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"Sex & Death"

Smudging silver paint hastily over his specs, NICK GRIFFITHS
tries to match the cool of Curve. And fails.

(pic: Colin Bell)

Shortly after the Deadline interview, Curve play the Town & Country in London. It's packed. Almost everyone's wearing black. You could safely lay to rest the population of a small community here, and no one would realise the mistake.

Curve stand out from their contemporaries because they dare to look good. Two days before the gig, they're sitting at a table in a West London café. Toni wears no make-up, hiding her eyes behind a small pair of mirrored sunglasses. Off the glossy page she's not as stunning as some might believe, but she plays the part with such natural ease that you can't help being taken in. Dean, too, has an enviable sense of cool, even with the bags under his eyes that result from sleepless nights looking after his two young kids. And both Toni and Dean are dressed head to toe in black. Yet they shun the "star" tag. Mention the word and Toni mock-spits. You gulp, tiptoe into incisive journalism, and mention the mirrored glasses on a cloudy day. She almost sighs. "I'm tired," she says, then lowers the glasses to reveal two dark piss-holes. "And they're my real glasses. Try them." And you put them on, sympathise with her dodgy eyesight, and it hits you: Toni Halliday's prescription specs are mirrored. Most of us could only dream of carrying that off.

Ask them how they'd describe each other. Dean comes up with "spooky, inventive, loving"; Toni reckons Dean to be "enclosed, mischievous, disciplined". Take it a step further and ask them what they'd change about each other. "I'd change Dean's intolerance," says Toni. "He's never intolerant with me, but he can be with other people. He'll go - He's an arsehole, so I hate every single person in the place." Dean, the quieter of the two, isn't so happy. "It's a very difficult thing to say."

It was meant to be an awkward question. Toni steps in: "I think you'd possibly give me a longer attention span."

"Yeah," Dean pauses. "Toni's mood swings..." "I have massive mood swings," she helps out again. "I understand it, but it can be difficult," and Dean leaves it at that.

Relations haven't always been as swimming between the two of them. They went three years without seeing each other after Dean split their first band, State Of Play. They've spent much of their lives trying to reach today's status: Dean served his apprenticeship playing bass with Eurythmics, back when Eurythmics were something special; Toni's been in and out of bands, and papers intermittently pull out old... less considered press shots to try to embarrass her.

When Curve happened, when the 'Blindfold' EP turned people's heads inside out only last year, many applauded; others accused them of being contrived and manufactured. We seem to be in a country that is jealous of success, so perhaps we deserve the pathetic amount we achieve.

Did Curve ever doubt their potential? "We knew it was possible," says Dean. "We just didn't realise it was going to be taken on as it was. It was very shocking initially, but also very exciting. We thought we'd be completely slaughtered (by the press), simply because of what we'd done before. We were convinced, actually."

Curve have a massive self-belief and a past that has been dragged up quite enough. And, they maintain, a selfish streak.

"We had very defined ideas about what we wanted to do," says Dean. "We wanted to combine the noise guitar thing with very rhythmic structures."

Toni puts it simpler: "We wanted Will Sergeant playing over Funkadelic. We'd got to the point where it was. Fuck absolutely everything else, we're just going to satisfy ourselves. And we went straight into it. That's why we called it 'Blindfold', because we were working in the dark, very blinkered about what we wanted."

And it all happened so fast. Have they come to terms with the recognition?

"No, you don't take in that there might be a public perception of what you are," says Toni. "I spoke to a friend of mine this morning. She went - Oh My God, I've seen you everywhere. I turn on MTV and there's this bloody video; five different magazine covers. What's going on?" Given Toni's impression, her friend is a 70-year-old American who swears while watching MTV. "And you suddenly realise. You go - Oh, have we?"

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(pic: Colin Bell)

In many ways, despite the perfect image, Curve skirt around the conventional indie circus. Where others have appeared from nowhere to achieve Curve's degree of fame, they've both been playing music since they were knee-high to that bald kid from Kung Fu. Last year, on tour, they complained of being tired of having to party every night, for want of anything better to do.

