When I worked on a rival music mag, one of the regulars I looked after was the Where Are They Now? feature. It was notoriously difficult to fill each month, primarily because, nine times out of ten, the answer to the question “where are they now?” turned out to “Erm, well we’re still going actually, got a few gigs lined up, there’s a label in Germany might be putting out our next album.”
The fact is, most bands who’ve ever had a modicum of success never really give up. They keep plugging away, even if the eyes of the media are no longer on them. It’s just that the band increasingly becomes a hobby rather than a profession, and it needs to be fitted around, and funded by, day jobs.
There’s nothing shameful about that, and the object of our Britpop photo gallery is not to sneer at has-beens. Rather, it’s motivated by a genuine curiosity about how musicians live and make money once their time in the spotlight is over.
In many cases, the answers are heartwarming. Bernard Butler, for example, surely derives more satisfaction (not to mention commercial return) for his work as a producer – on Duffy’s ‘Rockferry’, among other albums – than he ever did as reluctant underling to Brett Anderson in Suede.
Many refugees of the Britpop diaspora are more successful than you think. Longpigs’ Crispin Hunt co-wrote Newton Faulkner’s giant hit ‘Dream Catch Me’ (yeah, thanks for that), as well as, somewhat more impressively, moonlighting for a parliamentary committee advising the government on reform of the House Of Lords.
Even those bands on the lower rungs of mid-’90s indie have found ways to survive. Somewhat improbably, epic rockers Puressence are huge in Greece. They also recently scored an iTunes Top 40 album in America, prompting a stateside tour. Meanwhile, the fact that Bis’ Manda Rin runs a successful badge company feels like a neat continuation of the band’s tweecore aesthetic.
Other bands haven’t been so lucky. I wonder if the people who scoffed when Mansun split up would have been quite so snide if they’d known that frontman Paul Draper was undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the time, having been diagnosed with cancer in 2002.
And few bands in history can have been quite as unfortunate as Marion. After they were monumentally screwed by their label London Records in the late ’90s, frontman Jaime Harding drifted into heroin addiction and (according to some reports) petty crime. An attempted reunion in 2006 was stymied when Harding developed a blood condition and underwent open-heart surgery. The tour was put back to 2008, but was cancelled again when Harding was struck down with pneumonia.
But our gallery is intended only as a starting point. We need your help to expand it. Which other Britpop survivors do you know of?
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Perhaps you work in a bar with one of Cast, or your band recorded a demo with the drummer from Echobelly. Maybe you spotted him out of Thurman taking your bins out. Whatever it is, share your knowledge by posting a comment below.