Mike Garcia and Brittany Hendrick
Co-Editors in Chief
It’s 2012. Somehow, a decade has slipped away, and our favorite band, the Catherine Wheel, shows no signs of reappearing anytime soon. You might have also noticed that I Can’t Believe It’s Not Futter hasn’t had much activity for a few years. But we haven’t just been sitting around drinking beer and watching old videotapes of 120 Minutes. On the contrary, we’ve been spending our unused student loan money tracking down and getting updates from everyone associated with the Catherine Wheel.
Finally, we’re ready to report on our journalistic endeavors. On this page, you’ll find all of the information you need to know about the band who brought us such worldwide hits as “Our Friend Joey,” “Something Strange” and a cover version of INXS’s “This Time.” As you’ll see below, their story isn’t over; they’re feverishly at work on new projects. We can say without conviction that the best is yet to come.
First up is Mike’s interview with former frontman and current Porsche designer Rob Dickinson.
“We’ve been parked for 10 years. That’s gotta be one hell of a parking ticket, am I right? Hah!”
Rob Dickinson, now 47, is cheerful, effervescent and tan. Relentlessly tan. Tanner than any Englishman has ever been or ever should be. This physical feature, superficial as it may be, provides a clue as to what Dickinson has been up to since Wishville unceremoniously tanked in the year 2000. But more on that in a moment.
I began interviewing Dickinson on a 100-degree day this summer through the partially rolled-down driver’s side window of his idling Porsche Carrera in the parking lot of an In-N-Out Burger. He allowed me to lean down and talk to him through the small opening as he chomped on a “protein style” burger wrapped in a lettuce leaf.
“Is it hot out there?” he asked. “The air conditioning in this car is great! I did it myself! And I love this guacamole!”
There were a few minutes of silence as Dickinson alternated between chewing and saying “Mmmm!”
Suddenly, he began again: “Looking back, it’s no surprise that Wishville was unsuccessful. I mean, it’s the best writing I’ve done outside of Fresh Wine, but it just wasn’t me, you know what I mean?”
“What are you, then?” I asked.
“That’s an excellent question. Rob Dickinson: what is he? What was he? I had no idea at the time. I think I was really depressed all the way through the 1990s. Weren’t we all? Think about it. Nirvana. Pavement. Sebadoh. All dour fellows moping into their microphones. If those bands were still around today, where would we be? Dead, probably, of suicide.
“Oh, I just thought of another band that was in the 1990s! REM. Automatic for the People. Have you listened to that recently? “Everybody Hurts”? “Radio Free Europe”? It’s a total downer, that album, one funereal dirge after another. I mean, I don’t want to speak ill of former boyf—oh, fuck! I just got burger juice all over the crotch of my jean shorts.”
One hour later, at a neighborhood dry cleaner, we resumed our interview.
“What were you saying about REM?” I asked.
“Right, Wishville,” Dickinson said, “that ill-fated album. I thought I’d gotten all of that cynical, depressing shit out of my system as the decade ended, but after ending what I thought was an excellent tour, and then failing to sell any records, it all came back worse than ever. I flew home to the UK in a serious funk and sat around pubs drinking beer for weeks. Then, one day, I happened to run into Peter Whittaker, a former keyboard player for our band, and I told him about my troubles. Pete was always such a happy fellow, so when he suggested going to California, where everyone was happy, I listened.”
“Is it true? Is everyone happy here?”
“They are all happy! Well, the post-op ones are.”
“Yes, I’d better explain. So, I moved to California, and all the people were great, and I joined a mariachi band and changed my middle name to ‘Pedro.’ I was having a great time, but still, I wasn’t living life to the fullest, you know. Something was missing. I began to suspect that my problem might be medical. I visited a Los Angeles doctor, who confirmed this theory. I learned that, like many people in California, I could solve my problems through surgery.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It was my Englishness that was the problem. So I had it removed. I had an Englectomy followed by Californioplasty. Essentially, I had my Englishness replaced with Californianess. I’m a post-op transcultural.”
“Oh! Is that a gland or something?”
“So I’m a new man! Now, I write positive lyrics, I work on Porsches, I eat low-carb hamburgers, I shoot videos on my Motorola phone, I tan, I sing for BT, I wear shorts, I do hot yoga—I even get married and have babies occasionally! It’s ridiculous! Can you imagine any of that from the old Rob Dickinson? And the best part is that the quality of my creative work hasn’t suffered! I’m the best possible me, right here, right now!”
