Leicester’s Music History 3
2005 to 2006
Tuesday 10th March 2020
This instalment looks at the years 2005 and 2006. At times, it needs to put these in context by referring back (or forward) to other years and periods. This article is mainly concerned with the bands I knew from those years. I also reflect, some more, on the impact of the Internet, in particular on how the rise of Facebook affected the live music scene. To begin, let me say something about some of the bands that I knew back then.
Bands known to be operational in 2004 included Three Gun Pete, A Burning Ruin, The AIDS and Against The Wheel, and many others, some of which are mentioned below. In 2004, Leicester band Ictus released a promotional and press pack about their band The pack contained a lot of information about the origins of the band and what it had been doing, since its formation. Live music venues hired bands to play at their gigs and some of them put out promotional statements to garner interest in these events. The following promo was typical of what we saw at the time: ‘Thursday 2nd September 2004. Violent Society Promotions Presents: The Freaks Union, All ages show, with The Freaks Union, A New Days Enemy + Blacklisted, at The Attik, 15 Free Lane, Leicester. £3 on the door, 8pm to 11 pm, Bottles £1.50, cans £2, House shots £1.‘
Bands were taking to the Internet in increasing numbers. Many believed that having their own website would make them look more serious and give them greater control over how they represented themselves. On 22nd December 2004, The AIDs (a band from Leicester which eventually became known as Skam) registered a domain name – theaidsrock.com – for its website. In case you are wondering, there was no reference to the disease intended in the name of the group. They also registered theaidsrock.co.uk which was used for their main band website. The band formed in December 2000. Steven Hill and Matthew Gilmore were members of the original band with a drummer they called ‘Meat Puppet.’ They met at the local Air Training Corps squadron. The band played their first gig at the ATC Hut in Birstall on 2nd June 2001. On the band’s first website it said: ‘After realising the public actually liked them the band took to the Leicester music scene playing such quality venues as The Three Kilns, The Shed, The Joiners Arms, The Charlotte, Echoes, The Jam Jar, Mosh Nightclub, and many other private shows. The boys made a vow with each other to rock the earth and all who inhabit it. They made their debut EP and flooded the Leicester public with such classics as, ‘Indignity’, the first song to cause such controversy throughout the Leicester Lesbian community. They called this abomination, Acoustic Failure. Now, well the band are better than ever. With a back-catalogue of over 20 songs, including such classically illegal numbers like, ‘Syringe’ and ‘Necrophiliac’, written by Mr I Gilmore, they are sure to go down in history. Currently working on their new Live Album, crude or not crude, they are a great band, and will hopefully one day will rock earth to its VERY CORE.’
The year 2005 saw the growth of the various activities in which I was engaged. In September, a new website – Arts in Leicestershire – was added to my existing portfolio of sites that included Get Your Band On, Travel to Leicester, and Pink Angel Promotions, as well as the sites that I maintained on behalf of bands and venues. By now, I had an increasing list of bands and artists with whom I worked. Running on the back of these websites were activities such as live music bookings, marketing and print design services and a flyer distribution service. Pink Angel Promotions booked and publicised singers such as Danny Dee, John Anthony, Jo Jo, Oli Dickinson and Poppy and bands that included the AIDs and Ictus. All the businesses were run from my office which was based at the Leicester Creative Business Depot.
One of the bands we knew about was called Aisle13. A website item on 15th January 2005 said, – Leicester band Ictus played at The Cavern Club in Liverpool. March 2005. The Donkey. Gaz Birtles told us: ‘When Warren McDonald took over the pub in March 2005 he started having jazz on Sunday afternoons. In June, I held my 50th birthday party there and put lots of bands on in the day to celebrate. I then started my Song Club night the following February 2006 then started putting bands on at the weekends and it’s grown from there.’ Aisle13’s contact person was Lewis Healey. They had a MySpace page. Based in Leicester the three band members (with a fourth planned) were aged 16 to 17. Their style of music was probably pop/punk. The band formed in 2005. The band was fairly typical of the groups that were playing at the time in Leicester’s music venues.’
A news snippet on Sunday 4th September 2005, said – News about the Launch of Arts in Leicestershire. Arts in Leicestershire website launched this web site on Sunday 4th September 2005. Designed and developed by web designers B2B Web Consultants, the site will grow into a comprehensive portal for anything to do with the arts and entertainment in the city and county. Interesting to see it being referred to as a website. It was later on that we always called it a ‘magazine.’ With the growth of the Internet, paper magazines and newspapers were declining in circulation and many of them stopped going to the printing press in favour of being published online.
