Author Topic: A peek behind the scenes at Fiction (exclusive interview)  (Read 4820 times)

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Offline Ulrich

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A peek behind the scenes at Fiction (exclusive interview)
« on: October 07, 2015, 16:08:58 »
Here comes an exclusive Curefans.com interview!
You always wanted to know what it was like "behind the scenes" at Fiction Records? How people worked there for the record company and the band(s)? Then read this interview!

First of all, would you please introduce yourself to our readers, so they'll know who you are.

My name is Kate Dale, I started out working at Tape One studios, a cutting studio. I have fond memories of that and Trident Studio also very fond memories. Then decided to become an airhostess for no apparent reason. I didn't like that at all. Then I worked at a record shop for three years and became manager. I thought the record shop were going to sack me at one point, but they promoted me oddly during that time, it became a corporate record chain of shops. I didn't like it. So left. They wouldn't let me dye my hair.

Fiction Records: well in addition to my A&R responsibilities I mentored, nurtured and managed many musicians and bands, over the years I have tried to step away many times but I am always drawn back - just can’t keep away from great talent - today I run Whiplash cooperative and manage Dave M. Allen.

1. How did you get to work at Fiction Records & what was your job description?

I got the job at Fiction through a very good friend of mine. He and I shared a flat together. He introduced me to his sister Marian, who was then the office accountant. Marian and I are still firm friends today, she actually still works for Chris Parry.

The job to start with was Receptionist. I made quite a lot of tea and answered the phones… and that soon translated into doing a bit of everything.

2. What was it like working for Chris Parry and all the bands?

Working with Chris Parry was a privilege, to be frank. He gave me a chance, a true opportunity that in many ways formed my life. He had no end of creativity and business acumen; I admired him then and I still do today, he was a mentor if you like. After I had taken a leave of absence (haha that's not quite the truth, I went off for about a year and ran a couple of clubs in London - The Monarch in Camden and The Water Rats in Kings Cross, promoting with some wonderful people and I can say we were successful…). I went back to Fiction and he promoted me to the marketing department and then to A&R Director...
Chris gave me the freedom to work for the clubs and Fiction, he also allowed me to manage four bands from the Fiction office. I used to go to gigs all the time, and listen to millions of demos.

I can’t say exactly what he saw in me but he gave me a freedom that I don't think most people would ever have in their lifetime. I worked really hard because I loved it – so amazing to wake up and know you love your work.
The building he bought in Charlotte St. (97) was a dilapidated shell with three walls, he restored it and when it finally had four walls and four floors he moved in Fiction. (Fiction Records, Fiction Songs, Non Fiction Records and Desire Records.)

3. What was the connection between Fiction and Radio XFM?

Chris Parry had met Sammy Jacobs who ran a pirate radio station in North London. The Cure promoting the Wish album went to the studio to do a live phone in, but due to technical difficulties it failed. The second time it was broadcast from Fictions Office and was very successful with all the Cure taking live calls. It went on late into the night and was very funny. Then Sammy went to Chris with an idea of financing a legit radio station. Chris gathered together a bunch of investors, who shall remain nameless, and it took five years to get the license. It was a very happy day. I got Ricky Gervais his job there. We had known each other for ten years. XFM was subsequently sold to Capital Radio.

4. What was it like when the bands came in? Which bands were your favourites?

When the bands came in it was usually really good fun to be honest. They were all lovely in different ways, so were the DJs when XFM started. It was very much like a family and to me it still is. I keep in touch with most people. I have to say that my favourite band was The God Machine. My son Jimmy is named after the bass player Jimmy Fernandez. He died quite suddenly at 27. It still breaks my heart.
I saw them playing at a place called the Vicarage near Camden, it was outside in a ruined church with a massive bonfire. I was with a friend, we couldn't believe what we had witnessed. Eventually, Chris called me from New York and we signed them. I think there is possibly one band in a lifetime that you call favourite, and for me it is the God Machine.

5. Did the label do well back then? Was the Cure the “main” band whose sales helped to keep the label “afloat”?

Yes, the Cure were very much the main band, they did indeed keep Fiction afloat. But not without the help of everyone pulling together. Everyone was very fairly treated. The beautiful Billy Mackenzie who I loved also contributed.  Amongst a few others. But it wasn't really about the money, which was well deserved, it was about the art, and the love of music.

