THE HISTORY OF THE MEMBERS
FROM 70's PUNK to 80's ELECTRO POP to FILM MUSIC AND BACK AGAIN
Since reforming in 2007 The Members have re-established themselves as one of the Best Bands from the Punk and Post Punk Period, the Current (2016) Line up of JC Carroll, Chris Payne, Nick Cash and Nigel Bennett have played Prestigious shows at the isle of wight and Glastonbury Festivals, toured the World released three albums and played hundreds of Shows, for three years legend of the Damned Rat Scabies was behind the kit. The New Album One Law has been cricitally acclaimed compared to the Kinks "Village Green Preservation Society" and is proving to be a Cross over record firmly establishing the Band as a Multi Genre recording outfit with catchy radio friendly songs and intelligent contant.The Bands songwriter guitarist JC Carroll is an accomplished Multiinstrumentalist and Film Composer with having played accordian for Marlon Bardo and Johnny Depp to writing movie scores for Julien Temple. Nigel Bennett is an accomplished Session Player who has played for The Vibrators, Julian Lennon, Tom Robinson and Eddie and the Hotrods, Bass Player and Singer Chris Paynes Reggae Bass style has shaped the Band since 1977 and Fad Gadget Drummer Nick Cash has been a constant, collaborator, friend and supporter for over 10 years.
The Story of - The Members
THE HISTORY OF THE MEMBERS
Formed in Surrey, England, in the summer of 1977, the Members played at the Roxy and all the other Punk clubs on the london circuit. The original band -- composed of Nicky Tesco (vocals), Jean-Marie Caroll (guitar), Nigel Bennett (guitar), Adrian Lillywhite (drums), and Chris Payne (bass) -- was among the first to successfully blend reggae rhythms with punk's attitude and aggression.Their first Record Solitary confinement was releases on Stiff records in 1978 and is now a collectors item they then signed to Virgin Records Their first Virgin single, The Sound of the Suburbs, was a British Top Ten Hit selling 250,000 copies in 3 months (it has since sold 1,000,000 copies), Their first LP, Live at the Chelsea Nightclub, Was listed as one of the top 20 punk Lp's by record collector After one more album for Virgin in 1980, 1980 the Choice Is Yours, they moved to Martin Rushents Electro/80's Label Genetic to record to the classic Uprhythm, Downbeat (released in 1983 in the U.K. as Going West), broadening their sound with horns and a more serious attitude. Working Girl from the album was a huge hit in the usa. During the 80's the Members toured endlessly across north America experiencing the elation of huge shows in New York and Los Angeles. They hung out with with The Ramones and Blondie around the Kidney Shaped pool at the Hollywood motel where Sam Cooke was Shot,They Partied with Iggy Pop in New York, Tom Petty in the Mid West, talked cars and girls with Bruce Springsteen in Asbury Park, were entertained by Mobsters in New York, Played on A Riverboat in New Orleans. They travelled 35,000 miles across 50 states of the usa in a Ford econoline living on jack Daniels $20 a day, microwave burrittos and show salads. They have been locked in a Dutch prison cells, fined by highway patrols, refused entry to canada, threatened by gangsters, intimidated by armed guards, cussed by rednecks, refused service at truck stops, They've been spat at, showered with coins and bottles.Sound of The Suburbs Skegness - The Members
The Story of The Members by Adrian Thrills, February 2006
The Members were one of the wittiest and most imaginative guitar bands to emerge in the aftermath of the 1977 punk explosion. Having got together in the sleepy suburbs of Bagshot and Camberley, they were too far removed from the new wave's fashionable London cliques to take their place alongside such pioneers as The Clash and the Sex Pistols.
When they did break through, with Sound Of The Suburbs in 1979, they did so not by singing about high-rise living, dole queues and anarchy, but with a song that wryly reflected their somewhat more mundane suburban roots.
This May the band release a definitive best of album that traces the group's history from early, punk-inspired releases on the independent Beggars Banquet and Stiff labels through to their chart heyday with Virgin and beyond. It spans six years and six different labels, and features the original (and best) version of Sound Of The Suburbs - a punk classic now available for the first time in 25 years.
With their style built around guitarist Jean-Marie 'JC' Carroll's nimble, twangy riffs and frontman Nicky Tesco's cutting reflections on suburbia, The Members were the new wave's great satirists. They sang not about the 'big issues', but about a series of pathetic characters and trivial, everyday frustrations that anyone could relate to. In doing so, they became a part of a great British pop tradition which dated back to Ray Davies, of The Kinks, and now stretches forward to encompass Mike Skinner, of The Streets. As Nicky Tesco once told me, 'we stand for the social underdog'.
The Members were also noteworthy as one of the first British guitar bands to fully incorporate reggae into their music. Just as blues had been a key influence on white rock in the Sixties, reggae was the alternative genre of choice for the punk generation. And while the late Seventies contained plenty of shining examples of the punky-reggae party - The Clash covering Junior Murvin's Police And Thieves, The Special AKA launching 2-Tone - The Members were one of the prime movers in the era's cross-cultural interplay. As Neil Spencer, writing in NME, said of them in 1978: 'Of the many rock bands co-opting reggae into their act, few do so with as much love and style as the The Members.'
