Department S (band)

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Department S
Origin United Kingdom
Genres Post-punk, new wave
Years active 1980–1982
Labels Demon, RCA, Stiff, LTM, Sartorial, J.A.M. UK, Westworld Recordings
Associated acts Thunderthighs, The Banned, Cowboys International, Original Mirrors, Madness, Back to Zero, Public Image Ltd, Cowboys International, Brian Brain, Bug
Members Mike Herbage
Eddie Roxy
Pete Jones
Alexander Lutes
Phil Thompson
Past members Vaughn Toulouse
Tony Lordan
Stuart Mizon
Mark Taylor
Jimmy Hughes
Sam Burnett

Department S are a British post-punk/new wave band formed in 1980, who took their name from the 1960s TV series Department S. [1] They are best known for their debut single, "Is Vic There?", which was originally released in December 1980 and reached No. 22 on the UK Singles Chart the following year. Their latest album, When All Is Said and All Is Done, is set for release in 2016.



Department S evolved from a previous punk/ska combo, Guns for Hire, fronted by Vaughn Toulouse and also featuring former Madness drummer John Hasler.[1] Mike Herbage joined them on guitar and wrote Guns for Hire's only single, "I'm Gonna Rough My Girlfriend's Boyfriend Up Tonight", released on the Korova record label.[1] The group then became Department S with the addition of bassist Tony Lordan, drummer Stuart Mizon and keyboardist Eddie Roxy (born Anthony Edward Lloyd-Barnes).

They debuted at the Rock Garden in London on 24 September 1980.[1] Demon Records released their debut single, "Is Vic There?", in December 1980.[2] It was produced by former Mott the Hoople members Buffin and Overend Watts. The B-side, a cover version of T.Rex's "Solid Gold Easy Action", featured Thunderthighs on backing vocals.[1]

"Is Vic There?" began to climb the UK Singles Chart, reaching No. 22. The single's initial success led to the better-equipped RCA Records reissuing the single in March 1981.[1] This edition, featuring a remix by David Tickle, reached No. 67 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, and the band appeared on Top of the Pops.[1]

The group defied easy categorisation, but recorded a session for John Peel on 3 December 1980. The tracks featured were "Is Vic There?", "Age Concern", "Ode to Cologne (Stench of War)" and "Clap Now".

In early 1981, Roxy was replaced by Mark Taylor. The band's second single, "Going Left Right", was issued on 19 June 1981 on Stiff Records (after the label had rejected "Clap Now") and failed to chart as high, although it received positive reviews.[1] Stiff also released "Is Vic There?" in the US.

Department S began recording a debut album, Sub-Stance, in 1981 with Tickle producing, but the sessions were divisive and Lordan left, replaced partway through by Jimmy Hughes (formerly of The Banned, Cowboys International and Original Mirrors).[1] A third single, "I Want", was released by Stiff in November 1981. Modest sales as well as differences of opinion with the label resulted in the band being dropped by Stiff, but not before £50,000 was reputedly spent on the unreleased album, which Stiff refused to part with.[1]

After a London concert on 18 March 1982, Herbage left, and the band split several months later.[1]

Toulouse later worked as a DJ under the name the Main T, and in 1983, as the Main T Possee, he released the single "Fickle Public Speaking" which reached No. 89 on the UK charts. He recorded as part of The Style Council's 1984 miners' charity project the Council Collective, and released a solo single, "Cruisin' the Serpentine", in 1985.[3] He died in 1991 from an AIDS-related illness.[3][1]

The tracks from Sub-Stance were first officially released by Mau Mau Records in 1993 as the compilation album Vic There?, which also included several B-sides. The album was finally issued under its correct title in 2002 by LTM, with several B-sides and live tracks appended.


