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
The first BBC radio sessions
So how did you get signed?
JILL: You know, it was just weird, the whole thing was SO weird. We'd been playing a few gigs in Glasgow and people obviously thought of it as a weirdo band of its time and place. I think Orange Juice had been signed by that time and it was Jim Kerr. Because he was one of the first Glasgow punks he remembers Rose particularly and I used to go to parties and I'd see Charlie Burchill and Jim Kerr, and they're very sweet people when you meet them, they're very nice. And I don't really like Simple Minds, but they were being interviewed, I think it was on [Radio 1 show with DJ] Kid Jensen, and he asked them what's happening in Glasgow, what other bands are good. And he said 'Strawberry Switchblade, they're good', so Kid Jensen's producer got in touch with us. We had to pick four songs, and there was only the two of us so we had to get a band together. James Kirk from Orange Juice played bass and we had a guy called Shahid Sarwar, who we all called Shahid StarWars, played drums. He was in a band in Glasgow, I can't remember what they were called [The Recognitions]. We borrowed him and James and there was another guy who played a little bit of keyboard when we went down there. Basically it was the four of us and we had to rehearse. And we were all 'it's OK, it's only four songs, we can do it we can do it', and then John Peel's producer got in touch with us and said that he wanted us to do a session.
Had he heard the Kid Jensen session?
JILL: No, he just heard that we were doing a session for Kid Jensen, so would we do one for them.
He hadn't heard you at all?
Isn't that weird?
JILL: Yeah, really weird.
Do you know how many tapes Peel gets, and yet he hires people who he's never heard!
JILL: At that point it was the Peel session you really wanted to get rather than a Jensen session, but we weren't going to turn down either. So we ended up doing two sessions within about two weeks of each other. We had to have eight songs to do it and we only had six so we had to write another two!
[NOTE: Those songs would be Little River and 10 James Orr Street - the other six tracks are on a recording of a gig on 15 June 82].
The Jensen session was a bit more upbeat, the Peel session was a bit quieter. It was just weird, it was wild, absolutely wild. I remember the Jensen session was the first proper recording we did and the producer was Dale Griffin and another guy from Mott The Hoople and I could hardly sit next to them. I could remember them from when I was fourteen, I was hyperventilating, I could hardly play.
ROSE: And we did a John Peel roadshow as well. He used to do roadshows and bands would play. It was just BBC roadshows that DJs would do and there'd be a disco he'd compere or whatever. And he did one in Edinburgh and it was Strawberry Switchblade and Sophisticated Boom Boom, which were another Glasgow all female band at the time. So we did that and we did the John Peel session and then we did the Kid Jensen session. We recorded the Peel one first but Jensen went out first.
[BBC archives confirm the Peel session was recorded 5 Oct 82, Jensen 7 Oct 82]
Did you submit demos or anything?
ROSE: No, we didn't! No, he just phoned my house - not even getting the producer of the show to phone - and said 'Hi, this is John Peel, do you want to do a session?' I said 'do you want us to send a tape?' and he said, 'no, that's OK'. Then David Jensen did it as well just cos John Peel had, they were both trying to be the first one to get us out.
It was mad, everything just happened like that, we weren't asking for anything, we weren't pushing. I was going to people and pushing for gigs and stuff like that but not for John Peel to phone up and say 'do you want to do a session next week? Can you come down?' YES! It was bizarre.