BRITROCK WEEK: Before their playful UK tour celebrating mid-90s British rock, we hear from Reef, The Wildhearts, Terrorvision and Dodgy
While the British music scene of the mid-90s is perhaps best remembered for the rivalry between Oasis and Blur, and the many also-rans those two groups inspired, there were plenty of bands who ignored the Britpop template and continued to crank things up to 11. Four such bands will be dusting down their amplifiers next month to head out on the Britrock Must Be Destroyed Tour. Kicking off in Manchester on 4 May, the shows will give Reef, The Wildhearts, Terrorvision and Dodgy a chance to pit their riffs against one another and find out once and for all whose fans are the most raucous.
This week we’re handing our website over to this awesome foursome, and to get things started the frontman of each band looks back on the ‘Britrock’ era and lets us know what we can expect from the upcoming gigs…
South Shields’ guitarist, singer and songwriter who formed and led The Wildhearts
“To be honest, there was never any such thing as Britrock. It was a desperate attempt by some magazines to cash in on Britpop, but the bands didn’t feel it, and the audience didn’t really feel it. We’ve got four bands on this tour who all had a very different audience. So there wasn’t a sense of camaraderie, nor was there any real competitiveness. It was more about just getting on with our own thing.
“It was work as usual until Oasis broke, then everybody wanted bands like them, so it was a desperate cash-in by the rock world to try to join in the party. I thought we’d already established that rock music was something that wasn’t going anywhere any time soon and it was a bit sad when everyone was trying to turn into Britpop bands. So I kind of rejected any idea of there being such a thing, to be honest.
“I’m looking forward to the competition, healthy or otherwise, between the audiences. There’s no competition between the bands – I don’t care and we’re all too fucking old! My money’s on our crowd being the loudest and I think they’re pretty confident getting into that ring, but we won’t know until we prove it on the pitch.”
Lead singer of Bradford’s Terrorvision and also the band Laika Dog
“We didn’t hang out together much. We were all busy working, recording and touring. We didn’t tour together. You might end up staying at the same hotels and having the same drinks in the same bar sometimes but it wasn’t like a club or anything like that. We were just all successful rock bands at that time. You can throw Therapy? and Skunk Anansie in the mix as well. It was just that we had longer hair and louder guitars than the Britpop bands. We didn’t brag about how off the rails we were going because we didn’t really want people checking it out. It was about enjoying it.
“We did a tour for the 25th anniversary of Regular Urban Survivors and we were playing to more people and selling out bigger venues this time last year than we were this time 10 years ago. I don’t know, why is that? Is that because nothing has come along that makes people thing, ‘I’ll leave that behind now because this is where we’re heading and this is better,’ or is it because they’ve hit an age where their kids have left home now and they’re having what some people call a midlife crisis, I prefer to call it a ‘midlife realisation!’”
Redditch-born singer-songwriter best known as the lead singer and bassist of Dodgy
“When I was a kid you could only like punk music, you couldn’t admit to liking ABC, it was Crass and Discharge and Dead Kennedys. I secretly liked The Lexicon Of Love, but you couldn’t have that on the back of a leather jacket. But it became acceptable in the 90s.
“I didn’t really know any of the other bands. I think we once got quite competitive with Reef at a football match in Mile End or somewhere like that. We got competitive and thought we didn’t like them. They beat us so we said they were Gary Stringer and his ringers, or something like that.
“What’s happened with the 90s is that the people who were 15 in ’95 are now 38 and they’re settled and can get babysitters. People are nostalgic by nature, I get nostalgic, I look at gigs that are coming up and I want to go and see some cool bands but I also went to see U.K. Subs last year.
“I think people were surprised when Dodgy got added because we’re not really known as a rock band but we’re up for surprising a few people in the audience. People do see us as the band behind Good Enough and people are really quick to make preconceptions about you so it will be quite interesting when we step out with big guitars and distortion pedals.”
English singer, musician and songwriter who fronted the Glastonbury band Reef
“I’m not bothered about representing a nation. At that time there was the whole Britpop thing and I just thought, ‘It’s not the Olympics, it’s not sport, it’s music!’ I wasn’t really that fussed about it. You had Tony Blair coming in with the Union Jack and Cool Britannia and it’s just a marketing tool. I kind of feel a bit whatever about it, even though I love England and I love where I come from, but music is music isn’t it.
“I don’t think I’ve got anything outside of music for that decade, it was just music. A friend of mine sent me one of our tour schedules for 1997 and it’s incredible. Spain to Norway, Arizona up to Seattle then to Canada, all of Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Japan. I mean, I was away more than I was home.
“Obviously when you know the tickets are going on sale, you do think, ‘I wonder if anyone gives a toss anymore?’ So for all the shows to sell out makes you feel really great and it might be corny but I want to thank everyone who supports us now. We’ll come out and we’ll throw a load of energy down and make a great sound, we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band and we’ll come out and lay it down. 99 times out of 100 that energy comes back in spades from the crowd. That’s what a rock ‘n’ roll gig is. You can expect good sounds, rhythm, rock ‘n’ roll and people smiling.”
The Britrock Must Be Destroyed Tour kicks off in Manchester on 4 May. Tickets are available now via britrock.seetickets.com