“We took a 20-year sabbatical from each other…” Julianne Regan and Tim Bricheno look back on All About Eve, the Sisters, The Mission and their greatest songs

UK band All About Eve photographed in the late 1980's
All About Eve in the late 1980s, with Tim Bricheno second from left and Julianne Regan, centre (Image credit: AJ Barratt/Avalon/Getty Images)

In 1990, at All About Eve’s commercial peak, guitarist Tim Bricheno left the band that he had formed with singer Julianne Regan in the early 80s. The two were finding it too difficult to work with one another, following the end of an ill-fated relationship. Bricheno was quickly hired to play in The Sisters of Mercy, where the majority of his work was done live rather than in a studio. Subsequent bands, XC-NN and Tin Star followed before he withdrew from the frontlines of the music business.

Julianne Regan dissolved All About Eve a few years after Bricheno's departure and, in-between various day jobs, remained musically creative on the margins in a host of projects, including an album of covers with Wayne Hussey, an album of indie-pop under the name Mice, several co-writes and vocals with The Eden House, and backing vocals on a number of songs for The Mission. Both worked as lecturers in higher education in the UK.

They reconnected in the noughties (“The truth is, I didn’t leave All About Eve – me and Julianne just took a 20-year sabbatical from each other and picked up where we left off,” says Bricheno), but it has been a long and winding road to their new album Apparitions. Individual songs appeared on compilations, on YouTube and Bandcamp, but it wasn't until mid-2022 that the pair decided to make an album. 

The result is a beautiful record of shimmering psychedelic folk rock and stakes a strong claim to be their best work. “It’s kind of where All About Eve would have naturally ended up without the pressure of a record company baying for a hit single,” says Bricheno.

“For Apparitions, we just psychically teleported ourselves back to my 1980s North London bedsit, where we'd written much of the early All About Eve material,” says Regan. "It was only when I jacked in my job teaching Commercial Music and Songwriting at university – having burnt out – that I found the clarity of mind, and the time, to give the album the focus it needed and deserved.”

Indeed, Apparitions is Bricheno’s first album since 2008 (Jok’s Lamp Post Bouquet) and Regan’s first album of original material since 1996.

While Apparations is rooted in the signature sound of the band of their youth, and Regan’s voice has changed little, it is also clearly made by people in the autumn of their years. Regan’s lyrics, while replete with bucolic references and allusions to the calm of the natural world, repeatedly touch upon death, disease, decay and the passage of time. How could it be anything else from two people in their early sixties?

Indeed, one of the biggest obstacles to the creation of Apparitions was the onset of Bricheno’s tinnitus and hyperacusis in 2019. “I really wish I had protected my ears – it’s one of my few and biggest regrets,” he says. “I do miss performing live but it would be like putting my hand back in the fire doing your average club or rock show.”

Nevertheless, Bricheno feels he has “had a charmed life in music. Lots of talented people don’t find success, but I was lucky.”

Regan is also upbeat: “The process of making Apparitions was restorative, something of a metaphorical life raft at times - I think for both of us - as well as sparking moments of absolute joy."

Here they choose the songs that reflect their lives in music.

In The Clouds – All About Eve, 1988

Bricheno: “This was the first song All About Eve wrote which clearly showed where we were headed musically. It took us a while to catch up with it. I clearly remember, it just sat there like a beautiful small jewel among our other spirited, but otherwise post-punk, offerings. It’s just a great song sonically, melodically and lyrically. Martha’s Harbour gets the glory, but this has always been the one that feels like it shaped us the most. When we played it live you could sometimes feel the room become lighter with pure joy. I loved that. 

“I wanted to put State of Our Health by Aemotii Crii [Bricheno’s band before All About Eve] in my list but how would anyone hear it? I only have cassettes of live recordings ready for digital transfer and tweakage. I still borrow from what I did on the guitar on that song to this day: controlled musical feedback, tape delay, pretty riffs that make my heart ache a bit.

“Meeting vocalist Robert Moles of Aemotii Crii was possibly the most pivotal moment in my life. I left the drudgery of the 80s North for Brighton at 17 to seek other musicians who wanted to make the sort of aggressive but beautiful music I was drawn to. Without Rob Moles, my fledgling flight to Brighton could easy have crashed and burned and that may have been the end of it.

