About the CWCC
1. Who are The Catherine Wheel?
If you were a fan of British indie music in the early 1990s, you might remember a 1992 radio hit called “Black Metallic.” The Catherine Wheel, a band from Great Yarmouth, England, followed up this offering with other singles in the 1990s, including “Balloon,” (from Ferment), “Crank” (from Chrome) “Waydown” and “Judy Staring at the Sun” (from Happy Days) and “Delicious” (from Adam and Eve). Known initially as a “shoegaze” band, CW moved further from that sound with each album. The band enjoyed minor commercial success and MTV visibility, especially in the Happy Days era, but its permanent fanbase remained relatively small. In 2001, the band took a hiatus, which now appears to be permanent.
During their active years, the band toured and recorded with such diverse acts as Slowdive, Blur, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Charlatans UK, Belly, The House of Love, Tim Friese-Greene, INXS, Jeff Buckley, Live, Buffalo Tom, Geneva and Tracy Bonham. In addition to releasing five studio albums, an album of b-sides and nearly two dozen singles, the band covered songs by Sebadoh, Mission of Burma, Scott Walker, Pink Floyd and many others.
CW band members included Rob Dickinson (vocals and guitar), Brian Futter (guitar and vocals), Neil Sims (percussion and vocals), Dave Hawes (bass 1990-99), Ben Ellis (bass and vocals 2000-01). Peter Whitaker joined as a touring keyboardist in the latter half of the band’s career. Merck Mercuriadis, then of Sanctuary Management Group, took an active role as the band’s manager and promoter.
Most of the band members are still active on social media, and there have been mostly unsubstantiated rumors about a possible reunion. If you’re interested in the further adventures of the band members, check out the Myspace page devoted to Rob Dickinson’s 2005 solo album, and listen to music by 50ft Monster (Brian and Neil’s side project), if you can find it.
2. What is the Catherine Wheel Cover Compilation?
The Catherine Wheel Cover Compilation is a large collection of Catherine Wheel cover songs submitted by fans of the band. Originally conceived as a professionally-produced multi-CD set, it is now a compilation on the Web.
The project was started in August 2000, shortly after the band’s North American tour in support of Wishville. Four members of Texture, the Catherine Wheel email list, have been involved from the beginning: Jeff Elbel (El Segundo, CA), Heather Parsons (Tucson, AZ), Marsh Portmann (San Jose, CA), and Aaron Tapscott (Bellingham, WA). Mike Garcia (Portland, OR) joined as webmaster later in the year, and Dan Loeffelbein (Stockton, CA) was selected to do the cover art in a Spring 2001 contest.
The idea of a CW cover album had been batted around intermittently for years before Aaron decided he was going to start it up again and this time see it to its conclusion. After he proposed the idea to Texture, Marsh emailed Heather, asking why the two of them couldn’t pool their resources (Heather had the web space and Marsh the business experience), while in a separate email to Heather, Jeff mentioned that he wouldn’t mind producing a cover album if it came to fruition. Marsh contacted Aaron, and the CWCC was essentially born.
We wanted to do this thing right, with real mastering, real CD manufacturing, professionally printed artwork, and so on. So we started looking at various companies that could do these things for a good price while still meeting our standards. Song submissions came in while we were crunching numbers and doing research.
The project was a huge success on the musical end. We ended up gathering over 70 songs from bands all over the world. Unfortunately, this level of success increased the cost of producing the compilation. Some serious risk was involved since it was hard to estimate how many people would be interested in the compilation—and, as you’re aware, CDs began to lose popularity. Finally in 2003, after a series of disappointments and a loss of momentum, the compilation got a fresh burst of energy as it was converted to a more feasible web-based project. The operation of the CWCC was turned over exclusively to Mike, who launched the website with mp3s at the end of 2003.
3. What is the current status of the CWCC?
The CWCC is still active! All of the submissions are currently available on the site, and they’ll be here for the foreseeable future. Download tracks and use them as you wish.
If you’ve completed a track and you’d like it to be part of the CWCC, click here for more info.
4. Is the CWCC endorsed by the Catherine Wheel?
No. There is a huge difference between being endorsed by the band and having permission from the band’s management to put the compilation album together. Before launching the CWCC, we obtained permission from Catherine Wheel manager Merck Mercuriadis.
There are a few conditions to our agreement:
- We’re using our own artwork (no copyrighted band photos, etc.) and design.
- We’re not using the “spiked wheel” CW logo, which is copyrighted, in any of our artwork.
- Cover versions can’t include samples of original CW recordings.
- Although we are permitted to distribute the mp3s freely, we can’t license them or make a profit off of them. Each recording remains the property of the band that wrote it. The lyrics and music, of course, remain the property of the Catherine Wheel.
- Any CW song can be covered, but songs they have covered (such as their version of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here”) are not eligible for the CWCC because we don’t have permission from the other bands.
The CW band members are aware of the project, as it has been announced on the band’s official site, its Facebook page, and the Texture email list. Some members have expressed appreciation for various tracks, which we take as a sign of success.
Note: There is another CW cover project called Strange Fruits. We dig it, but we’re not affiliated. They sell their compilation via a “name your price” model; we’re unsure whether that’s OK with the band (though they’ve been defunct for so long now, maybe it doesn’t matter). We wish them the best; the more the merrier.
