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Sneaker Pimps

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Sneaker Pimps
OriginHartlepool, County Durham, England
Years active
  • 1994–2005
  • 2015–present
Past members

Sneaker Pimps are an English electronic music band, formed in Hartlepool in 1994.[1] They are best known for their debut album, Becoming X (1996), and its singles "6 Underground" and "Spin Spin Sugar". The band takes its name from an article the Beastie Boys published in their Grand Royal magazine about a man they hired to track down classic sneakers.[2]

The band was founded by electronic musician Liam Howe and guitarist Chris Corner. They later recruited Kelli Ali (then known as Kelli Dayton) as lead singer,[3][4] plus guitarist Joe Wilson and drummer Dave Westlake as backup musicians. After Becoming X, the band decided to replace Ali with Corner on vocals.[5] Wilson and Westlake departed in 2002. In 2016 Howe and Corner revived the group after a lengthy hiatus.[6][7] In 2021, they began releasing new music.[8]


Chris Corner and Liam Howe met as teenagers in the 1980s,[1] both taking an interest in recording and studio experimentation. They banded together under the name F.R.I.S.K. and produced the Soul of Indiscretion EP, an early example of what became known as trip hop. The mix of beats and acoustic folk sounds was further explored on two more instrumental EPs: F.R.I.S.K. and World as a Cone. They were signed to Clean Up Records.[9][10] The duo also worked as DJs and producers under the name Line of Flight.[11]

Howe and Corner launched Sneaker Pimps as a recording group in 1994.[12] The following year, they recruited Ian Pickering to help write lyrics for what would become Sneaker Pimps' debut album, Becoming X.[7] Corner recorded vocals for several demo tracks, but the band decided the kind of music they were writing would better suit a female voice.[13] At their manager's suggestion, they saw Kelli Ali (then known as Kelli Dayton) performing in a pub with her band The Lumieres,[12] and invited her to sing on some demos, including an early version of "6 Underground".[9][14] She soon joined the band, and the demos won the group a contract with Virgin Records.[14] The group was presented as a trio featuring Howe, Corner, and Ali; while bassist Joe Wilson and drummer Dave Westlake were added as supporting musicians.[2]

Released in 1996, Becoming X sold over one million copies.[13] The band toured for two years to support the album, including gigs alongside Aphex Twin.[15] A "grueling" tour of the US strained relations within the band,[16] and Howe left the tour prematurely.[14] A remix album, Becoming Remixed, followed in 1998.

Howe and Corner then developed their own studio, also called Line of Flight after their earlier production work, and began sessions for the second Sneaker Pimps album.[2][14] Kelli Ali had taken a break after the Becoming X tour and was away traveling, so Corner sang on the new demos.[14] When Ali returned, she was told by Howe and Corner that her voice was no longer considered suitable for their new music, and that Corner's voice was a better fit.[9][17] Due to other ongoing personality conflicts and the band's concern about being stereotyped as a faddish female-fronted trip-hop act,[2][5] Ali was fired and Corner took over on lead vocals.

This significant lineup change caused Virgin Records to drop the band.[2] Their second album Splinter was released in the UK on Clean Up Records in 1999, and failed to match the commercial success of Becoming X.[18] New songs were premiered during a 2001 European tour opening for Placebo.[9] Their third album Bloodsport was released on Tommy Boy Records in 2002.[18] Howe and Corner also gained notice by writing and producing for other artists, including Natalie Imbruglia, and for remixing songs under the name Line of Flight.[3]

In 2002, Joe Wilson and Dave Westlake left Sneaker Pimps.[19][20] In 2003, a fourth Sneaker Pimps album was demoed but shelved. The album, which started as the soundtrack for an abandoned indie film project called Blind Michael,[7] is referred to in fan circles as SP4.[7][21] Corner then launched the solo project IAMX,[22] which included several songs from the SP4 project.[23][24] After some additional cancelled projects,[25][26] in 2006 Howe and Corner recorded some new demo tracks with an unidentified female singer; the tracks turned up on a MiniDisc found in a bar in Russia and are now commonly referred to as SP5 demos. The tracks were leaked online and were later confirmed to be legitimate new Sneaker Pimps songs.[7][27]

After several years of side projects, Howe hinted in 2015 that Sneaker Pimps may reform.[28] Corner confirmed the reunion in 2016,[29] and as of early 2019 they were reportedly working on a new album.[6] Deluxe box sets of previous albums and two new studio albums were announced to be released variously across 2021.[30]

In May 2021, the band announced a new album entitled Squaring the Circle.[8] The album was produced at Sawtooth Studios in Pioneertown, California and The Tower Studios in London.[8] Main vocals are shared by Corner and "featured artist" Simonne Jones.[31] Five of the songs originate from the SP5 demos, "Lifeline" (originally "Samaritan"), "Child in the Dark" (originally "Satellite"), So Far Gone (originally "Sun Ate the Moon"), "Come Like the Cure" (originally "Elias") and "No Show" (originally "Rush").


