Lightyear (band)

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Origin Derby, Derbyshire
Genres Ska punk
Years active 1997–2003, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2015, 2017-
Labels Household Name Records
Members Chas Palmer-Williams
Neil Draycott
Neil ‘Nelb’ Cowie
Mark Wood (aka. Girlyhips Saville)
Ben Ashton
Jim Harrison
Richard ‘Bars’ Barling
Kraig Winterbottom

Lightyear is a seven-piece UK ska punk band, formed in 1997 in Derby.

The band signed to Household Name Records in 2001, and released two full-length albums via the label. During their career, Lightyear also released a split EP with friends Evil Macaroni, a 'demo', and contributed to several international punk compilation CDs.


Vocalist Chas Palmer-Williams, Derby Assembly Rooms, 26 September 2003

The band formed in 1997, with their first gig in their hometown of Derby in 1998. Lightyear released their debut album Call of the Weasel Clan in October 2001. In 2002 they appeared at the Carling Weekend Festivals with Sick Of It All and Alkaline Trio.

Lightyear began work on their second album Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser and Railway Bookshop in April 2003 with producer Dave Chang, having already decided to split up after recording the album and touring twice more; once in support of the album, followed by a farewell tour. The album was released in July 2003, accompanied by a tour with Captain Everything! and Jerry-built. They played what was supposed to be their last show on 26 September 2003 at the Assembly Rooms in Derby, supported by Evil Macaroni, Captain Everything! and Adequate Seven.

Left to right: Neil Draycott, Ben Ashton and Mark Wood. Leeds Festival, Bramham Park, 26 August 2006

On 9 May 2006, DJ Mike Davies announced on the Radio 1 Lock Up Show that Lightyear would be reforming for a fortnight long tour around the UK, finishing in Derby. Originally dubbed the “Twelve Days of Chaos” tour, it was renamed the “Lightyear ...Would Like to Apologise in Advance” tour as more promoters took interest. Davies invite them to play a set on his Radio 1 Lock Up stage at the Carling Weekend Festivals at Reading and Leeds. The band split up on stage for the second time on 26 August 2006 at the Carling Weekend Festival at Bramham Park, Leeds. Shortly afterwards, Lightyear performed a final 'friends & family only' gig at The Victoria Inn, Derby. Subsequent one-off shows took place in Derby at the Assembly Rooms (November 2007) and The Venue (October 2009).

In March 2012, it was announced across social networking sites that Lightyear were going to reform for a six-show mini-tour, sponsored by Big Cheese magazine.[1] They returned again 2015 to play several shows, including the Slam Dunk Festival in Leeds.[2][3]

In May 2017, the band announced on Facebook that they would be reforming permanently, and recording new material.[4]


The band have been on tour with Capdown, Mad Caddies, Goldfinger, Slow Gherkin, 311, Mustard Plug, Big D and the Kids Table, Save Ferris, Nerf Herder, The Peacocks, Link 80 and Suicide Machines. They also played at 'Holidays in the Sun' for two years running (alongside The Business, The Exploited and more).


  • Ben Ashton – Tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, additional vocals
  • Richard ‘Bars’ Barling – Bass and backing vocals
  • Neil ‘Nelb’ Cowie – Guitar, additional vocals
  • Neil Draycott – Acoustic guitar, trumpet and vocals (also member of Cotton Weary)
  • Jim Harrison – Drums
  • Chas Palmer-Williams – vocals (also member of Cotton Weary)
  • Mark Wood – Trumpet, additional vocals
  • Kraig Winterbottom – Trumpet, additional vocals

Guest musicians[edit]



  • Call of the Weasel Clan (Household Name Records, 2001) (vinyl re-release Banquet Records, 2012)
  • Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser and Railway Book Shop (Household Name Records, 2003) (vinyl re-release Banquet Records, 2012)


  • Lightyear Vs. Evil Macaroni (Positive Outlook, 2000)


  • Just Another Demonstration (Self-released, 2000)

Music Videos[edit]

  • A Pack of Dogs (2001)

Other projects[edit]

Draycott and Palmer-Williams played together in another band called Cotton Weary.[6] In 2009 Palmer-Williams started a solo folk project, releasing an EP (We Showed Them, Didn't We) in 2010 and a full-length album (American Smile, British Teeth) in 2015.[7]


External links[edit]