For a number of years Rob Dickinson and Brian Futter had played in various local bands. Rob was a drummer in those days (that's right, a drummer!) None of the bands did much but play the local pub scene. During a stint in a band called "Ten Angry Men", the lads met up with Neil Sims, while playing some support gigs outside of Gt. Yarmouth. Neil actually helped them out by playing percussion in some shows. Again, that band fizzled out.
Rob and Brian felt they had a common musical bond and decided to stay together. Rob finally took up guitar and between the two of them wrote some songs in Brian's bedroom on an 8 track recorder. With the drum seat left empty by Rob, they asked their old pal Neil to sit in--guess they kinda liked the guy. Hey, Neil had actually been in some bands, while living in Scotland. One band, "1984", even made it onto a punk compilation album (Bullshit Detector Vol 2, Crass records).
So they almost had a band, but they needed a bass player. What to do? The guys decided to place an advert in Andys Records, Lowestoft. Well, there was this guy who had just quit playing guitar in a Joy Division-influenced band called "The Eternal". This guy had always enjoyed messing around on the bass guitar and decided to answer the ad. This guy recalls that the ad read something like, "Band looking for bassist--influences Stone Roses, My Bloody Valentine, Ride, etc." Well, this guy was certainly into those bands (this was about June 1990). So he phoned the number at the end of the ad, which happened to be the phone number of one Rob Dickinson. They decided to meet up with this guy the following Sunday at Brian's parents' house. They played him a demo tape of their stuff, which the guy thought was great. This guy recalls that there were 4 songs, including "Black Metallic" and "Upside Down". He still has the tape somewhere...
So they arranged to do a rehearsal and found that they made a decent noise. Rob wasn't particularly keen on singing, but seeing as he was the only realistic candidate, they figured what the heck. So the new guy was in the band. His name was Dave Hawes.
In the meantime the band sent a demo to the Arts Center in Norwich and landed a gig to play. Panic time. They immediately began rehearsing, but the biggest dilema was... finding a name! Rob came up with Catherine Wheel. Dave can't remember how he came up with that one, but he liked it "straight away, as there were so many bands with one syllable names," explains Mr. Hawes. Catherine Wheel was formed...
On September 24, 1990, Catherine Wheel played their first gig supporting four other local bands. Unbeknownst to them, the promoter of the venue also ran an indie label called Wilde Club Records and he liked them so much that he wanted to put out a 12" disc. According to Dave, the band basically did some overdubs to the demo tape and it became the "She's My Friend" EP, which came out in January 1991. The disc got great reviews in all the weekly music magazines.
One night, while Neil was slaving away at a computer at work (he worked for an oil refinery), he heard a familiar tune on the radio, during John Peel's show. He couldn't believe it. John Peel was playing a Catherine Wheel song! Miles away, Dave Hawes lay awake in bed. He, too, was listening to the John Peel Show on Radio 1 in the wee hours (around 1 a.m.). He, also, heard "Upside Down". "The great thing about John Peel is that he will play a b-side track as opposed to the main song," says Dave. Word was out on Catherine Wheel. Soon after, they were signed to a record deal with Fontana/Mercury. In the immortal words of Mick Jagger... "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime you just might find, you get what you need."