In the studio, the band regularly swapped instruments. As Corner explained during the recording sessions for Bloodsport, "we tend towards jobs, but generally we can mix and match. If we get bored of one aspect, someone else jumps in the seat. Gone are the days where it’s like 'You’re the drummer, I’m the synth player."[3] When playing live, however, their roles were more fixed:

Current members[edit]

Contributors and former members[edit]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications


Becoming X
  • Released: 19 August 1996
  • Label: Clean-up (#CUP020)
  • Formats: CD, LP, CS
27 55 80 47 111 1
  • Released: 25 October 1999
  • Label: Clean-up (#CUP040)
  • Formats: CD, LP
80 13
  • Released: 22 January 2002
  • Label: Tommy Boy (#TB1532)
  • Formats: CD, LP
Squaring the Circle
  • Released: 10 September 2021[43]
  • Label: Unfall[43] (#ORP006)
  • Formats: CD, Digital, LP
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  • Low Five (digital remix EP) (2005)
  • Loretta Young Silks (digital remix EP) (2005)
  • Rework Collection 1 (2021)[44]
  • Rework Collection 2 (2021)[45]
  • Rework Collection 3 (2022)[46]
  • Rework Collection 4 (2022)[47]


Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications Album





1996 "Tesko Suicide" Becoming X
"Roll On"
"6 Underground" 15 62 17 45 7
1997 "Spin Spin Sugar" 21 1 126 2 67 28 87 2
"6 Underground" (re-issue) 9 10 67 11
"Post-Modern Sleaze" 22 4 143 22
1998 "Spin Spin Sugar" (re-issue) 46 3 9 70
1999 "Low Five" 39 23 8 47 Splinter
"Ten to Twenty" 56 38 9 68
2001 "7th High" (with Double 99) 114
2002 "Sick" 100 24 16 Bloodsport
"Loretta Young Silks"
2021 "Squaring the Circle" Squaring the Circle
2022 "Love Me Stupid" (Simonne Jones Remix) Rework Collection 3
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Promo singles[edit]

  • 2002 "Kiro TV"
  • 2002 "M'Aidez"

Other appearances[edit]

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Director Notes
1996 "Tesko Suicide" Liam Howe and Joe Wilson Released on the 2001 DVD The Videos.
"Spin Spin Sugar" Toby Tremlett
1997 "6 Underground"
"Post-Modern Sleaze" Howard Greenhalgh
1999 "Low Five" Tom Gidley
2002 "Sick" Simon Smyth
"Loretta Young Silks" Liam Howe Featuring Honor Blackman
2004 "First and Careless Rapture"[citation needed] Chris Corner Unreleased
"Missile"[citation needed]
(do not confuse with IAMX single)
2021 "Fighter" Chris Corner Featuring Janine Gezang (IAMX) as fighter.
"Alibis" Chris Corner "A combination of animated still scanned photography and macro video."[56]
2022 "Love Me Stupid (Simonne Jones Remix)" Chris Corner


