Every burgeoning rock star has to start somewhere. But the difference between your shitty teenage band and The Edmund Fitzgerald, is that those guys in Class 4C went on to create Foals. Take a look at 30 indie bands in different, early guises and the bands your favourite artists were in before they made it big.
Sid Vicious – The Flowers Of Romance
Before finding punk notoriety with the Pistols, John Ritchie – aka Sid Vicious – was already doing the rounds: in addition to a brief spell with Siouxsie And The Banshees, playing drums at their first gig, he played in The Flowers Of Romance along with future PiL member Keith Levene and Slits founder Viv Albertine.
Dave Grohl – Freak Baby/Mission Impossible
Everyone knows that Rock’s Nicest Man had stints in Dain Bramage and Scream before ending up behind the kit for Nirvana, but Dave Grohl got started way earlier than that. In high school he played guitar for local band Freak Baby, before the band rebranded themselves as Mission Impossible and Grohl switched to drums instead.
Alison Mosshart – Discount
Florida punks Discount weren’t just a folly or hobby for Alison Mosshart: they were her first band proper, releasing three studio albums between 1995 and 2002 before parting ways in 2000. Their last LP, ‘Crash Diagnostic’, was released in 1999.
Oasis – The Rain
The Rain were going absolutely nowhere until frontman Liam Gallagher joined and demanded they change their name to Oasis, inspired by an Inspiral Carpets poster in his bedroom. He later asked his big brother to join, and Noel brought the songs that made Oasis one of the biggest bands in the world.
David Bowie – The Konrads
Most of us think of Bowie’s embarrassing pre-fame secret as being ‘The Laughing Gnome’, but there was life before the chuckling garden miniatures. Dave began performing with The Konrads at wedding receptions, before ditching them for another unsuccessful group, The King Bees.
Morrissey – The Nosebleeds
In 1978, Manchester punk band The Nosebleeds found themselves a new frontman – and NME’s Paul Morley was impressed. “Lead singer is now minor local legend Steve Morrison, who, in his own way, is at least aware that rock’n’roll is about magic, and inspiration.” Alas, the Nosebleeds weren’t to be – but Morrissey did just fine without them.
Joy Division – Warsaw
Warsaw, so-named due to the David Bowie song ‘Warszara’, booted their drummer Steve Brotherdale by asking him to check on a flat tyre and then speeding off when he got out of the car. They found Stephen Morris to replace him and, in order to avoid confusion with fellow punk band Warsaw Pakt, changed their name to Joy Division.
Temples’ James Bagshaw – Sukie
Temples singer James Bagshaw honed his frontman skills during his stint with Kettering lot Sukie: they garnered rave reviews for their debut single ‘Pink-A-Pade’, but Bagshaw decided that his love of all things psych would be better served in Temples instead.
Peace's Harrison and Samuel Koisser – The Third Exit
Brum brothers Harrison and Samuel Koisser played in The Third Exit before forming a new group, November And The Criminal, in 2009. Thankfully, they realised that name was laughably naff, and were reborn as indie-rock behemoths Peace instead.
PJ Harvey – Automatic Dlamnini
The sole Automatic Dlamnini album that PJ Harvey contributed to was never released, but her experience with the Bristol group – playing guitars, saxaphone and backing vocals – paved the way for her future success. She nabbed members Rob Ellis and Ian Oliver to form the PJ Harvey trio, too, releasing debut LP ‘Dry’ in 1992.
Kasabian – Saracuse
Formed when Tom Meighan and Serge Pizzorno were still at school, Kasabian began life as Saracuse and recorded their first demo EP in 1998. They changed their name to Kasabian, in honour of Charles Manson’s getaway driver Linda Kasabian, soon after.
Patti Smith – Blue Oyster Cult
It would have been one of the strangest rock collaborations ever: for a brief period, Patti Smith was in the running to be the focal point of hard rock titans Blue Oyster Cult. Smith wrote lyrics for several of the band’s tracks and even contributed backing vocals, but eventually struck out on her own instead.
Bob Dylan – Elston Gunnn
Ol’ Bob is favourite of a nom-de-plume, isn’t he? In 1959, Robert Zimmerman played two live shows under the name Elston Gunnn (a rather superfluous amount of ‘n’s, there) before rebranding himself as Bob Dylan.
Brett Anderson – Geoff
The Pigs? Not bad. Geoff? Geoff!? God, no. Thankfully, Brett Anderson realised that the two garage bands he first started playing with were going nowhere fast (and that one had a terrible name), resolving to start Britpop legends Suede instead.
