After the Fire
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|After the Fire (ATF)|
|Genres||Rock, new wave, progressive rock|
|Years active||1974–1982, 2004–present|
|Labels||Rapid, CBS, Epic, RoughMix|
|Past members||Matthew Russell
After the Fire (or ATF) are a British rock band that transitioned from playing progressive rock to new wave over their initial twelve-year career, while having only one hit in the United States ("Der Kommissar") and one hit in the United Kingdom ("One Rule For You").
Keyboard player Peter Banks originally formed the band in the early 1970s in London, England. After The Fire then went through several personnel changes before settling on Banks, guitarist and vocalist Andy Piercy, bassist Nick Battle, and drummer Ivor Twidell. This line-up enjoyed local success in London, and released an album, Signs of Change, in 1978, on their own label. Having become a highly priced collectors' item, it was reissued on CD in 2004 with several bonus tracks. At this time, the band's sound was similar to that of bands like Genesis and Yes.
After Battle left, Piercy switched to bass, and John Russell joined on guitar. The group signed to CBS, and released their second album, Laser Love, in 1979, which marked the band's move towards new wave, with shorter, more catchy pop rock tracks. Twydell left the band to seek a career as a frontman and Nick Brotherwood took over briefly, after the album Laser Love was recorded. Banks changed his name to "Memory" Banks to not be confused with the ex-Yes guitarist, around this time. As these changes took place, After The Fire's single, "One Rule for You", entered the UK Top 40. The group were scheduled to perform it on BBC TV's Top of the Pops that week, a move which would have been almost certain to see it rise much higher, but their appearance was cancelled because Gary Numan was on the show and the BBC thought one keyboard track was enough.
The first version of 80-f, although better musically, was turned down by CBS resulting in the early departure of Brotherwood. The band, now with Pete King (formerly of the Flys) on drums, were assigned a new producer who re-worked some of the original album tracks and re-visited tracks that had been left off Laser Love. Neither singles charted in the UK but 1980-f gained popularity, like the band, in Europe.
Batteries Not Included was released in 1982 without fanfare, and the singles received little UK airplay. They came back into the UK spotlight when their English-language cover of Austrian musician Falco's song, "Der Kommissar", rocketed into the US top ten in 1983, though it only just made the top fifty in the United Kingdom. This was followed by the release of their first and only US album, ATF, a compilation of their UK albums.
Dissolution and aftermath
This success had come too late, and growing musical differences eventually caused the band to split in 1982. Piercy was looking to leave during the recording sessions that led to the single "Der Kommissar." Although "Der Kommissar", which had already become a hit in Canada, finally took hold in the American charts, CBS tried to get the band back together without success. All rights to the band name were signed over by Banks to Piercy and CBS.
Piercy immediately went back into the studios to rerecord "One Rule" and "Dancing in the Shadows", the latter being released as a single and charting in the US with some success. Piercy started work on a new album called Free Heat, (an anagram of After The Fire, with the missing letters creating the word "rift"). The album was recorded across the UK in various studios including The Manor and The Town House. The only single from the sessions was "8 Ball in the Top Pocket" (b-side "Deep Waters Still Run"), released on 7" and 12". The 12" version, which also contained "One Down for the Highway", was deleted before release.
Musicians who worked on the album with Piercy and Mal Pope included Roger Taylor (Queen), Heny Spinetti & Bob Jenkins - drums, John Giblin & Andy - bass, Alan Murphy & John Russell - guitar, Adrian Lee - keys. Mal and John Russell both did some backing vocals.
The album consisted of the following tracks: 8 ball in the Top Pocket, Young Love, Terry, Stop Go, 4th Street room 101, Jewel in the Night, We gotta get out of this place, Young and Wild, One down for the Highway, and Deep Waters Still Run. CBS had planned to make it the company's first release on CD.
Work on the album had begun to get hard, the demos were not turning into the tracks Piercy wished for. Then towards the end of recording, the producer, John Eden, told Piercy that he "didn't like" any of the styles, bands or writers he was aspiring to. The whole project was dropped by CBS and was never released. Piercy recalls "I think they could have been good but I now realize I didn't get the production help and direction I needed at the time."
Banks went on to build his own studio before becoming managing director of Maldon Computer Company, a software and networking enterprise. Russell worked in a music shop following the split and later was involved in youth work, while Piercy became a record producer. King, who joined the German rock band BAP in 1986, died of testicular cancer in 1987. Twidell (as Iva Twydell) released two solo albums after leaving the band (Secret Service and Duel, released in 1981 and 1982 respectively), and then became a police officer. Battle became a songwriter/producer/A&R man, working with (amongst others) Godley and Creme and Anthony Phillips, has had songs recorded by Cliff Richard and holds partial responsibility for "The Birdie Song" and The Spice Girls.
In 2004 at the Friends Reunion organised by a fan, Banks and Russell were joined by Ian Niblo on bass and Matt Russell (John's teenage son) on drums to perform a karaoke set. Banks was later talked into the capacity reunion gig at the Greenbelt Festival, with Keith Smith completing the line-up on lead vocals.
In 2005, they re-worked and released the song "One Rule" for Trade Justice, a new recording of their 1979 UK hit. They released the second track from the current line up, "Forged from Faith", as a digital download in October 2005.
In January 2007, Smith's departure from the group was announced. The vocals at their first gig in Harrow after Smith's departure were handled by Pete Banks and Russell and gave the band an "authentic" vocal style. Before Smith's departure, there had been plans to re-enter the recording studio. A band biography, in union with a Christian publishing house, with the working title of Short Change, by a band associate was shelved in 2007.
In May 2008, the band announced the arrival of Tim Turner as drummer, fresh from Titian Red.
For their autumn 2008 tour, the band teamed up with singer–songwriter Rob Halligan, who not only fronted the band (lead vocals and guitar), but also played some of his own material during the sets. The band continues to perform, with an annual mini tour.
|1978||Signs of Change||-||-|
|1982||Batteries Not Included||82||-|
|Der Kommissar||Released as ATF in the U.S. with a slightly rearranged track listing||-||25|
|2005||Der Kommissar - The CBS Recordings||-||-|
|Live at Greenbelt||-||-|
|2009||Radio Sessions 1979–1981||-||-|
|1979||Life in the City||-||-|
|1979||"One Rule For You"||40||-||Laser Love|
|"Life in the City"||-||-|
|1980||"Love Will Always Make You Cry"||-||-||80-f|
|"Wild West Show"||-||-|
|1981||"Dancing in the Shadows"||-||-||Batteries Not Included|
|"Der Kommissar"||47||5||Der Kommissar|
|1983||"Dancing in the Shadows"||-||85|
|"8 Ball in the Top Pocket"||-||-|
|2005||"One Rule (For Trade Justice)"||-||-|
|"Forged From Faith"||-||-|
|2004||"You Had To Be There" Live at Greenbelt 2004 Cat no 985900-4 ROUGHMIX Ltd|