Catherine Wheel is a currently inactive alternative rock band from Great Yarmouth, England. The band was active from 1990 to 2000.
Catherine Wheel formed in 1990, comprising singer/guitarist Rob Dickinson (cousin of Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson), guitarist Brian Futter, bassist Dave Hawes, and drummer Neil Sims. For a number of years Rob Dickinson and Brian Futter had played in various bands in the local pub scene. During a stint in a band called "Ten Angry Men", they met Neil Sims, and when "Ten Angry Men" broke up, Rob and Brian felt they had a common musical bond and decided to stay together.
They asked Neil to sit in and placed an ad for a bass player in Andys Records, Lowestoft. Dave Hawes answered the ad and the band began rehearsals and sending out demos. The band landed a gig in nearby Norwich at the Norwich Arts Centre, and only then decided on a name, Catherine Wheel, after the firework also known as a Pinwheel or Irdieden.
Catherine Wheel played their first gig supporting four other local bands. Barry Newman, the promoter of the venue, also ran an indie label called Wilde Club Records and he liked them so much that he soon put out 2 12" discs, the "She's My Friend" EP, which came out in January 1991, and later the "Painful Thing" EP. Black Metallic and Upside Down were played on the John Peel Show, and the band was invited to do a Peel Session in April of 1991.
They signed to major-label Fontana Records and released their first full-length album, "Ferment", recorded at Monnow Valley Studio, Rockfield, Wales. The lead single, Black Metallic, reached the top ten (peaking at number nine) of the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.
"Chrome" was the second full-length album, released in 1993. With a more metallic sound than Ferment and EPs, the album was supported by the single Crank, a number 5 Modern Rock Tracks hit.
1995 saw "Happy Days", the third full-length album. Like its predecessor, "Chrome", it was produced by Gil Norton, and the influences of heavy metal and hard rock are prevalent on this album, which alienated a portion of their fanbase, even as it increased their exposure in the United States during the post-grunge era. However, the band does retain some elements of the shoegazing style that dominated their previous albums, particularly on the songs Heal and Eat My Dust You Insensitive Fuck.
"Like Cats and Dogs", a B-sides and outtakes collection, came out the following year, revealing a quieter, more contemplative side of the band, spanning the previous five years. The album includes an alternate version of "Happy Days" Heal (here titled Heal 2), and cover versions of songs originally by Pink Floyd and Rush.
"Adam and Eve" is the fourth full-length album, released in 1997. The album featured more adventurous instrumentation than any prior Catherine Wheel LP, with songs like Satellite and Here Comes the Fat Controller, which were lush and orchestral in scope.
Unhappy with their promotion, the band broke with their label and later, bassist Dave Hawes. They then signed with Columbia with a modified name (The Catherine Wheel), and began work on their fifth studio album, "Wishville". Dickinson, Futter and Sims shared bass duties during recording, eventually hiring Ben Ellis, previous of Motor Life Co. as permanent bassist. Once the album was released, poor and mixed reviews along with corporate restructuring at Columbia that led to the band's main supporters at the label being let go resulted in lackluster sales. After fulfilling their touring commitments, Catherine Wheel went on 'indefinite hiatus'. Two of "Wishville"'s projected b-sides, Storm and Towering and Flowering, would be re-worked and go on to appear on Rob Dickinson's solo album, "Fresh Wine for the Horses".