Dean is 33. He has children and has been in one relationship for 14 years. Toni has been going out with Curve's mix-man, Alan Moulder, for seven. There are shrewd, experienced heads on those shoulders. Not for them the traditional seedy rigmarole of hello-little-girl-I'm-in-a-band.

"There's something very sordid about that," says Dean, grimacing visibly.

Toni, as ever, is less understated: "Women don't get it as much. You get lots of little boys hangin' out, wanting autographs, but it's not the same. Women can try and get close to people through sex - it's a really easy thing to do. We've had a couple of girls for the guys in the band, but they're not really into it. I think they think it's dirty," she chuckles.

"It might change a bit for Monti (drums) and Alex (guitar) when we go to America," says Dean.

"Yeah, cos you know what they're like there," laughs Toni. "They're professionals - they'd fuck anything. They fuck the crew first thing, to get backstage. So by the time they get to you, they're most probably a bit sloppy."

She bursts into a mischievous laughter. The two men at the table make "Eugh" noises, and it's the perfect role-reversal. If you asked her, Toni Halliday would tell you she doesn't give a fuck.

Would that sort of attention bother them? "I wouldn't like it, to be honest," Toni says. "It's not something that would make me feel we'd made it, just cos we had these groupies. I know a lot of bands do think like that: that once they've got groupies latching onto them, they're really famous."

"No shagging on the tourbus, that's what we say," adds Dean. Toni continues, "The whole band and crew are going on one bus when we go to Europe, and I turned around last night and I said - No, there's none of that. At all."

With sex clearly off the agenda, how then has the glamorous image helped in Curve's sweep towards stardom?

Toni neatly avoids the implication: "People are fundamentally fascinated by glamour. When it really comes down to what you're doing, it's entertainment. Total escapism. Why do you think Madonna's so enormous? The minute she could drop that little girl, lacey bit, she did. Woooh, gone. And she came back as Miss Body, the whole thing."

Who epitomises glamour? "Jack Nicholson," offers Dean. But there's something dangerous about him, as well. "It always has an element of danger to it," says Toni. "What makes glamour rock is lots of different things. It's not just slapping a bit of make-up on. It has to be within the person. You can't portray something that isn't there."

Why do they subscribe to the moodier, blacker side of things? "Glamour doesn't have to be glitzy," says Toni. "I do like Shakespear's Sister; it's all high glamour, high camp..."

"And then she's got all this black make-up running down her," Dean adds.

They look as though they've been dead for ten days. "Yeah, but I love that," grins Toni. So many stars have met with messy or mysterious endings: Bolan, Hendrix, Monroe, Dean, ad infinitum. Is it glamorous to die a star's death?

"In a funny sense, yeah," says Toni.

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(pic: Glyn Dillon) How would they like to die? "Like Elvis Presley: drugged out of my mind on a bathroom floor," Toni chuckles again, though you suspect the idea half appeals. "I'd like to be able to eat ten cheeseburgers a day."

"I think the Big C's for me," says Dean. "So then I can be skagged out of my head for the last couple of weeks."

"Just float off into oblivion," Toni muses. So you don't want to take the safe, rather boring old age option?

"I think that's very idealistic," says Dean. "That'll never happen to me."

Isn't it the normal way to die? "It's not, is it?" asks Mr Optimistic. "I don't think it's normal when cigarettes kill 350,000 people every year. It's just not normal to lie in bed and die anymore," says Toni.

Ten minutes later, we're still no nearer the perfect death. Car crashes, burning, drowning, carbon monoxide poisoning - they're all out. Perhaps Elvis had it right with the burger overdose idea.

There's life in Curve yet. Three of their four EPs have gone Top 40, and while the recent 'Doppelgänger' album received mixed reviews, it still made number 11. And as they explain, it's only their first album, there's plenty of time.

Meanwhile, Curve have set their sights abroad. "I wanna get France," says Toni. "Those fuckers. Hahahahaha. I wanna screw their balls off and stuff 'em in their face."

Sorry? Dean translates: "They're very suspicious in France."

"We're just gonna go out there and slaughter the fuckers,"

Britain's EC ambassador is off again. "We are, because... And the Germans, hahahahaha. The rest of the world is open to us and we wanna go out there and get it."

(article nicked from 'Deadline', May 1992)

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