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Volume 8 interview

by Andrew Perry.

Pictures accompanying the interview are in the see/hear section.

"I realized I liked our new record when the CDs had just come through," says Dean Garcia of the second Curve LP, 'Cuckoo'. "I hadn't listened to it for ages and I just lay down between the two speakers with a massive joint and listened to the whole thing. I liked it a lot, it's a really swirling record."

Sometimes, it's nice to know that a pop star can still get the same simple pleasures as you out of music, even their own.
Dean has been through a lot in his career, most of it alongside Toni Halliday. Their story is well charted. In the early '80s, Dean toured the world as the Eurythmics' bassist, while Toni had her own band, The Uncles. Then they formed State Of Play together, but after a couple of years, that all went sour due to contractual wrangles. Dean left the country, Toni made a solo LP, but at the end of the '80s, they reunited and, as Curve, began to enjoy top-bracket cult success.

Getting to where Curve are today - an enviable position - would still be enough to put most people off music for life, but the pair of them remain obsessed with recorded sound. They listen to a massive cross-section of stuff, Toni explains.

"People think I'm mad because I still go and buy records," she adds, "but I love going into a shop and ripping the cellofane off a CD."
So, it seems worthwhile to ask what their favourite record are. Not for Curve a simple Top Ten list, though, but a full breakdown of their life in music...

Parental guidance (the '60s)

Dean: "Your parents' music always influences you. It definitely did us. My Mum was always into rock 'n' roll. She liked the crap singers like Johnny Mathis, but she also like Little Richard, Bo Diddley and the Rolling Stones... She'd play them and get excited and dance around the room. I remember her jiving around to one of those classic songs like 'Tutti Frutti' with my step-Dad. And with my Nan as well, going completely mad.
"It was great. It made everyone feel really happy. You wouldn't get that from watching TV, it could transform your mood totally. It was my first step into music, and it seemed such an exciting, brilliant thing, with that rebellious abandonment to it - especially after what they said they had to listen to before, all these big-band-type things."
Toni: " With my Mum it was The Kinks. She thought Ray Davies was the most handsome human being. (To Dean) What was that record my Mum used to like? (Dean looks puzzled) The biker song. No, not 'Leader Of The Pack', it was a man singing. (Dean shrugs) You know it really well. You'll go, Oh yeah! An old band from the '60s, the heavy metal, biker's anthem? That's it 'Born to be wild' by Steppenwolf..."

From Shorts to flares (early '70s)

Dean: "Steppenwolf immediately make me think of T Rex and the 'Electric Warrior' LP. The Beatles broke up and it was really tragic, but then T Rex happened. That was a major move forward for me, really inspiring. Perfect music for a perfect age! It was late school time. I was about 16 when it was all happening."
Toni: "There was Bowie doing 'Ziggy Stardust' and ' Hunky Dory' and Roxy Music. I remember the first time I saw them on Top of the Pops. Everybody wanted to be in Roxy Music. Male or female. I did!"
Dean: " I was interested in Todd Rundgren, too, when he was doing 'A Wizard, A True Star' - this little guy standing there with an eight-track thing, and a funny old drumkit, a guitar and a bass, and singing. I was intrigued by the insularity of just one man doing everything. I like that, and I've always been like that myself, but there's no way either of us could've made 'Cuckoo' without each other. I know I'd go up my own arse, time and again.But the core of it - the atmosphere and the set-up - I'm fascinated by doing all that on my own, like Todd."
Toni: " And then there was Led Zepp... My favourite is ' When the Levee Breaks'. The drums and everything are amazing and then he comes in with that voice. It's so painfully drawn-out, like, bllluuurrrgh! It's like when you see those films where you know what somebody's going to do next, and you start cringing and going, Oh no, don't do it, that's so intensely embarrassing.
"I'm actually in Hammer Of the Gods. I sang on a Robert Plant LP. He rang me up, because an Uncles record got one lay on the radio and he heard it! He thought there was four of us singing, 'cause there were loads of weird Indian harmonies. So he rang up the record company, got my phone number and said, Hello, this is Robert Plant! I was like ... (awestruck face)! Anyway, somehow I managed to have this 20-minute conversation with him, God knows what about, and I ended up going to do some singing for him."
Dean: "And that was it? He's nice, though, isn't he?"
Toni: "He gave me some of the best advice a young lassie could get! He did. He was really sweet. He took me out to this little cafe in the local tumbledown Welsh village, which served perfect tea and scones and cream..."
Dean: "Bone china? Nice!"
Toni: "... and just started off-loading this wealth of information he'd been storing up through his career on what the business is really about. He really helped me to get it together, I've been far more direct after that!"

