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Flux Of Pink Indians
Icons Of Filth
|Past members||Quita Doubleday
Beverley Cook Abbott
Warren "Nuts" Samuels
Jeremy "Buzz" Buzzing
The Lost Cherrees were formed in 1979/1980 by Steve Battershill (drums), Dave Greaves (guitar) and Siân Jeffreys vocalist. After a period of rehearsal, six demo tracks were recorded and released on a tape cassette 'The Worst Demo Ever Recorded At Hark Studios, Kingston', this was a split release with other local punk band Warning. A first gig was played in front of a small crowd at a party held at singer Sian’s house in Sutton Surrey in the summer of 1981. Soon after this Greaves left the band and Andy Rolfe took his place as guitarist, Steve switched to playing bass and Nuts (Warren Samuels) joined as the new drummer. The new Lost Cherrees line-up of Andy, Nuts, Sian & Steve recorded a second demo in 1982, some tracks of which were to eventually feature on a release on the Subhumans label Bluurg.
Their first proper gig was at the Swan pub in Kingston in July 1983 with Riot/Clone. Having struck up a close friendship and working relationship with Dave Floyd and Riot/Clone, they played many gigs across the UK together and eventually were offered a release on the Riot/Clone label. No Fighting, No War, No Trouble, No More was released in late 1983. A week after its release, Radio 1 DJ John Peel played it and expressed an unlikely fondness for it. Subsequently, John Peel often played Lost Cherrees records on his show, until, a good three years after, a chance meeting with the Cherrees (whilst out promoting the Unwanted Children EP) outside the BBC building resulted in an early evening impromptu beer or two at a local pub with himself, his producer John Walters, the Cherrees and Alison (George Cheex) from Action Pact.
As the Lost Cherrees reputation grew, and with the first EP under their belts, the band were offered gigs with Conflict and the Subhumans. The second record, a five track EP A Man's Duty, A Woman's Place was recorded at Jon Hiseman's (Colisseum) newly built Sutton studio and released in 1984. It was originally planned for a release on Bluurg records but Conflict singer Colin Jerwood persuaded the Cherrees to let him release it on Mortarhate Records. 'A Man's Duty, A Woman's Place' spent several months in the UK Independent Music Top 50 Chart, peaking at number 4.
The band played gigs with Flux of Pink Indians, Rudimentary Peni, DIRT, Chumbawamba, Icons of Filth, Subhumans, Conflict, Omega Tribe, Hagar The Womb, The Partisans, Icon AD, Youth In Asia, Brigandage, Rubella Ballet, Anthrax and many others during this time. These gigs were all in the UK and included appearances at the legendary 100 Club, Feltham Football Club, The Brixton Ace, and, in a gig organised by Cherree's drummer Nuts, an infamous event at the Surbiton Assembly Rooms which ended in a pitched battle on the streets of suburban Surbiton with the SPG (Special Patrol Group) and reported as riots in the next day's national press. It was during this period that the band grew in numbers, with Gail Thibert, ex lead singer on electronic indie band Adventures In Colour, joining on keyboards, Beverly Cook-Abbott on joint lead vocals with Sian, and when Sian announced her plans to move on, Debbie McKenna joined to act as her eventual replacement. However, Sian stayed for quite a while longer and the band ended up playing live with seven members and then going on to record the debut album with three female vocalists.
In 1984, the track 'The Wait' and another track, ‘Poem’were recorded at The Greenhouse and was released on the Mortarhate compilation LP Who? What? Why? When? Where?, an album which also featured Poison Girls, Hagar The Womb, Anthrax, Exit-Stance, Karma Sutra, Vex and, of course, Conflict. A few weeks after the Greenhouse sessions The Lost Cherrees entered Ariwa studio in Brixton, engineered by legendary artist the Mad Professor and Patrick Donegan, and recorded a 16 track album. 'All Part of Growing Up', the band's first album was released on Fight Back records (through Conflict and Mortarhate) in 1985. Sometime between its recording and release, Sian eventually left to join Joseph Porter's Blyth Power collective.
The Lost Cherrees had always been recognized as a band always looking to push the boundaries of the genre. They were one of the first of the wave of female fronted 'Anarcho' bands, they experimented with keyboards, as big fans of the Clash and the Ruts they often used reggae stylings to flavour their songs, and in 1985 decided to feature a brass section (Pigbag's no less!) on their next release, a four track 12" EP named after the title track, Unwanted Children. This was recorded at Alaska Studio in Waterloo.
It signalled a growing up for the band in musical terms, but also alienated many of their hardcore fans who still preferred the bands early style. This became a source of some frustration for the band, who had worked hard at improving and developing their sound. A frustration, which manifested itself, in petulant fashion. When asked by their record label Mortarhate to contribute a track to an anti-war release, 'We Don't Want Your Fucking War'. The Cherrees went into the studio and recorded 'War pts 1&2', the first part of which was a parody of thrash punk, and the second half a conversation set to music, mocking the fundamental naivety of the movement's understanding of the subject. It was an offering designed to challenge the project, but to Colin Jerwood's great credit, seeing through its frustrated tones and mocking subtext, he included it on the LP (notwithstanding a return 'dig' on the vinyl’s run off scratch).
