Scorpio Rising (band)
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Scorpio Rising were formed in Birkenhead in 1989. The group's first live performances took place in small clubs in Liverpool, with several shows at Liverpool Planet X and Cosmos Clubs in late 1989. The original line up featured David "Stig" Renton on bass guitar. Scorpio Rising's definitive line up and sound was created when the band were joined by Parliament/Funkadelic influenced bass player Steve Soar in 1990.
The Scorpio Rising sound was distinctive for combining breakbeat driven rhythms, strong pop melodies and funk influenced basslines with pychedelic and experimental guitar distortion techniques. Earliest recordings feature heavy use of wah-wah pedals and breakbeat/baggy drum patterns contemporary during the early nineties.
Scorpio Rising came to the attention of the UK music press in 1991 with the release of "Watermelon" their first major backed single on Chapter 22 records. For a brief period, their breakbeat flavoured drums, distorted rock guitars and "new lad superstar" (NME 1991) frontman Mickey Banks was hailed as a new direction for UK indie/rock music. At this time the band recorded the six track mini album If.... It featured a new rock sound different from the bands contemporaries, with funk influenced bass lines, soft pychedelic guitars on the slower tracks and stooges style rock guitars backed with "baggy" rhythms for the first time on the faster tracks. The album was well received by the UK music press, leading to sold out headlining dates across the UK and rave reviews of the live shows, which started to feature stage diving by the audiences.
Scorpio Rising toured the UK with Smashing Pumpkins, PWEI, Neds Atomic Dustbin, Eat, Senseless Things and other contemporary bands of the early 1990s, culminating with appearances at Finsbury Park and Reading Festival in 1992. Scorpio Rising then recorded their one and only full-length album, Pig Symphony.
Scorpio Rising's sound of the electric guitar used ripped speakers, metal pipe acoustics and vintage film studio recording equipment, while recording Breathing Underwater/Zero for Chapter 22 in Eds Garage, (now a defunct vintage recording studio in Camden Town, London) in 1992. This session (co-produced by Teo Miller who also produced Daisy Chainsaw led to "Pig Symphony" for Sire/Elektra, when the band were signed to the label by Seymour Stein, who flew from New York City to see the band headline the Marquee club in London in 1992.
Pig Symphony was recorded over Christmas 1992 at Rockfield Studios, Monmouth, and was produced by Teo Miller and Scorpio Rising.
During the 1993 PWEI tour preceding Pig Symphony, bassist Steve Soar left the band, and they went into the studio as a four piece. Steve Soar appears on "Breathing Underwater" and "Fountain Of You"; both recorded during the Breathing Underwater sessions at Ed's Garage. Steve was replaced by Mark Browning from The Bell Tower for the remainder of the tour and some following shows. Bass guitar on Pig Symphony was played by Mickey and Sploote. The band experimented heavily with ambient acoustics and darker material. The album includes longer, darker and more psychedelic tracks: "Oceanside" and "Sleeping Sickness" and extremely heavy guitar and vocal eq processing. Pig Symphony was mixed at Amazon / Parr St Studios in Liverpool. The album was well received by college radio in the US and received significant airplay, selling 30,000 units without advertising or tour support due to internal Sires re-organisation, moving Scorpio Rising to Elektra in New York.
Having recruited bass player Mandi Morgan, Scorpio Rising returned to the studio to record the follow-up for Sire/Elektra, titled Brutal Deluxe. The new album was produced by Steve Osborne of Perfecto, producer of Happy Mondays Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches and U2. Recorded and mixed in 1993 at Orinoco and Battery Studio's in London, Brutal Deluxe took Scorpio Rising in a new direction, and included the unique thrash / trance track "Bugcatcher" which was later remixed by Steve Osborne and included in Paul Oakenfold's legendary Goa trance sets for Radio 1. The album was never released by Sire.