In February 2007, a reunited Department S (guitarist Herbage, drummer Mizon and former keyboardist Roxy, now on vocals) recorded their first new single in 26 years, a cover version of Alvin Stardust's 1973 hit "My Coo-Ca-Choo", with guest musicians Mark Bedford of Madness on bass, Terry Edwards on brass and Michelle Brigandage on backing vocals. It was released on Sartorial Records in October.[4] Several other new tracks were recorded at that time, including "Wonderful Day" (which included guest contributions from Edwards, Glen Matlock and Marco Pirroni) and "God Squad Saviour" (with John Keeble of Spandau Ballet guesting on drums).[4]

In August 2008, Mizon left the band due to family commitments, but returned to the fold in early 2009. In June 2009, former keyboardist Taylor rejoined the band on bass. Guitarist/songwriter Sam Burnett (ex-Back to Zero) also joined on a full-time basis.

The "Wonderful Day" EP was released by Sartorial in August 2009. In February 2010, the band made their live comeback at London's 100 Club, with more gigs undertaken throughout 2010, including appearances at the Rebellion Festival and Sinners Day Festival in Belgium.

The "God Squad Saviour" single was released in June 2011, followed by the live album Mr Nutley's Strange Delusionarium, both issued by Sartorial. The band played at the Hertals Rocks Festival in Belgium in October 2011, and at the 2012 Festival Internacional de Benicàssim in Spain.

In April 2014, bassist Pete Jones (formerly of Public Image Ltd, Cowboys International and Brian Brain) joined. Later in 2014, original drummer Mizon and guitarist Burnett left the band and were replaced by drummer Alexander Lutes and guitarist Phil Thompson (formerly of Bug). A digital single, "On My Own (Again)", was released in 2015 by J.A.M. UK.[5]

A new Department S full-length album, When All Is Said and All Is Done, produced by Jones, is scheduled for release in 2016.[6]

The band remain active on the live circuit and have played dates with The Members, The Godfathers, U.K. Subs and Spizzenergi, among others.


Studio albums[edit]

Year Albums Label Notes
2003 Sub-Stance LTM Unreleased 1981 album plus live and demo tracks
2016 When All Is Said and All Is Done J.A.M. UK/Westworld Recordings


Year Singles UK Singles Chart US Hot Dance Club Play Label Notes
1980 "I'm Gonna Rough My Girlfriend's Boyfriend Up Tonight" Korova Band then billed as Guns for Hire
1981 "Is Vic There?"[2] No. 22 Demon B-side; "Solid Gold Easy Action"
1981 "Is Vic There? (Re-mixed Version)" No. 67 Stiff B-side; "Put All the Crosses in the Right Boxes"
1981 "Going Left Right"[2] No. 55 Stiff B-side; "She's Expecting You"
1981 "I Want" Stiff B-side; "Monte Carlo or Bust"
2007 "My Coo-Ca-Choo" Sartorial
2011 "God Squad Saviour" Sartorial B-side; "Slave"
2015 "On My Own (Again)" J.A.M. UK


Year EPs Label
2009 Wonderful Day Sartorial

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Albums Label
1993 Is Vic There? Mau Mau Records

Live albums[edit]

Year Albums Label
2011 Mr Nutleys Strange Delusionarium Sartorial


  • Mike Herbage – guitar (1980-1982, 2007-present)
  • Eddie Roxy (born Anthony Edward Lloyd-Barnes) – keyboards (1980, 2007-present)
  • Pete Jones - bass, backing vocals (2014-present)
  • Alexander Lutes - drums (2014-present)
  • Phil Thompson - guitar, backing vocals (2014-present)
  • Vaughn Toulouse (born Vaughn Cotillard, 30 July 1959, St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands; died August 1991) – vocals (1980-1982)
  • Tony Lordan – bass (1980-1982)
  • Stuart Mizon – drums (1980-1982, 2007-2014)
  • Mark Taylor – keyboards (1981-1982, 2009-2014)
  • Jimmy Hughes – bass (1981-1982)
  • Sam Burnett – guitar (2011-2014)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Department S Biography". Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  2. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 151. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ a b Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 299
  4. ^ a b "Department S - Discography". Retrieved 2016-02-16. 
  5. ^ "Department S | On My Own (Again) | CD Baby Music Store". Retrieved 2016-02-16. 
  6. ^ "Department S - News". Retrieved 2016-02-16. 

External links[edit]