In early 1986, after the disappointing sales and lack of airplay of the Unwanted Children EP, the Cherrees began to struggle with their belief in the movement and its future progression. Rehearsals slowed, occasional arguments developed, and an increasing reluctance to play the role of headlining band led to one awful January mid-week night at the Mermaid pub in Birmingham, when during a particularly average live performance by the band, singer Bev took exception to sexist comments from a small pocket of idiots in the crowd, and after a prolonged bout of 'discussion' with said idiots, decided to announce that this would be the band's final gig. The fact that no one in the band disagreed with Bev, was not only a sign that this was a terrible gig but also that each member had by now become disillusioned to the point of not caring any longer. At a post-rehearsal meeting held the following Sunday in a Surbiton pub, the Lost Cherrees decided to split up.
During the 17 or so years that the Cherrees were separated, various members continued pursuing music projects. Andy and Nuts, created and played, together and apart, in several incarnations, including Good Question and Pipe. Whilst Bev joined her brothers' bands The Gotham City Wreckers and the Bubble Eyed Dog Boys.
In early 2003, Steve, inspired by how many people were sharing files of Cherrees tracks on Napster, began to track down the other members. They reformed with Andy, Bev, Nuts and Steve. After a prolonged but fruitless attempt to locate Debbie, Gail and Sian, the four piece rehearsed hard for several months, with Andy taking over as second vocals as well as guitar. They began contacting old friends still connected with the genre and making an early contact with Colin Jerwood was once again a huge help. Colin was delighted to have the Cherrees back 'on the firm' and offered an immediate reissue of the entire back catalogue, with gigs to follow.
Their first gig after reforming was a squat gig in Hackney and a benefit for the DSEI. Out of the blue, Gail and Debbie turned up to lend their support, with Debbie joining Bev on stage in a version of Unwanted Children. The band were gigging once again, and early appearances took place in Leicester, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, London, Brighton, Newport and Derby among many others. The highlight of the early gigs after reforming was undoubtedly the Gathering Of The Thousands, on 21 September 2003 at the Forum, Kentish Town, London, with Conflict, Subhumans, Anti Flag, Blaggers AKA, Icons Of Filth, Inner Terrestrials, Active Slaughter and more.
In The Beginning... was the CD album release that included the back catalogue. Featuring all works released on Mortarhate and a few of the debut single on Riot/Clone. The album was an immediate sell out on pre-release and firmly cemented the bands re-emergence.
The Cherrees, now working out of the studio in drummer Nuts' basement, recorded a cover version of the Clash's Safe European Home for a Joe Strummer tribute album on Mortarhate (an album that was also due to feature the Subhumans massive version of Complete Control), though sadly, this project never saw the light of day. The version became a popular encore track over the following couple of years.
As thanks to all the people in the US who had responded so supportively when the Lost Cherrees first announced that they were to reform, a five track, vinyl only, limited edition EP called 'Another Bite Of The Cherrees' was released in early 2004. There was only 1000 pressed with 100 on clear vinyl.
Aside from a busy gigging schedule, the band had several other projects on the go at the start of 2004. A benefit EP for the high profile protest group Fathers4Justice, with whom bassist Steve was a front line activist member, was written, recorded and released in June 2004. This release was subsequently deleted by the band in response a television expose of an undesirable underlying element that had infiltrated Fathers4Justice, seeking to discredit the cause and its followers. All but a few hundred copies were destroyed.
Throughout 2004, the band were writing and recording for an all new studio album touted for a release towards the end of the year. In July of that year, the Cherrees eagerly accepted the offer of two gigs in the US and readily committed to all travel arrangements. However, due to a relentless 18 months of hard work, the strain had started to take its toll on singer Bev, who was diagnosed with nodules on her vocal cords and ordered to rest. In order that Bev could make the trip, a second singer, Joey Hill joined to help split the set and provide Bev with some much needed cover. Joey, amazingly, with only a couple of rehearsals and a rush-organised gig at the Cartoon, Croydon, was able to make the US shows. So it was, that in September 2004 the Cherrees set off for New York with Conflict, to play two nights at the legendary CBGB. The venue was tragically due to close down the next month due to a redevelopment of the area so it quite literally was 'now or never' for the Lost Cherrees to play the birthplace of US punk. Across the two nights, the band made many friends and secured a state side distribution deal, through Mortahate, with S.O.S.
Early 2005 saw the band complete the new album, and simultaneously put together a special edition of the back catalogue CD released the previous year. In two crazy weeks in April 2005, Free to Speak.... But Not To Question, a 17 track all new studio album AND In The Very Beginning... the massive, 65 track, double CD special edition of the back catalogue were released on Mortarhate, through Cherry Red. The exhaustive back catalogue release now included for the first time, all the early demos, some remixes, early live recordings and deleted songs from the first album. Both albums received a simultaneous release in Europe and America through the new Mortarhate/S.O.S. deal. More to follow....
The subject of their songs often included feminism, anarchism, and several notable songs regarding animal rights, including "Poem", "Yet Still Comes The Rain" and "You Didn't Care", which were all included in the controversial This Is The Alf compilation album, released by Mortarhate Records in 1998. From 2010 Steve Battershill has also been playing bass in London-based punk band Condition:Dead.