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Music News of the World, September, 1997
Catherine Wheel Keeps On Rollin'
Guitarist Brian Futter says band is finally coming into its own.
Addicted To Noise correspondent Jon Vena reports:
There will never be another "Way Down." At least for guitarist Brian Futter and his band, Catherine Wheel, there won't. Futter says the group has no intention of rewriting their 1995 grungey Modern Rock hit. Not likely.
The band has changed and, with it, so has its sound.
"...The reason for doing this band in the beginning was to make loud, guitar music," said Futter. "The vocals were incidental -- we just wanted to have fun with feedback and guitars. People picked up on us, and it grew from there.
"Touring with bands like the Smashing Pumpkins... you pick up so much on the way," he continued. "To take from a very thin pick of music throughout a band's career would be too boring. I think 'Way Down' was an extreme that we won't go to again."
For Catherine Wheel, music is all about excitement, and changing sounds and concepts from album to album. Critics have pointed the proverbial Pink Floyd finger at the band in the past; once "Way Down" (off Happy Days) and its crashing airplane video hit the scene, the keyword became "grunge." But Futter said on the band's latest release Adam & Eve, they have moved closer to the type of sounds they'd like to make in the future.
On this album, Futter said the band wanted to get closer to the quirky ambient moods of its past ("Black Metallic" and "Crank") while keeping things fresh and unpredictable. When the band sat down to write the poppy "Delicious," Catherine Wheel's latest single, it took the group a long time to come up with anything other than a few good riffs. That, Futter said, could be the reason there seems to be some pop sensibility and thought behind it.
"When we're writing songs, they either come very quickly or they don't," he said. "From the beginning, we had that riff that's in the start of 'Delicious.' We had a quarter of a song -- and it kept rattling in our heads, and we could hear that riff on the radio so easily. It was just something we had to persevere with. That's probably why it's got more of a pop sensibility -- purely, because it was something we had to study longer than other songs. Other songs were a more organic form because they came so quickly. 'Delicious' is slightly considered."
Catherine Wheel have collected many fans since 1991's Ferment; the group is in the midst of a 31-city American tour in support of Adam & Eve, their fifth album.
Futter said he never thought he'd tour America when Catherine Wheel began hitting the local pub and club scene in their hometown of Gt. Yardmouth in England. However, things have changed in seven years, and Futter said touring in America has become a better, more musical ballgame.
"It's peculiar," said Futter, comparing American crowds to the audiences in his native England. "For the first two years of this band's life, we were an English touring band. We toured our way up the ladder, playing bigger and bigger places every time. And suddenly, people were playing 'Black Metallic' in America. And then you start to tour here, and you realize how much time -- if you're going to make any use of it -- you have to spend in America. And the penalty of that was to not play in England. So, basically, we did a short tour with Live in Europe about six months ago in England."
But getting their live act down was not all the band had to contend with.
Futter said mistakes were made on their last album which Catherine Wheel tried to mend with Like Cats And Dogs, last year's B-sides compilation released by the band.
"I felt we made mistakes on Happy Days. The first four songs were four loud rock songs. A person listening to the record for the first time would hear the first four, and they were convinced that was it. There's a lot of great, almost ambient stuff after it that got hidden. That was one mistake we were not going to make this time."
For now, Futter says the band wants to get their sound out in America. In the next month and a half, they'll play 41 shows, hitting such clubs as Boston's Avalon Ballroom and Chicago's Metro. It's a fresh departure from England's festival scene, where the band performed to 80,000 people at 1992's Glastonbury Festival.
And what does the future hold? "Before we wrote this (new) record, we all had it in our minds that Adam & Eve was going to be our last album," Futter said. "But now that we've done it and we're starting to tour, we're already starting to talk about the next one."