Volume 8 interview
by Andrew Perry.
Pictures accompanying the interview are in the
"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
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
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
"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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
"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
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
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."
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,
"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..."