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
Are you one of those people who has songs going round in their head all the time? Do you still get your old songs going round your head?
JILL: Not usually, no. Other people's songs, yes. I listen to a lot of music but I don't listen to us.
I was in a band over ten years ago, I haven't listened to our old stuff in years, but I still get the songs playing in my head all the time. I just wondered if you were the same. Not singing it to myself, but really HEARING it playing. I get stuff set off cos someone says a phrase that's in a lyric.
JILL: I've got 10 James Orr Street now cos you mentioned it. I can hear the whole thing. I get it with other people's, but with ours I'll only get it if the actual song is mentioned.
Maybe it's to do with having a retentive memory. You said the other day that you'd picked up a guitar and couldn't remember how to play any Strawberry Switchblade songs.
JILL: It's really SAD! It's not like they're difficult! There's always one chord that gets me. HOW can I not know it?
Do you see yourselves as having had any influence? Do you hear bands who've incorporated something of Strawberry Switchblade into what they're doing?
A couple of things sound like it to me. Belle And Sebastian, for one.
JILL: Do they?
Yes. I mean, it's a common melodic melancholia, but there's something in the use of harmonies that's really similar.
JILL: I suppose I wouldn't be arrogant enough to think it!
I also clearly remember the first time I heard 'Linger' by The Cranberries, the harmonies she does with herself made me go 'I've heard THAT before'.
JILL: Wow! Really?
Absolutely, I thought it sounded EXACTLY like Strawberry Switchblade but with live musicians. Everything else they did after that was rubbish, but that track is just gorgeous.
JILL: I see it with other bands though. When the Housemartins came out I thought the were SO like the Farmers Boys [Jill's husband Frog's band in the mid 80s].
[Frog is in the room and concurs about Linger]
I'm glad someone else spotted that as well.
FROG: It may be completely accidental, sometimes when you're writing something you don't realise that you're regurgitating part of your past.
JILL: A bit like David Motion and Sibelius! I suspect he actually knew about that!
To use that riff is one thing, to do it with fanfare trumpets like the original means it's deliberate, surely.
JILL: That's where my and Rose's lack of musical education paid off!
How many people have heard Sibelius' 5th?
JILL: It's not something you grew up with in Glasgow, d'you know what I mean?
Do you see any influence of Strawberry Switchblade in anything that's come subsequently?
ROSE: It's happened a few times actually, but I can't remember what. There's that band that quite blatantly called themselves something like Strawberry Switchblade. What was it? Some American band [Switchblade Symphony?] You always see little interviews in goth magazines and stuff like that. And they used to wear polka dot dresses right at the beginning of their career. They said that they weren't influenced by us, they weren't copying Strawberry Switchblade. The polka dot dresses would have given it away, really.
The one that really got me, I remember the first time I heard Linger by the Cranberries, the way she's put the harmonies on herself, it's so Switchblade. The gentle swoony guitar is similar too, but the vocals are spot on. If you see Strawberry Switchblade as part of that Postcard Records thing, there's certainly an influence from that scene. There's a big indie sub-genre of bands that clearly love their Postcard records, the most prominent I'd say is Belle &Sebastian, where there's a delicate and intelligent pop thing going on. It's really noticeable when Belle &Sebastian put the two female voices together.
ROSE: I've heard a couple of Belle &Sebastian things, I got them on a compilation that came with a fanzine. I do want to go and see them, I've heard they're a really good band.
My mum has called a couple of times when she's heard something on the radio saying it sounded like me! There have been a couple of things where I thought, 'that really sounds like me! I don't remember doing that track! What was I on that day?!'.
Is the outside world still interested in Strawberry Switchblade at all?
JILL: I wouldn't have thought so really, no.