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Queen Adreena
Queens of the Stone Age

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Pretty Like Drugs
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Queen Adreena

Queen Adreena have just released their first track for over a year. Pretty Like Drugs, released through Rough Trade Records on 8 July 2002, is an obscene feast of pile-driving riffs and eerie melody, which sees Queen Adreena bringing their incendiary live act into the studio. The track has been remixed by Peter Reardon (Clawfinger, Insane Clown Posse).

Queen Adreena are Katie Jane Garside – Vocals, Crispin Gray – Guitar, Orson Wajih – Bass, and Pete Howard – Drums. The band were formed out of the ashes of Daisy Chainsaw at the tail end of the last millennium. As lead singer with Daisy Chainsaw, Katie Jane’s distinctive guttural howl and unpredictable Iggy-style stage performances, offset by long blonde dreadlocks and ripped antique dresses, ensured that her band stood out from the rest of the Top 40 - and it wasn’t surprising that Courtney Love later pinpointed her as one of the three women who had single-handedly paved the way for riot grrrl and, by implication, the girl power that followed.

Lurching to the edge of breakdown, in 1993 Garside walked not just from the band, but from the music industry. “If I hadn’t left it would have killed me. I was trying to make something mine that wasn’t mine. Because I didn’t write the songs I could never give enough, never go far enough. I couldn’t bleed in words, I couldn’t bleed in lyrics - I could only bleed in performance and that meant me attacking me, literally.”

Garside headed off to the Lake District on her own and ended up living in a big purple house owned by an old woman called Vayra. “That’s when I learnt how to sing for the first time,” she says. “I was in the middle of these mountains, it really was wall to wall mountains, and I just went up there and bellowed my heart out. It was very simple and very natural and it felt amazing. My senses were no longer tuned into the rest of the world, they were just there with me, and that’s when magic happens.”

Along with the magic came a lot of hard work. Determined to write her own material, Garside pushed herself through an unrelenting learning process. Improvising on tour in Europe with Test Department, filling book after book with lyrics, writing and recording early works in an isolated cottage in Wales, experimenting, refining, learning and finally arriving at a point where she had a tape that, she says emotionally, “I clutched to my heart.” At about the same time she decided to use the name Queen Adreena for her next project. “The name just came to me while I was up in Wales,” she says. “At that point I wasn’t interested in trying to make a record.”

Back in London, fate took a twist. Daisy Chainsaw songwriter/guitarist Crispin Gray moved into a house two roads away from Garside’s home in Belsize Park and even though it was five years on and he was now fronting his band he took her a tape of a traditional song called Pretty Polly and suggested she sing it. “I heard the song and I just went, Yeah!,” says Garside. “I was completely seduced by the melody and the story line, which were both beautiful and hypnotic. Crispin thought it was a great song. I thought it was the story of Crispin and myself.”

The compelling fairy tale of Pretty Polly inspired Garside and Gray to try to work together again. “The best thing about Daisy Chainsaw for me,” says Gray, “was that, because of Katie’s presence, I always felt that when we walked on-stage no one could outdo us. Working with Katie isn’t easy but it does bring out things that I wouldn’t otherwise do and the music is that much more interesting because of it.”

The tension between them - love and hate, reason and energy, attraction and repulsion, heaven and hell - became an inherent part of the Queen Adreena sound. In the studio, with their friend and mentor Ken Thomas co-producing, Garside and Gray pared down the songs to about a dozen, and christened the album with the working title Taxidermy, released in 2000. “We thought it was apt given that original bits of the songs have now been stripped off and new parts added on,” says Garside. “Although when I think of taxidermy, I visualise road kill - something that’s been knocked down by a car and put back together again to be put on view.” Kerrang! pronounced it, “ferocious, compelling, uncompromising and stellar” whilst N.M.E eulogised about their, “ability to walk the tightrope between serrated guitar madness and genuinely beautiful, barely-there minimalism”. It was live however that Queen Adreena really made a name for themselves, touring the album allowed the band to hone their inimitable brand of frankly unsettling aggressive-art rock.

Queen Adreena became a four piece, augmented by bassist Orson Wajih and drummer Pete Howard. The summer of 2000 saw the band headline triumphant shows at the Reading/Leeds festivals whilst picking up a best new band nomination at the Kerrang! awards. With this new single, it seems that once again, they’re ready to rip up the cosy conformity of the British rock scene.

Queen Adreena Pretty Like Drugs will be released through Rough Trade Records on 8 July 2002.

For more information visit www.queenadreena.com.

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