An interview with Brittany H.
Co-Editor In Chief
Because I am Catherine Wheel Manager Merck Mercuriadis’s favorite person in the whole world, he chose me to interview CW singer and guitarist Rob Dickinson on the subject of why bassist Dave Hawes [enter favorite excuse here] the band in late 1999. Merck is a big fan of my journalistic professionalism.
Brittany H.: Hi, Rob! How are you?
Rob Dickinson: I’m great! Well, actually, horrible, but…no, I guess I’m doing fine for now. How are you?
Britt: Doing well, as always! Let’s dig right in: What exactly happened to Dave?
Rob: I get so tired of answering this question!
Britt: Um, I don’t think you ever answered it in the first place.
Rob: Oh! Right! Um, well…he got kicked out of the band!
Britt: We all know that. Mind telling us why?
Rob: [condescendingly] Becaaauuuse Merck told you?
Britt: No, not why we know that he got kicked out! Why he was kicked out!
Rob: I don’t understand.
Britt: Reasons, Rob.
Rob: Oh! Reasons!
Britt: Yes. Reasons.
Rob: You know, we’ve been getting a lot of shit for this…
Britt: [muttering] MmmHmmm
Rob: …fact of the matter is, Dave wasn’t the first person to be kicked out of the band.
Britt: Oh, yeah? Who else?
Rob: Well, my guitar-playing nemesis, Brian.
Britt: Brian? Whose idea was that?
Rob: [yawning] I was in a bad mood that day! Brian was the first person I saw. It could have been anyone, really. Neil, Tim… Brian had the misfortune of living in the same town as me at the time. Now he lives as far away from me as possible, in Wales. He went as far as leaving the UK to get away from me! Can you believe that?
Britt: He obviously got back in—
Rob: Yeah, Merck pointed out my irrational behavior—he is such a great manage—and explained that we couldn’t get rid of The Guitarist. Even though I once fired him, Brian and I remain very good friends.
Britt: Unbelievable. So, I take it Dave’s situation wasn’t the result of another one of your bad moods.
Rob: Correct. Although it was, again, my idea.
Britt: But Merck said he instigated it—
Rob: Typical Merck, sure, taking credit for something he had nothing to do with.
Britt: You mean, he didn’t—?
Rob: You know, the one great PR idea I come up with and Merck has to come along and steal it. He just tries to look cool and heroic for that damn Texture website he’s a part of. Like, he has this omniscient image he has to maintain. So annoying, really.
Britt: What’s annoying? Image?
Rob: No. Omniscience!
Britt: Ah. So, Dave got fired because…
Rob: …because I said so.
Britt: I’m afraid that’s not very clear.
Rob: What more of a reason do you need?
Britt: Okay, let me put it this way: what reason did you give Dave?
Rob: I dunno. Whatever Merck told him, I guess. You’ll have to ask Merck.
Britt: We tried that already.
Rob: And what did he say?
Britt: Nothing, really. But that’s also when he said he instigated Dave getting fired.
Rob: Uh! He completely used the opportunity to take the credit for my idea!
Britt: And all this time we thought he was trying to cover your ass.
Rob: Well, it’s his job to do that, too. Or else he’s fired.
Britt: Then what’s the problem? Merck looks like the bad guy. People still like you. Everyone is happy.
Rob: You have a point. I guess everything did work out for the better—for me, anyway.
Rob: And people can’t possibly hate me—I have a British accent!
Britt: There you go. So, Dave was fired for PR reasons—
Rob: There’s your answer!
Britt: Right, but…what were the reasons behind that reason?
Britt: [impatiently] What was your goddamn PR idea?
Rob: Oh! It’s kind of embarrassing…
Britt: [in mock sympathy] Well, bad ideas can be embarrassing.
Rob: [slowly] Well…okay…I noticed the success of the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync…and I noticed they had something Catherine Wheel did not have.
Britt: A good manager?
Rob: No. Distinct personalities!
Britt: I thought the Catherine Wheel already had those? Bossy, Crabby…
Rob: We did—we do—but Dave lacked in the personality area. Don’t you think?
Britt: No. He was always nice to me.
Rob: Oh, that was just a show he put on for everyone. In reality, he had the personality of lunchmeat. His switch was turned off a majority of the time. He’d talk shit like you wouldn’t believe. Big hypocrite, he is.
Britt: Every fan’s account of him was positive. No one could say a bad thing about—
Rob: But enough about how much everyone loved Dave more than me. Back to my excellent PR idea. I wanted Catherine Wheel so that each member could be easily identifiable. Dave was too plain and normal in every aspect. Besides, we already had a dark-haired band member: me. A massively popular band cannot have any two members carrying the same traits.
Britt: You and Merck seem a lot alike—
Rob: I liked Ben straight away because he had light brown hair. Now four different haircolors are represented! Five, including Merck! It can’t get any more perfect!
Britt: [awestruck] Dave was fired on account of his hair color?
Rob: It’s not my fault Dave wasn’t open to change. You don’t think Neil shaved his head for fun, do you?
Britt: I suppose he wouldn’t shave his head unless he had a good reason.
Rob: Exactly! Neil shaved his head so Dave could have the opportunity to bleach his hair, so all of us could look different. But Dave wanted nothing to do with it!
Britt: So, Dave was fired, not for chemistry reasons as previously stated in the press, but for chemical reasons. No wonder fans are confused.
Rob: Call it what you want. Who said anything about chemistry, anyway?
Britt: No one. Nevermind.
Rob: Anyway, aside from the follicular issue, I couldn’t pin a personality to Dave.
