Welsh band Catatonia made their breakthrough in the mid-90s with a series of energetic singles that combined attitude with highly melodic hooklines. Indeed, their first four releases each secured a Single Of The Week nomination from either the New Musical Express or Melody Maker. The band was originally formed in 1992 in Cardiff, Wales, when guitarist Mark Roberts met Cerys Matthews while she was busking acoustic Jefferson Airplane songs outside Debenhams' department store. With the addition of Paul Jones (who had played with Roberts in Y Criff), drummer Dafydd Ieuan and keyboard player Clancy Pegg, the band recorded two EPs for the Welsh independent label Crai Records, September 1993's 'For Tinkerbell' and May 1994's 'Hooked'. In August 1994, they released a third single, 'Whale', on the Rough Trade Records' Singles Club. With a good deal of press interest the band relocated to London for the 'free drinks' A&R men were offering them. Their next single, February 1995's 'Bleed', was released on the Nursery (Trident Music) label before the band was signed to Warner Brothers Records subsidiary Blanco y Negro by Geoff Travis (Rough Trade's founder). Ieuan and Pegg had left by this point, to join Super Furry Animals and Crac respectively. Owen Powell was drafted in as an additional guitarist while Aled Richards took over on drums.
The band's major label debut was December's limited edition 'Christmas 1995' single, which was quickly followed by January 1996's 'Sweet Catatonia'. In advance of their debut studio album Catatonia supported Marion on tour, while Nursery released a Japanese/European import collection of their singles to date, The Sublime Magic Of … (The Songs 1994 - 1995). Their UK Top 40 breakthrough came with August's 'You've Got A Lot To Answer For', paving the way for the following month's Way Beyond Blue, co-produced with Stephen Street. The real commercial breakthrough in the UK came in January 1998, when the topical and highly catchy 'Mulder And Scully' reached number 3. Another single from the album, 'Road Rage', debuted at number 5 in May, and International Velvet reached number 1 after 14 weeks on the album chart. Cerys Matthews also appeared as a guest vocalist on Space's UK number 4 single 'The Ballad Of Tom Jones'. The lush melodic ballad 'Dead From The Waist Down' debuted at UK number 7 in April 1999. The equally accomplished Equally Cursed And Blessed entered the album chart at number 1 the same month, but ultimately was a commercial disappointment. Rumours surrounding Matthews' health and the future of the band circulated around the music press prior to the release of the well-crafted Paper Scissors Stone. Further drama ensued in August 2001 when their major tour was cancelled, and the following the month the band announced they were splitting up.
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