COLLEEN CAFFEINE / CHOKING SUSAN
Have I mentioned before that CHOKING SUSAN are one of my favourite bands? (Yeah – thought I may have just dropped it in once or twice previously!)
Being unable to make the REBELLION FESTIVAL these past few summers, it’s been four long years since I last met up with the Detroit punks. So when they announced they’d be playing the intimate 13th Note Café in this here old Glasgow town at the end of July, I cancelled my diary for that night and made plans to leave the car at home, have a few beers and get the last bus home.
The plan was just to go along to a gig without either my LOUD HORIZON or ARTROCKER hat on for a change and simply enjoy the show and PARTY! I had made no plans to ‘interview’ anyone, and yes, I did sup a good few beers!
But you know how it goes …. I had been chatting to Colleen throughout the evening anyway, so as I waited for my cab home (my last bus had left about an hour and a half earlier!) I switched on the voice recorder (which I sadly carry around like a proper wannabe journo!) and just ran with it.
What follows is the result of possibly the most ill-prepared and beer-fuelled interview I have ever done.
TAXI FOR JACKSON!
‘Twelve years,’ drawls Colleen Caffeine in answer to probably the most boring opening question she’s ever been asked.
“Yeah, Keith (Killer Keith, guitarist) and I are the only two original members, but I think our bass player (Paul Bearer) is pretty solid now. He’s pretty much given his blood for the band. He’s not going anywhere now whether he wants to or not! We don’t have a drummer right now though.’
Colleen, an enthusiastic blogger, has been quite vociferous on this particular aspect of the band in recent months. Does she harbour any regrets about what she openly said about the recent departure of their previous drummer, Beth?
“No – ‘cause I’m telling the truth. I don’t think I’d ever say something I’d regret later because it’s the truth. Obviously I speak out of anger, but when people keep asking why we can’t keep a bass player, why we can’t keep a drummer – well, it wasn’t me; it was a controlling boyfriend who didn’t want his partner to have any fun?! Why can’t I say that?”
“But y’know – we were so close on tour. We once toured Ireland, and me and her …. I don’t have a lot of female friends, y’know, and we bonded. We did all the things girls normally do, like go to the bathroom together and hang out! I lost a friend the day Beth left, not just a band mate. I cried about it today, in fact.”
This simple little revelation just highlights how viewing from a distance can create the wrong impression. Colleen’s off stage demeanour is nothing her rather mental and frantic stage presence would have us believe.
But of course, it’s the latter image that everyone comes to see, for like it or not (and I doubt even Keith would dispute this) Colleen is the face of CHOKING SUSAN. Does that, and the recent reversion to being the only female member create any added pressure?
“Nah! I learnt the bass and I learnt to write more songs because when Keith was the only creative influence since we lost the other members, we needed somebody else’s voice. ‘Cause when one person writes everything it sounds like one person writes everything. So to me… I’m thrilled to death to be in this position. I don’t think it’s ‘pressure,’ I just think “thank you for the gift.”
But it’s been twelve years! That’s a long time. What keeps Colleen going?
“You!” she immediately replies.
The word is left hanging and I feel well pleased with myself.
“You and everybody else.”
“The hugs I got today – that’s what keeps me going.”
It’s true, the band have a devoted and ever-growing fan-base. Tonight’s audience is mainly of a more ‘mature,’ demographic.
“I think we have that ‘old school’ appeal, but add a new flair to it so I think we can accommodate All Ages shows as well as those people who were around at the onset of the original punk scene. Definitely – we got the energy, we got the … you know – we got it goin’ on!”
OK – granted I’ve got a few years over Colleen, but I mention that I’ve just been to watch two gigs in the past three nights and I’m knackered! How does she maintain the enthusiasm and energy?
“It’s just the adrenalin – the thrill of being up there. You know, we left on Friday night, arrived on Saturday with no sleep on the plane and played a gig on Saturday night. And what kept us up? It’s just the whole excitement. Sheer, natural hormones.”
Will this feeling ever wane?
“Hell no! You know – it’s all about being happy and not about being popular. I like to crawl about the floor and touch people’s legs. That’s my thing. I wanna sweat on people and want them to sweat on me. That makes me happy and yeah, if they wanna watch me ‘old,’ then we’ll still be doing this in ten years time! Sure!
By now, I’m running out of questions and Colleen is rapidly running out of the will to live. A car toots as it pulls up opposite.
“This your cab?” Keith shouts from the other side of the pavement.
Saved by the horn!
TAXI FOR JACKSON!