Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Debauchery Is All I Need Is

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Debauchery Is All I Need Is

Article excerpt


TEN years ago,Cerys Matthews was pictured in a famous publicity shot wearing a T-shirt that proudly proclaimed her qualifications as the next big thing: "Fast-rising, beer-soaked, rip-roaring pop-tart." Today, she ought to be wearing one stating: "None of the above." For the Welsh singer is sipping mineral water in a flowing, cheesecloth blouse that almost succeeds in disguising the fact that she is obviously, glowingly, pregnant.

A decade on from her emergence as the charismatic singer of Catatonia, and two years after the band's chaotic implosion amid rumours of drink, drugs and breakdowns, the first lady of Welsh rock is happily married and living an oddly idyllic life in the American wilderness.

"I just feel euphoric the whole time," Matthews confesses, before readjusting her words in case of misinterpretation. "I shouldn't say I'm euphoric it's a strong word - but I'm very happy."

It's a remarkable transformation from just four years ago when Matthews was the unrivalled female face of Britpop. While hits such as Road Rage, Mulder and Scully and her duet with Tom Jones, Baby It's Cold Outside, made her one of British music's driving forces, she also positioned herself at the epicentre of the London party scene, lusted after by men and admired by women impressed by her outspoken views on everything from Welsh independence to heroin. The future seemed to be hers.

But behind the boisterous rock-star persona, Matthews was a shy girl whose lack of self-confidence left her ill-equipped for the fame and adulation.

"I think I have been too shy for what I do," she remarked recently. "They say anxiety happens because you've put yourself in an environment that doesn't suit your character. But isn't it nice to think all that happened because you put your foot in uncharted waters, and you can take it out again and the anxiety will go away?"

For a crutch, Matthews increasingly relied on alcohol and, it was rumoured, drugs; televisions were thrown from hotel windows and gigs cancelled after 48-hour drinking marathons. Bust-ups with band members peppered a world tour that had to be cancelled when, midway through 1999, Matthews walked out after suffering a breakdown, saying she could not cope with the celebrity life. …

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