Interviews

This section is perhaps the real gem of the site. Here are recent in-depth interviews with the band and the main people they worked with.

Having done some work for Julian Cope's website, I knew that Cope's bassist Frog was married to Jill Bryson, and that I could get in touch. On the third time of meeting her I managed not to be a gabbling starstruck twat and instead behave like a rational human being. I asked if she'd do an interview about Strawberry Switchblade, thinking I'd publish it at somewhere like Tangents.

We met up to do the interview and got through four hours of tape! So much had been said and raised that it was only fair to give Rose a chance to put her side, so Jill gave me Rose's contact details. Rose talked for even longer than Jill did!

With such a vast amount of material, plus tapes of unreleased tracks and some great unpublished photos, I realised it was going to be more than an interview, and the scale of the project ballooned into plans for this website.

Bear in mind that the interviewees have the benefit of hindsight - they talk of things knowing where they were to lead. For both of the band members, particularly Jill, the pressure of the corporate publicity machine and the acrimonious split-up have soured the memory of the better times.

This is a big part of why the site includes an archive of press clippings; interviews at the time can better capture what it was like and how they felt as they did it.

And while the major differences between them caused such a swift and unpleasant end to the band, there are still so many striking similarities. They are both very definite in their ideas, very strong, candid, friendly, compassionate and gentle, very sure of who they are. They are both big talkers, easily engaged yet always very clear, thought-out and direct. They are both clearly driven to really think and feel, and to keep turning it into creative expression. Both still clearly have an artist's heart - Jill is considered and gentle, contrasting with Rose's pagan dynamism.

Perhaps most moving is the way they both feel about the core activity of the band, writing the songs together. For all the later pressure, they both had an air of excitement, tingle and satisfaction when they talked about the way they used to write together.


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

There are several ways to read these interviews:

Composite interview

A good comprehensive starting point. Taking parts from all six interviews, this gives a detailed overview of the band's story in the words of all those involved.

By interviewee

The full verbatim transcripts of the interviews, exactly as they happened.

By subject

The full transcripts as above, but edited together so it covers one subject or aspect at a time. The narrative flow isn't as good as in the by-interviewee ones, but it does clearly demonstrate how wildly their perspectives can differ and memories of simple facts utterly disagree (whose idea was 'Jolene', then?). But in this, as with all the site, it is not my job to establish a single truth, just to give those involved the space to tell their story.

  1. General opinion, looking back
  2. Glasgow Punks: Rose and Jill before Strawberry Switchblade
  3. Start to write music
  4. Strawberry Switchblade early days
  5. Writing the songs
  6. Development: exit the rhythm section, getting a manager
  7. The first BBC radio sessions
  8. Getting signed
  9. 10 James Orr Street and Rose's childhood
  10. Fan mail and stalkers
  11. Recording the album: the Robin Millar sessions
  12. Recording the album: the Robin Millar sessions; continued
  13. Recording the album
  14. Recording the album, ii
  15. Recording the album, iii
  16. Recording the album, iv
  17. Since Yesterday : The Big Hit
  18. Press and media overload
  19. Jill's agoraphobia
  20. 12 inch remixes
  21. Videos and Jolene
  22. Extreme promotions
  23. The partnership starts to come apart
  24. Problems With Management and Money
  25. Disintegration
  26. What if?
  27. Rose, magic, paganism, Nazism and Genesis P-Orridge
  28. Rose, magic, paganism, Nazism and Genesis P-Orridge; continued
  29. Boyd Rice and Nazism
  30. Japanese releases: Ecstasy, I Can Feel and the CD
  31. Afterwards
  32. Legacy

Oh, and ending a sentence with several dots shows a trailing off in the speech, NOT editing.