2006 music news
As mentioned earlier, I ran a national website called ‘Get Your Band On’; this had a form where bands could register themselves with us. The website was extraordinarily successful, coming up top in Google searches for most relevant search terms to do with rock music. The online form brought in thousands of registrations from bands all over the UK. During this period, bands were invited to send in, by post, copies of their promo packs and many hundreds of these were received. (See the link below for my article which critiqued these packs.) A great many bands registered their details in 2006. The online registration form was eventually taken down when the volume of data coming in from it was too great to deal with. The Get Your Band On website had both .com and .co.uk domain names. The name was suggested by members of staff at B2B Web Consultants (my web design business.) Showcase gigs were organised by GYBO. Adverts on the site included those for Down River (a Leicester band), John Anthony (singer-songwriter), Oli D (singer-songwriter), Lucy Carpenter (professional singer), Pink Champagne (bubbly girl pop group from London) and Robert Winelight (cocktail pianist.) At this time, my businesses were based at the Leicester Creative Business Depot in Rutland Street. We had created websites for Get Your Band On, The Basement Bar, Leicester Pride, The AIDs rock band, Ictus and Arts in Leicestershire. Bands we knew about in this year included, Second to Last, Atrophy, The Airport Scene, Amber Means Go, Breek, Comafilters and Countersin. Bands mentioned on the Arts in Leicester website (around the time of its launch) included De Sade and Nocturnal. The rock music page of Arts in Leicester mentioned Ictus and Skam#. Venues mentioned on that page were The Attik, The Basement Bar, The Charlotte, The Firebug, The Musician, The Shed and Sumo. There was a reference to Retribution Rock Night held at the Leicester Square venue in Belgrave Gate.
Bands and artists I saw in 2006 included Aisle13, Ali Wright, Any Other Time, The Authentics, Birds of Wales (from Canada), Despondent, Emperor State, Fall of Jupiter, Ictus, Ist, Nocturnal, Scarred Perfection, The AIDs, The Risks and Ugli, among others. Singer-songwriters I saw included Red Rob, John Anthony and Oli Dickinson. These names came from an archive of the photos I took which were published on the Arts in Leicestershire website.
I have copied below several of the news items about live music events that appear on the website I ran at the time.
11th January 2006. Airport Scene. The band had a MySpace page. From Leicester, their music style was described as emo. Playing their own music, the four band members were aged 18 to 21. The band’s contact was Steve Anderson. Formerly the band was known as No Problemos and they were playing under that name from April 2001 to December 2004. The band started up again in the summer of 2005, with a new drummer, under the name Airport Scene. Leicester band called 2nd to Last, with contact band member Alex Hudson played punk-style of music. It was a trio of musicians aged 17 to 18.
13th January 2006. Amber Means Go. Had its own website. Its contact was Andy. Music style described as alternative. Played both own music and covers. Four members in the band, aged 17 to 19. They played at Original Four (later called Superfly), on Wednesday 11th January, with another Leicester band called Emperor State.
16th May 2006. Comafilters. The band’s contact was Alex Manning. The band had its own website and also a page on MySpace. Music style was hard rock. Played own music. Five members in the band, aged 20 to 38.
26th May 2006. Breek. Contact was Russell Fenby. Had own website and MySpace page. Based in Leicester and Melton Mowbray. Music style was hard rock/punk. Played own music. Three band members. Aged 19 to 26. The lead singer was Ady.
Saturday 1st July 2006. The Braunstone Carnival. The Braunstone Community Carnival took place on Braunstone Park. This free event included a range of activities including a stage with singers and dancers. The stage line-up included local singing and dancing groups and artists from Raw Talent including Dwaine Hayden and Ms Scarlet, Creators Steel Band and Leicester band Formal Warning.
25th August 2006. Jake Manning has been performing for a couple of years and is a singer and songwriter who plays with a 12-string guitar. He is a fan of Rufus Wainwright. Quiet, sensitive songs with soft poetic lyrics and careful, intricate guitar fingering. Lilting ballads. Enthusiastic applause from the enthralled audience. Stew and Chris Armson played their own, original music and two covers, Chris on guitar and vocals and Stew on Harmonica. 1920s/30s influences. They were members of the Jack of Hearts band. They had a funny song about a girl called Cilla who looked like a gorilla.
1st September 2006. The Battle of the Acoustics show at The Shed. Winners: 14 Down, Mango and runner-up George Davy. Joe and Luke played as Science Fairs and Coloured Squares. Good at co-ordinating instruments, nicely harmonised vocals, excellent song list. Two brothers from Mansfield, playing both original songs and covers. George Davy from Purple and the Rains band, own songs good guitar playing with instrumental gymnastics (playing the instrument behind his head) but singing wasn’t up to much. Glitch, a band from Loughborough, acoustic set, pop-rock covers and originals. 14 Down, Andy and Neal have been playing together for 14 years, with Anthony on keyboard. All original songs, really good composition, a nice blend of sound and music. Mango, Craig and Sacha, from Leicester, playing original songs, both excellent vocalists, Craig on guitar and Sacha on violin, very lyrical and well-blended vocals, both very good singers and excellent songwriters. Roger Hunt, from Leicester, has been performing for 15 years. He did covers from Van Morrison and Led Zeppelin, Robert Johnstone and Jethro Tull as well as his own songs.
