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The Sundays

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The Sundays
Patrick Hannan, Harriet Wheeler, Paul Brindley, and David Gavurin
Patrick Hannan, Harriet Wheeler, Paul Brindley, and David Gavurin
Background information
OriginBristol, England
Years active1988–1997
Past members
  • David Gavurin
  • Harriet Wheeler
  • Patrick Hannan
  • Paul Brindley

The Sundays were an English alternative rock band, formed in the late 1980s, who released three albums throughout the 1990s.

The band's beginnings came with the meeting of singer Harriet Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin while attending Bristol University. Wheeler had played gigs with Cruel Shoes, an early incarnation of the band Jim Jiminee.[1][2] The duo soon augmented the band with bassist Paul Brindley and drummer Patrick Hannan.

The Sundays secured a recording contract with Rough Trade Records. Their debut single was "Can't Be Sure". Their first album, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, was released in 1990 and became a UK top 5 hit. The album's lead single "Here's Where the Story Ends" was a number one hit on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in the United States.

With Rough Trade's financial troubles and the band's decision to manage themselves, the Sundays' next single, "Goodbye", did not emerge until 1992. Their next album, Blind, arrived the same year, reaching the UK top 15. The single "Love" reached number 2 on the US Modern Rock charts. The band toured in support of these recordings.

In 1997, their third album, Static & Silence, was followed by the release of their most successful single, "Summertime", which made the UK top 15. The album itself reached the UK top 10. However, the band has been on a lengthy hiatus since those releases, with Wheeler and Gavurin focusing on raising their two children; Wheeler and Gavurin married after the band breakup.


1988: Formation[edit]

Vocalist Harriet Wheeler and guitarist David Gavurin met as students at Bristol University in the mid-1980s.[3] Wheeler was from Reading, the daughter of an architect and a teacher, and studied English literature.[4] Gavurin was from Wembley and actively pursued a degree in the Romance languages,[4] particularly French and Spanish.[5] The two fell in love and began living together. Following graduation they wrote music in their free time while collecting unemployment benefits.[4] Except for Wheeler's vocal duties in a band called Jim Jiminee,[6] the couple had no musical background.[4] Commenting on his desire to compose, Gavurin said, "It was something I'd always wanted to do, although I never wanted to be in a band when I was younger, like many kids do. It just dawned on me gradually." Wheeler displayed similar feelings: "There was never a time I wanted to be incredibly famous, or in a pop group," she said. "It just seemed a great thing to do to spend time working on something that's your own."[5]

After the couple completed several songs – and migrated to London[7] – they enlisted the support of bassist Paul Brindley and drummer Patrick Hannan, who had also attended Bristol University. Hannan's brother, Nick had also been a member of Jim Jiminee, which briefly featured Wheeler as vocalist (see paragraph above). The band chose the name "The Sundays" as it was the only one everyone could agree upon.[4] Demo tapes were sent out to several London clubs after the group felt energized by their efforts; Gavurin stated in a Rolling Stone interview that "by the end of the year we were thinking, 'Hang on a minute, some of this [music] is good!'" Responses to the tape were enthusiastic and an employee at Vertigo Club offered the band an opening slot for an upcoming show in August 1988.[4] "By chance there were three reviewers from the top music papers there," said Wheeler. "They were supposed to review the main band, but instead they wrote about us."[8] The group subsequently became the focus of a record label bidding war.[6][7] They eventually signed with Rough Trade Records and had a distribution deal signed for the United States with DGC Records.[3]

1989–1990: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic[edit]

The Sundays released their first single "Can't Be Sure" in January 1989. It topped the British indie charts and received acclaim as one of the best singles of 1989.[7] The group performed three songs in a session with popular disc jockey John Peel. These songs would later turn up on their debut album, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.[7] The group worked on their debut for over a year.[6] "A lot of bands who get signed, who have been playing the circuit for years, have 30 songs for the first album," said Gavurin. "But we didn't have enough for our first album, let alone our second. We can't write to deadline. You can't force a whole load of songs out quickly."[8] Asked whether the band felt pressured when working on the album, Wheeler responded, "No, because to start off with, we're far more critical of ourselves than anyone else, and that's more a concern to us than what the press think." Gavurin also commented: "The main pressure we felt was with the single, and even then, we thought, well, they're either going to like it or they're not, and there's not much we can do to influence that."[5]

