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Spiritualized performing in Malmö, Sweden during the Songs in A&E tour, 2008.
Background information
OriginRugby, England, United Kingdom
GenresSpace rock, neo-psychedelia, shoegaze
Years active1990–present
  • Jason Pierce
  • Doggen Foster
  • John Coxon
  • Kevin Bales
  • Tom Edwards
  • Thomas Wayne
Past members

Spiritualized are an English space rock band formed in 1990 in Rugby, Warwickshire by Jason Pierce (often known as J. Spaceman), formerly of Spacemen 3. The membership of Spiritualized has changed from album to album, with Pierce—who writes, composes and sings all of the band's material—being the only constant member.

Spiritualized have released eight studio albums. The best known and most critically acclaimed of these is 1997's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, which NME magazine named as their Album of the Year, beating other critically acclaimed albums such as Radiohead's OK Computer and The Verve's Urban Hymns.[1]


Following a breakdown in relations between Spacemen 3 co-frontmen Peter Kember and Jason Pierce, the group's bassist Will Carruthers, drummer Jonny Mattock, and guitarist Mark Refoy were asked by Pierce to form a new group alongside local friend Steve Evans, subsequently calling themselves Spiritualized. The band took their name from an adaptation of the text on the back label of a bottle of Pernod. Due to formation from a majority of Spacemen 3 members, a technical clause meant that Spiritualized had to maintain the Spacemen 3 recording contract with Dedicated Records.

The first Spiritualized release, in 1990, was a cover of The Troggs' "Anyway That You Want Me"; the record heralded the official split of Spacemen 3 following contractual wrangles over the band's name and its use in Spiritualized-related promotional material (initial copies of "Anyway That You Want Me" came with a Spacemen 3 logo on the sleeve).

Evans was replaced on keyboards by Pierce's then-girlfriend Kate Radley for the follow-up single, "Run"/"I Want You". A number of singles followed, before the band, in early 1992, released their first LP Lazer Guided Melodies, which had been recorded in Rugby over the previous two years. The band embarked on a tour with The Jesus & Mary Chain after the release of the album.[2] A second album, Pure Phase, was released in 1995, and a third, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space emerged in 1997 to critical acclaim and commercial success.

The musical style of Spiritualized relies heavily on sustained 'pedal' notes and drones. Lazer Guided Melodies and Pure Phase incorporate elements of the shoegazing style, drones and tremolo. The landmark "Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" saw the influence of African-American gospel and blues beginning to show, while "walls of sound" modelled after the production styles of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson also made their presence felt. Such influences dominated Spiritualized's next album, Let It Come Down, which included over 120 musicians.[3] Amazing Grace favoured a more stripped down sound with the gospel, blues, and soul influences even more dominant than before.

On 15 June 1997, Spiritualized became the last band to play at Factory Records' Manchester nightclub The Haçienda.

After several years of work and Pierce's serious illness in July 2005,[4] the album, Songs in A&E was released on 26 May 2008 in the UK, and on 27 May 2008 in the US. The first single from the 18-track album was "Soul on Fire". The release was backed by an Electric Mainlines UK tour which began in May.[5] Pierce has also scored Harmony Korine's 2008 film Mister Lonely.

Pierce is quoted as saying in a 2008 interview that Spiritualized was scheduled to play the CERN collider. "They asked us to do it! We were gonna play in it before they'd thrown the switch. But it was a timing thing—their timings didn't coincide with ours."[6]

In October and December 2009 the band performed 1997's "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" live in its entirety as part of the All Tomorrow's Parties-curated Don't Look Back series.

After more than two years in the making, while Pierce was undergoing experimental chemotherapy for a liver disease, and including a year long period of mixing, Sweet Heart Sweet Light was released in April 2012, on Double Six Records and Fat Possum in North America. The band had already played some of this new material over the past 3 years but not much else was known about the content of the album. The album cover, an octagon surrounding the word "Huh?" on a plain white background, is a reference to the working title of the album. In an interview regarding the new release it was revealed that the album would "embrace" more poppy songs compared to previous albums. In the same interview, Jason Pierce also said that the album was partly inspired by the experiences of performing "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space" live in its entirety.[7]

Musical style[edit]

The band's sound has been labelled as space rock,[8] neo-psychedelia,[9] art rock,[10] experimental rock[11] and garage rock.[12]


