Interview with Mandy Cousins
Singer Mandy Cousins was Dwayne Goettel's musical partner in the group Water. The band's opening spot for Skinny Puppy in Edmonton on the Bites tour (either in Nov. '85 or Jan. '86) led to Dwayne joining Puppy shortly thereafter. Water never recorded commercially and, like so many other bands that disappear, seemed to have been forgotten. After having read about Water, I tried to track down Dwayne's bandmate online to no avail. After ten years of looking for "Sandy Weir," Zipperhead pointed me in the right direction and I found her under the more accurate name of Mandy Cousins, currently with the band Titania. She graciously agreed to be interviewed for Litany and share some of her memories.
How did you first get involved in making music?
I played in my first group called The Seventh Day in 1983. I had moved to Canada from England in 1981 and was very interested in music. At the time I had difficulty finding people to work with that had the same musical interests. It seemed as though everyone here was into heavy metal. Eventually a group approached me with a demo tape. They had heard I was interested in singing. I was impressed by the tape and arranged an audition with them the following week. It all happened very quickly. Within a couple of weeks we were doing shows. Michael who plays with me in Titania was the guitarist in the group. We have worked together ever since.
When did you first meet Dwayne?
I don't remember the first time I met Dwayne. We knew each other for a few years before we collaborated. We were involved in the same underground music scene in Edmonton. We would see each other at parties and gigs. Dwayne used to play in Psyche before joining the group Voice. As The Seventh Day we did shows with both groups.
How did you two end up working together on Water?
I had returned to England in 1984-85 and when I returned to Canada in the summer of 1985 Dwayne approached with the idea of a collaboration. As it turns out I was in two bands at the same time. I was in Water with Dwayne and The Langham Wheel with Michael and another Seventh Day member Brian Golightly, and Ian Maclachlan (now of the group Veloce) . We even did a show together where I sang with both bands.
Do you remember much about recording the demos?
They were recorded very quickly on four track. I think Dwayne had his gear set up in a night club. Actually I think it was the rehearsal space of the band Voice which used to be a night club called Krieg. I remember being quite happy with the recordings at the time they were done, though with hindsight there are a few things I would change with my performance.
I was never able to track you down before because I had been looking for someone named Sandy Weir [the name given in Goldmine's 1997 Skinny Puppy article by Jo-Anne Greene]. Did you ever use Weir as a stage name?
No, I have no idea where the name Sandy Weir came from. It's interesting to me how these things come about. Did someone just make up the name because they didn't know my name?
Were you just a duo or was anyone else involved?
We were just a duo.
What music influenced you? What were you both listening to at the time?
Loads of things myself at the time... Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Brian Eno. Lots of 4AD and Factory bands. Dwayne listened to more synth pop type music. Bands like Yello, Vicious Pink.
Did Water ever have any label interest or get local radio airplay?
The project didn't exist long enough to generate any label interest. There were no labels around at the time locally anyway. We did get some radio play on the local college stations in Edmonton and Calgary. In fact I remember charting on both stations with the song "Fagans Smile".
Do you recall if any of your tracks were included on any local indie compilations or such?
No, nothing was ever released. I would certainly have copies if we had though.
Did you play many shows?
We played live half a dozen times over a period of about 6 months.
What do you remember from the show when you guys opened for Skinny Puppy?
We played in an aircraft hangar at the municipal airport here in Edmonton called the 700 wing. Dwayne had more gear on stage than Skinny Puppy did, or so it seemed to me. Dwayne always had a lot of gear. I remember the power kept going off during our set, the lights and everything. Skinny Puppy used a lot of dry ice and were very theatrical. Lots of fake blood and skulls.
Do you remember when Dwayne was asked to join Skinny Puppy?
I seem to remember that they asked him to join after the show or the day after. I know he moved to Vancouver shortly after that.
Did you stay in touch with Dwayne after he left?
I saw him a couple of times in Vancouver when I was visiting. Dwayne and one of the other Skinny Puppy guys sent me some music with the idea of me doing vocals. For some reason I never got around to doing anything with them. I was probably too busy with my other music at the time.
What other projects have you been involved in?
I have been involved with a couple of different groups, mostly with Michael, The Seventh Day, The Langham Wheel, The Sensualists and now Titania.
Tell me about your current project, Titania.
Titania is my latest project with my husband Michael. We used to be called The Sensualists but changed our name as another group emerged with the same name. We released our debut CD as Titania in 2003 and are currently working on a follow up. Our music is atmospheric guitar music with lots of layered vocals. I'm not really sure what genre our music falls into. Those who are curious can listen to tracks on our MySpace page www.myspace.com/titaniatunes.
Do you have any other recollections on what it was like working with Dwayne musically or any favorite memories that you'd like to add?
Dwayne and I shared the same birthday, Feb 1st. I was three years older. Another guy I played in a band with at the same time had the same birthday also. Strange coincidence. I remember Dwayne doing a cover of "You Spin Me Round" at a sound check once. A funny memory that comes to mind often...
Thanks Mandy for taking the time to help document a piece of history that would otherwise be lost.
Corey Goldberg, 11 May 2007