EMF (band)

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EMF performing in 2024
Background information
OriginCinderford, Gloucestershire, England
GenresAlternative rock, indie rock
Years active1989–1997, 2001–2002, 2007–2009, 2012–present
  • James Atkin
  • Derry Brownson
  • Ian Dench
  • Stevey Marsh
  • Adrian Todd
Past members
  • Mark Decloedt
  • DJ Milf
  • Zac Foley
  • Jack Stephens
  • Tim Stephens
  • Phil Cleary
  • Richard March

EMF are an English alternative rock band from Cinderford, Gloucestershire, who came to prominence at the beginning of the 1990s. During their initial eight-year run, from 1989 to 1997, the band released three studio albums before a hiatus. Their first single, "Unbelievable", reached number 3 on the UK Singles Chart,[1] and was a number 1 hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Their debut album, Schubert Dip, went to number 3 on the UK Albums Chart.[1] In April 2022, EMF released their first album of new material in 27 years, Go Go Sapiens.

Band name[edit]

The name EMF is an initialism of Epsom Mad Funkers, a name taken from a fan club of the band New Order in 1989.[2]


Formation (1989)[edit]

All the members of the band were relatively well known in the Forest of Dean music scene before forming EMF in Cinderford in October 1989. Keyboard and sampler player Derry Brownson had formed a band called Flowerdrum but left to join bass guitarist Zac Foley, drummer Marc Decloedt, DJ Milf, and singer James Atkin as EMF. Ian Dench was the last to join, having already tasted moderate success as a guitarist for Apple Mosaic.

The band's music has been classified as indie rock.[3] They toured the UK in 1990 with Stereo MCs.[4]

Schubert Dip and Stigma (1990–1992)[edit]

In 1990, their debut single "Unbelievable" topped the charts in many countries around the world, reaching number 1 in the U.S. in July 1991. The single featured sampled utterances from comedian Andrew Dice Clay. In 1991, EMF released their debut album Schubert Dip which went to number 3 in the UK.[1] The name was explained by songwriter Ian Dench, as "If ever I'm short of a chord sequence, I nick one from Schubert."[5] Successful singles from the album included "I Believe", "Children", and "Lies". "Lies" included a voice sample of Mark Chapman, John Lennon's murderer. Yoko Ono, Lennon's wife, achieved an injunction, and a modified version was included in future pressings.[6]

In 1992, EMF returned with the Unexplained EP (including a cover version of "Search and Destroy") and later Stigma, their second album. Both of these releases did poorly in the charts. The singles released were "Getting Through", "They're Here", and "It's You".

Also in 1992, EMF appeared on the Red Hot Organization's dance compilation album Red Hot + Dance, contributing "Unbelievable (The Hovering Feet Mix)". The album attempted to raise awareness and money in support of the AIDS epidemic, and all proceeds were donated to AIDS charities.

Cha Cha Cha and first hiatus (1995–2000)[edit]

EMF's third album, Cha Cha Cha, was released in 1995 and featured the singles "Perfect Day" and "Bleeding You Dry". In the same year, EMF teamed with comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer and recorded "I'm a Believer", a cover of The Monkees song.[6] This single reached No. 3 in the UK singles chart.[1]

Following the release of the Afro King single (which failed to do well), the band split up for the first time. However, all members of the band continued to play music. Ian Dench formed the indie rock band Whistler, which was active from 1998 to 2000. James Atkin formed the big beat trio Cooler and Derry Brownson formed the alternative rock trio LK. Zac Foley became the bass player for Carrie.

Reunion and second hiatus (2001–2006)[edit]

In 2001, EMF played a reunion gig in London. They also released a greatest hits album: Epsom Mad Funkers: The Best of EMF.

Zac Foley died on 3 January 2002 at the age of 31, due to an overdose of non-prescribed drugs.[7] Following his death, EMF played just four more gigs in late 2002 before splitting again.

Second reunion and third hiatus (2007–2009)[edit]

In 2007 the band reformed to play a one-off gig at the Scala in King's Cross, London, on 18 December. The place of Foley was taken by Richard March, formerly of Pop Will Eat Itself and Bentley Rhythm Ace.[citation needed]

In 2008 EMF played the Portsmouth Festival on 9 October and supported Carter USM at Birmingham Academy and London's Brixton Academy in November that year.[citation needed]

In May 2009 EMF announced that due to personal issues, the band would not be doing any more shows in the near future, thus ending their second reunion.[citation needed]

Third reunion (2012–2019)[edit]

In 2012, they reformed to play at the inaugural festival Lakefest in Tewkesbury, alongside Levellers and Dodgy, on 18 and 19 May. The band welcomed new bassist Stevey Marsh during this show. For the first time, they performed every track from the album Schubert Dip in order to coincide with the 21st anniversary re-release.[8][9] The band headlined at the Westbury Festival on 25 August 2012.[10] In December 2012 the band played Schubert Dip and Stigma from start to finish at the Gloucester Guildhall. The show was recorded and sold as a live Blu-ray/DVD titled Videodrome: Long Live the New Flesh.[citation needed]

On 1 October 2016 the band headlined Indie Daze in London.[citation needed]

From Us To You and Go Go Sapiens (2020–present)[edit]

In 2020 the band released a career-spanning vinyl box set titled From Us to You. It contained all the full-length albums remastered, and a fourth disc containing unreleased demos and non-album tracks. On 1 April 2022, the band released an all-new material album, titled Go Go Sapiens. Its first single, "Sister Sandinista", was released 1 March 2022. They also had a short UK tour in early April 2022.[11][12]