After Scorpio Rising
Mickey Banks and Colin Owens worked together briefly under the name "Lounge", working with Nik Nicholl (former Black Grape manager) and Don Letts of BAD fame. Colin went on to successfully form, record and tour the UK and Europe with his breakbeat band Surreal Madrid, finally returning to his rock n roll roots with the Southampton-based band Black Kat Boppers together with Roy Phillips, and Dylan Clarke of La Cucina.
Mickey Banks left the music industry in 1996. Apart from a very brief guest vocal with the Perfecto / cult trance artist "Man With No Name", he disappeared from music for 12 years, eventually returning to live gigs in London in 2008, with Sploote again on lead guitar and his 22 yr old son Jimmy on drums in the volatile instrumental "Surfcore" power trio Jimmy and The Destroyers. The Destroyers (renowned for Destroying the stage and often injuring themselves) used The Camden Underworld as their base and played only 35 shows mainly in London, with cult punk bands The Vibrators, The Dickies, and Agent Orange, briefly appearing at Liverpool Sound City in 2009 with The Damned. They recorded one studio EP, "The Surfcore EP" given away free to their online fanbase. Their final gig was at the now defuct Gaff on Holloway Rd, London.
After the Destroyers split in November 2010, Mickey moved to Amsterdam to work on an even more stripped down sound, eventually returning to Manchester in the UK in 2012, playing solo using four string guitar, as The Sonic Gypsy, in bars in Manchester and Liverpool. Mickey and Sploote finally reunited under The Sonic Gypsy name in June 2012. The Sonic Gypsy's set occasionally includes parts from Pig Symphonys darkest song "Oceanside" and the unreleased "Apocalypse Ranch" from Scorpio Risings lost Brutal Deluxe album. Martin Atherton returned to music with the acoustic trio Qatsi in 2012. The band play frequently in Liverpool, showcasing Martins unique chords styles and compositions.
The Sonic Gypsy In 2015, Mickey Banks recorded his debut solo album "Born A Rolling Stone" at Demon Studios, Manchester, which was released March 2015 to critical acclaim in the USA and began gigging with a brand new sonic rock band "The Sonic Gypsy Band", featuring Sploote Lead Guitar, Purcy Flaherty Harmonica, Piers Pennell Bass and Mon Duncalf Drums. He also appearing with Shooter Jennings in Manchester. The album features revisited versions of Scorpio Risings "Honeykill" and "Apocalypse Ranch". Sonic Gypsy is now performing at gigs mostly at Camden Underworld, They performed at the desertfest in May 2017.
The Sonic Gypsy "Born A Rolling Stone" tracklist:
1. The Unprecedented Return Of Mr Majestyk 2. I Was Born A Rolling Stone 3. Lucifer's Lament 4. Shotgun Tel 4. Meet Me By The River 5. Backyard Stomp No2 6. Apocalypse Ranch Revisited 7. Honeykill 8. Mouthful Of Cactus (You Cant Kill A Good Thing) 9. Backyard Stomp No1 (Let The Good Times Roll) 10. Disclaimer Boogie
Recorded: Demon Studios, Manchester 2015.
- Mickey Banks - Singer
- Sploote Lead - Lead Guitar
- Martin Atherton - Guitar
- David Renton/Steve Soar/Mandi Morgan - Bass
- Colin Owens - Drums
- IF.. (1992), Chapter 22
- Zodiac Killers (1992), Sire - USA compilation
- Pig Symphony, Sire
- Brutal Deluxe (unreleased)
- Stranges Times EP (1991), Chapter 22 - "The Strangest Things Turn You On" / "Burn Out" / "Bliss"
- The Watermelon EP (1991), Chapter 22 - "Watermelon" / "Beautiful People" / "Malicious"
- "Saturnalia" / "Disturbance" / "Peace Frog" (1992), Chapter 22
- "Silver Surfing" / "Fountain of You" / "Zero" (1993), Chapter 22
- "Evelyn" / "Its Obvious" / "Find Your Own Way" / "Brutal Deluxe" (1993), Sire
- 12" white label single: to radio only: Bugcatcher/Dubcatcher
- Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0, p. 956