Catatonia (band)

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Not to be confused with Katatonia, a Swedish metal band.
Origin Cardiff, Wales
Genres Alternative rock, indie rock, Britpop, post-Britpop
Years active 1992–2001
Labels Blanco y Negro
Past members Cerys Matthews
Mark Roberts
Paul Jones
Owen Powell
Clancy Pegg
Daisy Hewitt
Dafydd Ieuan
Kris Jenkins
Aled Richards

Catatonia were an alternative rock band from Wales who gained popularity in the mid to late 1990s. The band's classic line-up consisted of Cerys Matthews on vocals, Mark Roberts on guitar, Paul Jones on bass (both former members of Sherbet Antlers and Y Cyrff), Owen Powell on guitar, and Aled Richards on drums. [1]


Initially the line up fluctuated, at various times including Clancy Pegg (later of Tystion) on keyboards, Daisy Hewitt as a harmony singer, Dafydd Ieuan and Kris Jenkins (of Super Furry Animals) on drums and percussion, before settling down to the "classic" line up in 1995.

It is rumoured that Matthews and Roberts first met in Cardiff when she was busking. They hit it off and began writing songs together in 1992. For four years after this they were also in a relationship, many aspects of this being played out publicly in their lyrics.[2]

The couple came across the word catatonia, believing it to mean a sense of extreme pleasure and sleep, and the band was subsequently originally called 'Sweet Catatonia'. On discovering the real meaning of the word (i.e. a psychiatric symptom of certain mental disorders) they dropped the prefix 'sweet'.[3]


Catatonia increasingly tried to make their songs accessible to a broader audience, shying away from their indie beginnings to embrace a pop sound.[citation needed]

Welsh music[edit]

The chorus of the (mostly Welsh) song "International Velvet" declared "Every day when I wake up, I thank the Lord I'm Welsh." This, they insisted,[citation needed] should not be taken too seriously, as they are more internationalists than nationalists (hence the name of their 1998 release, International Velvet). Catatonia released five Welsh tracks – "International Velvet" being one of two to appear on a UK album. "Gyda Gwên" was a hidden track on their debut album, Way Beyond Blue. The others appeared as B-sides and on EP collections.[citation needed]


After their rise to fame with their second album International Velvet, and subsequent success with third release Equally Cursed And Blessed, they returned in 2001 with their fourth studio album Paper Scissors Stone. During promotional appearances for this album it became clear that Matthews was not coping well with the increased pressure, suffering from anxiety and nervous exhaustion, which resulted in the cancellation of several tour dates, and a deterioration in the relationships between the band members.[citation needed] On 21 September 2001, the band officially split.

Solo career[edit]

Matthews went on to release her first solo album, Cockahoop, in May 2003. Her second album Never Said Goodbye was released in August 2006. In November 2007 she released a mini-album of Welsh language songs Awyren=Aeroplane on the My Kung Fu label. Matthews returned in late 2009 as the first recording artist to release albums simultaneously in both Welsh and English (Paid Edrych I Lawr and Don't Look Down, respectively). At the same time she released her "Moon Songs" EP, featuring four English-language tracks which were recorded in the Don't Look Down sessions, but did not make that album's track listing.[citation needed]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Details Peak chart position Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1996 Way Beyond Blue 32
1998 International Velvet
  • Released: February 1998
  • Label: Blanco y Negro/WEA
1 27 39 32
1999 Equally Cursed and Blessed
  • Released: 28 March 1999
  • Label: Blanco y Negro/Atlantic
1 48 28
  • UK: Platinum[9]
2001 Paper Scissors Stone
  • Released: 6 August 2001
  • Label: Blanco y Negro
6 55 37
  • UK: Silver[9]
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Details Peak chart position Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1995 The Sublime Magic of Catatonia
  • Released: 1995
  • Label: Nursery
1998 The Crai-EPs 1993/1994
  • Released: 19 October 1999
  • Label: Crai/M.I.L. Multimedia
2002 Greatest Hits
  • Released: 15 October 2002
  • Label: WEA
24 43
2006 Platinum Collection
  • Released: 21 March 2006
  • Label: WEA
2011 Road Rage: The Very Best Of Catatonia
  • Released: 20 June 2011
  • Label: Demon Music Group
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.

Singles and EPs[edit]

Year Title Peak chart positions Album
1993 May For Tinkerbell Non-album EP
1994 Jun Hooked The Sublime Magic of Catatonia
Sep "Whale"
1995 Jan "Bleed" 158
Dec "Christmas '95" (fan club vinyl)1 Non-album single
1996 Feb "Sweet Catatonia" 61 Way Beyond Blue
May "Lost Cat" 41
Sep "You've Got a Lot to Answer For" 35
Nov "Bleed" (re-issue) 46
1997 Oct "I Am the Mob" 40 International Velvet
1998 Jan "Mulder and Scully" 3 17
May "Road Rage" 5 40 29
Aug "Strange Glue" 11
Nov "Game On" 33
1999 Apr "Dead from the Waist Down" 7 44 Equally Cursed and Blessed
Jul "Londinium" 20
Nov "Karaoke Queen" 36
2000 Mar Storm the Palace EP
2001 Aug "Stone by Stone" 19 Paper Scissors Stone
"—" denotes releases that did not chart.
  • 1 – The A-side being "Blow the Millennium, Blow".

Miscellaneous / promos[edit]


In September 2000, a biography of the band by David Owens entitled Cerys, Catatonia & The Rise of Welsh Pop (ISBN 0-09-187412-2) was released in the UK (sometimes listed as Catatonia – Enter The Dragon, which was the working title).

Another book, To Hell and Back with Catatonia (ISBN 0-946719-36-5), was released on 1 June 2001, written by Brian Wright.


  1. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 161–2. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  2. ^ Grogan, Siobhan (19 May 2003). "The good life". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 28 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "Band Name Origins -> C, Page 1". Am I Right. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 
  4. ^ a b c "British chart positions". Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c "Australian chart positions". Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "German album positions". Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Irish chart positions". Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c "New Zealand chart positions". Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c d "British certificates: searchable database". Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  10. ^ "UK Chartlog: Chris C. – CZR". Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  11. ^ "Irish singles positions". Retrieved 3 March 2010. 
  • David Roberts, ed. (2002). Guinness World Records British Hit Singles (15th ed.). Guinness World Records. 

External links[edit]