|Also known as||The Drum|
|Origin||Ovingham, Northumberland, UK|
|Genres||Punk rock, alternative rock|
|Years active||1989–2000, 2013–present|
|Labels||Fluffy Bunny, MCA, Beggars Banquet, Mantra|
|Past members||Jan Alkema|
China Drum are an English punk rock band from Ovingham in Northumberland active initially from 1989 to 2000, playing under the name The Drum beginning in 1999. The group released three moderately successful full-length albums and toured in support of noted punk and alternative rock groups, including Green Day, Ash, and Supergrass. They reformed in 2013 under the China Drum moniker.
Early years, Goosefair (1989–1996)
China Drum were formed in rural Northern England in 1989 by brothers Bill and Dave McQueen, a guitarist and bassist respectively, and singing drummer Adam Lee. Then teenagers, the members first began rehearsing in a local farm's empty pig shed powered by an electrical generator. After four years of extensive local and regional gigging, the band self-released their debut single, "Simple", in 1993, which was championed by John Peel and other members of the British radio press. They were also heartened when Frankie Stubbs and his influential punk band Leatherface received the single warmly and covered the B-side track "Meaning" on their "Little White God" single the following year.
The "Great Fire" single was issued later in 1994 by the London-based Fluffy Bunny Records imprint before a UK tour with Green Day which also included an Amsterdam date, their first international gig. Green Day remained supporters of the group, and bassist Mike Dirnt can be seen wearing a China Drum t-shirt in the music video for their successful single "When I Come Around". Over the next two years, China Drum released the Barrier EP and numerous smaller releases, many of which received national support from such outlets as BBC Radio One.
The band soon signed with Mantra, a subsidiary of Beggars Banquet Europe and Japan, and MCA Records in the United States, who issued a reworked version of the Barrier EP. They released their debut album, Goosefair, in 1996. The album peaked at No 53 on the UK Albums Chart and received good critical reception, with AllMusic critic Jack Rabid calling the material a mix of "wild catchy pop and charged rock and roll" and Hybrid Magazine's Tom Topkoff praising the group for its heavy pop prowess. Extensive international touring followed in support of the album, including dates in North America, Bosnia, and Sarajevo, and shared bills with Ash and Supergrass.
Their breakthrough hit came via a high-tempo cover version of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights", which received its first wide release as the B-Side to Goosefair's lead single, "Can't Stop These Things". This inaugurated the band's practice of recording punk versions of pop songs: they later recorded Crowded House's "Fall at Your Feet" in a similar vein, and the theme tune to the television programme The Adventures of Rupert Bear also became a fan favourite at concerts.
Self Made Maniac, Diskin; breakup (1998–2000)
In 1998 the group added former Compulsion drummer Jan Alkema to their live lineup, freeing Lee to act exclusively as lead vocalist during concerts. They released their second album, Self Made Maniac, via the Beggars Banquet imprint the following year. The album received mixed critical reception: while Washington Post critic Mark Jenkins praised the record's balance of classic British rock and modern punk, Dean Carlson noted via AllMusic that the band's sound had "ripened" but now lacked "fervor and melody".
The group promoted Alkema to full-time member status and renamed themselves The Drum in 1999, while also introducing elements of alternative rock and electronic music into their new sound. They released the Diskin album via Mantra Records in this incarnation the following year. Diskin's change of musical direction polarized fans and received lukewarm critical reviews, with NME noting the uneven results of the experimentation and awarding the album five out of ten stars. After being dropped by Mantra and embarking upon a poorly received tour in support of Suicidal Tendencies, The Drum ultimately disbanded in September 2000 due to financial and personal considerations.
The McQueen brothers later played together in Servo, while Alkema formed Driven to Collision and Lee the indie rock group Sickhoose. Following their breakup, China Drum retained a cult following and continued to influence other bands: the Australian group Bodyjar, for example, covered "Fall Into Place" on their 2001 album You Got Me a Girl's Bike You Idiot.
In 2013 the band reformed with a line up including Lee, the McQueen brothers, and new members John Steel on guitar and Kate Stephenson on drums. Returning to the China Drum moniker and focusing mostly on early material, they played their first gig after reuniting at The Garage in London on 21 February with support by Midway Still and Vanilla Pod. Further concerts were announced thereafter starting with Newcastle University Students' Union on 10 May. A UK tour was soon announced and the band are writing and recording new material. A brand new EP is imminent.
- Current members
- Adam Lee – vocals (1989–2000, 2013–present), drums (1989–1999)
- Bill McQueen – guitar, harmony and backing vocals (1989–2000, 2013–present)
- Dave McQueen – bass, backing vocals (1989–2000, 2013–present)
- John Steel – guitar, harmony and backing vocals (2013–present)
- Kate Stephenson – drums (2013–present)
- Former members
- Jan Alkema – drums (1998–2000)
- TMT #15, interview by Mat Honner. March 1995.
- "China Drum – Music Biography, Credits, Discography :: AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 105. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Goosefair – China Drum". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
- "HYBRIDMAGAZINE.com : Reviews : China Drum : Goosefair". Hybrid Magazine. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- The Big Takeover #40. 1997.
- "Future Sound Share – China Drum Interview". Future Sound Share. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
- "CHINA DRUM Self Made Maniac Mantra/Beggars Banquet; FOAM Big Windshield Little Mirror Epic". Washington Post, 13 March 1998.
- "Self Made Maniac – China Drum". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
- "NME Album Reviews – Diskin – NME.com". NME. 29 May 2000. Retrieved 27 March 2013.