'My rhythm guitar playing is definitely reggae-based,' JC told me when I interviewed The Members for NME in 1978. 'It's not the same as blasting an audience with full-on rock riffs. It gets them moving in a different way. But, having said that, we're trying to play reggae in our own style. We're not singing about Jah Love. We're singing about living in Britain.'The Story of The Members by Adrian Thrills, February 2006
The Members made their first live appearance at The Roxy Club, in London's Covent Garden, in September 1977. The show was, by all accounts, a calamitous outing in which Nicky Tesco's attempts to harangue the audience met with an indifferent response. Within months, though, the band were in a studio with Eddie And The Hot Rods producer Ed Hollis and Adrian's brother Steve Lillywhite (who was responsible for getting them the break), cutting a track, Fear On The Streets, which surfaced on Streets, a punky compilation put together by Lurkers manager Nick Austin for the first official release on Beggars Banquet.
With an unstable early line-up eventually solidifying around Tesco, JC, guitarist Nigel Bennett, bassist Chris Payne and drummer Adrian Lillywhite, The Members began to make their mark in London. With punk being squeezed out of the pubs, gigs weren't easy to come by. When I first met them, in the summer of 1978, they were combining live shows with day jobs as bank clerks, sales reps, aircraft technicians and draftsmen and driving to their gigs in Ford Escorts.
Onstage, things were rather more exciting. The band usually opened their set with a high-octane instrumental, Electricity, a track that combined impressive, dub-like textures with experimental sound effects and often finished with JC rubbing a microphone stand along the frets of his Fender Music Master. As a live act, The Members were strikingly diverse, blending punky energy, reggae rhythms and thoroughly English harmonies. Bennett's guitar playing, more orthodox than JC's, added a fluent, classic rock sheen while Payne and Lillywhite provided an ever-solid rhythmic foundation.
The lively Tesco, too, soon developed into one of the era's more accomplished frontmen: on a good night, the group thrived on the creative tension between his charismatic showmanship and JC's ambitious musical visions, and The Members quickly established a loyal following. By the end of 1978, they had become one of the hottest tickets on the London circuit
The band's set gradually took shape, with covers such as Norman Whitfield's I Wanna Get Next To You - sung by Rose Royce in the movie Carwash - augmented by an increasingly impressive set of originals. The band's first single, the anthemic Solitary Confinement, came out as a one-off on Stiff in 1978. Produced by Larry Wallis, of the Pink Fairies, it spoke of the tedium of living in a London bedsit and travelling to a mundane office job on a tube train. According to JC, the song was written about his experiences flat-hunting after moving up to the capital from Camberley. 'I found a place in West Hampstead that cost me £12 a week. It was pretty rough, with mice running around the floor. But I had a masterplan. I was going to write a hit single out of it.'
If Solitary Confinement - later updated by the Newtown Neurotics as Living With Unemployment - didn't give the band that elusive hit, their second single, February 1979's Sound Of The Suburbs, did the trick. It was produced by drummer Adrian's brother Steve Lillywhite - later to attain legendary status with U2 - and it put The Members in the Top 20. This album contains the definitive cut of the song, the version that was issued as a clear vinyl seven-inch single, sold 250,000 copies and featured a Staines railway station announcer reading out a series of destinations in the Surrey commuter belt.The success of Sound Of The Suburbs set The Members up for their debut album, At The Chelsea Nightclub, released on Virgin in April 1979. Painstakingly assembled, it took the band further away from their punky roots, with tracks such as Stand Up and Spit and Don't Push emphasising their reggae leanings. There was also, in a title track cut live at Hammersmith Odeon, a hint of the band's incendiary stage power. The song itself was a hilarious attack on the shallow socialising of the Chelsea set in nightspots where 'half a pint of lager costs 60p'. They should be so lucky.
For their next move, The Members abandoned rock completely and gave full vent to their love of reggae. Offshore Banking Business, a non-album single, featured a loping riff, reggae brass and even a Jamaican-style talk-over section - 'a lesson in home economics' entitled Pennies In The Pound - from Nicky Tesco. Lyrically, the song was also one of the first recorded cases of rock 'n' roll insider trading, with JC using the knowledge garnered working in a bank to fuel a scornful condemnation of global financial corruption.
The band's second album, 1980 - The Choice Is Yours, was softer and more measured than At The Chelsea Nightclub. Produced by Rupert Hine, it contained new tracks such as Goodbye To The Job and Physical Love, plus a cover of Larry Wallis's Police Car, a live favourite. But while the overall mood was now darker, suggestions of their old, more irreverent style remained on the album's opening single, Romance.
The Members, however, were growing up fast. After leaving Virgin in 1981, they broadened their sound by introducing a full-time horn section, Steve 'Rudi' Thompson (ex-X Ray Spex) and Simon Lloyd (Bananarama and Icehouse) and embracing funk and rap as well as reggae. A one-off single, Radio, was released on Island before the band enjoyed an American hit by reaching out to the burgeoning MTV generation with Working Girl.
The band's third album, produced by Martin Rushent and Dave Allen, was originally released only in the States. On tracks such as Chairman Of The Board and We The People, it showcased a maturing group who were becoming more socially aware in their lyrics. The album was eventually released by Albion Records in the UK as Going West.
Best remembered for their punky anthems, their invigorating use of reggae and dozens of great nights out, The Members never really achieved the widespread recognition that their musical vision deserved. But they were a group who moved on from the three-chord limitations of punk to leave us with a batch of songs that have stood the test of time remarkably well. The tracks assembled on the forthcoming "Greatest Best of In Living Memory" reiterate their impish brilliance.
As JC said: 'We play English rock with a touch of reggae - and we do it so that people can enjoy themselves'.