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"Curve Are Back!"

And this time, they mean business! With total freedom and independence the duo are ready to kick-start the jading English music scene.

Words: Natasha Scharf
Additional Research: Keith Burnett


Cast your mind back to the early Nineties. The alternative music press, or indie as it was then called, was buzzing with a new band called Curve. Bursting in from out of nowhere, the band, comprising a female vocalist from Sunderland called Toni Halliday and a musical mastermind called Dean Garcia (who had previously worked with The Eurythmics), released three EPs amid great critical acclaim, leading onto the release of their first album, Doppelgänger a year later. The NME and Melody Maker couldn't wait to get in on the act and slowly but surely, Curve became one of the most exciting darkwave pop acts to emerge from the North of England during those acid-house heavy years.

They split up in 1994, heralding the departure of guitarist Debbie Smith to join Echobelly, drummer Monti and live guitarist Rob to work as session musicians and eventually form Sulpher (Toni: "I love Monti and Rob and wish them the best with Sulpher."). However, Toni and Dean soon got back together again and signed to a label called Estupendo. Things looked on the up again in 1997 when a new track, Chinese Burn, was chosen as the theme to a Sony Minidisc advert on British television. It was a new technological invention for music recording and playback and the band hoped that it would re-invent them. However it wasn't to be as the track was released as a limited edition CD and their follow-up album, Come Clean was delayed and delayed until finally it saw the light of day several months later than originally planned. Curve decided it was time to part with Estupendo and finally left the label at the beginning of this year. Denying any rumours of a fall-out, Dean diplomatically explains: "It was more of a (mutual) understanding."

Reflecting on their time spent with the label, Toni said: "Dean and I had gotten round to working again and they were the easiest people to hand, if we had thought about ourselves with some kind of confidence it might have been completely different. We still don't regret a thing though, we are a sum of our own mistakes and many of life's lessons have been learnt in this way for us, we have trod the boards so to speak."

The last thing that Curve worked on for the label was an album tentatively called Gift. This was to be the band's first release in four years. Although it was never released as Estupendo own the copyright for it, Dean is hopeful that the album will eventually see the light of day and Toni reiterates this by saying: "Both parties are trying their hardest to get the record out in some shape or form." According to rumours, the album was mastered on 29 May and has an estimated release date of sometime during September. It also looks likely that Gift will feature two tracks involving a collaboration with Alan Wilder, formerly of Depeche Mode.

However, the pair have been very busy outside their work on Gift. Dean's been charging ahead with his indie project, Headcase, who just released their second album, CrosseyedRabbit as well as a handful of web-based and multimedia goodies, through his Mushi Mushi label. He's also been turning his hand towards web design and graphics work. The change in direction fulfilled something of an ambition for him: "(Mushi Mushi) is something I have always wanted to do: experiments in making music without interference from record companies. It's also about learning new skills and becoming web literate. (Ultimately) it's about the reason why I like to make music."

And so, in Dean's own words, "the beat goes on."

Curve were asked to contribute to the Manchester United Promised Land album. The track that was used is in fact the only track from the Gift recording to have been released so far, Chainmail. Toni also sings with Bias (featuring Flood, Alan Moulder and Rob Kirwan) on a cover of the Human League's Things That Dreams are Made Of. How on earth did they end up contributing to the album? "Nepotism," replies Toni. Are they footie fans then? Dean enthuses: "I don't like football much but Man U are f**king brilliant!" And Toni? "With Alan (my husband) being such a huge Man U fan I feel I have little choice but I also support Sunderland as well. They are my hometown team."

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So, back to the present. Curve have just released a self-financed mini-album called Open Day at the Hatefest. The album is their first release since Come Clean and comprises assorted rarities from l996-2001. Toni explained the logic behind its release: "It's a way for us to put a lot of the older stuff to bed. We both want to move into a leaner meaner sound, which can be hard to do when there's old stuff hanging about that you like, it can get in the way."

Although the album is not available commercially, it can be bought from their website (http://www.curve.co.uk). They hope that with the money they make from ...Hatefest, they can finance a new album, which they have just started writing. Giving a few clues as to what it will sound like, Toni ominously posted up on their virtual newsboard a somewhat enticing message: "Dean and I have started writing for the new album and are very excited by the results so far. It's getting way down and funky baby and all the better for it, I say. We can just see it now: 'Curve make a happy record shock!' Don't worry though, I'm always there to make sure you stay as miserable as me!"

Perhaps a clue to what can be expected is reflected in the duo's current music tastes. Toni's enthusing about: "Anything French at the moment," while Dean's got his eye on Daft Punk's Harder Faster and Madonna's Music. Things certainly seem to be veering towards a more trancey direction, especially with the hoped for involvement of Republica's Saffron - what do Curve think their fans will make of this? Toni replies: "I don't think Dean and I have written one piece of music and wondered whether our fans would still approve, that would be the kiss of death as far as I'm concerned. You can only be true to yourself. That's all that really matters to me."

And Toni's certainly been true to herself with her latest venture. She's been involved on a classical project, which she describes as: "My beautiful antidote for an ugly world." She conjured up the idea: "whilst lying on the beach in Turks and Caicos. God knows why: boredom most probably." The outcome will be an orchestral-based "chillout" EP with Toni on vocals, which is due to be released under an as yet undecided name within the next few months. She's collaborating with her long-time friend Andy Wright and string arranger and composer, David Whitaker who's most famous for working with the Rolling Stones on the original version of The Last Time, re-recorded by the Verve as Bitter Sweet Symphony; and recently wrote two tracks on Air's Moon Safari album. "He's a really lovely man," she gushes. "He's 70 years old and the king of cool in Paris at the moment because he's working on some poncy art house French film. So all in all I'm a very lucky girl and I can't wait to hear the finished result."

Plans for the future seem all well and done, but what about a tour? Dean nonchalantly replies: "If there was a particular selection of bands going out and we were invited to play it would be very hard for us to resist. We love playing live but we need things to make it work. This normally involves truckfuls of money...." Toni adds: "And truck loads of lights, PA, maybe the odd bacon sandwich and some scraps for the crew."

So don't hold your breath just yet...

(article nicked from Meltdown, Summer 2001)

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