8th September 2006. Battle of the Acoustics. Fall of Jupiter played an original set. Fuchia, from Leicester, played covers. Ash Dean, 20, from Middlesbrough was on tour and played folk-rock by Donovan and Dylan and some original songs. He went solo in October of last year. He used to be a drummer in a band. It was a spirited performance, using guitar and harmonica. Sounding similar in style to Bob Dylan. Plenty of rocking beats. Red Rob, from near Coalville, has been doing solo performances for two and a half years and writes his own songs. He has a good strong voice and was accompanied by a band of enthusiastic supporters. Norcsalordie, Paul and Martin, were from Grimsby and Kent but are now in Leicester. Traditional folk songs, some slow, some haunted, some bawdy, all with lively guitar backing. The Yarns, from Leicester, lively original songs with guitar, violin and harmonica. Lots of audience participation. They clearly enjoyed playing and this spilt over into the audience.
15th September 2006. Becka O’Hara has been playing for a year. Singer-songwriter from Leicester with a very eclectic mix, from Dolly Parton to Joan Armatrading. Gareth, from Leicester, has been playing for 15 years, a member of the band Fall Higher. Original songs and covers, a chilled-out version of heavy rock with strong vocals. Oliver Kennett, from Leicester, original songs, 70s era influences, he has been playing for six years but has been writing for about ten years. Lyrical ballads and thumping songs, a super musician and accomplished singer. MCs Strider and Pinball accompanied by Rachel on guitar (they normally perform to backing tracks.) Pes, from Leicester, has been playing the guitar for one year, has been writing songs for about three months. Blues, folk and grunge in style, including a cover by The Cream. Good vocals. Rachel, from Leicester, has been singing for two years. Own songs plus a cover by Morisette. Distinctive voice.
Wednesday 20th December 2006. LIVE ROCK AT THE SUN. Join Leicester’s fastest rising rock band NOCTURNAL for the launch of the new album “the end of the beginning”, with support bands SKAM, BREEK, Smokin Mojo, The Picts and Jo Owen. The Sun, Churchgate, Leicester. FREE ENTRY. Cheap drinks all night.
Before moving on to the next instalment of this series, let me step back a bit. My previous article was about the rise of the Internet and its impact on the music scene. Social media played a key part in how live music developed, both in Leicester and in the rest of the world. Here is a piece I wrote, quite some time ago, that adds to this picture:
The rise of the Facebook generation
I am going to call the period from 2005 to 2013, ‘The Facebook Generation.’ Music in this period was (and, of course, still is) influenced and mediated through the (then) growing power of the Internet and, on the Internet, the social media platform Facebook is pre-eminent. Prior to the rise of Facebook, it was MySpace that provided musicians with their on-line existence. By 2014, nearly every band, singer, musician and rapper had a page on Facebook. From such pages, links took fans to other providers, such as Soundcloud, YouTube and Bandcamp, to name but a few of the many places in which the world of music could be found.
Lists of Leicester bands, published before the ubiquity of Facebook, linked each group to its page on MySpace. As soon as a new band was formed, a page for it was created on Facebook. MySpace was launched in 2003 and, up to 2008, it was the most visited social media site in the world, until it was overtaken by Facebook. Alongside the rise of these social media sites, we saw the growing dominance of the Google search engine. Previously, Internet users used search devices such as Yahoo and Alta Vista to find things. YouTube was founded in 2005 and taken over by Google in 2006. Twitter began in 2006 and quickly became a popular item in the social media universe, with a large proportion of music acts opening accounts on it. All this was as true for Leicester and Leicestershire as it was for the rest of the United Kingdom and the world.
It was not just the bands and singers that began to colonise the world of Facebook and other social media. People concerned with and involved in the music industry could also be found there. I joined Facebook in 2006 with a personal account in my own name. I added a photo album to my account called ‘Leicester rock stars’ in 2007. Andrew Stone, of the Displacements band and later of Little Night Terrors, joined Facebook in 2007. James Shaw and Jason Westall of The Utopians joined Facebook in 2007. In 2005, singer and songwriter Kevin Hewick began on Facebook. Between 2006 and 2014, the whole music scene of Leicester found its way into the virtual reality of the brave new world of online pages. Bands recorded their music and made it available via the Internet. Singers filmed themselves for YouTube. Many music artists provided tracks on Soundcloud. For local music, the Internet allowed something previously denied by the music industry – self-publishing and self-promotion.