“Any new musical projects?” I asked.
“Yes, as a matter of fact. I’m rerereleasing my album Fresh Wine for the Horses with another different track order. Great, huh? This time, “Intelligent People” is coming first! This version has a new song as well. It’s dubstep—which, as you might know, is the hot thing these days. Want to hear some lyrics?”
Dickinson sang/rapped the following lines:
Hey, hey, Los Angeleez!
Land of the awesome men and ladieez!
I love you so, never let you go,
I drive my Singer 911 down your streets!
Hey, hey, Los Angeleez!
Party on, Los Angeleez!
“That’s certainly a different direction,” I said.
“Isn’t it, though? I love it! I’ve never been so excited about rerereleasing an album. And I’ve got a new marketing plan that will make me tons of money.”
“Well, have you noticed that bands such as the Flaming Lips have released singles and albums on flash drives embedded in collectible objects? Well, I thought, why not do that with a Porsche? So, in order to buy my album, you have to buy one of my company’s Porsches. The album is hardwired to the stereo. It’s a one-of-a-kind media item.”
“Are you saying it’s the only thing the stereo can play?”
“Right! Think about it! It’s like DRM or something! And, of course, people will be buying the Porsches left and right—it’s the only way you can get ‘Hey, Hey, Los Angeleez’ and the reshuffled album. I’ll make millions! I can’t believe people haven’t thought of this before.”
“It’s that post-op entrepreneurial inspiration at work,” I offered.
“Right,” Rob confirmed. “Hey, can I borrow a fifty for the dry cleaner? I’ll pay you back in a couple of years.”
Brian Futter is notoriously reclusive, choosing to spend the majority of his time at his family’s home in Crumpethampton-on-Willingtonsideburghstokefordshire, a hamlet supported primarily by sheep farming. However, he remains well connected to the outside world, and his ill-tempered, curmudgeonly reputation has become increasingly well known in musical circles. This reputation is, in fact, his primary asset as his musical career continues to evolve. For example, Futter recently collaborated with The National on their latest album, Eeyore Sings, Vol. 6, a project that brought him to the attention of insular mope-rockers, emo bands and warmed-over Joy Division revivalists across the world.
Because the needs of these bands are relatively simplistic, Futter earns a comfortable living utilizing a mere 1% of his overall talent. On any given evening, he records himself dragging his fingernails up and down the strings of his guitar. The result is a sound not unlike this: SKREEAAGGHAAASSSHHHHHHHRRRRRRRAAAAKKKKKKKHHH. Futter then splits this hour or two of guitar noise into short mp3s, each of which he sends to a different band for use in their recordings.
“They love it,” Futter says. “I’m making much more money doing this than I ever did with the Catherine Wheel. For awhile, I didn’t get it, but then I realized why so many bands were attracted to it. Because I’m a de facto member of these bands, I now appear in their band photos. Let’s face it, my thousand-yard stare gives their liner notes instant credibility. I’ve got decades of experience in looking bored and irritated! The rest of the band could be smiling and licking giant lollipops, but put my sour puss in the middle of them, and whoosh, I deflate the mood of the entire room! Most of these bands lack the experience to do this on their own. I’m indie gold.”
In the meantime, Futter continues so stockpile hundreds of unused riffs. “That’s the problem with my current job,” he says. “No one wants real riffs. I put hundreds of them into storage every year—good ones, too. They’d blast the tailfeathers off a California condor, these riffs. I have your standard widdley-wahs, your widdleywiddleywiddley-wahs, your neeeyarrrrr-rer-ner-ner-ners, your ner-nah-ner-nah-NAHs—god, probably like six dozen of those. My collection of riffs is bigger than Jimmy Page’s. I’ve tried putting them on eBay, but to no avail.”
And so, Futter’s lucrative career as a curmudgeon for hire continues. Unfortunately, because we interviewed him by phone, we were unable to confirm a persistent rumor that could damage his marketability. It seems that Futter has grown his hair out and somehow added six inches to his height. As a result, apparently, he stands in the center of his village every May Day and allows children to dance in circles around him. We were unable to confirm this rumor, however; Futter grunted unintelligibly when asked about it.
Neil Sims, 2012. Catch his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network.
Earlier this year, Brittany loaded up her truck with boxes of baklava and drove to Ashtabula, Ohio, in an attempt to coax Dave Hawes out of his home for an interview. What follows is her account of the event.
“Dave! Dave! I have tasty treats!”
