward ... y'know, it's true. And people seem to think that musicians are ... above all that and they're no real human beings ... like they don't have other things going on in their lives and all they do is think and breathe in acts of music and yes, they do ... I mean sometimes i can't get to sleep at night and, y'know, Dean can't get to sleep at night thinking about music, y'know, it just keeps going on in his head the whole time and that does happen, but not ALL the time. And someday something will come up along and you'll say, "Oh, fuck off I just want to go on ... If you think that all I want to do is stand here and talk to you, y'know, you've gotta be kidding, and, y'know, there's more to my life than that." But, it's just really not like that and I think that I like to be involved in the progression of the past and I like to realise that there will be mistakes and I'd like to be involved in them 'cuz I find them interesting because it lets me [know] that people are actually making it and I think that if people started getting loads and loads of people fall down and make mistakes that's very very corrosive ... [But] it's alright to fuck up. It's not the end of the world, and we personally feel that our albums are getting better and better and that's all we care about. That's what we feel about things. In the end it's a personal achievement [if] this record is a success before it became commercial, you know that. We would never release a record we weren't happy with. Ever. It doesn't hap- pen, and we never use leftovers. Never. And tracks that didn't make it to the albums, we just like slip them onto B-sides? No. That doesn't happen. If it didn't make it to the album, it doesn't make it ever.

Bones: An example of your musical creativity can be found on _Cuckoo_ where you sample--is that your dog panting?
Toni: Yeah (giggle) it's Turkey, my dog.
Bones: What possessed you to do that and will this kind of innovation continue? I mean, dogs pant at 140 bpm and throughout this song ...
Toni: Well, she pants at 140 bpm.
Bones: What's your dog's name again?
Toni: Turkey.
Bones: OH! That's why it's called "Turkey Crossing!"
Toni: No, it's not called "Turkey Crossing" because of that. It's a fluke really ... at the time. We called it "Turkey" ... without the "Crossing" ... because it had this panting on it and then I was asleep one night on the couch about 6 o'clock at night and on BBC2 usually during the week about 6 o'clock they show old films ... and there happened to be this scene with Cary Grant and Kim Novak and--I can't remember what film it was. It's just [an old one]. Is it "North by Northwest?" And [Kim] says, "I'll meet you at Turkey Crossing," and [Cary] says, "What?" and she goes, "I'll meet you at Turkey Crossing." She says it 3 times and I was just waking up and it was just so funny. And I just thought, "That's it." It was just waiting 'cuz I didn't know what to call the track.
Bones (I laugh): It's kind of like a revelation!
Toni: Yeah! Things like that always become evident at the time. There was some reason why I couldn't [figure out a name for the track] at the time. There was some reason why ...

Bones: Apparently, there were 17 tracks on Cuckoo. Some appeared on the Blackerthreetracker and Blackerthreetrackertwo CDs, and the Superblaster CD. But there's still a track missing, is there?
Toni: There were 17-20 tracks. There's more than one missing ... they weren't good enough ... they didn't make the grade--they were hacked off at the knees!
Bones: Will they be released in the future at all?
Toni: No, we don't do that, like I said, we never use leftovers, we'd rather do the right work. Y'know, Dean and I write what's needed.

Bones: What is your opinion of your earlier work in State of Play (Toni and Dean's former band) and how do you liken it to the work you do now in Curve?
Toni: In a way, I liken it to the fact that we learned how to engineer our records and that our EPs, we learned how to engineer them ... and that's what I'm saying. It's been 10 years that Dean and I have been working together and we've been going through this serious process of elimination to find out who we really are or where we'd really be or what the music should sound like when Dean and I get together--what could we really sound like? And what is going on in our lives? How do we transfer the feelings? It's taken us 10 years to get to this point without actually realising what it is, and we were both frightened 'cuz Dean and I, y'know, we're just as shy as sheep (giggle). Dean is a phenomenal musician and to learn how to play bass again when we started Curve because he could play ... I man, he's just absolutely amazing, like James Brown, a bass player, and with Curve, it wasn't like ... he had to like start again. And we both did to a certain degree. I mean, we had gotten so low ... to get to the pinnacle of like as low as you can get leaving virtue on the fucking street and it just forces you into being truthful about what you really want. I'm not thinking like, well, like what I really want out of life is the respect of my peers. And I thought we'd both been gainful for quite a long time wanting respect from people that we had admired and then we thought, y'know, "Well, fuck that,well, I wanted my own respect. I wanted to respect myself and then suddenly it just clicked in and there you go and, y'know, suddenly we were both in the same place at the same time thinking the same thing. It took us 10 years to do that.
Bones: Yeah, it's like, almost perfect timing.
Toni: Well, it was perfect timing for us too. We needed that. We really did need that. For Dean and I, it became really important and that's what happened. I mean, we finally got to make music that we wanted to make that made us--I mean we wanted personal success rather than just the respect of your peers. It's like we have to work against it so that ... we can't make things that are mediocre that we don't like--we don't want to do that. We want to have something that is really really worth all the work we put into it. Because we really work hard and we put alot of motivation behind it as you can see.

