iz Fraser has two announcements to make. ‘Up until the last year, I seem to have spent most of my time in a fucking dreamworld like sleepwalking.’ And then — ‘l’ve got that Friday feeling . . . This is the new me, the new improved version.’ And suddenly the walls of expectation that the Cocteau 'I\vins have part-unwittingly, part by scheming self- protective design, built around themselves, their lives and their incredible music, come crashing down. This is the band who’ve fashioned their twelve-year career as divine expressors of God’s own dark emotions. Who were as likely to proffer any insight into their intricate lives as Enoch Powell is to take up residence in Central Congo. Whose notorioust disdainful and wilfully obstructive interview manner has in the past reduced journalists to tears of frustration, or just plain abuse (the NME was once driven to refer to them as, ‘extravagant, gutless, self- obsessed, over-precious world class WANKERS’). Unlike the celestial flightiness of their music, in person Liz Fraser, partner Robin Guthrie, and new boy (well, since 1984 anyway) Simon Raymonde were a nightmare.
‘We’re not very good at communicating,’ confesses Liz, surprisingly apologetic. ‘I mean
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After years of bottling it up, the Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser has pulled the cork on her emotions. She talks to Calvin Bush about relationships, babies and cocaine.
we’re getting better now. Before we never ever talked about the music, never, ever. We never told each other what was going on in our lives, never. If we had worries that were on our mind, we were very reluctant to say anything about it. We’d just carry on pretending.’
No more. There’s been too many upheavals in their lives recently: their departure from the 4AD label, when they’d spent ten years personifying the label’s vision of defiant beauty in an artless world; the birth of Robin and Liz’s first child, Lucy Belle, now four; the arrival of Simon’s first child too; the ungodly scramble for their signatures amongst the major labels, resolved by a move to Fontana; a sudden realisation of the encroachment of middle-age when all they ever really wanted to do was remain child-like and cocooned from reality forever; and in particular, Robin’s recently documented cocaine addiction, a twisted reflection of the self-obsessive side to the Cocteaus that has made past albums like Treasure, Heaven 0r Las Vegas and particularly Blue Bell Knoll (the ‘ultimate in exaggerated sound rather than words,’ reckons Fraser) so blissfully unique.
With an audible sigh of relief, Fraser explains how she felt about her partner’s unexpected
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openess about his habit. ‘l’m really proud of him, really proud, cos it was just like this horrible secret, and it wasn’t my job to talk about his secret. But we all knew about it and no one was saying anything. It’s good cos it doesn’t have power over us anymore.’
Did it come close to splitting her realtionship with Robin, and the band themselves?
‘I think . . . along with that addiction goes dishonesty, being secretive, not being approachable, and not being able to talk and communicate and just have an open and honest relationship. So yes, I guess so. I mean we didn’t have any communication skills before his cocaine problem got out of hand, so we were on a bit of a non-starter anyway.’
Diffidence, introversion, torment — these are the qualities that have long dominated the Cocteau’s oeuvre. As Liz herself put it with her new-found articulacy, ‘l was always just so vulnerable, always trying to get people to look after me.’ The release this month of the single ‘Evangeline’ and the album from which it’s taken, Four Calender Café, however, mark a watershed for the band. A reflection of her, ‘happiness that comes from talking things through,’ this is the ﬁrst time that lyn'cs, yes, real words albeit still sung in Fraser’s trademark,
a The List 3—21 ac—tober 1993