Complete Strawberry Switchblade interview by subject
Jill Bryson interviewed 9 June 01
Rose McDowall interviewed 29 Jan 02
Bill Drummond interviewed 26 April 03
David Balfe interviewed 19 May 03
David Motion interviewed 2 Aug 02 & 15 April 03
Robin Millar interviewed 16 Feb 03
Tim Pope interviewed 22 June 06
General opinion, looking back
How long since you last did an interview?
JILL: So long I can't remember. It must be at least fifteen years.
Generally, how does it feel looking back at Strawberry Switchblade?
ROSE: Brilliant. I think it was a totally fantastic exciting period of my life. We were just kids really. I mean, OK, we were twenty-something, but we were really just kids, and it just snowballed out of nothing, just wanting to form a band and have fun. And suddenly we'd got John Peel sessions and we only had eight songs, and we had to finish the eighth for the session cos we had a Kid Jensen session as well. We were getting these gigs, and then we were to do an album and we STILL only had eight songs! It was fun and it was really exciting, to the point that we had no clue what was going on because things went SO fast.
JILL: Yeah. It was a good thing to do. It wasn't planned and it wasn't expected, but it was a good thing to do. It was fun.
Got the credit it that it deserved?
JILL: [considers] erm, yeah.
Was it understood properly?
JILL: No, probably not.
ROSE: Once things started to snowball it went really really quickly, which was also the demise of Strawberry Switchblade, because the more that's going on the less control you have over what you're doing, and the more other people are making decisions for you. Inevitably it ends up being not what you started out for it to be, so I didn't think it was worth continuing because it wasn't fun any more. It was arguing with the record company about everything, and I thought 'this was not what I wanted'.
JILL: Being with a major label and being female, they push you down one particular road. I don't think they quite understood where we were coming from.
What do you mean by 'one particular road'?
JILL: They want to push you to be glamorous and they want you to be poppy and sell your stuff. I don't mind pop music, I wanted it to be poppy, and it WAS the 80s. I'm pleased with it. I think it was more the publicity machine behind the big record company that pushed us, there was a lot of fighting against that.
Would it have lasted longer if you hadn't had that kind of constriction?
JILL: It might have done, but I think it was difficult because me and Rose had quite a strange relationship, we weren't really friends before the band started up. We were acquaintances and hung about in that particular group of people, and people would say why don't you start a band, that'd be great, it'd be a laugh, it'd be funny; do something together, maybe because we were the only two girls in this gang of people and we liked similar sorts of music. So I didn't really get to know her until we got together.
Looking back now at the songs and the work, are you generally happy with it?
JILL: Yes. I loved it at the time and I still love it now. There are parts of it that I think are fantastic. I don't listen to it that much, but at the time I loved it, really really happy with it.
What are your favourites?
JILL: I love Being Cold. The guy who arranged the strings was appalled when I played the melodica over it, absolutely appalled. He was like, 'you can't do this, it's not even in tune', and I was, 'that's the way it is', and I love that, I love the fact there's a melodica over these lush strings, a huge string section. 'No you can't put that on', 'Yes I can, it's my bloody record and I'm going to put it on! It's our record and we'll do what we like'. We'd decided we'd do that; you can't completely erase everything quirky from it. I like that, I like Deep Water and I like Go Away, I think that's good. There's not many that I don't like on it, I was pleased with it. We really had a lot to do with it, if we didn't like something we said, so stuff didn't go on that we didn't like.
That's true of most artists, though - nobody thinks 'let's go and make a bad record', but many still do it. Is there nothing on there you don't like?
JILL: A little bit, with the production and some of the, er, over-enthusiastic programming, I don't really think it's very us, I think sometimes it obscures the songs, but generally I quite like it. You've got to make a decision about some things sometime and generally I think it's OK, I think it stands the test of time. I like Trees And Flowers, I really like Sunday Morning, they have a kind of charm to them that the album doesn't have. And I often listen to the [Radio One] sessions. I quite like listening to them cos they're much much more na´ve, there's something quite nice about it.