Bones: Some people believe that Curve come about as angry, cold, and unforgiving. How do you feel about this? Is that what you would like to portray?
Toni: No, um ... I think that we're ... we're hated. That's what I think ... I don't think it's cold I think it's nice that everytime someone gets difficult it just means they know exactly what they want and people don't like it they just really don't like it. (giggle) Like I was saying, we worked so hard to get to this point that we do actually, really now know what we want. We see it, we know what it looks like, we know the shape of it, we know what it is but ... it's something we recognize in each other. And that's really hard--I don't think it's cold. I think it's just people are frightened.
Bones: I think it's honest and truthful.
Toni: Yeah, I think it's the truth, I think we tell the truth and the people are frightened by it. I think they think it's cold because it's not like some onstage happiness saying (cooing), "Baby, I love you ... and on and on and it's great (I'm laughing by now) and let's hold hands and so on." Well, it's not the usual way of getting things done. How the world is now is like this-- you make your own mind up ... we don't want to say, well, "This is what's happening..." it means you have to do it. We just present it (giggles some more). And then people make the love lines up, y'know, yes you can consider that as cold, but I personally don't. I see it as very, like, warm. Giving. And, um, slightly educational!

Bones: What do you think is the most influential part of your music?
Toni: The most influential part of our music? (thinks a bit) I think that the most influential part is the funky kind of essence behind it. It can't be determined, it always is prepared to stand up and be counted ... [the general public's] train of thought is, they fear that if you use technology and not organics, then you can't believe in philosophy then ... you go nuts! Excuse me! (Said sarcastically). How long do you set your life for? Do you have a word processor? All right, let's get into this. As long as you are prepared to stand up and be counted. And I think that's what the most influential part of Curve is. Even if you have to stay with it, and why not?

Bones: OK, tacky question time. In NME a year ago, you were voted one of the "Babes of the Year." How do you feel about such an honour?
Toni: I don't think anyone took it serious. They did it as a joke anyway. It's always a joke, it always is every year. Sometimes that bores them ... y'know, it's just the same wretched joke!
Bones: Apparently, you come from a fairly large family ... with 2 other sisters. Do you think your music has affected anyone in any way?
Toni: No. It's hard to say (thinks). I think my personality has involved my family moreso than my music because that's what families do. They do know each other all their lives ... no, I think my personality has a more dramatic effect on my younger sister, my older sister, my mum, and all ...
Bones: Any aspirations to play something in a band or for a band to add to your already well-established songwriting skills? Or production work for other bands?
Toni: No. I think I'd consider ... There's loads of little things I'd really like to do but I wouldn't like to do individual [work] ... it would be difficult ... I would have to have a sabbatical from Curve to move on to the next thing and I wouldn't want to leave [Curve].

At this point, I asked Toni if she were offered something like Lollapalooza, if her band would take it. Toni said, "It depends. It really would depend." When asked if she was looking for that kind of stadium exposure, she replied, "No, I like sweaty, smelly, clubs." She went on to say that Curve had already been offered stadium gigs three times before and that they turned them all down. They don't want to leave the club circuit because they love to see the fans, to see "the whites of their eyes," and not be in a position of having to play stadiums and then realise that they like clubs better. To cite an example, Toni mentioned how INXS had been playing clubs for so long and now, with the current tour with Catherine Wheel, they want to return to their roots in the clubs. She doesn't want Curve to reach that point.

And what of the technical aspect of Curve? Rumours abound, Toni verified that, yes it was true that Doppelgänger was recorded on a 16-track analog machine ... and so was Cuckoo. And all the EPs. "So you prefer analog instead?"
"Definitely ... I like the tape noise."

Last changed Sunday 13·May·2001 [go to top]