Britt: Did you try “friendly”?
Rob: Mmm, nah. He disagreed with me on something, once.
Britt: Okay. What about…”caring”?
Rob: Absolutely not! One rainy night, he was driving me somewhere and he made me get out of the car! He drove off and left me on the side of the road!
Britt: Hahahaha! That’s pretty funny!
Britt: I mean, how terrible. You could have come down with pneumonia.
Rob: I don’t even know what I did wrong!
Britt: Yeah. It sucks when you get ditched and you don’t even know why.
Rob: Well. It’s never a good idea to leave The Lead Singer stranded.
Britt: So we all have learned.
Rob: Having said that, I am not The Lead Singer anymore, per se.
Britt: What are you now? The Lead Asshole?
Rob: Close! Each member is no longer identified by his job in the band, but rather, his personality! For instance, Brian is The Funky One, Neil is…umm…The Boring One…uh, yeah, that sounds good. Er, Ben is The…Drunk One…that’s fitting, yes…and… Oh! Guess which one I am!
Britt: Oh. I mean, The Moody One?
Britt: [shakes head] I give up.
Rob: I’m The Cute One!
Britt: The Cute One?! You can’t be The Cute One!
Rob: Why not?
Britt: Because you’re too old!
Rob: [stomps foot] No! Merck said I could be The Cute One!
Britt: According to Section 45, Rule 20 of the Popular Band Handbook, the youngest member of the band is The Cute One. That means Ben is The Cute One!
Britt: I’d have a word with your manager if I were you.
Rob: I can’t believe Merck would mislead me like that! He said being The Cute One would guarantee massive popularity!
Britt: It will! For Ben! He might even be wildly successful with a different band!
Rob: [fretfully] What am I going to do? Help me! I need a new personality!
Britt: Sounds like trouble! How about The Tyrannical One?
Rob: That has a nice ring to it, actually. But I don’t think Merck would go for that: [in mocking tone] “PR reasons.” Throw some more at me.
Britt: The Insatiable One?
Rob: Too hard for the teenage girls to spell.
Britt: Hmm. [thinks] Ah! I got it! The Bad Karma One!
Rob: Hey…I kind of like that! I don’t see where the “bad” necessarily applies, but…
Britt: Perhaps in the future, you will.
Rob: Merck’s into that stuff, so he’ll like it, too.
Britt: Good to know someone is cognizant of at least that! So, what was Dave’s reaction to getting fired?
Rob: Umm, ummm, hmm, oh, what’s a good one…ah, yes, um…he took it very well!
Britt: He did?
Rob: Yes! I swear! He did! I promise! Why? What makes you think he didn’t?
Britt: Are you sure? I’d be pretty pissed.
Rob: You know Dave, easygoing. He took everything in stride. Dave and I remain very great friends.
Britt: How so?
Rob: We visit each other maybe four, five times a year. When I visit Ashtabula—I love going there—his wife feeds me, just stuffs me like a pig. Roast beef, corn. cornbread, and she makes the best damn corn pudding I’ve ever tasted! Other than that, there isn’t much to do in Ashtabula. Dave and I will go down to the local pub. I help him exterminate the rats and field mice from his barn. One time, I was there for the county fair. It was so much fun! I won the corn-shucking contest!
Britt: Wow! You must’ve had a lot of practice!
Rob: Strangely enough, each time I’ve been to Ohio, I become deathly ill. I haven’t figured out what—
Britt: Must be the weather. What do you do when Dave visits Los Angeles?
Rob: There isn’t much to do there, either. Eat sushi, go shopping, cruise Sunset Strip for hot chicks, work out at Muscle Beach—it’s nice to have someone around to rub the suntan oil on my back. Sometimes we wax my yellow Porsche; we have so much fun doing it, before we know it, several hours have passed. We have such a lovely time together!
Britt: Glad to hear you guys get along so well!
Rob: Yes! Getting rid of Dave was the best thing that’s ever happened! And the main chunk of the proof is yet to come!
Britt: Um… when?
Rob: I don’t know! But it’ll happen! The Popular Band Handbook says that once the rigid band member is fired and the young, malleable replacement is recruited, the band becomes massively popular!
Britt: What the hell handbook edition do you have?
Rob: [sound of Dickinson pulling tattered, much-referred to copy out of back pocket and rifling through pages] Umm…1990 edition.
Britt: Ack! No one uses that one anymore! Didn’t you know there was a recall on that edition? Look what happened to Guns n’ Roses and Motley Crue!
Rob: I rely on Merck to keep up with these things—
Britt: Everyone went back to the 1960 edition, the same one The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, and The Doobie Brothers used! Every band that referred to the 1990 edition, its plans backfired! And each band got sued by its ex-member! That’s why the 1990 handbook was recalled!
Rob: Fuck! Now what?
Britt: Man, I don’t know!
Rob: This is all Merck’s fault!
Britt: How is it Merck’s fault? It was your idea!
Rob: Oh, yeah! Hm, I can’t fire myself. I guess I’ll have to fire the rest of the band and start all over again. And I’ll make sure of it that I am The Cute One.
Britt: You do that. On that note, thanks for shedding some light on the situation with Dave.
Rob: Hey, anything for the fans! I’m just happy to have put any existing controversies to rest!
Britt: What a fine job you’ve done. I’m sure, in fans’ minds, you’ve nailed the coffin shut. Bravo! Now, go buy a new Popular Band Handbook, before you mess up again!
Rob: I’ll tell Merck about it right now!
Britt: Please do.