Thursday, 10 December 2009

gigsplurge 25: tompaulin, vigilance black special & servant, november 2000

Tompaulin, Vigilance Black Special, Servant, Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, 30 November 2000

Finishing off the year with a trio of gigs GMS' gang booked at the Bully. Haven't a clue about Servant.

Vigilance Black Special were second only to the Workhouse amongst the Oxford bands of the time. Rarely, for a local outift, they sounded like grown-ups: dark Lee Hazlewood soul mixing with a countryfied take on Henry's Dream-era Bad Seeds. They now live dotted around the country, but are "keeping the band going", I'm glad to hear. Perhaps they might keep the band going in Oxford sometime soon.

The idea was for promising Peel-types tompaulin to be introduced by Tom Paulin--the sort of personal touch you'd expect from imaginative types like GMS et al. Sadly, the self-parodying Keats-misunderstanding late-night lit-pundit (who is surprisingly huge in person) sold us down the river for a date with Mark Lawson and that lot. He missed a cracker: tompaulin were likened to Belle & Sebastian at the time, but unlike a lot of imitators, they preserved the wit, range and occasional bile of B&S, while also being imaginative and versatile in their own right.

I hope they won't mind me nicking a lump from their myspace page: interesting stuff, in the context of this series:

Tompaulin formed in a bedroom in Blackburn, Lancashire in 1999. We loved records and wanted to make our own. Our first single was self-financed and released on a local label, Action Records. We had never even played live when 'Ballad of the Bootboys' sold out in a week. We borrowed some money and recorded another two singles with our friend Vinny Peculiar in Liverpool. 'Slender' and 'It’s a Girl’s World' also sold out very quickly. We were in the NME and all the music papers, and everyone contacted us wanting to sign, represent, remix and re-define us. We didn’t have a clue what was going on. Simon didn’t even have an amp. Vinny used to lend us all his stuff.

We signed to Uglyman Records in a pub in Blackburn. Guy Lovelady was the only person who came to Blackburn to see us and we were fed up with going to London every week. So we signed and made an LP, 'The Town and the City,' with him. It got good press and favourable radio play for the single, resulting in two Peel sessions and a gig at Glastonbury. More people came to see us live and we continued to receive great press and reviews, except we were surrounded by people who talked about units and strategies, features and angles and while all this was going on, the world went Strokes and White Stripes mad.
Our manager told us we were finished.
We didn’t feel finished.

We contacted Jim Reid from our beloved Jesus and Mary Chain records and went in the studio and recorded a new EP.

'Give Me a Riot in the Summertime' did very well for us, the Guardian Guide said we were on to something and we thought so too. We compiled all our singles on a CD we called 'Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt.' Chris Roberts, writing for Uncut called it, "A revelation."

With the money we made from that we bought a small studio of our own and recorded 'Into The Black.' We asked Jim Reid back, this time to sing on 'Seams.' The Clientele, Ben Lurie (JAMC) and loads of other people came in to hang out and help and we had a good time recording it, despite the downbeat tone of the record.

Mojo and Uncut gave it four stars and all the usual press loved it, except the NME who ignored it.
The record label said, "Can’t hear a single."

We were fiercely proud of 'Into The Black' and decided to start playing live after two years off. We toured Germany and Scandinavia to sold out shows and came home to headline a sold out 'POW! To the People' mini-festival for Track and Field at the Barfly in London.
Then we split up.

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