EMF (band)

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OriginCinderford, Gloucestershire, England
Years active1989–97, 2001–02, 2007–09, 2012–present
  • James Atkin
  • Derry Brownson
  • Ian Dench
  • Stevey Marsh
  • Adrian Todd
Past members
  • Mark Decloedt
  • Zac Foley
  • Jack Stephens
  • Tim Stephens
  • Phil Cleary
  • DJ Milf
  • Richard March

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] 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]

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]

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 and singer James Atkin as EMF. Ian Dench was the last to join, having already tasted moderate success as guitarist for 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]

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.[5] 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 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.[6] Following his death, EMF played just four more gigs in late 2002 before splitting again. Atkin would go on to form Beauty School (which released three singles between 2005 and 2006).

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]

2012 and beyond[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 "Long Live the New Flesh."

On October 1, 2016, the band headlined Indie Daze in London.

In 2020, the band successfully crowdfunded a career-spanning vinyl boxset titled 'From Us to You.' It contained all the full length albums remastered, and a 4th vinyl containing unreleased demos and fan favorite non-album tracks.

In February 2022, the band announced an all-new material album, titled Go Go Sapiens that was released 1 April 2022. Its first single, "Sister Sandinista", was released 1 March 2022. They also had a short UK tour in early April 2022.[11]


  • James Atkin (vocals, guitars)
  • Ian Dench (guitars, keyboards)
  • Stevey Marsh (bass)
  • Adrian Todd (drums)[12][13]
  • Derry Brownson (keyboards, samples)

Former members[edit]

Later work[edit]

Since 2010 James Atkin has taught music at Holy Family Catholic School in Keighley, West Yorkshire[14] and is a touring member of Bentley Rhythm Ace. As of June 2020, he has released four solo albums including Popcorn Storm (2019) and A Country Mile (2014).[15][16][17][18]



Year Album UK
1991 Schubert Dip 3 44 8 12
1992 Stigma 19
1995 Cha Cha Cha 30
2022 Go Go Sapiens[22]


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


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"
(with Reeves and Mortimer)[30]
3 17 singles only
"Afro King" 51
"Incredible" 2001 The Best of EMF: Epsom Mad Funkers
"Let's Go"
"Sister Sandinista" 2022 - Go Go Sapiens


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. ^ "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. ^ a b "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. ^ "EMF-TheBand.com - Announcing GO GO SAPIENS". emf-theband.com.
  12. ^ Todd, Adrian (26 February 2022). "Public post by Todd". Facebook. Meta. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  13. ^ EMF The Band (26 February 2022). "Public post by Todd and EMF". Facebook. Meta. Retrieved 31 March 2022.
  14. ^ "Keighley musician turned school teacher completes new solo album". Keighley News.
  15. ^ Dryden-Smith, Naomi (23 June 2020). "James Atkin (EMF) – interview". Louder Than War. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  16. ^ "INTERVIEW: James Atkin". Shiiine On. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ a b Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  20. ^ a b "Discography EMF". charts.nz. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  21. ^ "EMF Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  22. ^ "EMF announce new album Go Go Sapiens". 4 February 2022.
  23. ^ "Discografie EMF". ultratop.be. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  24. ^ "Discographie von EMF". offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  25. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search: EMF in "Artist"". irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  26. ^ "Discografie EMF". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  27. ^ "Discographie EMF". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  28. ^ "EMF Chart History: Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  29. ^ "EMF Chart History: Alternative Airplay". Billboard. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  30. ^ "EMF/REEVES & MORTIMER | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com.

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]