School's out (late '70s)

Toni: "We haven't even mentioned our music yet, Dean. Teen music! The Undertones were a massive influence on me, and The Stranglers and Blondie... (long pause) The Valves! 999! Hahahahaha! Fuckin' hell, and how could I forget The Jam?! They were fantastic!"
Dean: "I only picked up on The Clash and the Pistols and all them later... While Toni was into all that, I was getting seriously into Motown, the Detroit sound and James Brown, and going the other way, more into the ska and reggae area, too. I also worked in a jazz shop for ages, and got bludgeoned with American '50s and '60s jazz, which I thought would drive me completely insane - which it did in the end. But it got me into Chet Baker, and the street-y, rebellious, degenerate side to it.
"Then Captain Beefheart came in. He's really influenced us - his spiky guitars. He made discordant, challenging music with really weird guitar patterns. I was even into 'Tour Mask Replica'. To sit through all four sides of that you've got to be up for it really. Alex (Mitchell, Curve guitarist)) swears by that record. He sticks it on quite a lot, too..."
Toni: "I did like some of those really tacky '70s disco records as well, like the Sex-O-Lettes. You know, those Mecca Ballroom ones. There'd be four guys dancing in suits on Top of the Pops..."
Dean: "And Pan's People!"
Toni: "Legs & Co!"
Dean: "Yeah, but they were later... (thinks) See? We're the perfect balance! She says Legs & Co, I say Pan's People!"

Post Punk (early '80s)

Toni: "It was a funny period then. I missed out on Cocteau Twins, the Bunnymen and the first U2 records, though I got into them later. The New Romantics went whoosh! Right over my head! I didn't understand that at all...Then it seemed to get all shitty, really studio. When I joined State Of Play, Propaganda were happening. 'Dr Mabuse' was a great record, but there were all those really hi-tech records, and everyone was just running to Trevor Horn and Steve Lipson to have their stuff tarted up. So we just listened to Kate Bush, and Leonard Cohen... and Melanie, most probably!"
Toni: "I played the first Public Image album till you couldn't play it anymore. And 'Broken English' by Marianne Faithfull, which is one my favourite albums ever. I listened to that quite a lot while we were making 'Cuckoo'. I couldn't believe it, it doesn't sound dated at all, it still sounds amazing. It was well advanced for its time. The bassline off the title track is 'Thriller' ten years before the fact. And there was Patti Smith, Siouxsie..."
Dean: "She was definitely on of Toni's!"
Toni: "Yeah, I did used to put the Banshees records on my stereo at ten and try and sing over the top, trying to train my voice to go louder. I did the same to Pauline Murray on those Penetration records, and Chrissie Hynde for that first Pretenders LP. I didn't take it off till it was completely scratched to death...
"That first Banshees album... It's terrible, because I now know, being on the other side of it and having reached the grand old age of our second album, what it's like when people still say, Oh, I really love 'Ten Little Girls'! You just go, Ffffff! We've written better songs than that! The Banshees went on to make loads of great records like 'Join Hands', 'Kaleidoscope', 'Juju', but you listen to 'The Scream' and there's just nothing like it! I love all their really dark stuff. The catacombs compel me! Hahaha!"

In a right state ('83-'85)

Toni: "We were making the State Of Play album, so we just lost ourselves for about a year and a half. It was a very bleak period, it was all-consuming. I can't remember anything that came out around then. We spent every single minute of the day together making this record. Even New Year's Eve. Really intense."