  1. ^ a b "ONE LITTLE INDIAN | ARTISTS". www.indian.co.uk. Archived from the original on 18 August 2019. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Sneaker Pimps hometown, lineup, biography". Last.fm. Retrieved 8 January 2020.[unreliable source?]
  3. ^ a b c "Sneaker Pimps". Sound on Sound. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  4. ^ "The Saturday Interview: Spreading the word on the secret fifth man - Ian Pickering; The Paul Groves Interview". Birmingham Post. 23 February 2002. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  5. ^ a b Ali, Kelli. "Biography: Sneaker Pimps". Kelliali.com. Archived from the original on 31 August 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  6. ^ a b "IAMX is creating Music & Visuals". Patreon. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e "50Q'S WITH IAN PICKERING". Sneaker Pimps Legacy. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  8. ^ a b c Pearis, Bill (21 May 2021). "Sneaker Pimps announce first record in nearly 20 years (watch a preview)". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d "Biography". Sneakerpimps.be. Archived from the original on 3 November 2008. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  10. ^ "F.R.I.S.K." Discogs.com. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  11. ^ Patterson, Sylvia (April 1997). "Sneak Attack". Spin.
  12. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1998). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Dance Music (First ed.). Virgin Books. p. 316. ISBN 0-7535-0252-6.
  13. ^ a b "Amidio | Music alive". Amidio.com. Archived from the original on 20 December 2019. Retrieved 20 December 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Kelli Ali Psychic Cat Times - Sneaker Pimps". kelliali.com. Archived from the original on 31 August 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  15. ^ "Sneaker Pimps". Pollstar.com. 6 October 1997. Archived from the original on 12 June 2015.
  16. ^ Lester, Paul (15 December 2000). "Pop review: Sneaker Pimps". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  17. ^ "ONE LITTLE INDIAN | ARTISTS". indian.co.uk. Archived from the original on 18 August 2019. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  18. ^ a b "Everything But the Girl". Vol. 12, no. 6. Campus Circle. 27 March 2002.
  19. ^ https://www.linkedin.com/in/joewilson22/?originalSubdomain=uk [dead link]
  20. ^ https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidwestlake/ [dead link]
  21. ^ "Sneaker Pimps - SP4". Discogs.com. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  22. ^ "news". Sneakerpimps.com. Archived from the original on 12 August 2003.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  23. ^ "IAMX - Kiss + Swallow". Discogs.com. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  24. ^ "IAMX - The Alternative". Discogs.com. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  25. ^ https://www.sneakerpimpslegacy.com/give-it-another-angle [permanent dead link]
  26. ^ "SNEAKERPIMPS.com :: official website". Archived from the original on 1 February 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  27. ^ curtis8516 (19 June 2017), Sneaker Pimps - SP5 Demos, retrieved 8 January 2020{{citation}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  28. ^ https://twitter.com/SneakerPimpsNow/status/594541947164962816 [dead link]
  29. ^ IAMX [@IAMX] (24 April 2016). "I just created a new folder " (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  30. ^ "Sneaker Pimps Legacy | United Kingdom". Sneaker Pimps Legacy.
  31. ^ "Squaring The Circle, by Sneaker Pimps". Sneaker Pimps. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  32. ^ a b c Squaring The Circle | Sneaker Pimps (album). sneakerpimps.bandcamp.com
  33. ^ SP4 | Sneaker Pimps Legacy
  34. ^ a b UK chart peaks:
  35. ^ UK independent albums chart peaks:
  36. ^ a b Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
  37. ^ "Austrian chart peaks". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  38. ^ Canadian albums chart peaks:
  39. ^ Scottish albums chart peaks:
  40. ^ US albums chart peaks:
  41. ^ US Heatseekers albums chart peaks:
  42. ^ a b "British certifications – Sneaker Pimps". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 26 March 2023. Type Sneaker Pimps in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  43. ^ a b Squaring the Circle by Sneaker Pimps on Apple Music Retrieved on 30 September 2021
  44. ^ Rework Collection 1 | Sneaker Pimps. sneakerpimps.bandcamp.com, [retrieved 2021-09-10]
  45. ^ Rework Collection 2 | Sneaker Pimps. sneakerpimps.bandcamp.com, [retrieved 2021-11-07]
  46. ^ Rework Collection 3 | Sneaker Pimps. sneakerpimps.bandcamp.com, [retrieved 2022-05-26]
  47. ^ Sneaker Pimps Twitter status on 27. May 2022, [retrieved 2022-05-28]
  48. ^ UK dance singles chart peaks:
  49. ^ Independent singles chart peaks:
  50. ^ Canadian dance singles chart peaks:
  51. ^ European singles chart peaks:
  52. ^ Scottish singles chart peaks:
  53. ^ US singles chart peaks:
  54. ^ US dance singles chart peaks:
    • Spin Spin Sugar: Whitburn, Joel (2004). Hot Dance/Disco: 1974-2003. Record Research. p. 238.
    • "Sick". Billboard. 14 September 2002. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  55. ^ US modern rock singles chart peaks:
  56. ^ "Sneaker Pimps 22 September 2021 on Facebook". Facebook.

External links[edit]