Catatonia were an alternative rock band from Wales who gained a national following in the United Kingdom in the mid to late 1990s. The band consisted of Cerys Matthews on vocals, Mark Roberts on guitar, Paul Jones on bass (both now members of Y Ffyrc, and former members of Sherbet Antlers and Y Cyrff), Owen Powell (who is a judge on 'Wawffactor' – akin to a Welsh X Factor) on guitar, and Aled Richards (who now drums for Amy Wadge) on drums. Matthews and Roberts were the main songwriters.
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.
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'.
Catatonia deliberately tried to make their songs accessible to a broad audience, while at the same time not shying away from original, experimental, or even potentially abrasive sounds. The result was a mix of hooky pop and underground indie rock. Their songs are characterized by clever lyrics and Matthews' enticing, raspy, prominently Welsh accented vocals, which made her something of a sex symbol.
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