6. Fiction was distributed by Polydor (I think); did you get to work with them too?

Chris worked for Polydor as a marketing man then he decided that was boring, so he got promoted (so story has it) at Polydor to A&R (hah, that's probably why he let me do A&R). Chris signed The Jam, and then demoed the Sex Pistols but they were stolen from him. There were funny antics with Malcolm Mclaren at the time.  There is so much more to this story; I can't really speak for Chris but I think he decided that he wanted to sign The Cure to his own label, which is when he created Fiction. Polydor remained on good terms. Yes I spoke to Polydor not so often but they were very lovely. There was an affiliation for the distribution of the records.

7. What was it like when Fiction “ended”? Were you there until the end?

The end of Fiction hmmm. I had lost interest by then. It was winding down. I knew it was the end. So I moved out of London to Brighton about a year before it was sold to Polydor. Happily my very good friend Jim Chancellor was appointed as the A&R director of Fiction when it was sold to Poldyor. We had been friends for years. The job couldn't have gone to a better person he is still at Fiction/Polydor. Safe hands.

8. Is there anything you regret or would like to change when looking back at that time?

No I don't regret a thing, not at all. It was probably the best job I ever had. It was my family and still is to a point.
but memory's not life... and it's not love.


Offline Ulrich

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Re: A peek behind the scenes at Fiction (exclusive interview)
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2015, 20:26:05 »
Part 2 of the interview

9. Do you still like the music of The Cure? What are your favourite albums/songs?

I can't name a favourite album. That would be like choosing a favourite child… I do wish that the original mixes of the Wish album were out there. I heard them not so long ago and wept. That album was messed about with too much. I hope all Cure fans can hear it as it was intended. It had the life mixed out of it.

10. How many times did you get to see them in concert?

Hahaha how many times did I see them in concert - a lot! Definitely from the era of really long t-shirts that went over your knees to tight t-shirts.

11. When was the last time you saw The Cure and how do you compare the current bands sound with the one of the 90's?

It was at Reading festival in 2012. The smell of burning plastic wasn't the best experience.

Robert was in fine voice indeed. Amazing in fact. So were all of the band. I'm not so sure about Reeves Gabrels, but then I didn't really like him playing with David Bowie either. It's like who would swap Mick Ronson or Porl Thompson? It's almost impossible to compare…

12. Do you think there is any chance to see Boris Playing again with The Cure?

No I don't see The Count (Boris) playing with The Cure unless they have another outrageous party. Who can tell… I hope so.

13. Any anecdotes you can share with us?

Anecdotes -  too many to mention.

14. Were the frequent line-up changes of The Cure and sometimes change of musical direction problems for the record company?

The frequent changes of the line ups... This is a question I can't really answer. It didn't really bother the record company too much, I guess ‘I don't know’ is the answer to that. 
It bothered the sacked people. Lol wasn't very happy. He is a lovely person, David M. Allen thought he was integral to the band. I think that it's very hard being on tour…

15. Did Robert’s fear of flying lead to any troubles?

Ahh Roberts fear of flying, well... that was why they sailed to New York on the QE2 a number of times. I imagine touring takes it out of you constantly being on a jet plane. Why not go to one's place of work on a boat instead. xxx

16. How did you meet Dave Allen and what has he been up to recently?

How did I meet David M. Allen; Perry Bamonte introduced him to me. He said "Kate you are going to love this bloke". Dave was currently upstairs at 97 Charlotte Street renting the top floor and resting a while from production of The Cure he started a company called BLANK. The company was a brilliant idea, it was really ahead of its time. David M. Allen described to me the wonderful (but now narrowing) the world of email was. I had no idea. We were still working with Faxes and Wordstar on the computer. He was trying to build websites for the music business. No one took him seriously and no one believed him - even Chris Parry. He had a team there doing the work. Some people understood the idea, but music business ignored it. Silly people sometimes. And now look what has happened. There is no money in the music business really. Anyway, then he asked me to manage him as a producer I said no… then said okay. And that's that for a long time of mismanagement lol x

Dave is doing lots of things, he has Connie Plank's legendary desk that he rescued with a crew of his trusty people from Cologne. It has had many homes, soon to have a new one in London. It's sounds amazing. Erm, he's been doing The Buzzcocks, The Mission, a lot of new bands, one called Grasshopper at the moment. Ahh well his CV. You just have to look it up on discogs there are about 400 pages of work and it wasn't just The Cure although that took up 10 years of his time and I believe it was artistically enjoyable.

