Chapter Fifty Three: The Poster Girl For Fucked Up Rock’N’Roll Girldom

Titanium Rose, Angel Oil tour, 7th-21st September, 2004 – SELECTED PRESS CUTTINGS…

“It Isn’t Easy Being This Tough…

Katy Heathley sits, glowering, as only she can, in a dark corner of her local.  As she spots us entering the pub, her expression lifts a little, and she forces herself to smile.  It’s a brief smile, rather like a passing glimpse of the sun just before it disappears behind the clouds once more, but it reveals that there is a heart beating behind the scarily determined work ethic.  “You’re late,” she informs us as we sit down.  It is not a great start.

  At 21, Titanium Rose’s taciturn, occasionally volatile guitarist and chief songwriter has moved centre stage to become the rock in a band who all so often seem to be on the verge of being torn apart by personal demons.  “It’s not easy,” she confesses wryly, as she tucks a strand of short black hair behind her ear, “At times, I do feel as though I’m the one making all the effort, certainly it’s felt like that a lot over these last twelve months or so.”  She freely admits that she and drummer Maggie Davis (who is set to make her return to the live stage at the bands Manchester gig on 7th September) have an antagonistic relationship at best, “It made such a difference having Andrea in the band,” she sighs, going on to refer to the Girls From Mars’ drummer as a “genius.”  “I’d reached a stalemate with Maggie; we couldn’t work together at all, even before all the anorexia and self-destructive behaviour I frequently found her impossible, and I know that Flora was getting fed up with her when we recorded the album.”

  As well as writing nine of the twelve songs on ‘Angel Oil’, Katy also co-produced the album, alongside Sean Cooke, who produced The Girls From Mars’ acclaimed debut.  With his encouragement, (“She has absolutely no problem at all creating her own authority, there’s a toughness there, you know not to push her too hard ‘cos you know just how far she’ll let you push it: Very few women can pull that off.”) she has worked with a number of bands this year, including Shanti Nair’s The Flirts, whose third single, ‘Witch Girl’, she produced, “The Flirts are nice to work with,” she admits, “Shanti’s a great guitarist, and they do what I tell them!”

(Dafydd Williams, City Life, 1st September 2004.)

 

“Strange reports are filtering through to NME from the Molotov Cocktail camp concerning the behaviour of our favourite ‘troubled’ drummer, Maggie Davis.  This latter day Ophelia may be refusing to give interviews these days, but apparently she isn’t averse to showing off the many scars and lacerations that her anorexic body has been subjected to, “like a child with a new toy,” as one eyewitness put it.  “I don’t have a problem with her,” said drummer Dave Treacy, “but she’s fucking anti-social, and we’d all feel better if she cheered up.”

(NME, 15th September 2004)

Not Such An English Rose

Eighteen months ago, Fliss Keale was the supporting player in a celebrity sex scandal that gripped the nation.  In the course of those mad few months, she lost her job, her girlfriend, and the trust of her family, whilst gaining a tattoo, “several notebooks worth of lyrics,” and the kind of wisdom that can only be gained through bitter experience.  She was only seventeen years old.  Fast forward to the present day, and she is hard at work touring the U.K with her band, Titanium Rose, quietly writing songs, whilst gradually putting the past behind her.  “I might be ready to fall in love again,” she tells Raymond Crosby.

  She stands on the steps of the tourbus, her honey-blonde hair worn high in a ponytail, her soft blue eyes hidden behind a pair of heart shaped rose tinted sunglasses.  Her red shirt is tight, and clings at the chest, whilst her white skirt reaches to just above her knees.  Her tiny feet are slipping in and out of a pair of dainty white sandals, which appear to have been patterned with cherries.  She has the fresh-faced innocence of a twelve-year-old schoolgirl and the sophistication of the young Vanessa Paradis, and in the next twelve months it’s predicted that her name and face will, once more, be everywhere: But for all the right reasons this time.

(The Guardian, 30th September 2004.)

“SHOW US YER SCARS!” yelled some heckler in the audience at Oxford, “FUCK OFF!” I snarled as I shoved my way back through the crowd to the dressing room.  I was fed up with it all, I decided as the door slammed behind me; I could take the ‘mad’ drummer comments, the knowing smirks and whispered conversations, but I was getting seriously hacked off with the anorexic self-harmer shit.  What made it worse was that absolutely no one understood how I felt.  I was beginning to miss Nat I realised as I looked around the overcrowded dressing room, she would understand, and besides, she knew how to make me laugh, how to make me ‘Cheer up’…

  The London date of our tour went well; it was the last night, and Molotov Cocktail spent the day gearing up for a session in rehab: I’m amazed they could stand up by eight o’clock, let alone play.  London audiences tend to resist us very well as a rule, but there were a lot of Molotov Cocktail fans there, plus some of our fans have been following the whole tour and were there to give us some support; included in their ranks, I was pleased to note, were Angel and the Razorblades.  Katy was riding high on our album review in ‘NME’, so she was on good form, and as such, the rest of us were able to relax.  Most of them went onto a club afterwards, but Fliss wanted to go back to the hotel to rest her voice, and Emily (who has been doing the sound on this tour) and I decided to join her.

