EMF (band)

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OriginCinderford, Gloucestershire, England
Years active1989–97, 2001–02, 2007–09, 2012–present
MembersJames Atkin
DJ Milf
Ian Dench
Stevey Marsh
Derry Brownson
Mark Decloedt
Jack Stephens
Past membersZac Foley (deceased)

EMF are a British 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] The band have split up and re-formed three times.

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]

The song "Head the Ball", which featured on the remix single release of "Lies", featured the repeating lines "electromotive force" and "ecstasy mother fucker". On the reissue of the band's 1991 album Schubert Dip, after the song "Longtime", there is a hidden track titled "EMF". In this, the chorus lyrics start off with "E for Ecstasy, M for my mind's in my feet, F from us to you" and then move on to "E for Ecstasy, M for mother fucker mother fucker, F from us to you".


Formation (1989)[edit]

The band originally formed with the DJ Milf EMF. All the members were relatively well known in the local music scene before forming EMF in Cinderford in October 1989. Brownson had formed a band called Flowerdrum but left to join Foley, Decloedt and Atkin as EMF. Dench was last to join, having already tasted moderate success as a member of Apple Mosaic.

The band's music also has been counted as part of Madchester and alternative dance. They toured the UK in 1990 with Stereo MCs,[3] a band that was relatively unknown at that point.

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."[4] Successful singles from the album included "I Believe", "Children", and "Lies". The last was controversial as it 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.[5]

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]

Until their 1995 album, Cha Cha Cha, EMF effectively had dissolved. This album featured the singles "Perfect Day" and "Bleeding You Dry".

In 1995, EMF teamed with comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer and recorded "I'm a Believer", a cover of The Monkees song.[5] This single reached #3 in the UK singles chart.[1] The band then released Afro King which failed to do well. After this, the band split 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.

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

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

Zac Foley, the band's bass guitarist, died on 3 January 2002[6] at the age of 31, due to an overdose of non-prescribed drugs. EMF played just four more gigs in late 2002, before splitting again.

In 2005, Kraft Foods used EMF's "Unbelievable" in an advertisement for its Kraft Crumbles. The original song's chorus "You're unbelievable" was replaced with "They're crumbelievable".[7] The advertisement later was parodied by Stephen Colbert on his show The Colbert Report.

Second reunion (2007–2009)[edit]

In 2007, the band announced they would be reforming 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.

In 2007, Hallmark Cards used EMF's "Unbelievable" in its advertising for Mother's Day cards. The mother was shown opening the card, heard the daughter say "Mom, you rock", followed by the music of EMF. 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. 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)[edit]

In 2012, they reformed to play at the inaugural festival Lakefest in Tewkesbury, alongside Levellers and, Dodgy, on 18 and 19 May. 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]

On 21 September 2018, the band played at Arrecife en Vivo Music Festival in Lanzarote.[11]


  • James Atkin (vocals, guitars)
  • DJ Milf (turntables, programming)
  • Ian Dench (guitars, keyboards)
  • Stevey Marsh (bass)
  • Jack Stephens (drums)
  • Derry Brownson (keyboards, samples)
  • Mark Decloedt (drums)

Former members[edit]

  • Zac Foley (bass), born Zachary Sebastian Rex James Foley, 9 December 1970, Gloucester;[5] died on 3 January 2002 of a drug overdose. The remaining members of EMF played just four more gigs in late 2002 before deciding to split for a second time.
  • Tim Stephens (guitars)
  • Phil Cleary (guest vocals)

Where are they now[edit]



Year Album UK
1991 Schubert Dip 3 44 8 12
1992 Stigma 19
1995 Cha Cha Cha 30


Year Album
2001 Epsom Mad Funkers: The Best of EMF


Year Title UK
1992 Unexplained EP 18 16


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 99 18 18 27
"They're Here" 1992 29 27 Stigma
"It's You" 23
"Perfect Day" 1995 27 Cha Cha Cha
"Bleeding You Dry" (UK promo only)
"I'm a Believer" 3 17 singles only
"Afro King" 51
"Incredible" 2001 The Best of EMF: Epsom Mad Funkers
"Let's Go"


Year Title
1991 Smoke the Banger (VHS)
2013 Long Live the New Flesh (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. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Stereo MC's | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  4. ^ The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. 2003. p. 1892. ISBN 978-1-85828-457-6.
  5. ^ a b c Roberts, David (1998). Guinness Rockopedia (1st ed.). London: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 140. ISBN 0-85112-072-5.
  6. ^ "Zac Foley". Telegraph.co.uk. 11 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Kraft uses 'Unbelievable' unbelievably". www.adweek.com. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  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. ^ "Arrecife en Vivo". Turismolanzarote.com. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  12. ^ https://www.keighleynews.co.uk/news/17536716.teachers-new-solo-album/
  13. ^ a b Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  14. ^ a b "Discography EMF". charts.nz. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  15. ^ "EMF Chart Hisotry: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Discografie EMF". ultratop.be. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  17. ^ "Discographie von EMF". offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  18. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search: EMF in "Artist"". irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  19. ^ "Discografie EMF". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  20. ^ "Discographie EMF". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  21. ^ "EMF Chart Hisotry: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  22. ^ "EMF Chart Hisotry: Alternative Airplay". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2020.

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]