Perfume (UK band)

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OriginLeicester, England
GenresAlternative rock, indie[1]
Years active1993 (1993)–1997 (1997)
LabelsAromasound, Big Star
Associated actsBlab Happy
Past members
  • Mick McCarthy
  • Tony Owen
  • Karl Traae
  • John Waddington

Perfume were a British indie group from Leicester, active between 1993 and 1997.


When Blab Happy split up, singer/guitarist Mick McCarthy and bassist Tony Owen recruited John Waddington to form Perfume, initially releasing records on their own "Aromasound" label. Beginning with scented limited edition vinyl, they enjoyed a string of Indie Top 10 hits. Their first release was "Yoga/Perfume” in December 1993, the white label was played repeatedly on Radio 1 by Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley who still champion the band to this day. Second single "Young/Annointed” (which was also perfume-scented)[2] appeared in April 1994. Third single "Lover" was picked up on by BBC Radio One DJ's Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley (the latter getting the band in to record a session for her show).[2]

The next two singles stormed the Indie Top 10, Lover (Steve Lamacq’s Single of the Week) and Yesterday Follows You established the band as radio favourites and NME and Melody Maker did full features on the band including What’s going On the NME stereo Top 10. The video for Yesterday Follows You was featured on ITV Chart Show and the next headline tour saw shows sell out all over the UK. Perfume recorded songs at BBC Maida Vale for a week long Session for Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley.

Perfume drew a crowd of over 5,000 at the second stage at the Phoenix Festival, quite a statement for a band on their own DIY label self releasing scented limited edition vinyl. They co-headlined with the likes of Travis and toured heavily as a headline act selling out many renowned venues in the UK and were invited to play abroad at prestigious events such as the legendary Black Sessions in Paris. The recruitment of bass player Karl Traae of Leicester's HBM and recently returned from a stint in the US with San Diego's Whirl lead to another Indie Top 10 (UK Chart Top 75) hit in January 1996 with the single "Haven't Seen You" which was on heavy rotation on daytime radio. That year's success saw them sign to Big Star Records, and to Paul Weller's publishers Notting Hill, who reissued "Lover" to be followed by the debut album One in 1997 which received glowing reviews in Q and Select magazines. Perfume performed on the NME stage at the Glastonbury Festival in 1997. After a lengthy record company takeover the band’s final release was a posthumous "best of" compilation Yesterday Rising released on Aromasound in 1998. Perfume were Paul Weller's special guests at his Lazy Sunday Afternoon in Finsbury Park. Jo Whiley joined the band on stage at BBC Camden Live Festival to add handclaps to Lover, a song she described as "The sweetest song in all the world." Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley included the interview with Perfume when the band surprised Jo for her birthday as one of their highlights in the 20 Years of The Evening Session programs in 2014. Perfume prompted more fanmail than any other band according to Steve Lamacq. The coverage on the Evening Session over a number of years helped the band to secure a string of Top Ten Indie Hits, and are featured on the Top 20 Indie Compilation Albums. NME reported that Michael Stipe and Thom Yorke were spotted at Perfume’s 100 Club show.

Lover was featured on the 2010 Common People Indie Compilation and was described by Luke Lewis of the NME as a "lost gem." On he wrote an article called Rescue A Lost Classic about the song. "There is one track on the album that stopped me dead in my tracks. It's by Perfume and it's called 'Lover'. It's magnificent - an ecstatic, vernal bloom of falsetto and violins that gave me one of those powerful surges of nostalgia that critics always insist on calling a "Proustian rush."

Lover was chosen by Steve Lamacq for his 2019 Lost Alternatives album, receiving renewed airplay on BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio 2 from Steve Lamacq and on Jo Whiley and Simon Mayo.

In July 2020 the first edition of Speakeasy featured an article on Perfume... summing up with “Throughout their four-year career, Perfume were lauded by the NME, Melody Maker, Select and Q, had multiple songs on the Indie Top-10 chart and on the Indie Top 20 CD compilations. If they were missed the first time around, with plaudits like these there’s never been a sweeter smelling time to right these wrongs.”



  • "Yoga" (1993, Aromasound)
  • "Young" (1994, Aromasound)
  • "Lover" (1995, Aromasound) UK #158[3]
  • "Yesterday Follows You" (1995, Aromasound) UK #189[3]
  • "Haven't Seen You" (1996, Aromasound) UK #71[3]
  • "Carving Your Name" (1996, Aromasound) UK #77[3]
  • "Lover" (1997, Big Star) UK #99[3]
  • "You and I" (1997, Big Star) UK #147[3]


  • One (1997, Big Star)
  • Yesterday Rising (1998, Aromasound)


  1. ^ "Blur & Oasis Excluded From Britpop Comp", The Quietus, 29 April 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b Strong, Martin C.: "The Great Alternative & Indie Discography", 1999, Canongate, ISBN 0-86241-913-1
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Chart Log UK: Pacifica - Pocket Size". Retrieved 28 August 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)