|The A Band|
The A Band at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 2009. Back row: Pete Herring, Karl Waugh, Stewart Greenwood. Middle:Stewart Keith, Seth Cooke, Gardyloo SPeW. Front: Andrew Fletcher, Greta Pistaceci.
|Years active||1990–1994; 2007–present|
Dr Neil Lent
Calum F Kerr
Max Leonard Hitchings
Marc Vaulbert de Chantilly
|Past members||Tim Barker, Neil Campbell, Jean-Emmanuel Dubois, Vince Earimal, Sticky Foster, Ginge, Dave Higginson, John Hedley, Mick Horton, Billy MacLennan Irvine, Joincey, David Large, Mr Neil Lent (a/k/a Lenty), Niggle, Neal Pates, Jim Plaistow, Barry Rothery, Sarah, Isabel Scott-Plumber, Geoffrey Sick, Phil Todd, Richard Thomas, Dave Walters, Simon Wickham-Smith, Michael Gillham, Mike Vest, Andrew Williams, Richard Youngs|
The A Band are a British musical collective formed in Nottingham in the late 1980s. In 2005, The Wire compared the band's importance to that of AMM and SME, and noted their lack of musical training.
The line-up of the group has never been fixed with many people all credited on various A Band releases as participants. Several are known only by single or nicknames.
Some of the early A Band members had previously recorded material in the 1980s as Well Crucial, a group scattered across the UK and, in some cases, collaborating by post. A core of members was based in Kettering, Northamptonshire around Neil Campbell, Stewart Keith and Stream Angel, with other contributions by Richard Youngs. However, by 1990 these members had moved to Nottingham and the focus shifted there, with Well Crucial effectively ceasing to be.
The A Band itself was founded at the behest of saxophonist Vince Earimal, who required a backing band, and the unit quickly became an ever-changing, freeform improvisation unit, able to play without Earimal, who, despite eventually never performing with the band, is credited with their formation. Youngs joined upon moving to Nottingham and he recalled in The Wire (also issue 259) that Jim Plaistow and Campbell were the only constantly present members. They could number up to 18 on any given occasion. The original collective came to a halt around 1994.
The group never performed under the name A Band or any obvious permutation thereof (they are occasionally listed as The A-Band). Instead, the group used a different name for each performance, all of which began with the letter "a". These included Anusol, Arachnid, Arse-over-tit, Awkward, Anaglypta, Artex, AC/DC, Ack Ack, Anglegrinder and Advent, the latter in commemoration of the then-recently released Richard Youngs LP - in fact, it was at this show that Youngs' spoken word record 171 Used Train Tickets (released 2004) was recorded. However, the releases were almost always credited to "A Band" and these included several cassette releases, an LP on Siltbreeze and a 7" single. Some archive recordings later saw daylight; a CD of recordings from 1991 was issued in 1997 and live activity, also from 1991, was given a vinyl release in 2002, the material being edited by Youngs with artwork from Campbell and Plaistow. Much of the interest in the band that followed the initial releases came more from the United States than Great Britain, but this was insufficient to keep the band going, and the various members pursued music in smaller groups, or solo.
In April 2007 the A Band reformed, perhaps due to renewed interest in them, and performed at the 4th Festival Of Improvised Music at the Pyramid in Warrington, which took place on June 16. Billed as "Afterclap", the line up included many original participants; the full group consisted of Walden (who has since changed his name to Stewart Keith), Campbell, Lent, Higginson, Foster, Gardyloo SPeW, Jon Lander, Andrea Fletcher, Megan Fletcher-Cutts, Stanley Bad, Pascal Nichols (1st appearance - percussion) and Joincey (1st appearance - mouth noise).
The next performance, as "American Evil" (an anagram of "Vince Earimal"), was on 19 August in Shoreditch, London. On this occasion Stewart Keith and Gardyloo SPeW were the only regulars of nine players to perform; the seven debutants were John Aziz, Martin Bizarro, Zoe Darling, Philip Julian, Simon Murphy, Phil Todd (of Ashtray Navigations) and Karl Waugh.
Since this they have performed several times throughout the UK with a variety of old and new members, and have recorded for a forthcoming double album. In 2009 the A Band performed for a week at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as "An Audience? With...", completing the name with a different (and absent) band member for each performance. A tour was planned for the spring of 2010.
In April 2011, Gardyloo SPeW convened an A Band performance for the first time in Sydney, Australia. The lineup consisted of Gardyloo SPeW on sax, vocals and theremin with a cast of local musicians from the city's experimental hub The Bird's Robe Collective.
A film documenting the genesis and growth of the A Band is said to be in development.
This listing may be incomplete - there are probably other cassette releases extant.
- Anusol - cassette (self-released, a compilation of the earliest live recordings, given away at the Anusol performance, limited to 10 copies, 1990).
- Untitled - 7" single (Any Old Records, recorded and released 1991)
- Anusol - cassette (Chocolate Monk recorded 1990, released 1992 - this is a recording of the performance listed above rather than a reissue of the previous tape)
- Zene/Salivating Regina 7" (Baby Huey BABY-007, US, 1992)
- Artex / A Lot - LP (Siltbreeze SB018 LP, US, 1993, rec. 1990 and 1991)
- April Twelfth Nineteen-NinetyTwo cassette of studio recordings (self-released, recorded on the titular date)
- Alarms - C46 cassette (self-released, 1993)
- Live @ 7th Annual Neil Young Convention - cassette (Union Pole, c.1996, recorded July 1994)
- A Band - CD (self-released, issued by Plaistow and Campbell, recorded 1991, released 1997)
- Live In Greece 1992 - cassette (label unknown, recorded 1992, released c.1999/2000)
- A Band - LP (Qbico 12, LP, Italy, 2003, rec. 1991)
- TV Set For Winter - CDR (Qbico, recorded 1991, issued 2003, only available with the first 26 copies of the above LP on the same label - disc reads TV Sets From Winter - this is an error)
- Afterclap - DVD (Any Old Records 2008)
- Avacado - CDR (Partially Sane Records 2009 - limited edition of 50)
- An Ole Crab/ Andrew Lloyd Webber - Double CD (Live from 1993 - Apollolaan Records 2009)
- Autograph - CDR (Partially Sane Records 2009 - limited edition of 50)
- Amphibian - CDR (Bug Incision (Canada) 2010, studio sessions from 2009, edition of 119 - www.bugincision.com)
- Abstruse - 3" (Sonic Oyster Records (Scotland) 2011 from a 2010 live recording)
- Vince Taylor Is Dead - on compilation CD Church Of The Subgenius (recorded 1991, released 1992)
- Salivating Regina - split 7” with Simon Wickham-Smith / Richard Youngs track on other side (Baby Huey, 1992)
- Martian Love Call - on compilation CD The Arbitrary Nature Of Meaning, credit reads Simon Wickham-Smith & A Band (Isomorphic, 1994)
- Keenan, D. "The Long Road Home" in The Wire issue 259 (September 2005), p.38
- The Wire 300: David Keenan locates the roots of the UK’s current DIY underground in the anarchic activities of The A Band (page 1)
- The Wire 300: David Keenan locates the roots of the UK’s current DIY underground in the anarchic activities of The A Band (page 2)
- The Wire 300: David Keenan locates the roots of the UK’s current DIY underground in the anarchic activities of The A Band (page 3)