“The fragility of musical connection and luck is unbelievable. A skinny guitarist from the North saw an A5 Caravaggio image stuck on a Brighton lamppost with the word’s ‘Singer looking for musicians’. A different image and I would have probably ignored it. Without that connection to the image, no Aemotii Crii. No Rob Stroud, our drummer from Sex Gang Children. No Michelle Yee-Chong from Jnr. Manson Slags and Suck Henry and Rob’s girlfriend. And no Julianne, who was friends with Michelle.

“It's mad that a small poster on a lamppost in 1981 set out the course of my life. This year, I finally found Robert Moles after years of looking for him in the wilderness.”

Are You Lonely – All About Eve, 1991

Regan: “Back in 1991, All About Eve were in a state of turmoil. We'd lost Tim, the band's co-founder, and had taken on Marty Willson-Piper of The Church. I'd really wanted David Gilmour to produce Touched By Jesus, but as he didn't get back to us we were hooked up with Warne Livesey, who was then known for his work with Midnight Oil and Deacon Blue. No disrespect to either band, but we were nervous and couldn't see it working. Our fears were soon put to bed, as things with Warne turned out fine. 

“Our initial demo of Are You Lonely took the form of an up-tempo indie anthem, packed with blistering electric guitar. After hearing it, Warne played us a slowed-down rendition of it on acoustic guitar. He turned the original bridge into a one-line refrain, while relegating the original chorus to the middle 8, making him the only producer we've ever worked with to be given a writing credit. As usual, the lyrics are mine, and are one of a number written about a complicated relationship with my Dad, who has since died.

“During the recording of the album, David Gilmour phoned me to say that if I 'twisted his arm' he'd play on a couple of songs, Are You Lonely being one of them. At the recording session, he was incredibly generous with his time and was even open to direction. At one point I said, 'That's great, but could it be bit more, erm, a bit more-' and he finished my sentence off for me by saying, 'More David Gilmour? Sure!' What followed was classic Gilmour, resplendent with subtle licks, grungy crunches and blissful soarings. I rarely listen to my own music, but if I do listen to this. I still get hardcore frissons.

“Following David Gilmour's contribution it was felt that this song was to be the album's money shot, and so we recorded the sumptuous real strings at Air studios, back when it was on Oxford Street. If Phonogram hadn't – ahem – released us from our contract, I'd have pressed hard for this to be our next single, and things might've been very different.”

This Corrosion – The Sisters of Mercy (Wembley Arena, 26 November, 1990)

Bricheno: “Playing This Corrosion live was a real head-scratcher. We didn’t want to stand there playing a sample of the long choral intro that features on the record, so a solution had to be found. Tony [James] or Andrew [Eldritch] – I can’t remember who – asked if I could do something on the guitar. That was all the encouragement I needed to play my 'chip shop Hendrix' card. I have to admit that standing in the spotlight alone each night at the beginning of Corrosion coaxing the guitar into controlled melodic feedback lines à la Star-Spangled Banner was a massive buzz. 

“Joining The Sisters was a case of right place, right time. I was fresh out of the Eves and they snapped me up after a meet-and-greet and low-pressure audition. Boyd [Steemson], the manager, invited me over to Denmark where they were making the Vision Thing album at PUK studios. I immediately liked Andrew who seemed serious but playful and clearly pleased to have a M62 brother-in-arms on the scene. 

“Tony was how you would imagine: effusive and charismatic. And Andreas Bruhn [Sisters guitarist 1989-93] was friendly, funny and the most helpful. Thankfully I did get to spray my guitar all over Vision Thing in the form of overdubs. My guitar parts consisted of clean ornamentation and some textural colour – the songs were already written and mainly recorded. 

“To understand the roles of the guitars in that era live was wonderfully simple. I did the pretty melodic stuff and Andreas did the muscular, riffy stuff. That seemed to suit our personalities and playing styles best. We shared out the guitar solos so both our egos were happy. I confess I’m not really a fan of twin-guitar bands – it often sounds like an indistinct blob to me when two guitarists inevitably step on the distortion box and start playing all over each other. The Sisters twin guitars were an exception to that – we never stepped on each other’s toes sonically."

