Interviews with members of My Bloody Valentine have been thin on the ground to say the least. Unseen since the 1992 Rollercoaster tour, the band haven’t spoken about their activities after those golden days. We know Kevin’s in Primal Scream… but what about the others?
Determined to find out more we tracked down Debbie Googe, bass player with the band. She tells us about life before and after Creation and also tells us about her career as a taxi driver… and yes, before you ask, she has left the band! But fear not, she’s got a new band together.
If we could start back at the beginning if that’s ok, where you in any bands prior to My Bloody Valentine?
I was in a band call ‘Bikini Mutants’ when I lived Somerset, this was in the ‘positive punk’ era we used to play a lot of gigs with ‘The Mob’ (Crass signed proto positive punk band), we played around the west country quite a bit but not really anywhere else.
When did you first meet Kevin, Belinda and Colm?
At different times, I met Colm and Kev first. I met them in April 1985 . They had been living in Berlin and were talking about moving to London, they just happened to ask an ex girlfriend of mine who was living in Berlin at the time if she knew any bass players (at that time they had a keyboard player but no bass player….shameful !!), she gave them my phone number and when they arrived here they gave me a ring and that was it really. I went along to a practice and they never really said you’re in the band they just kept saying ‘we’re practicing again next week if you want’ and then after a while we went in the studio to do the first ep (‘Geek’), so I just sort of assumed I was in by that point. Bilinda joined in 1987, she came for an audition and sang ‘Bargain Store’ by Dolly Parton which was more than enough to win me over.
You were signed to Lazy Records for a while, did The Primitives crossing over into the mainstream affect your relationship with the label?
Obviously with the success The Primitives had they became the main focus of Wayne’s attention, but they were on the label before us anyway and Wayne had been working (with) them for quite a while.
What made you want to sign to Creation after leaving Lazy?
We played a gig in Canterbury where we supported Biff Bang Pow (Alan and Dicks band) and Alan really liked it which I think genuinely surprised him. After the show he asked if we’d like to do something for Creation, of course we weren’t going to say no but Kevin was really eager to stress that it wasn’t going to be like the stuff that we’d done before and Alan was really cool and just said to go ahead and do whatever you like, so we did.
Were there any other Creation artists you particularly liked?
I think we were all fans of The Jesus and Mary Chain at that time and I personally have always had a big soft spot for Momus.
What memories do you have of the ‘Doing It For The Kids’ all-dayer?
The Town and Country Club was absolutely rammed, the atmosphere was brilliant and it was boiling outside and in, I think it was one of the hottest gigs I’ve ever been at.
Did you ever worry about damaging your hearing from the extreme level of noise at your gigs?
PARDON! I probably didn’t worry anywhere near as much as I should of, I’m pretty sure it has had some effect on my hearing and both Kevin and Bilinda have suffered with hearing problems at times.
Kevin obviously had some bizarre recording techniques, what was the strangest moment you can remember in the studio?
They never seemed that strange to me. I do understand that when you hear some of the stories it just sounds crazy but they generally had a good reason which was usually to do with the acoustics of the studio. Kevin is a bit of a perfectionist and he’ll do what it takes to make things as best as they can be given the circumstances and that can sometimes seem a little odd or extreme.
Did you ever question his ideas?
No not really, like I said they just seem to make sense at the time (of course we may have all been suffering from some form of collective delusion!)Isn’t Anything
I expect you get tired of this question but I have to ask it, just how much did ‘Loveless’ cost to record?
13 shillings and sixpence
You signed to Island after Creation, are there any recordings from this period?
There are a couple of covers, one Wire cover and one Louis Armstrong.
There were rumours circulating a few years ago that you were working as a cab driver whilst waiting to record the next MBV album, how true were these rumours?
Yes that was me. I quite liked cab driving, for a while anyway. I worked for out of Soho and mainly picked up from the gay bars and clubs, so it was quite nice just driving gay boys around E’d off their heads, they were (not surprisingly) always really sweet. I did have one weird thing when I’d just started I got a call to pick up from Soho House (private members club) and when I got there it was Miki from Lush, which was kind of embarrassing.
How did your days as part of MBV come to an end?
I left. I hadn’t been happy for a long time and I couldn’t see any way out of the situation so I just told them that I didn’t think my heart was in it anymore. It sounds pretty straight forward now but it took me a long time to come to that decision, I thought about it on and off for ages but in the end I just knew I wasn’t happy so I left. Unfortunately that didn’t make me any happier, and I really questioned it for a long time afterwards but now I know I just needed to do something to change my situation and I don’t regret it.
Do you still keep in touch with the others?
Yeh I do, I see Kevin the most, I see him at gigs mainly and the odd family thing. He usually comes along to Snowpony gigs and I go and see him with the Primals and we still have loads of mutual friends that play so we bump into each other quite a bit. I don’t see Bilinda as much as I’d like but that’s the London disease (can’t cross that damn river). Colm is living in San Francisco so I hardly ever see him but if he’s around or I’m over there we try and catch up.
What do you think of his contribution to Primal Scream’s ‘Exterminator’?
I really it, I’ve always kept an ear out for all the production work he’s done and generally I like it a lot.
Did you see him playing live with the Primal’s last year?
Yeh, I’ve seen him played with the Primals a few times now, actually spent new year watching them!Snowpony
Tell us some more about Snowpony, how long have you been together for?
We started in ‘ 96, I had left the Valentines about three months before and at the time I was going out with Katharine. She was at that time singing with a band called Moonshake. They had a small tour lined up in the states and whilst she was there she left me a tape of some of her songs so I put some bass lines to them, to be honest we never really thought we’d be a band I just did it to do something, we were very wary of that couple / band thing. Anyway she got back off tour and liked what I’d done and then thought let’s play them live so we decided that we would and went off looking for a drummer.
We found our original drummer Max cause he used to be in a band with Jimmy (Shields, Kevin’s brother) and we knew he was bandless at that time so we asked him to join and he did, so within about three months of Kath getting back off tour with Moonshake we were playing live. Then we put out our first single (Easy Way Down) on our own label. then a second single (Chocolate in the Sun) and then we signed to Radioactive and released (sort of) the first album (The Slow-Motion World of Snowpony), then we entered a two year legal nightmare to get released from Radioactive and in July we released the second album ‘Sea Shanties For Spaceship’s (on our own label again).
Tell us about the other members of the band?
At the moment we’re a four piece and we tend to get labeled ‘indie super group’ quite a lot because there’s: KatharineGifford – vocals / samples (ex Stereolab, Moonshake) Kevin Bass – drums (ex Moonsahke, Welfare Heroin, Pig) Debbie Smith – guitar (ex Curve, Echobelly) Me -bass (ex My Bloody Valentine)
How does being in Snowpony compare to MBV?
It’s a different thing altogether, I’m a lot older, I think I take more responsibility than I used to and the music business has change beyond recognition.
Your band seem quite unique, whom would you say are your influences?
We’ve got pretty eclectic taste in music, Kath was classically trained , Kev was Jazz trained, Debs untrained (and untrainable) and I’m an old punk!, So take your pick really.
What are your/the bands plans for the future? When can we see you live?
Like I said the album came out here in July, it should be out in the States on September 11th and then in certain parts of Europe in October, so we need to sort out a few more territories for release and we’ve got loads of gigs coming up starting off with a live soundtrack event at the ICA, we won’t actually be playing any of our songs this is music specially written for three short films.
Interview: August 2001