17. If you had the opportunity, would you work for Fiction and/or The Cure again?

Would I ever work with the Cure again... No is the simple answer. But it's not because I don't like them, I love 'em to bits. I've moved to a different edge of the deep green sea. Oddly enough it's book publishing now. I have a friend who is best mates with Bruce Robinson his name is Gordon Mcgill and he has recently completed a book called The Clansman, which is about the troubles between the Scots a long time ago. So off to the book publishers we go… Bruce Robinson has just finished a book about Jack the Ripper he reckons he was a singer/songwriter.
but memory's not life... and it's not love.

Offline Ulrich

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but memory's not life... and it's not love.

Online dsanchez

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Re: A peek behind the scenes at Fiction (exclusive interview)
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2015, 21:28:29 »
I can't name a favourite album. That would be like choosing a favourite child… I do wish that the original mixes of the Wish album were out there. I heard them not so long ago and wept. That album was messed about with too much. I hope all Cure fans can hear it as it was intended. It had the life mixed out of it.

Really great job Ulrich, thanks for this interview :smth023

Now, I am very curious about the 'original mixes of Wish'. Does this means the album was recorded in a certain way and Robert was unsatisfied and mixed the album in another way, which is the final recording we all know? Hmm...
Strangers passing in the street, by chance two separate glances meet and I am you and what I see is me...

Offline Ulrich

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Re: A peek behind the scenes at Fiction (exclusive interview)
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2015, 09:07:39 »
After a little bit of re-editing it is back online! There might be a few more (slight) changes, if necessary.
but memory's not life... and it's not love.


Offline Matti

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Re: A peek behind the scenes at Fiction (exclusive interview)
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2015, 22:17:04 »
Nice one, Ulrich, thanks a lot.

I do wish that the original mixes of the Wish album were out there. I heard them not so long ago and wept. That album was messed about with too much. I hope all Cure fans can hear it as it was intended. It had the life mixed out of it.

Now THERE'S an idea - a Wish Deluxe Edition three disc set. In my dreams, I know... But then, what about a series of "Immersion Box Sets", some 40 years after the original release?  :-D
...hold me like this for a hundred thousand million days...

Offline Ulrich

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Re: A peek behind the scenes at Fiction (exclusive interview)
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2015, 10:26:24 »
Glad you like it.  :)

I'd hoped for a few anecdotes, but of course we're happy she agreed to do this "email interview" at all!

Now THERE'S an idea - a Wish Deluxe Edition three disc set. In my dreams, I know...

Maybe that was a "problem" with the re-issue? Possibly they couldn't decide what to release: remastered version of the album (as it was released in 1992) OR a remaster of those "original mixes"...
but memory's not life... and it's not love.

Offline Ulrich

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Re: A peek behind the scenes at Fiction (exclusive interview)
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2015, 14:45:12 »
Another helpful addition to this interview is the following article about Chris Parry & Fiction:
http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/chris-parry
but memory's not life... and it's not love.

Offline Ulrich

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Re: A peek behind the scenes at Fiction (exclusive interview)
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2017, 10:10:13 »
Very shocking news: I found out today that Kate Dale has passed away. R.I.P. Kate. Thank you so much for doing this interview for us.
 :(  :(  :(
but memory's not life... and it's not love.

Offline tzare

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Re: A peek behind the scenes at Fiction (exclusive interview)
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2017, 15:55:30 »
R.I.P.

Sad to find this interview due to the bad news.

btw, why did Boris leave the Cure? Discrepancies with Robert? Wasn't he involved recording the acoustiac hits?
Sometimes i wonder why Boris and Porl (and others too) left. Oh , i agree somehow with her, still not sure about Reeves, hope to eat crow if they release a new album though

Offline Ulrich

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Re: A peek behind the scenes at Fiction (exclusive interview)
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2017, 11:46:04 »
btw, why did Boris leave the Cure? Discrepancies with Robert?

None that we know of. Robert once said he didn't know why Boris left and he tought Boris didn't really know either!   :o
I suppose Boris wanted to work with his wife in Shelleyan Orphan. (Porl, who had left shortly before him, guested on their 1993 album, I think. Maybe Boris missed him in The Cure?)
but memory's not life... and it's not love.


 

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