Looking Forward – XC-NN, 1994

Bricheno: “XC-NN did feel like starting from scratch again, but I loved the liberation of that. I used the money I had from touring with The Sisters to get it off the ground. We got a lot of press and TV off the back of the track Young Stupid and White. We had the opportunity to start recording the first album without outside funding. Several record companies sniffed around us excited by our twisted rock-with-samples thing. The usual record company bidding war took place when they could stand our DIY ethic no more.

“The track Looking Forward was the first song I wrote for XC-NN and kind of set out the template for what some of what we wanted to do. The idea was to cut and paste beloved elements from different genres – rock guitar, electronic beats and sample culture influenced by my experience of touring with Public Enemy. I just loved them. and so did Dave Tomlinson [XC-NN singer]. Public Enemy showed me that vocal melody is not the be all and end all and that rhythmic vocal hooks can be just as effective. Looking Forward is an example of that approach. We popped a sample of 2 Unlimited’s No Limits on the front in the hope that people would be drawn to the dancefloor only to be shocked into stasis or ecstasy by the rock pig barrage that follows the sample. The lyric in the pre-chorus is a direct lift from Buddy Holly’s Everyday. We borrowed like hell in XC-NN!

“I think XC-NN were wrong place, wrong time really. We emerged in tandem with the Britpop era and were eclipsed by its backward-thinking homage to the past. XC-NN were about experimenting with sounds and messing with the future. XC-NN was more of a curious experiment in trying to open up the rock band clamshell with technology. 

“The XC-NN album along with the unbelievable video for Young Stupid and White exist as a testament to doing whatever the hell you want to do musically - and screw the consequences.”

Miss World  – Mice, 1996

Regan: “After All About Eve's implosion in the early 90s, I spent time in the wilderness but managed to write a bunch of songs, one of which was ‘Miss World’. It's a rags to riches and back to rags story, but rather than being completely autobiographical it's set in the seedy world of glamour modelling, peppered with high hopes of winning that anachronistic beauty contest / cattle market. 

“I initially recorded it myself on my Fostex R8 reel-to reel. Then, blowing what was left of my savings, went into a studio and recorded it with the former members of All About Eve. Clearly the apron strings were harder to cut than I'd anticipated. This second demo became the basis of the version that ended up on my mid-90s Mice project album. I kept the drums, bass and the acoustic guitar strumming but replaced Marty Willson-Piper's electric guitar with my own, as I'd liked the parts I'd written for my original demo. A couple of years later Marty told me he'd been convinced it was him playing. I must have been channelling him, although in all honesty I had been trying – and failing – to channel Chris Isaak, in a ‘Wicked Game’ way.

“There's a line in the song about the sash and the flash bulbs fading, and another about cheques being stopped and the protagonist ending up as only an 'ex'. The lines seemed to reflect my situation at the time: a few years previously I'd played three consecutive nights at the Royal Albert Hall but was now a cleaner in a recording studio, in danger of losing my tiny North London flat due to missed mortgage payments. 

I'm still very fond of this song and may well look at recording a new version of it. I'll see.”

Tin Star Head US version - YouTube Tin Star Head US version - YouTube
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Head – Tin Star, 1998

Bricheno: “This song was initially started off by Dave Tomlinson [also the Tin Star singer]. Then Tim Gordine, the bassist and producer in Tin Star and I mucked around with it with Dave and it became what it is now. It had a different chorus to start with and that’s what was so amazing about Tin Star: we were the opposite of precious and all understood what works best is king and everything else is in the bin. 

“Timmy Gordine was another pivotal figure in my life. He showed me how the rarely followed mantra of ‘space being another instrument’ actually worked. I still put my Timmy Gordine space-head on every time I write. I try to make songs work with the minimum number of elements so you can still hear the song breathing. I shy away from the overdub-inducing wall of sound, preferring to highlight a special feature part or sound and show it off against the vocal.

“I first saw Dave singing in Headcorn at the Duchess of York in Leeds in late 1991 or early 1992. A few songs in, I knew I had to work with him. I know it sounds a bit predatory but as a guitarist I have spent my whole musical life hunting singers that float my boat. Dave is whip-smart and funny – a cross between Jim Morrison and Norman Wisdom. We made so much great music together and still have plans to revisit some stuff buried in the vault. He’s still making excellent music with Ping Pong Disco – check out Garden of Methsemene on Bandcamp and YouTube. It’s the best XC-NN song we never wrote.