  As we walked along the brightly lit, still crowded, warm streets, we ran into Fergus and the girl we’d seen him with at the Manchester gig; Fay, the girl he had told us was his sister.  They had both been at the gig, it transpired, and had really enjoyed it.  I paid close attention to her as the five of us walked back to the hotel; she and I walked together, with Fliss and Emily up front, and Fergus behind.  I didn’t want to talk to her, but she was evidently keen to talk to me, and I found her voice to be soft, with an accent that was like his, only broader.  They didn’t look alike, but her gaze was every bit as fierce as his, except that this time it wasn’t a sexually questioning gaze, but a soul searching one: She was weighing me up, seeing if I was worthy of him.

  Once we reached the hotel, Fay went into the bar, leaving Fliss, Emily, Fergus and I to climb the stairs.  I had thought that Fergus had come back to talk to Emily, but when she and Fliss turned right for Emily’s and Jenny’s room, he didn’t follow them.  Instead, he followed me in silence to the room that I was to share with Fliss, and waited patiently as I unlocked the door.  I wasn’t surprised to hear him follow me in, and as he closed the door behind him, I asked, “What do you want?”

  “Oh,” his voice was light and careless as he ran his fingers across the dark pine of the door, but he wouldn’t look at me, “I just thought I’d watch you show off the bloody scars like a child with a new toy.”  I could feel the anger rising up inside as he continued, “That’s what it said, isn’t it?” He was carrying the previous weeks ‘NME’, and at last turned to look at me, “Long sleeves and jeans today I see, despite the heat.”

  “If you’ve come here to yell at me, you’re too late,” I snapped, “everyone else already has.”

  “Was it a sudden compulsion to show off? Or do you do it for anyone who asks, like a party trick?”

  “Get out.” I hissed.

  He didn’t get out; instead he walked over to the kettle on top of the sideboard and calmly filled it with water from the tap. 

  “I was asked to show someone my scars,” I stated, simply, my voice shaking with rage, “I didn’t know she was a journalist, and I couldn’t think of a reason not to.  Next time, I’ll have plenty of reasons why not, none the least being stuck up as the poster girl for fucked up rock’n’roll girldom!”

  Minutes passed.  He didn’t say anything, and I watched as he poured out two cups of tea.  He passed one to me without looking at me, then took his own over to the window, where he gazed out into the London night.

  “If you despise me so much,” I said at last, “why are you here?”

  He didn’t look away from the window, “I don’t despise you,” he said, quietly.

  “Well,” I set the empty cup down by the sink, “I’m too tired to play games tonight,” I walked back over to my bed and picked up my nightshirt, “I’m getting ready for bed,” I announced as I made my way into the en suite bathroom.

  It didn’t take me long to get changed, but I took my time over it all the same, I needed time to think; next door was a man who I still loved, but who, I was increasingly convinced, neither loved or cared about me anymore.  Why was he here? And, more to the point, how could I persuade him to leave before he hurt me even more than he already had?  Being selfish, it never really occurred to me to consider the amount of pain that I had caused him in turn.

  He was still standing by the window when I emerged, but he turned around at the sound of the bathroom door closing, and watched as I walked over to the bed and sat down.  Slowly, he walked over to me, then he crouched down in front of me and took hold of my hands, there was an agonising few moments before he leant forward and kissed me, lightly and slowly, “I’m sorry,” he murmured, “I treated you badly, and… well, I’m sorry.”  He made to get up, but I took hold of his hand.  He gazed at me intently, his eyes still solemn, so grave and serious, “Seeing you here tonight, like this, it’s… odd, it reminds me of the first tour we did together, you got up one morning without putting your make-up on, you looked so pretty and young, and yet old at the same time.”  He got to his feet, wincing slightly as he did so, and then walked out of the room without another word.

  I was still trying to process what had just happened when Fliss returned.  She was flushed, and she seemed to be more alert than I’ve seen her for months.  “I have to talk to you,” she said in a quiet, strained, excited voice.  I knew that I couldn’t talk to her then, so I forced myself to smile, before asking, with false brightness, “What is it?” She exhaled noisily, before saying huskily, “I think I’m in love with Emily.”

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