Record Mirror

27 August 1983

Rose McDowall and Jill Bryson strum guitars and warble sweetly as Strawberry Switchblade. They've just released their debut single 'Trees And Flowers', a wispily reflective acoustic ballad. Perhaps they can be forgiven for this, if needs be, because they're girls who like frocks, frills, ribbons, and cats and admit to being musical novices.

Before launching themselves vinyl-wards, they made something of a name for themselves designing polka-dot and lace creations in Glasgow. What made them decide to branch out into the recording world?

Jill: 'We'd been involved with other people who were in groups, and when your social life's mostly involved in going to see friends in groups, they give you encouragement. They said why don't you try, so we did. And here we are.'

Rose: 'We just did it for the fun. I just love singing - I wanted to be in a group so I could sing'.

So they're genuine beginners?

Jill: 'I bought a guitar and played the very easiest chords where you just had to move one finger and I wrote songs around that. Even now, I can practice guitar and not learn a single thing.'

Rose: 'The guitar's the last thing I thought I'd want to play, I thought it was so hard. But when I bought a 12-string I could strum anything on that and it sounded brilliant.'

Jill: 'I think Roddy Frame's guitar playing is great. It'd be great to be able to accompany yourself like that'.

Rose: 'You just have to watch his fingers. My god, maybe I'll manage to be like that when I'm 50!'

Why do they think Scottish bands are going back to basics?

Rose: 'They're copying us!'.

Jill: 'I suppose Orange Juice sparked off the semi-acoustic thing'

Rose: 'We couldn't sound like them 'cos we can't play like that.'

Jill: 'We just had to do what we could… nobody else had the brassneck to do it, so we had a really unique sound for a wee while! It's different for us 'cos whereas a lot of boys listen to records and play something like that, we never do.'

Is all this strumming of simple chords just one of many interests?

Rose: We spend all our time doing this now, but we want to, it's what we love doing most.'

Jill: 'Of course, we still make clothes, but that's part of it. We always have done, so it'd be daft to stop. It's good fun, sitting at your sewing machine 'til your eyes go red, 'specially if you're doing things with millions of frills, it just takes forever.'

How's the Switchblade sound going to develop?

Jill: 'I don't think we'll sound much like Trees And Flowers in the future.'

Rose: 'I think we want to do more with guitars rather than oboes and big productions. Guitars are closer to what we're like. At least we know something about guitars and we think we know what sound we want now. It's a bit frustrating when you can't play any instrument really well. So we'll have to be patient…'