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Catherine Wheel were a four-piece alternative rock band from Great Yarmouth, England. The band was active from 1990 to 2000, experiencing fluctuating levels of commercial success, and embarking on many lengthy tours.Read More...
Catherine Wheel formed in 1990, comprising singer/guitarist Rob Dickinson, guitarist Brian Futter, bassist Dave Hawes, and drummer Neil Sims. Hawes had previously played in a Joy Division-influenced band called Eternal. They took their moniker from the firework known as the Catherine wheel, which in turn had taken its name from the medieval torture device of the same name. The band was often included in the shoegazing scene, characterized by bands that made extensive use of guitar feedback and droning washes of noise, as well as their continuous interaction with extensive amounts of effects pedals on the stage floor.
The band performed a Peel session in early 1991 while still unsigned; two 12" vinyl EPs were released on the Norwich based Wilde Club Records, named after the regular weekly Wilde Club gigs run by Barry Newman at Norwich Arts Centre. They signed to major-label Fontana Records after being courted by both Creation Records and the Brian Eno-run label Opal Records. The band's debut album, 1991/92's Ferment, made an immediate impression on the music press and introduced Catherine Wheel's biggest U.S. hit, "Black Metallic," as well as moderate hit "I Want To Touch You". The album features re-recorded versions of some of the Wilde Club-issued EPs.
The more aggressive Chrome followed in 1993, produced by Gil Norton. With this album, the band began to shed its original shoegazing tag, while still making skillful use of atmospherics, such as on the song "Fripp." In a 2007 interview, Rob Dickinson said that members of Death Cab for Cutie and Interpol told him that without this album, their bands "wouldn't exist."
1995's Happy Days saw the band delving further into metallic hard rock, which alienated a portion of their fanbase, even as it increased their exposure in the United States during the post-grunge era. The single "Waydown," and especially its plane-crash themed video, received heavy play in the U.S. A more sedate strain of rock known as britpop was taking over in the UK, causing C.W. to continue to have greater success abroad than at home.
The B-sides and outtakes collection, Like Cats and Dogs, came out the following year, revealing a quieter, more contemplative side of the band, spanning the previous five years. This carried over into Adam and Eve in 1997, wherein the band scaled back the sonic force of their sound from its Happy Days levels, with clean playing on some songs that featured extensive use of keyboards and acoustic guitars. Alternately, songs like "Satellite" and "Here Comes the Fat Controller" were lush and orchestral in scope.
In 2000, Catherine Wheel re-emerged with a new record label, a new bassist (Ben Ellis); a modified name (The Catherine Wheel); and a new album, Wishville. After mixed reviews, record company turmoil and lacklustre sales, the band went on a still-continuing hiatus.
Top SongsTotal plays on Last.fm over the last 6 months
- LyricsI've never seen you when you're smiling
It really gets under my skin
You say it's easy when it's faster
I still can't guess what you're after
It's the color of your skin
- LyricsI always thought the way you talked was neat
And I dreamed that when you speak, you speak to me
But you're always out of reach and I can't control my speech
And I'm scared that when we meet, I'll want to touch you
I want to touch you
- LyricsLove my superstitious games
Running circles round my brain
When I'm left smiling
I love to steal this living steam
My head in someone's dream
- LyricsSafe on the shore, I've been sleeping
Faced by the thoughts I've been keeping
To break down the door of my life
I need more texture
You need to give me more texture, texture, texture
- LyricsI'm only waiting, 'cause she won't care
Shivers, shakes and shallow
Hide the taste that's always there
I can say, she makes no sense
My dreams are not drawn on much
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