Denzil

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Denzil are a rock/powerpop band from Bournemouth, England, based around singer-songwriter Denzil Thomas. Denzil were signed to Giant Records in the USA in 1993 and put out one album, Pub, in 1994. Pub was nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1994.

History[edit]

Denzil were formed in Bournemouth during 1990 by singer/songwriter Denzil Thomas. Thomas had been playing folk clubs for about a year when he met producer/bassist Steve Ennever in a Bournemouth studio. The product of this was a local cassette called A Tape Called Denzil. Ecstatic local press reviews saw thousands of tapes being sold in a matter of months. By the time the band proper hit a stage in September 1990 they were already the most popular draw in town.

Over the next year or so, Denzil played far and wide in the UK, first picking up alternating drummers Andy Place and Jeremy Stacey and later finding guitarist Craig Boyd in nearby Portsmouth.

In 1992 the band attracted the attention of former William Morris Agency and Famous Music A&R Michael LeShay, when the drummer of a former Famous Music Publishing band from the UK sent him a 5 song demo cd. On the strength of Denzil's demos, Leshay was able to convince major label Giant Records to imprint his label Play Records and co-market and distribute a Denzil album in the US. So the band entered the studio in the early summer of 1993 armed with a sheaf of Thomas's songs to begin recording an album. The album was produced, arranged, and mixed by Steve Ennever.

Thomas's tunes and ability to evoke a story were matched with Ennever's simplistic arrangement and production during the making of the album. Denzil gradually selected songs that worked together as a concept that the stories mainly came from his local pub, the title was set. The resulting album had a "back to basics" feel and gritty soap-box narrative. Even before it was completed (which took over six months) the buzz at Giant had started in earnest.

On February 17, an acoustic Thomas and Boyd played the pub at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco as part of the 1994 Gavin convention. This, their first show on US soil, launched over 80 dates in 1994 across nearly every state in the Union, ending at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, New Jersey on December 9, 1994.

Released on 12 April 1994, Pub and the single "Useless" - was picked up by over 300 radio stations in the US. The album went on to widespread critical acclaim, with major press such as the LA Village Voice, Rolling Stone, the NME and Interview magazine giving the album positive reviews. Ultimately it received two Grammy nominations in 1994.

However, despite these successes, Pub never sold in great numbers, frictions between LeShay and Giant ended up standing in the way of continued label support. By October 1994, the investors in Play Records, Cary Greene and Neil Stein were arrested by the SEC for fraudulent behavior in the world of financial securities which ultimately caused the Play Records funding to cease. Unfortunately Giant Records confidence in Denzil was shaken enough for them to pass on second option in 1995, despite a raft of new demos and a plan to re-locate Thomas to the east coast of the USA.

Frictions between Denzil and Steve Ennever were also having an effect on the overall situation. Two days after returning from the US, Steve Ennever decided to part company with Denzil entirely.

Ennever was replaced live with Bournemouth stalwart bass player Martin "Budgie" Burden. In mid-January 1995, Thomas, Burden, Boyd and Stacey began an 11 date tour of the UK to support the release of pub in the UK on BMG Records under license from Giant. Denzil entered the studio immediately afterwards with Stacey as producer to create a series of demos for the next album. The band also filmed a special for VH1 at this time, being interviewed by Robert Sandall.

Sandall introduced Denzil to Billy Bragg's manager Peter Jenner who started looking after the band from early 1995. In May 1995 BMG declined an offer to sign Denzil direct to the UK, which effectively left them without a deal. The band was offered a series of small record deals in 1995 and 1996 which were not taken up. By 1997 Thomas was working full-time in the music industry and effectively the band disbanded.

Thomas continued to work on demos with Stacey until 1999, even playing a couple of shows and a BBC radio session that year. However, the original Denzil line-up did not play again until one unannounced show in 2003.

In the wake of the popularity of a new wave of British artists, Pub has been name checked in the popular music press as "one of the most overlooked albums of the 1990s" - a tag it picked up almost immediately at the time. Spurred on by features in the music press and a lot of action on the internet, interest in the album and the band from new and original fans has increased a great deal recently. A number of newer artists including Grandaddy and The Handsome Family now cite Pub as an influence on them.

Discography[edit]

External links[edit]