“The first XC-NN album still sounds fresh as a daisy to me. Who does it sound like except us? The first Tin Star album too. Raincheck by Tin Star is a timeless song that Lana Del Rey could cover tomorrow.”

Shaping the River - YouTube Shaping the River - YouTube
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Shaping The River – Julianne Regan,  2010

Regan: “In 2010, Bic [Christian Hayes] of Dark Star, Levitation, and Cardiacs – who had also played on the Mice album – got in touch to let me know that Tim Smith of Cardiacs and Sea Nymphs was in a long-term neuro-rehabilitation centre having suffered a heart attack followed by a stroke. Bic was part of a small, dedicated Tim Smith-loving team who were in the process of compiling the album Leader of the Starry Skies – which was made up of covers of Tim Smith songs – to raise funds for his future care. I loved Sea Nymphs, to the extent that I engineered it so that they were All About Eve's support band on our 1992 UK tour. 

“My first choice of song was the glacially hypnotic Lilly White's Party, but that had already been bagsied by Bob White [of Levitation] and XTC's Andy Partridge. My second choice was Shaping The River. On the original, there's a section where William D Drake plays piano, which puts me in mind of Saint-Saens’ Carnival Of The Animals: The Aquarium, for its sparkling fluidity. I had no idea how to reinterpret it, and so cheekily cut and pasted it into my version. It was fine; nobody minded; everyone involved was 'family'. As the press release attached to this album went; 'This is not just a tribute album. It is an endeavour born of love.'

“I enjoyed the freedom of singing lyrics where I didn’t know the meaning. They felt like a long-lost nursery rhyme, evoking innocent childhood, where messing about with mud and sticks, and marvelling at creatures such as minnows, is absolutely everything. And then there's the deeply comforting refrain, 'In the heart, only in the heart...' 

“Tim Smith died in 2020, at the far too early age of 59. Just imagine what else he might have gone on to do, given more years.”

Julianne Regan and Tim Bricheno from All About Eve posed in London in 1988

Julianne Regan and Tim Bricheno in All About Eve, London,1988  (Image credit: Graham Tucker/Getty Images)

‘Another Day’ – Tim  Bowness and Julianne Regan, forthcoming single, 2024

Regan: “Tim Bowness and I met through a mutual friend, the late, great Judy Dyble, and our first collaboration was in 2011 when I sang backing vocals on his Memories of Machines project, and we've since kept in touch. A few months back, he suggested that he and I cover Roy Harper's Another Day. I met Roy Harper once, backstage at an All About Eve show. He'd been leafleting the audience with a quote from me saying something along the lines of how great I thought he was. I've also seen him play live and he was phenomenal. 

“Anyway, Tim's suggestion was met with enthusiasm but also trepidation. Not only is it a glorious piece of songwriting, a moving and keenly observed ode to missed opportunity, of being afraid to really live, but it had already been performed as a duet by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush on the Kate Bush BBC Christmas Special in 1979. No pressure! 

“I received a backing track with the most delicate, intuitive piano playing from Pete Chilvers, that left acres of sonic space for the vocals. Tim and I both took slight liberties with the original melody lines, be they Roy Harper's or Peter's/Kate's. I avoided relistening to the Peter/Kate version until after we'd recorded ours. Had I listened, I may have just chickened out in a wallflowery 'not worthy' way. Fortunately, I'd forgotten about This Mortal Coil's version, with Elizabeth Fraser, or I may have thought again. 

“Once all the vocals had been recorded, the piece was sent to Jan Mikael Sørensen of Norwegian band Laughing Stock for mixing. During the process, Jan played some very minimalist bass, and in a textbook example of less being more, one particular note he played turned a moment into A Moment. There are very, very few people that I like to sing with – not many people meld this way with my voice, nor I with theirs – but it works very naturally with Tim. Our recording of Another Day will be released this summer, as a single.”

