The Pastels

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The Pastels
The Pastels.jpg
The Pastels in Tokyo, early 1990s
Background information
OriginGlasgow, Scotland
Genresindie pop, alternative rock, jangle pop, post-punk, art rock
Years active1981–present
Geographic Music
Associated actsTeenage Fanclub, The Vaselines, Shop Assistants, International Airport, Tenniscoats, Melody Dog, National Park, Beat Happening, Black Tambourine
MembersStephen McRobbie
Katrina Mitchell
Gerard Love
John Hogarty
Tom Crossley
Alison Mitchell

The Pastels are an independent music group from Glasgow, formed in 1981. They were a key act of the UK independent music scene of the 1980s. The group currently consists of Stephen McRobbie (vocals, guitar), Katrina Mitchell (vocals, drum kit), Gerard Love (bass guitar), John Hogarty (guitar), Tom Crossley (flute, keyboards), and Alison Mitchell (trumpet).


Their early records (1982–85) for record labels such as Whaam!, Creation, Rough Trade, and Glass Records, had a raw and immediate sound, melodic and amateur, which seemed at odds with the time. But an emerging fanzine culture identified with the group's sound and image, and slowly The Pastels started to influence a new wave of groups, which interested the NME and other UK media.[1]

The Pastels' sound continued to evolve and, although part of the NME's C86 compilation, in interviews they always sought to distance themselves from both twee and shambling developments.[2] Their debut album, Up for a Bit With The Pastels (Glass, 1987; re-issue Paperhouse, 1991) moved from garage pop-punk through to ballads with synth orchestra splashes. In 2003, it was named the 37th best Scottish album by The Scotsman.[3] The follow-up, Sittin' Pretty (Chapter 22, 1989) was harder but less eclectic.[citation needed] Reports started to appear in the UK music press that the group was splitting up.

Eventually it became clear that a new line-up was configuring around original members, Stephen McRobbie and Annabel Wright (Aggi), now joined by Katrina Mitchell. This line-up is probably the best known of The Pastels' various phases, and often featured either David Keegan (Shop Assistants) or Gerard Love (Teenage Fanclub) on guitar. They signed with the emerging Domino Records and completed two albums, Mobile Safari (1995) and Illumination (1997), which showed them developing an odd, particular sound – melancholic and awkward, but warm and engaging.[citation needed] A remix set featured My Bloody Valentine, Jim O'Rourke and others on the album, Illuminati (1998). In 2000, Wright left the group to focus on her career as an illustrator though she still provides artwork for the group. Their next release was the soundtrack to David Mackenzie's The Last Great Wilderness (Geographic, 2003), which, made for film or not, is one of the most completely realised Pastels albums[citation needed]. It featured a track recorded in collaboration with Pulp's Jarvis Cocker. In 2006, The Pastels developed and completed new music for a theatre production by Glasgow-based company, 12 Stars. In 2009, The Pastels, in collaboration with Tenniscoats from Tokyo, Japan, released an album called Two Sunsets. In 2013 they released their first album proper in sixteen years, Slow Summits again through Domino. [4]

The Pastels featured on the soundtrack for the film The Acid House (1998).

The story of The Pastels from their formation to the early 1990s features in 2017 documentary Teenage Superstars.[5]

The Pastels now operate their own Geographic Music label through Domino, and are partners in Glasgow's Monorail Music shop.[6]

Band members[edit]

The Pastels photographed by Alan Dimmick in 1982.


  • Stephen McRobbie (or Stephen Pastel) – guitar, vocals (1981–present)
  • Katrina Mitchell – drums, vocals, guitar, keyboards (1990–present)
  • Tom Crossley – flute, keyboards (late 2000s–present)
  • Alison Mitchell – trumpet (2003–present)
  • John Hogarty – guitar (late 2000s–present)
  • Suse Bear - bass (2010s–present)


  • Brian Taylor (or Brian Superstar) – guitar (1981–1992)
  • Martin Hayward – bass, vocals (1982–1990)
  • Bernice Simpson – drums (1983–1990)
  • Annabel Wright (or Aggi) – vocals (1984–2000), keyboards (1984–1990), bass (1990–2000)
  • Eugene Kelly – backing vocals, violin, guitar, autoharp (1987-1989)
  • David Keegan – guitar (1992–2000)
  • Jonathan Kilgour – guitar (1994–1997)
  • Francis MacDonald – drums (1990–1991)


  • Gerard Love – guitar, bass guitar, drums
  • Norman Blake – guitar, bass guitar, vocals
  • Colin McIlroy – guitar
  • Charlie Dinsdale – drums
  • Chris Gordon – drums
  • Michael – bass guitar
  • Sandy Forbes – drums
  • Dean Wareham – guitar
  • Maureen McRoberts – saxophone
  • Darren Ramsay – trumpet


Studio albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]



Year Title Label Album
1982 "Songs for Children" Whaam! (WHAM005)
1983 "I Wonder Why" / "Supposed to Understand" Rough Trade (RT 137)
1984 "Something Going On" / "Stay With Me Until Morning Comes" Creation (CRE 005)
"Million Tears" Creation (CRE 011T)
1985 "I'm Alright With You Creation (CRE 023T)
1986 "Truck Train Tractor" / "Breaking Lines" Glass (GLASS 48)
1986 "Crawl Babies" Glass (GLASS 50) Up for a Bit with The Pastels
1987 "Comin' Through" Glass (GLASS 53)
1989 "Baby You’re Just You" Chapter 22 (CHAP 37) Sittin' Pretty
1990 "Different Drum" / "Empty House" K Records (IPU 14)
1991 "Speeding Motorcycle" / "Speedway Star" Paperhouse (PAPER 008)
"Thru' Your Heart" / "Firebell Ringing" Paperhouse (PAPER 011)
1993 "Thank You for Being You" / "Kitted Out" Paperhouse (PAPER 023)
1994 "Olympic World of Pastelism" Domino (RUG18)
1994 "Yoga" Domino (RUG28) Mobile Safari
1995 "Worlds of Possibility"/"Love It's Getting Better" (originally recorded by The Groove 1967 on Wand Records) Domino (RUG36T)
1997 "Unfair Kind of Fame" Domino (RUG55T) Illumination
"The Hits Hurt" Domino (RUG52)
1998 "One Wild Moment" Domino (RUG79T) Illuminati
2013 "Check My Heart" Domino Slow Summits

With Jad Fair[edit]

With Tenniscoats[edit]


  1. ^ "the pastels". Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  2. ^ Ablaze! (fanzine) Ablaze! fanzine issue 9, 1992. p28-29
  3. ^ "100 best Scottish albums – Nos 26–50". The Scotsman. 16 October 2003.
  4. ^ Mike Powell, "The Pastels, Slow Summits", Pitchfork, May 28, 2013
  5. ^ Film, British Council. "British Council Film: Teenage Superstars". Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  6. ^ "Domino | Artists | The Pastels". Retrieved 31 May 2013.

External links[edit]