|Origin||Hartlepool,County Durham, England|
|Website||Sneakerpimps.com at the Wayback Machine (archived 26 February 2009)|
Sneaker Pimps are a British electronic music band formed in Hartlepool, England in 1994. 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.
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, plus guitarist Joe Wilson and drummer Dave Westlake as backup musicians. After Becoming X, Ali left the band and Corner took over on vocals. Wilson and Westlake departed in 2002. After a lengthy hiatus, Howe and Corner revived the group in 2016.
Chris Corner and Liam Howe met as teenagers in the 1980s, 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. The duo also worked as DJs and producers under the name Line of Flight.
Howe and Corner launched Sneaker Pimps as a recording group in 1994. The following year they recruited Ian Pickering to help write lyrics for what would become Sneaker Pimps' debut album, Becoming X. Corner recorded vocals for several demo tracks, but the band decided the kind of music they were writing would better suit a female voice. At their manager's suggestion, they saw Kelli Ali (then known as Kelli Dayton) performing in a pub with her band The Lumieres and invited her to sing on some demos, including an early version of "6 Underground". She soon joined the band, and the demos won the group a contract with Virgin Records. 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.
Released in 1996, Becoming X sold over one million copies. The band toured for two years to support the album, including gigs alongside Aphex Twin. A "grueling" tour of the US strained relations within the band, and Howe left the tour prematurely. 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. Kelli Ali had taken a break after the Becoming X tour and was away traveling, so Corner sang on the new demos. 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. Due to other ongoing personality conflicts and the band's concern about being stereotyped as a faddish female-fronted trip-hop act, Ali was fired and Corner took over on lead vocals.
This significant lineup change caused Virgin Records to drop the band. 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. New songs were premiered during a 2001 European tour opening for Placebo. Their third album Bloodsport was released on Tommy Boy Records in 2002. 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.
In 2002, Joe Wilson and Dave Westlake left Sneaker Pimps. 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, is referred to in fan circles as SP4. Corner then launched the solo project IAMX, which included several songs from the SP4 project. After some additional cancelled projects, in 2006 Howe and Corner recorded some new demo tracks with an unidentified female singer that turned up on a MiniDisc found in a bar in Russia. The tracks were leaked online and were later confirmed to be legitimate new Sneaker Pimps songs. They have never been officially released.
After several years of side projects, Howe hinted in 2015 that Sneaker Pimps may reform. Corner confirmed the reunion in 2016, and as of early 2019 they were reportedly working on a new album.
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." When playing live, however, their roles were more fixed:
- Chris Corner - vocals, guitar, keyboards
- Liam Howe - keyboards, synths, programming, guitar, percussion
Contributors and former members
- Kelli Ali (vocals)
- Joe Wilson (guitars, bass, backing vocals)
- David Westlake (drums, percussion)
- Ian Pickering (lyrics; live synths, bass and vocals)
- Sue Denim (backing vocals and occasional lyrics)
- Zoe Durrant (backing vocals)
- Sarah McDonnell (backing vocals)
- Chris Tate (keyboards)
- Noel Fielding
- Becoming X (1996) – #27 UK, #111 U.S., #1 U.S. Heatseekers, #55 AUS – BPI: Gold
- Splinter (1999) - #80 UK
- Bloodsport (2002) – #16 U.S. Electronic, #46 U.S. Indie
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Album|
|US Alt Rock
|1996||"Tesko Suicide"||-||-||-||-||-||Becoming X|
|"Roll On" (UK only)||-||-||-||-||-|
|1997||"Spin Spin Sugar"||21||126||87||-||2|
|"6 Underground" (UK re-issue)||9||-||-||-||-|
|1998||"Spin Spin Sugar" (remixes) (UK only)||46||-||-||-||-|
|"Ten To Twenty" (UK only)||56||-||-||-||-|
|"Bloodsport" (UK only)||-||-||-||-||-|
|"Loretta Young Silks"||-||-||-||-||-|
|2005||"Low Five" (digital remix EP)||-||-||-||-||-||The Mix You Miss website|
|"Loretta Young Silks" (digital remix EP)||-||-||-||-||-|
|"-" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.|
- Sneaker Pimps also released the song "Velvet Divorce" on the A Life Less Ordinary soundtrack as well as a collaboration with Marilyn Manson titled "Long Hard Road out of Hell" on the soundtrack to the movie Spawn (1997).
- 2002 "Kiro TV"
- 2002 "M'Aidez"
|1996||"Tesko Suicide"||Liam Howe and Joe Wilson||Released on the 2001 DVD The Videos.|
|"Spin Spin Sugar"||Toby Tremlett|
|"Post-Modern Sleaze"||Howard Greenhalgh|
|1999||"Low Five"||Tom Gidley|
|"Loretta Young Silks"||Liam Howe|
|2004||"First And Careless Rapture"||Chris Corner||unreleased|
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- [dead link]
- IAMX [@IAMX] (24 April 2016). "I just created a new folder " (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Australian (ARIA Chart) peaks:
- Top 100 peaks: Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988-2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
- "Spin Spin Sugar" and "Post Modern Sleaze": "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 2015-07-15". Imgur. Archived from the original on 16 July 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
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- "Sneaker Pimps - US Dance Club Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
- "Sneaker Pimps Legacy". New and regularly updated Sneaker Pimps website
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- "Sneaker Pimps Unofficial Website". Archived from the original on 28 December 2005.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "the Sneaker Box". Italian fan site.
- The Stories Behind The Songs at the Wayback Machine (archived 9 December 2004)
- Kirchner, Keith (6 December 2008). "The Sneaker Pimps: Trip-Hop is Dead". Archived from the original on 17 June 2010.