Reading, Writing and Arithmetic was released in January 1990 and became a commercial success, reaching number 4 on the UK charts[7] and peaking at number 39 on the Billboard 200 in the United States.[9] It went on to sell over half a million copies worldwide.[4] Its distinct Englishness in lyrics, augmented by Harriet Wheeler's accent,[10] alongside their lighter-than-air guitar pop,[11] influenced the nascent Britpop scene, notably impacting bands like Sleeper.[12] The hit single "Here's Where the Story Ends" also gained considerable success in the USA, propelled by extensive radio play and MTV rotation.[6] The Sundays devoted nearly a year to an "exhausting" promotional tour,[4] which encompassed America, Europe, and Japan.[6] The tour was considered successful,[6] although it was not without some mishaps; a London show had to be rescheduled due to Wheeler losing her voice and the group experienced some amusement when a Dallas, Texas, show was advertised with the slogan "See The Sundays on Sunday with ice-cream sundaes".[7]

1991–1993: Blind[edit]

The band experienced some hardships leading up to the recording of their second album. In 1991 Rough Trade Records went bankrupt, which caused the band to sign with Parlophone Records in the UK.[6] Their debut went out of print in the UK and would stay that way until 1996.[6] Constant touring coupled with their decision to manage themselves hampered the group's creative output, which was already slow due to Gavurin and Wheeler, the main songwriters, "being chained by pokiness and perfectionism when it [came] to writing and recording music."[4] Additionally, the band kept a "low public profile", which fuelled rumours that the group had disbanded.[13] The Sundays eventually released a new single, "Goodbye", a minor hit, in Autumn 1992. The release came almost three years after their last UK show.[7] The "Goodbye" B-side, a cover of The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses", also appeared on the US release of Blind as well as in the movie Fear (1996), on the 1999 soundtrack album for the popular television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in the episode 01x01 of the series Friends from College (2017).

Their next album, entitled Blind, was finally released in October 1992. The album experienced commercial success similar to their debut when it peaked at number 103 on the Billboard 200,[9] and sold nearly half a million copies.[4] Critical reception was also positive,[4] but some critics thought the album lacked the quality songwriting of its predecessor.[14][15][16] Despite Blind's initial appeal with audiences, it drifted off the charts by the summer of 1993.[6] The Sundays toured Britain in the winter of 1992. The shows were "rapturously received by fans starved of fresh product or gigs."[7] An American tour was greeted with sold-out shows. Gavurin explained that they weren't necessarily attempting to promote the new album: "A lot of people didn't see us the first time we played over here, and they want to hear earlier material. So we're playing half and half."[8] In the end the tour was cut short in light of exhaustion and homesickness.[4]

1994–1997: Static and Silence[edit]

The band holidayed in Thailand and, upon returning to England, "put their music career on the back burner for a time."[4] During this time the only appearance of the band was their cover of "Wild Horses" by The Rolling Stones appearing in a 1994 American Budweiser television commercial.[6] Gavurin and Wheeler expressed a desire to settle down. Wheeler gave birth to the couple's daughter, Billie, in March 1995.[4][6] They also built a recording studio in their home, not only to save on the cost of renting a studio, but also to expand their creative freedoms.[4] Their third, and most recent album, Static & Silence, was released to mixed reviews in September 1997, a full five years after Blind.[17] Although the band retained much of the same sound that they developed on previous albums, they added horns to a number of tracks for Static & Silence. The album was not as successful as Reading, Writing and Arithmetic; however, the single "Summertime" became their most successful hit to date on the UK chart and achieved a top 10 spot on the US Alternative Rock chart. It was The Sundays' third most successful single in the US, behind "Here's Where the Story Ends" (which made it to number 1 on the US Alternative Rock chart) and "Love" (which made it to number 2).[18]

2014: Possible return[edit]

In April 2014, Adam Pitluk, the editor of American Airlines' magazine American Way, tracked down and conducted an interview with Wheeler and Gavurin in which he put forward the idea of a reunion. They responded, "First let's see if the music we’re currently writing ever sees the light of day, and then we can get on to the enjoyable globe-trotting-meets-concert-planning stage."[19][20]

On 10 October 2014, during an interview on BBC Radio 6 Music's Radcliffe & Maconie radio programme, David Baddiel described Dave Gavurin as his "oldest mate" and stated that "they [Dave and Harriet] are doing music, but whether they ever put that out there, I’ve no idea. They're the most paranoid people about actually putting stuff out there".[21]

In an interview with the C86 Show Podcast released on August 18, 2020, Patrick Hannan revealed that Wheeler and Gavurin had "never stopped making music" and that he had played drums on a number of their tracks. Hannan added that these recordings may never be released.[22]

Band members[edit]

  • Paul Brindley – bassist
  • David Gavurin – guitarist
  • Patrick (Patch) Hannan – drummer
  • Harriet Wheeler – vocalist


Studio albums[edit]

