In 1990 Slowdive signed to Creation and were dubbed ‘the My Bloody Valentine Creation can afford’. Producing three albums for the label before disbanding whilst Oasis-fever swept the nation. Since 1995 Rachel has been a member of Mojave 3 who have been signed to 4AD since they started.
We caught up with Rachel whilst she’s recording the new Mojave 3 album due for release Spring 2003.
Tell us about how you first started playing in bands.
My father got me interested in playing the guitar around the age of seven. I studied classical guitar til about the age of 14 and also piano. I decided to start a band with a female friend at school aged 15. The school youth wing had musical equipment there, so one Sunday I went along with my friend Alison and got Neil to set up all this gear. He was the youth leader’s prefect. The following week, Alison decided she didn’t want to be in a band anymore, I went along to the youth club anyway, and Neil had set everything up. We just started playing together from then on.
How did you first meet Neil?
We went to the same primary and secondary schools. My best friend’s mother taught us both classical guitar. We used to pass each other between lessons at her house. We shared some classes together in secondary school but never particularly spoke. It wasn’t til the Sunday youth club that anything happened.
What were your main influences in those early days?
The Primitives, MBV, JAMC, House of Love, Velvet Underground to name but a few!
How did you meet the other guys in Slowdive?
We advertised for a female guitarist and Christian was the only one that responded. He said he would wear a dress if necessary. I can’t remember now how Nick came to be in the band. He may have been a friend of our first drummer, Adrian.
Do you have any particular memories of when you first signed to Creation?
Not really. I remember McGee telling me that JD & Coke was the best drink around. And he gave me my first E at a Primal Scream gig at the Hammersmith Palais.
What other acts on the label did you like?
I loved Swervedriver to death. And of course, Ride and MBV.
You received loads of press attention immediately after releasing the first single, was this hard to handle?
Not really. Memories of it was that it was just a real high, but we were waiting after each record for the backlash to begin. Hence the title of the third EP – ‘Holding Our Breath’ (waiting for the backlash!)
Are there any particular gigs that standout from that era?
Kilburn National supporting Ride . The biggest gig we had done at that point. Three thousand people. I was very scared.
The press started a backlash when grunge came along and killed off Souvlaki and Pygmalion in the UK before they were even released. Did this come as a bit of a shock at the time?
Not at all! The press creates the hype. The press kills the hype. It was frustrating, but not the be all and end all, we were still having an amazing time stateside and in the rest of Europe, so the UK is really small fry.
By the time you released Pygmalion, Creation must have changed beyond recognition, were you happy to leave or would you have liked Mojave 3 to have been on the label?
Happy to leave. It was inevitable and we felt unsupported by Creation towards the end. The label itself was pretty disfunctional by that point.
Copies of Pygmalion now exchange hands for stupid money (£100+ on vinyl and £30+ on CD). Does it surprise you given the minimal success the album received when released?
Yes. It’s quite cool though 🙂
How did Slowdive come to an end?
We were dumped by Creation and Neil & I decided to continue on our own. The interband relationships weren’t that great by that point anyway. Nick had already pretty much left the band and was married and settled. Both he and Christian showed little interest in the recording of Pygmalion, Simon had left during this time also, partly because he thought he was being replaced by a drum machine, and partly because he’d done a stupid thing at one of our last shows. Neil & I had stuck together throughout all the shit, and decided to continue without the others.
Do you still stay in touch with the other guys?
I occasionally chat online with Nick & Christian.
How did Mojave 3 and the 4AD deal come about?
We still had a deal with EMI Publishing after the dumping from Creation, and utilised that, by using their studio to record demos (Which makes up most of ‘Ask Me Tomorrow’), we sent a copy to Ivo and within four weeks, had a new deal being offered by 4AD. So it was pretty easy really.
Have you had a chance to listen to Christian’s band Monster Movie?
No I haven’t, but I hear good things about them. He’s a talented chap, he was always quietly good at writing songs I thought during the Slowie days. Never had enough confidence in himself. I see that in other people I know now. It’s frustrating. But I’m glad he is still making music.
Neil recently released a solo album, did you like it?
Yes I do. It was a long time coming as he’s talked about doing his own thing for years. Finally he got to make a record that is all about him and not about compromising with four other people!
Did it seem strange with him playing gigs this summer without you for the first time in over a decade?
A bit I suppose, but it’s good to have your independence!!
I understand you’re making a solo album yourself at the moment, is there anything you can tell us about that yet?
I’ve recorded four songs so far and should have it finished next spring. it’s pencilled for release next autumn. I’m also doing a couple of moonlighting jobs for other bands but that’s all I can say about that at the moment. I recorded a cover of ‘If’ for a Bread tribute album that it being released next January I think, in the US. The new Mojave album is due for release next Spring.
Morr Records recently released a Slowdive Tribute album. Have you had a chance to listen to that yet?
Yes I have. It’s weird listening to other peoples interpretations of your songs. Some good covers on there though. Makes me feel a bit long in the tooth to be having a tribute album done.
How does it make you feel with Slowdive finally gaining so much respect after all these years?
Happy that people have finally realised we did some good stuff!
Finally, have you got a message for the kids today?
Grab every opportunity life throws at you and laugh as much as you can!
Interview: October 2002