I saw David Percy Hawes peek through the curtains in the front window of his home.
“I have baklava! I have chocolate muffins! They don’t have any gluten, soy, lactose, glucose, corn syrup, peanuts, walnuts, coconut, pine nut, vegetable oil, margarine or chocolate. But they’re delicious.”
I heard a yell from inside the house: “Put a couple through the mail slot!”
I shoved three pieces of baklava and two muffins through the slot. I heard scratches near the front door, and then muffled grunting and smacking noises. Finally, the sound of chewing: Om-nom-nomnomnom.
“Dave, what happened? What’s wrong with you? Why won’t you come out?”
“No talk, just food. Muffin!”
“This is the last one, Dave! You need to come out and talk to me!” I shoved the muffin through and was nearly scratched as Hawes reached to grab it.
There were a few grunts and chewing noises, and then silence.
“Dave!” I said. “I get it. You enjoy several years of moderate success with a talented band both in the studio and on the road, and then, just when you feel the band is ready to make its next step, to produce the best material of its existence and break through to a much larger audience—you get cut out. As if you never meant anything!”
I sensed some movement behind the door.
“And then,” I continued, “As you struggle to find a new purpose in life, moving from career to career and having door after door slammed in your face, people like me and Mike ruthlessly, incessantly make fun of your predicament, calling you a Hare Krishna, a narcissist, a Machiavellan website hacker and a conspiracy theorist—even a goblin. Why would we do that? Obviously, we have our own insecurities. We doubt our career choices as well. I was unemployed for months! It’s all a projection of that, you know. We’re all hurting in this economy. But believe me, I never meant to hurt you, Dave! You’re my favorite musician. I would never do that to you if I thought it would send you into isolation. Are you listening?”
“Dave, if you’ll just come out and talk for a few minutes, I promise you’ll feel better! You’ll have closure! You’ll feel better. And I’ll never hurt you again, I promise.” At this point, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. “Come on, Dave. Just a few minutes.”
“Oh, hi, Brittany.”
I turned around, and Dave was behind me. “D-Dave!” I wiped my eyes.
“What are you doing here? I was just in the backyard pulling weeds. How are you? Great to see you! Hey, is that baklava? I hope some of that’s for me!”
“Dave, you’re okay!”
“Of course! Couldn’t be better. Life’s been great. I’ve been working, spending time with the family. I’m in a little jazz band—we play down at the bar sometimes. I’m gardening, building a boat in the garage. Couldn’t be better!”
“But I swear… who’s been eating my muffins?”
“There’s something behind your door, grunting. In your living room. Eating my muffins through your mail slot. A feral man.”
“Oh, that’s Jason,” Dave said good-naturedly.
“You know, Jason E., the Catherine Wheel fan. He fell on some hard financial times, and he emailed me to ask for help. I mean, it was out of the blue, but why not? I’m doing so well these days, I can help a friend.”
“Let’s go inside! I think I can get him to talk. Oh, god, that baklava looks great! I can’t wait to try it!”
We interviewed Ben Ellis via the Skype app on his phone. However, Ellis was visibly intoxicated and seemed to interpret our call as a physical visit to his Glasgow home.
“O’roit thin, y’cotme at’gid toim o’th’day roit b’twingigs!” Ellis said. “Joos’fool’n, oin’t bindoo’n noot’n! Ify’woont, y’c’d chick m’ MySpace page. Nowt t’seemooch nahdees, joos’hieng’n’, watch’nvidzn’click’n “Loik” n’stoof. Y’gottagig? Y’got whisky? C’month’fookinthin. Oohth’woise, fookoff. Noo, c’monin.
“Oi, di’yanoouhgah meyalilwe bairn, loik, alilsoon, now’dys? Eh, he’s aroondeer soomwhere! Lilsoon! Lilsoon! Wheredyegoooo? Lilsoooon!”
We played “Words with Friends” while we waited for Ben to find his son (or the sun—hell, we don’t know what he’s saying). But he didn’t come back to the phone, and after 20 minutes, we gave up.
Later, he sent a text message that read, “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”
We’ve been unable to locate any record of former Catherine Wheel manager Merck Mercuriadis, who was reported deceased not long after bidding farewell to his last few clients in the middle of the last decade.
While doing research, however, we stumbled across the following website, which looks suspicious: Mercuriadis Gardens.
ICBINF editors and writers
Somehow, all of us ended up in Georgia and, after this article, will probably never be seen or heard from again.
[banjo music begins]