Talking Heads – The Artistics
In 1974, David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth formed the band The Artistics. They had a short shelf-life, though: they dissolved within a year and the trio moved to New York to start Talking Heads, later adding keyboard player Jerry Harrison and becoming a must-see group at the city’s legendary CBGB’s venue.
Johnny Marr – Paris Valentinos
Johnny started young: bitten by the pop music bug as a teenager, he formed Paris Valentinos as a 13-year-old along with former Smith Andy Rourke. Their first gig was a Jubilee party in 1977, and their sets tended to feature lots of Rolling Stones and Thin Lizzy covers.
Damon Albarn – The Aftermath/Real Lives
Damon’s such a pop polymath now that it’s easy to forget he got around in his early days, too. After stings with synthpop group Two’s A Crowd he also had brief stays with The Aftermath and Real Lives before hitting it big with Blur.
Keith Moon – The Escorts
Before Moon joined The Who, he had briefly replaced his best mate, Gerry Evans, in The Escorts, and also played with covers specialists The Beachcombers.
Ray Davies – The Dave Hunt Band
A short-lived stay, this: for just six weeks Davies was the proud permanent guitarist with The Dave Hunt Band. They had a residency at the Crawdaddy Club, but when they were snowed in and unable to make one gig, they were replaced by some new chancers called The Rolling Stones. Sadly for the Dave Hunt Band, the Stones stole their residency.
Pete Townshend– The Detours
For three years, Pete Townshend lent his guitar-playing skills to skiffle kings The Detours, joining singer Roger Daltrey and bassist John Entwistle in the line-up. Alas, in 1964 they had to change their name for legal reasons: they became The Who, added Keith Moon as drummer and became spokesmen for the new generation…
Jimi Hendrix – The King Kasuals
Hendrix and fellow US serviceman Billy Cox struck up a friendship while serving in the military together. When Cox was discharged from the Army they formed The King Kasuals, who became a fixture on Nashville’s rhythm and blues scene before Hendrix got fed up and headed out on his own.
Robert Smith – Malice
The Crawley punk band Malice only played a handful of gigs and never got round to releasing a record before, in 1977, singer Martin Creasy left. The remaining members became Easy Cure and then The Cure, and a gothic legend was born.
Bands called Spit and Snot and Exodus were among Bjork's early musical experiments, each bearing the out-there chills and quirks that's since become a staple of her solo sound.
Thom Yorke was pretty well known on the Exeter punk scene as a wiry teen: his band The Headless Chickens boasted "poly-sensual" shows that involved avant-garde visual experimentation and apparently sometimes devolved into "bizarre nudity." Put it away, Thom.
Neil Young arrived in Winnipeg from Toronto in summer 1960 a restless, confused 14-year-old - his parents were in the throes of a difficult break-up and his entire life had been uprooted. The 'Harvest' songwriter-in-waiting didn't sulk about though - instead, he channelled those feelings into folk rock outfit The Jades, one of his first forays into music.
Here's a fun footnote on the decorated career of one Mr. Iggy Pop: before becoming one of punk's most celebrated frontmen, he was stuck behind the sticks as drummer to high school blues crew The Iguanas. It was in this band the man born James Newell Osterberg Jr. picked up his 'Iggy' nickname.
Nick Cave's The Birthday Party began as The Boys Next Door: a troop of school choristers performing David Bowie, Lou Reed, Roxy Music and Alice Cooper covers to friends at birthdays and school functions. It wasn't till they left school that Cave and friends discovered the gloomy proto-punk noises that he'd forge a career twisting and distorting.
The Beastie Boys are so ingrained into rap history that it's hard to imagine them as anything but the fast-flowing hip-hop tornado they became. But the trio almost went another direction: before evolving into the Beasties, they experimented with brash Bad Brains-indebted punk guitars and wild blast beats as hardcore outfit The Young Aborigines. Check out ‘Egg Raid on Mojo'.
A more well-known one: before settling into folkier, more Radio 2-friendly waters, Frank Turner was the screaming, tireless frontman of fiercely political post-hardcore crew Million Dead. Their debut 'A Song To Ruin' is a bolshy anti-capitalist tirade against Disney, British political apathy and the voting system with shades of At The Drive-In.
Foals are headliner-status mega stars nowadays but they'd be nowhere without the tight rhythmical bond forged between frontman Yannis and drummer Jack in mathy guitar adventurists The Edmund Fitzgerald, whose largely instrumental tracks put a grainy, abrasive spin on post-rock.