  • James Atkin (vocals, guitars)
  • Ian Dench (guitars, keyboards)
  • Stevey Marsh (bass)
  • Adrian Todd (drums)[13][14]
  • Derry Brownson (keyboards, samples)

Former members[edit]

  • Zac Foley (bass), born 9 December 1970, Gloucester;[6] died 2 January 2002[7]
  • DJ Milf (DJ) Original member 1990 Born 1970
  • Jack Stephens (drums)[15]
  • Tim Stephens (guitars)[16]
  • Mark Decloedt (drums)[17]
  • Richard March (bass)[citation needed]

Later work[edit]

Since 2010 James Atkin has taught music at Holy Family Catholic School in Keighley, West Yorkshire[18] and is a touring member of Bentley Rhythm Ace. As of June 2020, he has released four solo albums including Circadian Rhythms (2023), Popcorn Storm (2019) and A Country Mile (2014).[19][20][21][22][23]



List of studio albums, with selected chart positions
Year Album UK
1991 Schubert Dip 3 44 8 12
1992 Stigma 19 143
1995 Cha Cha Cha 30
2022 Go Go Sapiens
2024 The Beauty and the Chaos


Compilations by EMF
Year Album
2001 Epsom Mad Funkers: The Best of EMF
2020 From Us to You


EPs by EMF
Year Title UK
1992 Unexplained EP 18 136 16


List of singles, with selected chart positions
Title Year UK


"Unbelievable" 1990 3 8 4 9 5 6 12 3 1 3 Schubert Dip
"I Believe" 1991 6 54 32 26 2 28 35 6 10
"Children" 19 49 40 5 39 18 26
"Lies" 28 159 99 18 18 27
"They're Here" 1992 29 195 27 Stigma
"It's You" 23
"Perfect Day" 1995 27 Cha Cha Cha
"Bleeding You Dry" (UK promo only)
"I'm a Believer"
(with Reeves and Mortimer)[37]
3 186 17 singles only
"Afro King" 51
"Incredible" 2001 The Best of EMF: Epsom Mad Funkers
"Let's Go"
"Sister Sandinista" 2022 Go Go Sapiens
"Crime of Passion"
"Sparks and Flashes"
"Hello People" 2023 The Beauty and the Chaos


Videos by EMF
Year Title
1991 Smoke the Banger (VHS)
2013 Long Live the New Flesh (Blu-ray & DVD)



  1. ^ a b c d e f g Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 175. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ "Unbelievable!: 24 years after their hit song, EMF get their social media verified". Vanyaland. 19 June 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  3. ^ "EMF | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 May 2023.
  4. ^ "Stereo MC's | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  5. ^ The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. 2003. p. 1892. ISBN 978-1-85828-457-6.
  6. ^ a b c Roberts, David (1998). Guinness Rockopedia (1st ed.). London: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 140. ISBN 0-85112-072-5.
  7. ^ a b "Zac Foley". Telegraph.co.uk. 11 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Lakefest 2012: Line-up 2012". Lakefest.co.uk. 20 January 2012. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-10.
  9. ^ "EMF join Lakefest 2012 line-up". SoGlos.com.
  10. ^ "Westbury Festival 2012 – eFestivals.co.uk". Efestivals.co.uk.
  11. ^ "EMF-TheBand.com – Announcing GO GO SAPIENS". emf-theband.com.
  12. ^ "EMF announce new album Go Go Sapiens". 4 February 2022.
  13. ^ Todd, Adrian (26 February 2022). "Public post by Todd". Facebook. Meta. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  14. ^ EMF The Band (26 February 2022). "Public post by Todd and EMF". Facebook. Meta. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  15. ^ Facebook Post [better source needed]
  16. ^ News Archives 2016-2010 EMF
  17. ^ Facebook Post [better source needed]
  18. ^ "Keighley musician turned school teacher completes new solo album". Keighley News. 29 March 2019.
  19. ^ Dryden-Smith, Naomi (23 June 2020). "James Atkin (EMF) – interview". Louder Than War. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  20. ^ "INTERVIEW: James Atkin". Shiiine On. 18 February 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  21. ^ "Circadian Rhythms, by James Atkin".
  22. ^ Millar, Mark (13 February 2019). "JAMES ATKIN (EMF) announces new solo album, 'Popcorn Storm', release date 21st April 2019". XS Noize. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  23. ^ Millar, Mark (28 November 2014). "JAMES ATKIN EX EMF TO RELEASE SOLO ALBUM 'A COUNTRY MILE' THROUGH PLEDGE MUSIC". XS Noize. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  24. ^ a b Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  25. ^ "Part of EMF ARIA Albums chart history 1988 to 2022, received from ARIA in 2022 page 1". ARIA. Retrieved 3 December 2023 – via Imgur.com. N.B. The High Point number in the NAT column represents the release's peak on the national chart.
  26. ^ a b c "Part of EMF ARIA Albums chart history 1988 to 2022, received from ARIA in 2022 page 2". ARIA. Retrieved 3 December 2023 – via Imgur.com. N.B. The High Point number in the NAT column represents the release's peak on the national chart.
  27. ^ a b "Discography EMF". charts.nz. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  28. ^ "EMF Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  29. ^ "Bubbling Down Under Week Commencing 4 November 1991". Bubbling Down Under. Retrieved 4 November 2022.
  30. ^ "Discografie EMF". ultratop.be. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  31. ^ "Discographie von EMF". offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  32. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search: EMF in "Artist"". irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  33. ^ "Discografie EMF". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  34. ^ "Discographie EMF". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  35. ^ "EMF Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  36. ^ "EMF Chart History: Alternative Airplay". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  37. ^ "EMF/REEVES & MORTIMER | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com.

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]