5. Why and how did you decide to call the album Too Much Is Not Enough?
Since the idea for the compilation sprang from Texture, we decided it was only appropriate we turn the naming of the album over to the members of that list. Over the course of two weeks in September of 2000, Texturites contributed 39 possible titles, and in two rounds of voting, narrowed it down to Too Much Is Not Enough. The phrase is a lyric from “Fripp,” from the 1993 CW album Chrome. Despite this process, the name never really stuck, and the project is more often called the CWCC.
6. Is the CWCC only open to members of Texture, the CW mailing list?
Absolutely not. The project has always been open to anyone interested in contributing.
7. I want to cover a song for the compilation. Which song should I do?
Whichever one you like! Browse the pages, and listen to the mp3s. If you notice that a particular song hasn’t been covered yet, feel free to go for it, but if you have your heart set on one that’s already covered, that’s fine, too. As you’ll see, quite a few have been covered more than once.
If you can’t quite figure out how to play the music, check out our guitar tabs page to see if we have tabs for your song.
8. What kind of exposure would I get by contributing to the CWCC?
At this point, very little. The project’s heyday was in the mid-2000s, and we only receive and post a few mp3s per year at this point. We still get a couple of thousand downloads a year, which is somewhat remarkable given the age of the CWCC, but it’s always been a relatively low-profile project. You’d be doing this for the love of the band.
9. Have bands needed to sign a release form, or any sort of waiver, for participating in the CWCC?
Because this is a fairly small non-profit project, no. We’re not causing any huge ripples in the music industry, so the legal folks don’t really care. As stated before, we have the band’s permission to do this. And, although both Jeff and Aaron have worked for record labels, we’re not directly involved with any.
10. Is there any other legal stuff I should keep in mind?
Please use your own common sense. You can certainly record any song you like on your own free time, but make sure you’ve got all of your legal bases covered before distributing it to the general public. As mentioned above, we have permission for this project, so if your song ends up here (and it’s a genuine cover, with no additional lyrics, material from other bands, or samples), you’re good.
11. Why do some songs sound louder than others?
The songs were recorded by different bands using different equipment in different studio situations. Some recordings have gone through an intensive recording process, while others are comparatively low tech and raw. That’s going to cause variations in the volume level. It also means that some songs will be mixed differently — meaning that vocals or individual instruments will stand out on some songs more than others. Usually albums are mastered before release to even out some of these differences, but we don’t have the resources to do that (we’ve tried, using typical Windows software, to normalize volumes somewhat). Hopefully it’s not too much of a problem for you. Keep your volume control handy if it is.
12. What are the legal issues surrounding downloads from this site?
We have been given permission to cover and distribute songs freely, but be sure to respect copyright laws. Once you’ve downloaded the songs, you’re free to share them with others. Bands that have submitted their work to this site are fully aware that it will be distributed.
As mentioned earlier, “hotlinking” (good lord, it’s been a long time since I typed that word) directly to mp3s on this site is discouraged. If you want to download a song, do it through this website, not because we’re control freaks, but because we’re trying to preserve our bandwidth. We’d prefer it if you didn’t host the mp3s on your own site, though we won’t chase you down if you do. Legally speaking, though, it’s a bad idea to try to make any money off them. No one has permission for that.
If you want to use any of the artwork for any purpose beyond just printing it for yourself, please email us for permission. Unlike the other stuff, the artwork is protected by copyright.
13. Why aren’t there any notes or song titles on the cover art?
When we were counting on having a couple professionally-printed discs with pre-determined track listings, we had a bunch of text all worked out and ready to print. Now the CWCC is a looser, continually growing project, and people may choose to burn any songs to their discs in any order (if they even use discs). So it’d be a wasted effort to put stuff on the cover. If you’re interested in putting together a professional-looking cover for yourself, email us and we’ll send you the original high-quality cover art. Then you can mess around with it in Photoshop to your heart’s content.
14. I don’t like some of the covers! How do you choose which songs to feature?
We don’t decide. We post everything we get. Early in the project, we attempted to prioritize the songs (by putting some on earlier “discs” in the compilation). But this proved tricky as we continued to get submissions. Also, who cares? Different people like different things. Before long, we got out of the business of evaluation and just put the songs out there organized by CW album. You can decide which ones you’d like to download, burn to a disc, etc.
As mentioned elsewhere, this in an international project open to everyone; we want as many covers as we can gather. Getting picky about quality seems to be at odds with that mission. And to be honest, some of the less-polished songs are quirky and interesting. Give ’em all a couple of listens, at least; you might find a hidden gem.
15. How did you put this site together?
Since most of our work was done over a decade ago, this is going to sound pretty old school. The songs are encoded into 192 kbps mp3s using Exact Audio Copy. In more recent times, we’ve been accepting songs at higher bitrates and trying to re-encode some of the oldies as time permits.
The site was constructed using Dreamweaver and, in some cases, raw HTML until recently; now, it’s a WordPress-based site using the Tracks template. Although Mike runs this site, much of the content (especially in this FAQ) was written by Heather Parsons and a few others back in the early 2000s.
Site graphics are done in Photoshop using Dan Loeffelbein’s original cover art as a basis. The fonts used in Dan’s artwork and our site graphics (Pricedown and Zero Twos) were created by Ray Larabie and used by license. Everything else is in the public domain unless stated otherwise on the site.
Last but not least: this site has been hosted dependably by DreamHost since day one.