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Members include Dean Garcia (married Julie Fletcher), guitar, bass, keyboards; Toni Halliday, vocals; Alex Mitchell, guitar; Steve Monti, drums; and Debbie Smith, guitar. Addresses: Record company--Virgin Records, 790 Broadway, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10019; 338 North Foothill Rd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.
"I think I'm optimistically paranoid. I don't know the answers; I'm just like everyone else--swimming around with the sharks biting." So Toni Halliday, lead singer of the band Curve, described the mind-set behind their haunting music to Jon Levy of Strobe magazine. Halliday and guitarist Dean Garcia, who provides the grating yet ethereal music that entwines the singer's siren vocals, create the dark, menacing sound that is uniquely Curve. Both artists weathered difficult childhood circumstances, experiences that have no doubt inspired the macabre and cynical nature of their music.
When she was four years old, Halliday's father bought a yacht and decided to take the family on a cruise of the Mediterranean. "We had this really idyllic fantastic life, and then it just stopped ... one day," she revealed to Caren Myers of Details magazine. The yachtsman abruptly deserted the family in Greece when Halliday was eight, her father simply informing her mother that he didn't love her anymore; the family never saw him again. His sudden departure left a profound impression on the young girl; she feels that most of her emotional issues stem from an inability to trust, which is perhaps why her sometimes agonizing lyrics fall so naturally unaffected from her lips. "In order for you to be able to do something that is natural and part of you, you have to dig deep inside yourself, which can be quite a dangerous little journey, because you don't know what you're going to find. Often you find things that you f--ing hate." Still, when pressed by Levy, the singer admitted to her belief that "the danger is everything."
Garcia's childhood traumas began before he was born. On learning of the impending pregnancy, his father, a Hawaiian G.I., conveniently disappeared, leaving Garcia's Irish-Catholic mother to face her disapproving family and community alone. Unwed during the socially restrictive 1950s, she was pressured into having an abortion. Although she thought she had successfully terminated the pregnancy, a month later she was still pregnant, discovering that she had been carrying twins. One had been successfully aborted; the other, however, Dean, was born six months later. After his birth, Dean's mother married twice. One husband was abusive; both marriages ended. While he says that he would like to hire a private investigator to track down his father one day, that day has not yet presented itself. From these shattered childhoods emerged the two battered souls that create the abrasive melancholy that is Curve.
When Halliday was 11, she realized that she could sing; at 12 she joined a punk band called Incest. Dave Stewart of Eurythmics discovered her when she was 15. "I met [Dave Stewart] when I was 15 and we both lived in Sunderland [in the northeast of England]. He was still in the Tourists; they were about to do their last record before they split up, and he already had this idea of doing something with Annie [Lennox]. I used to do the B-sides of their singles," she told Paul Sexton of Billboard. Stewart urged her to join the Uncles, and she recorded a single with them called "What's the Use of Pretending?" before they split up.
Garcia, meanwhile, had been playing in numerous small bands when he auditioned for Eurythmics in 1983. "It was brilliant: One week I'm on the dole, the next I'm playing for Eurythmics, who'd just got to number one with 'Sweet Dreams.' Dave [Stewart] and Annie [Lennox] got me out of trouble and took me 'round the world," Garcia related to Mat Snow of Musician. It was backstage at a 1984 Eurythmics concert that Stewart introduced Halliday and Garcia to each other. Mesmerized by Halliday's "look" and "sound," Garcia recruited her to help him form a techno-pop-funk band called State of Play, which was signed to Virgin Records.
A year and 100,000 pounds sterling in debt later, the band split up. Halliday sued Garcia, and Garcia tried, unsuccessfully, to countersue Halliday. Garcia then married Julie Fletcher and moved to Spain. Halliday signed to Stewart's Anxious label and released a solo album, Hearts and Handshakes. In spite of having no commercial success and leaving nothing but debt in its wake, the record is now a collectors item.
In December of 1989, Garcia returned from Spain and found, to his amazement, that Halliday was trying to contact him. Once he was completely convinced that he would be meeting with Halliday, and not a legal representative, he agreed to see her, and they began to heal the old wounds. Amid the drunken bliss of their reunion, they conceived of Curve. They agreed that State of Play's main problems were an "open" budget, an excessive tendency to waste time, and too many outside influences.
Learning from these lessons, when they finally got together to record Blindfold, they wrote and recorded all the tracks in one day at a cost of under 300 pounds sterling, with producer Alan Moulder on hand, who also played guitar on the EP. Seemingly overnight, the EP became a success in England, which caught Halliday and Garcia off guard. "Everyone immediately expected us to play gigs and be brilliant. But there was only me and Toni. Alan [Moulder] didn't want to know about playing guitar live," Garcia told Alan Di Perna of Guitar Player. So they enlisted the help of drumer Steve Monti and additional guitarists Alex Mitchell and Debbie Smith. That May they released the Frozen EP, followed in November by the Cherry EP.
In February of 1992, they unveiled another short disc, Fait Accompli, just prior to the release of their much-awaited full-length album Doppelganger. In late 1992 the band toured the United States with the Jesus and Mary Chain and Spiritualized in support of their U.S.-only release Pubic Fruit, a compilation of their first three British EPs. They had determined to shoulder the responsibilities of album production largely by themselves.
Garcia explained the process to Di Perna, remarking, "It's a unique situation. Because the co-producer is usually there from the start. But we like to take it to 80% ourselves. Then we transfer and bring someone with us to sprinkle on a little fairy dust." Although it seems like an isolated way to work, this method keeps the band close to the musical core of Curve and prevents anything from adulterating their unique musical chemistry.
Their 1993 follow-up album, Cuckoo, was well received by both their fans and the press. When asked about her still melancholy tone in the face of such acceptance, Halliday told Gary Lineker of Raygun magazine, "I don't know why, but every time I open my mouth, a minor melody seems to come out." When asked about her goals, the singer told Strobe's Levy, "My main wish is to tell great stories, to teach.... It's alright to be terrible, and it's alright to be brilliant, but to be mediocre is the worst thing ever."
by Charlie Katagiri
Garcia and Halliday formed band State of Play, 1984 (disbanded, 1985); formed Curve, c. 1990; recorded EP Blindfold, 1991; band expanded to include Mitchell, Monti, and Smith; released album Doppelganger, 1992.
- Selective Works
- Blindfold (EP), Anxious Records, 1991.
- Frozen (EP), Anxious Records, 1991.
- Cherry (EP), Anxious Records, 1991.
- Fait Accompli (EP), Anxious Records, 1991.
- Doppelganger, Anxious Records, 1992.
- Pubic Fruit (U.S.) Anxious/Charisma, 1992.
- Blackerthreetracker (EP), Anxious/Charisma, 1993.
- Cuckoo, Anxious/Charisma, 1993.
- B-Side, December 1993/January 1994.
- Billboard, April 18 1992; October 9, 1993.
- Details, August 1992.
- Guitar Player, June 1992; August 1992; December 1992.
- Melody Maker, February 29, 1992; March 14, 1992; June 20, 1992; July 4, 1992; December 19, 1992; June 5, 1993; August 21, 1993; August 28, 1993; September 11, 1993; September 18, 1993.
- Musician, February 1992.
- Raygun, November 1993.
- Rolling Stone, May 14, 1992.
- Spin, April 1992; January 1993.
- Strobe, January/February 1994.
- Additional information for this profile was obtained from Virgin Records press material, 1994.
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