Bottoming out '85-'87

Dean: "These were still murky times. I was in the process of getting very skint and further in debt. It was all closing in, so I just left and went to Spain with the wife and kids and made Plasticene films. For the first time in my life, music became quite secondary for me. I just realised all the debauchery and greed and carelessness of it. I was sickened to realise how we'd got sucked in and spat out the other end. So in Spain, we didn't listen to anything.
"When I came back from there, Toni was making her solo album and was into the Mary Chain... She showed me that video with all the guns and shooting up and crucifixions. I'd been doing these low-budget films, and there they were doing it too, but really powerful stuff... It was just anti everything that I'd also come to despise in the mid-'80s. It reaffirmed my belief. It was fuck-off music, really, wasn't it? It just took the bottle to do it."
Toni: "I heard 'Never Understand' and I thought, What the fuck is that? That's genius! That was it, we were listening to things again. I wasn't a Smiths fan from the beginning, either, I'd heard 'Hand in glove' and everything, but I saw them around the time of 'Meat is Murder' live on The Tube. Then I thought, This is definitely the best band I've ever seen. I think 'Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me' off 'Strangeways Here We Come' has to be one of the most spine-tingling and emotive songs ever written. The Cocteau Twins came in then, too, on 'Victorialand'. I'd already heard 'Song To The Siren' and 'Pearly Dewdrops' Drop', but I started investigating further."
Dean: "They were making an anti-statement to the Trevor Horn hi-tech extravaganza. They were quite polished, but they just took what they needed from technology, which is what I think we do."

Upward Curve

Dean: "The most effective music is always just after school up to the age of about 21 to 22. Then there's a real influx of music, and you really respond to it. Then you filter it from then on through your 20s. Nowadays, for me, it still happens occasionally - like when The Stone Roses and the Mondays and the Valentines were all happening..." Toni: "'Wrote For Luck' by the Mondays reminded me of 'When The Levee Breaks'. It's really lazy. Everything sounded brilliant, but it's got that 'I don't even have to try, this is what I do' thing about it. Planty can afford to really drawl and slur his way through it, and Shaun's just lolling in exactly the same way."
Dean: "I would never have got into the Valentines if I hadn't gone round to Toni's place when I came back and said, Go on then, play some stuff, I wanna hear it. Having been completely detached, suddenly to hear the Mary Chain and the Valentines..."

Current pet sounds

Toni: "Oh, Pantera! And this band called Marilyn Manson, who've just signed to Trent Reznor's label in America... I love Nine Inch Nails, but I got into them through Flood, so I don't feel like I found their music. I love them and Ministry, which is what I've been listening to currently. 'Land Of Rape And Honey' is a brilliant record."
Dean: "One of the most inspiring records during the making of 'Cuckoo' was the Aphex Twin thing, 'Surfing On Sine Waves'. I've been listening to all that sort of thing - The Orb, Orbital, Future Sound Of London - all the dubby ambient stuff. It's all so outer-worldly, you don't know what it's going to sound like, or what it's going to turn into... it's all spliffy, conversation-inducing music... We got quite heavily involved with Moogs and that Kraftwerk thing. All the sounds on the last LP were zoomed-out guitars with this one, a lot of the guitars are going into these weird processors like Moogs and stuff, and being filtered through thee in a more traditional guitar approach - all just recorded in my front room.
"We got Flood to bring in loads of really weird old boxes with those little catch pins on them, which you just punch into the grid in a certain way and it comes up with this really odd sound."
Toni: "I was listening to The Faces quite a lot, and I was getting into it because it was just like really slinky R&B, like you could hear them all in the room playing together, and the drummer dropping his sticks and going, Oooops!
"And Swell as well, really organic stuff. Their album is amazing, like the bloke's talking to you in a darkened room with one lamp in it. It's like he's talking in your head."
"It's the reason I like Leonard Cohen, too. I think he sees things quite similar to me. He said this thing which I think is totally what we are - he said, I'm optimistically paranoid. He's humurous and light-hearted on lots of levels, but when it actually comes to reality, he just shows it as he sees it, and it is shit, but that doesn't affect the way he is as a person. His tongue is firmly in his cheek."
Dean: "There's a definite element of humour about 'Suzanne'. He's got to be taking the piss, really..."

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