Year Details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1990 Reading, Writing and Arithmetic 4 40 56 37 39
1992 Blind 15 78 103
1997 Static & Silence
  • Released: 22 September 1997
  • Label: Parlophone/Geffen
10 45 33 33
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US Air
US Alt
1989 "Can't Be Sure" 45 74 Reading, Writing and Arithmetic
1990 "Here's Where the Story Ends" 123 1
1992 "Love" 2 Blind
"Goodbye" 27 11
1997 "Summertime" 15 41 48 50 10 Static & Silence
"Cry" 43
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

B-sides / unreleased songs[edit]

  • "Can't Be Sure" [demo] (b-side of "Cry")
  • "Don't Tell Your Mother" (b-side of "Can't Be Sure", eventually appearing also on DGC Rarities Vol. 1)
  • "Gone" (b-side of "Summertime")
  • "Here's Where the Story Ends" [Black Session] (b-side of "Wild Horses" – US cassette single)
  • "Here's Where the Story Ends" [live] (b-side of "Summertime")
  • "I Kicked a Boy" (b-side of "Can't Be Sure", released on Reading, Writing and Arithmetic)
  • "Black Sessions" (Live 1992 - Album) (French radio show - France Inter)
  • "Life Goes On" (b-side of "Cry")
  • "Noise" (b-side of "Goodbye")
  • "Nothing Sweet" (b-side of "Summertime")
  • "Skin & Bones" [live] (b-side of "Summertime")
  • "So Much" (only on the US version of Static and Silence)
  • "Something More" (unreleased)
  • "Through the Dark" (b-side of "Cry")
  • "Turkish" (only performed live, and at almost every concert on the Blind and Static and Silence tours)
  • "Wild Horses" (b-side of "Goodbye", appearing also on US copies of Blind)
  • "You're Not the Only One I Know" [demo] (b-side of "Cry")


  1. ^ Larkin, Colin (1992). Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Vol. 3. New England Pub. Associates, Chester, CT. p. 2416.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. ^ [1] Archived 4 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Tortorici, Frank (26 June 1999). "The Sundays' Harriet Wheeler". VH1. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Brennan, Carol (1997). McConnell, Stacy A. (ed.). Contemporary Musicians. Vol. 20. Gale Cengage. ISBN 978-0-7876-1177-4. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  5. ^ a b c True, Everett (20 January 1990). "School's Out! The Sundays". Melody Maker. pp. 24–25.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Erlewine, Stephen Thomas (2011). "The Sundays biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Buckley, Peter (2003). The Rough Guide To Rock. Rough Guides. pp. 1033–1034. ISBN 1-84353-105-4.
  8. ^ a b c Punter, Jennie (25 February 1993). "No day of Rest For These Sundays". Toronto Star. p. E10.
  9. ^ a b "The Sundays charts and awards". AllMusic. 2011. Retrieved 21 February 2011.
  10. ^ altrockchick (16 December 2020). "Sleeper – Smart – Classic Music Review". altrockchick. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  11. ^ Robbins, Ira (14 June 1990). "Reading, Writing and Arithmetic review". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 19 June 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  12. ^ "My life as a pop star". The Guardian. 6 July 2002. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  13. ^ Budman, Matthew (3 December 1997). "A Long Sundays' Journey into Night". VH1. Retrieved 30 March 2011.[dead link]
  14. ^ Erlwine, Stephen Thomas (2011b). "Blind review". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  15. ^ Robbins, Ira (2011). "The Sundays biography". Trouser Press. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  16. ^ Jenkins, Mark (19 February 1993). "Blind Finds The Sundays Off". The Washington Post. p. N12.
  17. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (23 September 1997). "Static & Silence – The Sundays | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Music – Review of The Sundays – Static & Silence". BBC. 1 January 1970. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  19. ^ Pitluck, Adam (15 April 2014). "As the Heavens Shudder". Itinerary. American Way. American Airlines. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  20. ^ "The Sundays are writing together again – reveals an inflight magazine". Music. The Guardian. 23 April 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  21. ^ "BBC Radio 6 Music – David Baddiel". BBC Radio 6 Music. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  22. ^ "C86 Show - Indie Pop | The Sundays special with Patrick Hannan". Podbean. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  23. ^ a b "Official Charts > Sundays". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
  24. ^ a b Australian (ARIA) chart peaks:
  25. ^ "dutchcharts.nl > The Sundays in Dutch Charts" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  26. ^ "charts.nz > The Sundays in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  27. ^ "The Sundays > Chart History > Billboard 200". Billboard. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  28. ^ a b "British certifications – The Sundays". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 26 June 2020. Type The Sundays in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  29. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum: The Sundays". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  30. ^ "Canadian Summertime Position". RPM. Archived from the original on 17 September 2009. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
  31. ^ "The Sundays > Chart History > Radio Songs". Billboard. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  32. ^ "The Sundays > Chart History > Alternative Songs". Billboard. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.