Heel to toe to hair and hoof and it's head over heels and it's all but an ark-lark...

“Cocteau Twins are hard to pin down”

  • By Len Righi
  • The Morning Call
  • 1983

Their hairdos are trendy, but they are not just another stylish haircut band from across the Atlantic.

They aren’t even English; they’re Scottish. They are the only performers in their band, but they don’t use synthesizers (they use tapes). They call themselves the Cocteau Twins, but they are not related. And unlike most musicians, during interviews they are penurious with words when asked questions about who they are, what they do, and why they do it.

Since the middle of 1982, Robin Guthrie and Liz (“only Robin calls me Elizabeth”) Fraser have been in the glare of the spotlight. Their two albums, EPs, an 12-inch singles (the “Sunburst and Snowblind” EP is their latest) have been hailed by the British music press for Fraser’s distinctive, delicate, and evocative voice, and what one writer called the band’s “spiraling haze of sound,” which includes throbbing bass lines and Guthrie’s spare, dreamy guitar work anchored by a heavy drum beat. Indeed, there is a certain hypnotic appeal, an atmosphere of intrigue (not to mention a certain sameness) about the Cocteau Twins’ music. But don’t try pinning down Guthrie or Fraser about their songs’ construction or lyrical content.

“If you start analyzing yourself too much, it affects the way the music comes out,” said the 21-year old Guthrie in heavy Scottish accent, during a telephone interview from a New York publicist’s office. “Everybody’s always trying to put you in some kind of category,” which Guthrie said was like having “mud thrown at you.” Another surprise: The band dislikes touring, which is why their New Year’s Eve show at The East Side Club in Philadelphia tonight is something special (the Cocteau Twins will be doing only two other dates in the States, both in New York).

Fraser, 20, the more talkative of the two, sketched the origins of the band. She and Guthrie grew up in Grangemouth (Guthrie described it as “an eensy, weensy industrial town…where everyone knows everybody else”). Fraser met Guthrie in a restaurant in 1982. “We were both drunk basically, and we just started talking to each other. He had me talking about starting a band. At this time, Robin was playing with [bassist] Will [Heggie] who has since left the band.” (Asked what led to Heggie’s departure, Guthrie exclaimed, “You don’t expect me to tell you about something THAT personal, now do you?” Guess not.)

“They wanted to get a band started, and I don’t know what made me think of going with them, but I started working with them. Actually I always wanted to be a waitress.” ▣