Jason Pierce, 1998

The band was formed by Pierce who then asked Carruthers, Refoy and Mattock to join him following the impending split of Spacemen 3. Pierce, due to a technical clause, inherited Spacemen 3's new record deal with Dedicated Records. Only Pierce remains from the original line-up of the band. Will Carruthers left the band in 1992 and now records as a solo project under the name Freelovebabies, Carruthers was replaced by Rugby musician Sean Cook from local band Electrahead. Following the completion of recording sessions for Pure Phase, Mark Refoy left in 1994, deciding to concentrate on his own fronted band Slipstream. He was initially replaced by Kevin Cowen from fellow Rugby band The Darkside, Cowen only completed one gig (Glastonbury 1994) before himself leaving to be replaced first by John Coxon (Spring Heel Jack, Betty Boo) and then later on by Julian Cope's former guitarist Michael Mooney (Coxon returned to replace Mooney following his eventual departure). Mattock played in The Breeders for a spell (during a lull in Spiritualized activities in 1991, he appears on the Safari EP) and left Spiritualized later in 1994 following the recording of Pure Phase, working as a session musician before joining Lupine Howl, he was replaced by Damon Reece. Kate Radley appeared for some initial dates promoting Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, before leaving the band in 1997 with a reported unspecified illness. (Radley had married The Verve's singer Richard Ashcroft in 1995, however after a reconciliation with Pierce, she eventually returned to Ashcroft by the time of her illness). Kate was replaced by Thighpaulsandra from Julian Cope's band Queen Elizabeth. Sax player Ray 'Moonshake' Dickaty was added to the line-up in 1997, and Gregg Hale (guitar) also augmented the band in 1997 and 1998.

Following promotional activity for Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, Sean Cook, Damon Reece and Michael Mooney threatened a strike in protest over low salaries and appearance fees. New contracts of employment were drawn up between Pierce and the musicians, and the same contracts were then used to fire them (to general disbelief by the music press at the time). In response, Messrs Cook, Reece and Mooney formed Lupine Howl. Ray Dickaty departed in 2003, quitting to play in the free-jazz Solar Fire Trio.

Retaining only keyboardist Thighpaulsandra (keyboards), Jason Pierce then debuted a new line up of Spiritualized, introducing classical percussionist Tom Edwards and former Julian Cope string arranger Martin Schellard on bass guitar. Completing the new Spiritualized line-up were guitarist Doggen of Brain Donor and the Julian Cope band, Richard Warren and drummer Kevin 'Kevlar' Bales, who is also a member of Brain Donor.[13] This line-up finished recording their album Songs in A&E in Nottingham and London. Jonny Aitken stepped in on drums for the recording of Amazing Grace while Kevin Bales was recovering from illness. Chris Davis of Six By Seven & Spotlight Kid also stepped in for Kevin for two major festival appearances. In 2013, Jeremy McMahan (Dirty Blood, C is for Cookie) was brought in to some sessions to play bass. Said Pierce,"He can really take that bass for a walk."




  1. ^ "NME Albums of the Year, 1997". rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  2. ^ Augusto, Troy J. (24 November 1992). "Jesus & Mary Chain; Curve; Spiritualized; Medicine". variety.com. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  3. ^ "CD REVIEWS: The Charlatans UK, Spiritualized, The Watchmen and many more". Chart Attack, September 25, 2001
  4. ^ "Spiritualized Star Hospitalised". NME. 21 July 2005. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  5. ^ "Nme.com/news". NME. 17 September 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  6. ^ "April 2008 Interview with L.A. Record". Larecord.com. 25 April 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  7. ^ "Jason Pierce 'living in the studio' to record new Spiritualized album". NME. 7 July 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Spiritualized". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  9. ^ "Elliott Smith – From A Basement on the Hill". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Album review: Spiritualized, 'Sweet Heart, Sweet Light'". Daily News. New York. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  11. ^ "'The Bends' and the Reformation of Alternative Rock". PopMatters. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  12. ^ "Spiritualized – Amazing Grace". PopMatters. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  13. ^ Peter Buckley (2003). The Rough Guide to Rock. Rough Guides. pp. 2026–. ISBN 978-1-85828-457-6.

External links[edit]