Life's a Picnic: Interview with My Bloody Valentine
It's been reported that MBV leader Kevin Shields spent three years and a Our relationship with Creation was mostly through label manager Dick Green. ( Singer/guitarist) Bilinda Butcher's voice in particular had a really. Kevin Shields on the haircuts of the mid-'80s indie scene. “It was quite a spooky place,” remembers Bilinda Butcher. “The studio was in a. The line-up consisted of Kevin Shields and Bilinda Butcher on guitar and vocals; Debbie Googe on bass, and Colm O'Ciosoig behind the.
You went there in the morning, listened to music and danced all day. What type of area did you live in? We were living in an area called Golden Valley, it had one pub and a couple of houses and it was all very conservative. A friend of mine dyed his hair green one day. When my mother saw him she forced him to wash it with Ajax before his mum would see it.
Probably pretty embarrassing for you? She was a bit special. To dye your hair was very uncommon at the time, it was something you would perhaps do if you lived in the city centre of Nottingham or Derby. In Golden Valley, I was considered a weirdo. My clothes were different. For a long time, I only wore clothes from the s that I bought in a shop called Penny Feathers in Nottingham.
My Bloody Valentine: barbed wire and aliens in the garden
My friend Dian — the guy who dyed his hair — had a portable gramophone that we used to bring to the forest where we listened to records. My mother thought I was up in the clouds. I never watched the news or read the papers; it was like I lived in another era. Everybody was into punk and I was living in the 20s and 30s. How old were you? Then I went to London to study and to go to gigs.
I saw Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy and loads of other Goth bands. I went to dance classes too but had to quit because I got sick. I had a chronic urinary infection. It was a nightmare to get in and out of the tricot. The doctors seemed to think it was something young girls get when they move away from home and start to have sex.
But the irony was that with these effects, you could actually play harder and it sounded really different. If you played softer, the sound changed dramatically. I would work with a tremolo to get this other dynamic and suddenly had a language I could kind of express myself with, which I never really had before.
I found a voice, and I could do it well. After a while, I was playing in such a way that people thought it was some weird effect or studio manipulation. We were going for a sound that drew you in. When people make records, they add; they try to clarify everything with cue and compression and stuff. Everything was quite full on.
We were kind of amused that people would think we were singing softly, but in fact we were singing in a very controlled way. It was so hard to get away from that. We were singing as loud as we could to sing the way we wanted to. Neither of us could sing in a shouty sort of a way. We only got our publishing deal around Christmas of because we had done our licensing deal with Warner Bros. We never got paid a penny for any records we sold in America.
We wanted to be in charge of everything. They were very indie at the time. They all had really cool haircuts and they were very cute. It sounds very innocent but the lyrics were very dirty. So obviously, that was the first song I learned how to play on the guitar. Had you ever been in a band before? I had a band with some girlfriends for fun. We did covers of Marc Bolan and classics like Louie, Louie. I sang and played the tambourine.
My Bloody Valentine: barbed wire and aliens in the garden - Telegraph
So at my first My Bloody Valentine gig two weeks later, I was playing the tambourine and was carrying Toby. I tried to learn the guitar the best I could, but above all I was always on time for rehearsals. There was actually a guy who joined the band at the same time as me, but he was never on time and when he eventually arrived, he was always stoned so he got the sack. What about the songwriting process? It was always Kevin who wrote all the music. Kevin had such clear vision of what he wanted to do.
You played the guitar just like Kevin. Did you have any influence over what you were going to play? Kevin always wanted to uphold the myth about us being a band. In interviews, he never said that he was the one making all the music. But time has flown since then.
I think it was obvious that Kevin did everything. Colm had good ideas but since we were always in a hurry when we made records, Kevin asked us not to play anything. Did the rest of you ever get angry about that? It was just the way it was. We heard that it sounded fantastic. It would have been a waste for him to instruct me how to play a part, for me to practice to get it right and then record it several times to make it perfect. He could just as well record it himself in an instant. We got to listen to the songs and learn them afterwards.
When we played live we were a completely different band from on the records. Naturally it sounded completely different, since we were four personalities who all offered something else musically.
But if we had been another band and Kevin had been a different person, I would have thought it would have been fun to go into the studio and try. Did you socialise with other bands at the time? We met a lot of bands on tour that we became friends with.
Mercury Rev used to come over and visit us in the studio. And J Mascis and his band. He and Kevin are still good friends. How did you write your lyrics? A lot of the lyrics are plain nonsense. I just used whatever was in my head for the moment. He gave me the melodies in quite some detail. He never sang any words on the cassettes I got but I tried to make his sounds into words.
It always became my own thing in the end though. And that was the only power I had in the band. Were you in the studio when he was recording? Oh yeah, we were all hanging out in the studio. Kevin wanted us there to hear our opinions — he was no dictator. And I heard all the songs take shape since we lived together. Were there songs that he wanted to record that no one else liked? How did you work with your voice? None of us could ever do that, except perhaps Colm.
I used to go into the studio and sing along to the vocal melody that Kevin had recorded, just to relax. Kevin and the sound engineer would start to listen without me knowing. Laughs Was there a particular feeling you were trying to get across with your voice? I was often very tired when it came to add the vocals, we always worked really weird hours and the vocals often came in the morning after a long night.
Sometimes that influenced my sound, more dreamy and sleepy. And the music affected the way I sang a lot. Did you look up to any other singers in particular? I used to like Francoise Hardy a lot, and other singers who were in the same range as me — pop and folk singers. One influence was probably Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth. If I were to name someone, it would probably be her. I like the way she sang, more varied than myself.
Kevin used to tune his guitar differently and use lots of effects. Was it hard to keep track of everything when you played live? Kevin had an unreal amount of effect pedals — he was the pedal man. Every song had a different tuning of the guitar so we had to change guitars after every song.
Shields spills all about My Bloody Valentine split | Hotpress
How many guitars did you have? Live, I think we had seven or eight each, sometimes more. Kevin is known for playing on a red Fender Jaguar.
Did you have a preference? I also had a Fender Jaguar that I used most of the time, in white. But my favourite was a really beautiful green Charvel that I still keep in my bedroom. I thought Charvel was for heavy metal poodle rockers? He gave it to me, but it was close to being broken a couple of times when we were fighting. There was a feeling that we did something different.
Kevin played his guitar in a different way but not only different tuning and the effects. He used the tremolo arm all the time.
It started as experimenting but ended with most songs played like that. The sense of us doing something new was really strong. With Loveless, it took a much longer time and no one enjoyed it.
All four of us were losing it in our own ways. I think back and wonder if it was accumulated weariness and stress. We had no money. Quite frankly we were driving each other insane.