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
Jill says that before it came apart you were writing totally separately and bringing completed songs to each other, that the writing collaboration had stopped.
ROSE: That did start to happen a wee bit but it didn't happen completely cos we did actually still do a couple of songs together. We did do things separately, then Jill wanted to sing on the ones she'd written and it was splitting it into two singers now. Well, there was always two singers cos we always both did harmonies and stuff like that. But we did start to write separately, that's because we were communicating less and less.
What caused that?
ROSE: I don't know what caused it, it just kinda happened. I don't think it was a deliberate thing, I really don't. I can't remember there being any point where one of us decided to do that.
I think actually Jill wanted to sing and she wanted to sing Who Knows What Love Is? and the record company thought if it was going to be released as a single then I should sing it, although she had sung it live. It always reminded me of that band where one guy would start singing and then the other would come in. Was it Tears For Fears?
I don't know; fortunately my Tears for Fears trivia isn't that extensive.
ROSE: I only know of them cos they were on the same management company as us. Anyway, it just got a bit like that.
It has worked well for some people, like the Clash, or The Beatles.
ROSE: We did start to write stuff separately, which is why I've got demos of songs that would've been on the second album. I think it was also because we were really really busy and there was less writing time. Time at home was more precious. We did still write together but we did start fighting a lot then as well though, we did have a lot of petty wee stupid little arguments over who was singing what harmony, really daft things.
Actually, very embarrassingly, we were in the studio once and we had a massive fight about who was going to sing a harmony of one bloody note and it was sooo embarrassing, cos there were tears. It was with this producer, the one who didn't like women [Jolene session, produced by Clive Langer &Colin Fairley] and what do we do? We go in and react like a pair of daft women!
I was going, basically we do what's best for the song and if it's part of the lead line then that's where it goes so I'll sing it. But then Jill's saying 'I want to sing it, I sing the harmony lines and I'll sing these ones,' or 'I'm not singing enough', then it got a bit 'you can't play on the thing cos I'm the lead guitarist'.
Like on Deep Water there's the guitar bit 'di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di di di-do', - that was probably the first song I wrote actually - I wrote that little lead line, and things like that became problems when Jill was 'the lead guitarist' and I shouldn't be doing the lead lines cos that's treading on her territory and it got a bit daft like that. Her boyfriend used to say, 'you're letting Rose do too much,' stuff like that. The reason was that Jill was actually ill, she was agoraphobic and quite often couldn't do the meetings or whatever. There was a legitimate reason why I was doing more, why I was travelling to London while she stayed in Glasgow, because she COULDN'T, so it was a necessity.
But then at the end, well, my ex blamed her ex for mixing things and making her feel insecure. I don't know if it's true. But stuff like that was happening, and we just got to the stage where we started to argue with each other about who was doing what and I didn't want her to sing for the band, basically.
How we do it, it works well, we do harmonies and stuff and it's good. And I don't mind that there's a couple of songs that Jill always sang and I did harmonies and I did the lead line on the guitar in some sessions and we kinda swapped roles around a wee bit, which was really good fun cos then you got to do the other side and I quite enjoyed that, I like little toppy lead lines. But then when we did start writing songs separately it was 'I wrote it so I want to sing it,' and it was splitting down the middle anyway, right at the very end. That was the very very end and we were falling apart then anyway cos there was all this stuff that was...
Rose said they'd sacked you as manager just before they split.
DAVID BALFE: No, I don't remember that. It's possible.
If you remember being told of the split you must've still been around, surely.
DAVID BALFE: Yeah, definitely; I was in Eden studios with them, I can even remember what room it is. They weren't getting on with each other, but then they went along for a long time of organising. Oh yeah, I remember what happened! As I said, I'd had a problem with the tax thing, I was sorting it all out and I said, 'look guys, this is the problem'. I was trying to say I can understand why you want to pack it in but you've got a lot of financial troubles and stuff.
A few weeks earlier I'd listed to them what the situation was, asked the accountant to tell us what the problem is, to tell us how much they're going to owe in tax and how much they'd got, and I sent them all off a statement about it. Then they came in and said this is a big problem. I said I don't know what the taxman could do; with the taxman if you tell him you're fucked, you're broke and you can't pay it then sometimes they take you to court and sometimes they just say 'tell us when you can pay'. I said I don't know which way they're going to react. And it was really weird cos [Rose's husband] Drew, who had been this really sweet nice guy, said 'you're going to pay for it'. I didn't quite understand and said, 'I'm not paying for it, I told you guys it was a good thing to put money aside', and he goes, 'No! YOU'RE gonna pay for it!', basically saying, 'you're gonna pay for it or I'm gonna have ya'. I was absolutely shocked and didn't know what to make of it.
At that point relationships really started to break down because I couldn't deal with it. 'I'm not paying for this, you knew it was owed, you knew I'd put it aside and when we discussed it you decided you'd rather risk using it'. At that point either they sacked me or I said I'm not working with Drew or something. I can't remember ever being sacked, though it's possible. At that point things got very very tough because their view was 'why do we owe this money?'. But they knew why they owed this money! But it was 'we owe this money and Dave Balfe should somehow take responsibility for it'. So it all fell apart at that point.
I dunno, it's hard to remember the details, but I remember that meeting now. It was really weird cos I'd got on so well with Drew all the time and then I met him again quite a few years later and he was incredibly friendly to me and really nice. I said, 'what happened that day when you got really weird and heavy with me?', and he couldn't even remember it.
I don't think I've seen Rose since that meeting. I still had to speak to them for ages cos I had the flats situation. I think that meeting might be why it finally ended. I was trying to remember and work it out in my head what happened, I knew it petered out somewhere around that time, but maybe that meeting was why I said, 'well if that's the way you're going to be I'm not dealing with this any more, it's between you and the accountants' or whatever.