Pale Blue Earth – Regan and Bricheno, 2024

Bricheno:Apparitions is the most important album I have ever made simply because post-tinnitus and post-hyperacusis I never thought I would make another album. It was the promise of what I knew we can do together that spurred me on to risk making my condition worse. After noise-induced tinnitus, every noisy sound you expose your ears to has to be worth it because of the risks. Every music lover should recognise that music at concerts is a very loud noise. It’s a nice sounding loud noise but in terms of loudness level, a road drill is quieter so please don’t ever forget that and wear earplugs at gigs, rehearsals and so on. 

“This song was just sonic heaven for me and it helped define several colours for the formative Regan and Bricheno sound palette. My guitar sound has developed to where it’s not always clear what is making the sound, a guitar or something else. The vast majority of the sounds on Pale Blue Earth are guitars heavily manipulated with my FX board. I continued that theme with a lot of the sounds on the album. 

“The development of Pale Blue Earth was a true musical collaboration with Julianne, not one person’s song. Her vocal on this is just sublime and different to anything we had done together before. Pale Blue Earth was another In The Clouds moment; I think it gave us some clear directions.”

Honey's Ocean – Regan and Bricheno, 2024

Regan: “It only dawned on me after I'd recorded the vocals for this, that the lyrics to Honey's Ocean make this Martha's Harbour seen through the lens of the 21st century, with me having around 35 more years of living life under my belt.

“I've come to realise that I use the ocean/the sea as an analogy for life itself, or at least 'inner' life, and while Martha hid in the ocean, Honey recklessly crashes into it. Despite it not being an easy ride, she goes at everything with a dizzying verve and vivacity. She may well be wired up awkwardly, but she somehow thrives as a messed-up, sci-fi loving geek.

“Martha fears drowning; she 'needs to breathe', but Honey seems to be able to breathe underwater in a magical state of aquatic respiration. Because she takes risks, from the outside she may seem a failure, but she's ultimately a winner; she got what she wanted, for herself, eschewing what others wanted for her. I guess this song is really a freak flag flown high.

“Tim's electric guitar in the instrumental part and the latter part of the song is deftly understated and haunting, and just one example of where others may need 20 notes to say something meaningful, he needs just a handful. In less delicate hands, this song would never work. The attention paid to the dynamics is essential.

“I need to be less Martha and more Honey. They're both part of me and I just wish I could get the balance right.”

Raindrops – Regan and Bricheno, 2024

Bricheno: “The first riff I developed and offered up to Julianne years and years after the split turned into Raindrops. Appropriately/perversely, it was also the last riff I wrote before the split. It seemed like the best place to start, and when developing it, I found that I knew exactly where I was and what to play next because I had the promise of a Julianne vocal in my head. 

“When she sent me back the track with the beautiful vocal, it took my breath away. It became immediately obvious to both of us that we were still capable of creating something collaboratively powerful and impossible to conjure up individually. It was a delightful shock to know that we still had it going on. This one song set us back in creative motion.

“I think we were always destined to come back together again musically. Finding someone you click with musically in the way we do is rare and almost impossibly hard to ignore. 

“The way we write now is not unique, but we perhaps take it to the extreme. We live hundreds of miles apart, so we work online via email and text. Sending stuff back and forth like Enigma code operators trying to develop and crack the song open. It’s long-winded but we love the results. 

“What’s interesting about this method is that nearly all the brushstrokes for development of each song are documented in our correspondence. It’s often the case when sat in a room writing a song together that after the song is completed, you can’t recall the myriad nano steps of the journey. Thankfully we do because a great deal of it is written down… very slowly. A book of the resulting emails and would be a unique insight into the process of how we – and perhaps others – write songs.

“The process and results always feel good and thankfully people still want to listen, so it doesn’t feel like a lost secret being offered up to the void.”

Apparitions is available through Bandcamp now. ‘Plans are afoot’ for a self-released CD and vinyl release later in the year.


Mark Andrews is from Warwickshire and lived and worked in the UK, Egypt and Belgium. His first book, Paint My Name In Black And Gold: The Rise Of The Sisters Of Mercy, is the definitive account of the early years of one of alt.rock's most original and influential bands. Mark has previously written for Louder about the Sisters of Mercy, as well as The Scientists, Gang Of Four (one of the last interviews with Andy Gill), The Mission, the Cramps, the Bad Seeds and more. He has also written for the Middle East Times, Bangkok Metro, Flanders Today and The Quietus.