Catatonia were an alternative rock band from Wales who gained popularity in the mid- to late 1990s. The band formed in 1992 after Mark Roberts met Cerys Matthews. The first major lineup featured Dafydd Ieuan on drums, Clancy Pegg on keyboard, Owen Powell on guitar and Paul Jones on bass. They recorded two EPs, For Tinkerbell and Hooked.
Pegg was fired prior to work on their first studio album, Way Beyond Blue, while Ieuan was replaced with Aled Richards shortly afterwards. This new line-up remained for the rest of the lifetime of the band. The single You've Got a Lot to Answer For received radio airplay and became the band's first top 40 single in the UK Singles Chart in September 1996. Their breakout success came at the start of 1998 with the International Velvet album and the release of the single Mulder and Scully some two weeks apart. The album went to number one in the album chart, and sold more than 900,000 copies being certified triple platinum by British Phonographic Industry, while the single reached number 3 in the singles chart, the highest any Catatonia single would chart.
The follow-up release, Road Rage, reached number 5 in May, and was nominated for best song at the Brit Awards and the Ivor Novello Awards, winning at the Q Awards. The title track of the album International Velvet received additional attention, and the band performed it at the opening of the opening ceremony of the 1999 Rugby World Cup on 1 October in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. While in Catatonia, Matthews collaborated with Space on The Ballad of Tom Jones in March 1998 and with Tom Jones on a cover of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" in December 1999. Their final top ten single came in April 1999 with "Dead from the Waist Down" off the following album, Equally Cursed and Blessed. Rumours began to circulate about a breakup, but a further album, Paper Scissors Stone was released in 2001 following a two-year break from live performances.
Matthews' drinking had long been reported in the tabloids and gossip columns, and she entered rehab in mid-2001 for drinking and smoking. The tour to support Paper Scissors Stone was cancelled, and a month later, the band announced that they were breaking up. Matthews has subsequently released solo albums, while Powell has become a radio presenter and joined the supergroup The Stand to release a charity single. Critics have highlighted the use of metaphors in Catatonia's work, and songs have been compared to poetry by critics. Writing duties had been shared across the band, although had been led by Matthews and Roberts. They disagreed with being labelled an indie band, with Powell saying they had only ever sought to write pop music.....(Read more)
Links to Peel
On playing Catatonia's only Festive Fifty entry, John commented, "the highest-placed record that I've never played on the radio before. Someone will write in and say, 'Yes you did', but I really don't think that I did, because I don't actually own a copy of it. I've heard it numerous times on the Evening Session, but never played it meself, I think." (The programme loaned him the copy he played). However, it has been proved that he did indeed air it previously.
Matthews appeared at Glastonbury on 24 June 2000, filling the female vocal role on 'What Have I Done To Deserve This?' with the Pet Shop Boys. This may or may not have gone out on Peel's show, as there is no audio yet available. She has subsequently hosted a popular show on the Peel-oriented BBC Radio 6 Music.
Festive Fifty Entries
- 'Bleed' (1995 Festive Fifty #18)
- 25 August 1996: Reading Festival (see page for set details).
Other Shows Played
- 10 September 1994: 'Whale (7")' (Rough Trade Singles Club)
- 14 January 1995: 'Bleed (7")' (Nursery)
- 03 February 1995: 'Bleed (7")' (Nursery)
- 30 December 1995: 'Bleed (7")' (Nursery) (1995 Festive Fifty #18)