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Bellatrix singer Eliza Geirsgottir chats with Roofdog

say CHEESE...!

She has a voice that makes a thousand indie boys swoon and loves to eat potatoes. Eliza chats with Roofdog about duets, Star Wars and a bucket full of pee...

Words and pictures: Karl Cremin

Location… Newcastle. Synchronise watches… time: 1730hrs. Teatime, and your correspondent is comfortably ensconced in the hospitality suite at Newcastle Arts Centre. Due to unforgiving time constraints (and a slow kettle), the Saturday cup-a-soup was neglected. My alternative meal: a can of cola and a small chocolate mini-roll (for stamina, see?). There's just enough time for these to be devoured before the tall, blonde, pig-tailed and incredibly indie-pop figure of Eliza Maria Geirsdottir wanders into sight, scanning the room and clutching a chocolate biscuit (presumably also for stamina). She is the voice of Icelandic media darlings Bellatrix, and this time tomorrow she'll be on a plane bound for Norway for yet another tour.

1999 was a great year for Bellatrix. You played at festivals around the world, moved to London, signed a new record deal and built up a large following in the UK. Were you ready for such a positive response?

"In a way I think we expected it. Because we're from Iceland we're 'stupid' we always think everything's going to happen! (laughs). But I mean, we just took a chance and went for it completely, and won, so we're quite happy with that. Moving to London was a risk.. a big risk; financially…. and mentally! Everybody in Iceland was like "Oh my God, you're MAD, why are you doing that!" We have a good amount of fans over there…"

This is the last date of your UK tour with Crashland; what adventures did you get up to?

Hmm… (thinks)… we peed in a bucket!

You did?

All the girls! (right). We were backstage at The Brixton Mass and there were no toilets, and you have to go over the stage to get out and we couldn't do that, so we just took the bucket with the rider in, threw the rider out and we all peed in it!

..and then what did you do with it afterwards?

..just left it there - a present!

You're flying to Norway tomorrow… how do you find UK audiences in comparison with others across Europe? Is there any difference?

I think they're quite good - I mean, the UK's been good to us really. They're not used to bands talking to them and we're not trying to be cool at all… it's pretty similar. I think Icelandic audiences are harder though because they're very demanding.

You've also signed a four-album deal with Fierce Panda. Can you see yourself singing in ten or twenty years time, maybe recording a few duets and guesting on chat shows?

Of course! Oh yes, I'd love that! I think it would be good to duet with the singer of Travis… Fran Healy.. he's quite cute! Not Tom Jones though… I heard that he'd just pinch my ass or something!

Your latest single, The Girl with the Sparkling Eyes, tells the tale of a girl who can control men with a flutter of her eyes. Did you have a particular person in mind when you wrote it?

Yes… but I'm not gonna tell you who it is! (laughs).. I think it's also about an element in all of us; all the girls in the band really; and all our friends. It's not a very serious song, it's just about how girls can twist little boys round their fingers and all that stuff."

Your debut album is set for release in May. What can we expect from that?

Um… well, we're very happy with it. It's quite a poppy album with all kinds of effects and weird sounds. It was hard work though, but it sounds good, which is a really good thing.

You're a classically trained singer, and Bellatrix drummer Karl used to play in a thrash metal band. So what would you say Bellatrix's influences are?

All of that stuff; I mean, if you're an artist, music is everything; it's 'where you are', the people around you, and stuff like that. Music is all kinds of stuff really; I listen to Jazz and Opera and old-time tunes like Frank Sinatra. I really like to listen to all types of music, even pop songs, to hear how they're constructed.

Who have you been listening to on the tour bus?

The Flaming Lips, and when we get really drunk we put Travis on (feigns drunken singing voice!), they're good for a singalong; and we just bought the new Primal Scream record which is quite good.

Fantasy Festival - please choose five bands for the main stage. Two are allowed to have split, but the other three must still be around.

Well! Of course, Elvis Presley would be there; he's the king! And of course us, and KISS, Led Zeppelin, (then, not now!), and Sonic Youth.

You find yourself marooned on a desert island for a week; however, you're allowed an unlimited supply of one type of food and one drink to see you through. What would they be?

Water, and potatoes. I love potatoes! I could eat them forever. They can be my dinner any day!

One of your other singles, Jediwannabe, is going to be used in a film. Would you consider a career in acting, maybe in the next Star Wars film perhaps?

Oh my God! I would die even to be just an extra walking by - that would be so cool! But I don't think it's gonna happen… maybe in the third one, if I get really big and they call on me. Pleeease!

Have you any plans to change the Bellatrix sound?

I think we're just going to find out when we start writing again; we're writing a lot of slower stuff now but you never know, you could end up being country and western or something! I think we want to see what happens as we go.

So what is the Bellatrix gameplan for the next year?

Touring all over the place, playing all the festivals in the summer, releasing the album, and hopefully putting together the one after that. The day we finish one album is the day we start the next one.

…and so the tale is told. Thanks are given, goodbyes are said and the venue begins to buzz with pre-gig nerves. Bellatrix will have the audience in the palm of their hands tonight, but at the moment it's only just getting dark, and there's just enough time for another mini roll before the bar beckons. Stamina, you see….


Bellatrix live review - Newcastle Arts Centre 19/02/00

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