Dark Star (band)
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The Jazz Butcher
The Dave Howard Singers
|Past members||Christian Hayes
Christian Hayes, David Francolini and Laurence O'Keefe formed Dark Star in 1998. All three had previously been members of Levitation, and had long individual histories in the British alternative rock scene. Hayes had previously been the guitarist for Cardiacs and Ring, and the bass player for The Dave Howard Singers; O'Keefe had played a similar role with The Jazz Butcher; and Francolini had played with Julian Cope, The Blue Aeroplanes and an embryonic Strangelove, (as well as less well-known acts such as The Coltraines, The United States of Mind, Rhythm Party, and Something Pretty Beautiful).
Dark Star signed to Harvest Records, the progressive rock subsidiary of EMI. The band went on to release several EPs and a debut album, Twenty Twenty Sound, produced by Steve Lillywhite. Their live performances, (usually with a stage decorated with fairy lights) attracted a dedicated following. The band's common musical influence was Public Image Limited. In 2000, the band had two Top 40 UK Singles Chart hits with re-releases of "Graceadelica" and "I Am The Sun", both from their debut album.
Following the touring and promotion of Twenty Twenty Sound, the band entered the studio to record the follow-up. Strangers And Madmen was mooted as the lead off single and received its first play on The Evening Session, hosted by Steve Lamacq. Due to a change in personnel at EMI and a general lack of interest from the label in the new material, it was agreed the two parties would part.
The band subsequently split in 2001 with no official announcement, to pursue different projects. They were unable to release the already recorded second album, as the rights to the music belonged to EMI. A bootleg of pre-master mixes of this album is now in circulation, entitled 'Zurich' - the title 'Zurich' came from a sketch in Dadaist comedy show 'Big Train' of which the band were huge fans. It was O'Keefe's job to make sure that the latest episode was always ready for viewing on the tour van VHS. The sketch comprised a tense office meeting, a deadline to be met, a graph paper bikini and, of course the word 'Zurich' was involved.
Francolini subsequently moved back to Bristol, and set up a recording studio. He currently works on several projects (sometimes under the name of Mitch Razor) including the indie band Dragons. Hayes has divided his time between music and tour management - his current musical project is the solo psychedelic project, Mikrokosmos. O'Keefe is now a session bassist, working with a wide variety of acts including Sophia and Martina Topley-Bird.
In the music press
- "A fine excursion into the murkier reaches of obsession crawling from the wreckage, then. It's not always pretty and seldom comprehensible, but you have to admire a band who can yell lyrics like I am centrifugal as if they were the meaning of life. Although what it all means is anyone's guess. And they said Bickers was the mad one." — Jim Alexander (NME) on Twenty Twenty Sound
The cover art on all Darkstar releases up to I Am The Sun in 2000 was by Tom Phillips, an artist from Peckham, South London. The images he used were based on his work A Humument, an illustrative and textual reworking of an 1892 Victorian novel. Phillips had previously contributed similar artwork for the sleeve of the King Crimson album Starless and Bible Black
Singles and EPs
- Graceadelica (EP) (1998)
- I Am The Sun (EP) (1999)
- "About 3am" (single) (1999, #50)
- "Graceadelica" (remix single) (2000, #25)
- "I Am The Sun" (remix single) (2000, #31)