Curve - Biography
When Curve surfaced in the early ‘90s, some critics suggested it was just the latest calculated attempt by the careerist Toni Halliday to crack the charts. The band, which originally comprised only Halliday and guitarist Dean Garcia, were initially hurt by the scrutiny of their credibility but ultimately proved themselves as the real deal; creating a dense sound that combined goth, dreampop, industrial that was sometimes lazily lumped in with the concurrent shoegazer scene, despite having little in common beyond layered guitars. Ultimately it's clear that Halliday's voice and Garcia's musicianship went on to greatly influence several forgettable sound-alikes including Garbage, who appropriated Curve's style, slightly mainstreamed it and parlayed it into chart-topping success.
Antoinette Halliday began her music career in the late ‘70s, singing in a punk band, The Incest (later re-named Photofitz) and then in The Uncles before recording background vocals on several Robert Plant albums. While still a teen, Halliday met Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics. He in turn introduced her to Dean Garcia, a guitarist who had played on two Eurythmics albums, Touch and Be Yourself Tonight. Halliday and Garcia formed State of Play with Eurythmics drummer Olle Romö and Garcia’s wife, Julie Fletcher. After a couple of long-forgotten singles and one shoddy album called Balancing the Scales, the group got caught up in legal disputes with their label (and each other) and broke up. Halliday next tried her hand at a solo career, releasing Hearts and Handshakes, another mostly unheard affair that Dean Garcia played on – although the two weren’t on speaking terms. She produced the album along with now-renowned producer Alan Moulder, who would one day become her husband. Although seemingly designed for the top 40 (with the strikingly videogenic Halliday singing slickly-produced songs in the vein of Belinda Carlisle or Pat Benatar) its four singles failed to generate interest.
In 1991, Halliday and Garcia reconciled and began writing songs together again. They renamed themselves Curve and signed to Stewart's label, Anxious. Now sounding like late period Siouxsie & the Banshees combined with Cocteau Twins, they released three EPs in their first year alone. The first was the Blindfold EP (Anxious), which came out in March and actually got the band airplay overseas, despite no US release. Two months later, Anxious issued the Frozen EP. That October, the hat trick was completed with the Cherry EP. It was during this highly productive first year of activity that the negative press began to encircle the band, as Halliday’s newly dark and sultry persona, distinctly at odds with her solo incarnation, seemed like a likely fabrication. Questions of authenticity aside, the strength of Curve's actual music (and videos) allowed the duo to soldier on undeterred and another EP, Fait Accompli (Anxious), surfaced on February 24th, 1992. The EP went to number one on the UK charts and one month later the band reached the top spot again with their debut full-length, the Flood-produced Doppelganger (1992 Charisma). Their chart success carried over to the US as well, where “Fait Accompli” broke the top 20 on the modern rock charts. The Horror Head EP (Anxious) followed that summer.
The band really didn't stop recording, as their second full-length came just one year later. In that time, other musicians were brought into the fold for touring purposes, though they were never considered official members. Steve Monti became the group's drummer while Garcia relinquished his guitar-playing spot to Debbie Smith and he moved to the bass. Curve recorded Cuckoo (Charisma) and released it on the first day of fall in 1993. It was preceded by the Blacker Three Tracker EP (Anxious), which had arrived in August. The new album was noisier while also showcasing a couple new forays into a more mainstream sound. It reached number 18 on the US Heatseekers chart, a showing similar to that of their debut. The LP did not make as much of an impact on the UK charts as the band's previous releases however and it was evident that their luck was beginning to change. Months after the album's release, Smith left to play in Echobelly. That departure, along with new tensions between the band and their label, resulted in a second parting of the ways between Garcia and Halliday. Garcia started a solo project called Headspace while Halliday worked with Leftfield, Recoil, Future Sound of London and Paul van Dyk,. She also formed Scylla, a group that had one single on the Showgirls soundtrack and had another song appear in Gregg Araki’s Nowhere.
Three years later, Curve was back on. Their new single, “Pink Girl Sings the Blues” was released on an EP of the same name in 1996 on the Fatlip label. It was followed by the Chinese Burn EP one year later on Universal. The popularity of the song “Chinese Burn” set the stage for the band's forthcoming third album, Come Clean (1998 Universal). Powered by the single “Coming up Roses,” Curve had what many critics thought was their best album. The release saw the band fully embracing their electronic tendencies just in time to benefit from electronica’s media push.
The group recorded their next album but it was shelved by their label. Acknowledging that there was a demand from fans for new Curve music, the band released Open Day at the Hate Fest in 2001. The collection was available only on the web and was hardly the new album that fans had been waiting for. Their hunger was satiated later that same year, however, when Universal gave Gift a late summer release on their subsidiary label, Hip-O. Only the fourth Curve album in ten years, it was a welcome return and featured a guest appearance by Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine.
The spring of 2002 saw the release of another self-issued affair, The New Adventures of Curve, which was also available only through the band's website. In 2004, the band put out a 2-disc retrospective compilation that culled together the best songs off of their EPs as well as their albums, The Way of Curve 1990/2004, on BMG International. In 2005, Halliday announced that her time as the singer of Curve had run its course once and for all.