Terrors of the airwaves during the 1990s, Bradford’s Terrorvision achieved massive success with a string of hits that peaked when ‘Tequila’ reached number 2 in the U.K. singles charts. Back then it was gold albums, magazine covers, and high-profile festival appearances, however these days, according to founding member Leigh Marklew, the quartet are happy to “take every gig as it comes”. We caught up with the bassist, along with guitarist Mark Yates at Ramblin’ Man Fair, to chat about the bands history. On the celebrity hit list: Eamon O’Neill.
Hi guys, how are you today?
Leigh Marklew: Really good. We’re loving the weather; the British summer finally turns up. We played last night, we had a bit of a warm-up show at Warwick Uni. That was really good. We’re not playing that much at the moment, we’re sort of dipping our toes in every now and again, but the band’s in good form and getting on well.
How many shows have you done this year?
LM: We went out and supported Thunder at the start of the year. That came out of the blue. I just got an email from Danny [Bowes] their singer, asking if we wanted to join them. It’s not two bands I would have put together; they’re more classic rock, whereas we’re a bit more sort of, I don’t know, something that isn’t classic rock.
You’re both iconic nineties bands though.
LM: Yeah, their hits were just prior to that Britrock thing, you know; The Wildhearts, Terrorvision, Therapy?, Skunk Anansie, that sort of thing. It was a couple of years before, but it was very, very nice of them, and for us to be asked. They looked after us very well, and we had a great week.
You’ve played some fantastic festivals over the years. You played at Donington in the mid-nineties, didn’t you?
LM: ’94 was the first year we played Donington. ’94 was our big explosion year where everything happened, and I think we played Donington the first year there was a second stage. It’s the only time we played Donington Monsters Of Rock, and then we did Download a couple of years ago. So yeah, we’ve been around; we’ve played Glastonbury, Reading, Leeds, Phoenix, T in the Park.
What was the best festival to play?
LM: I don’t know. I think that year, in ’94 when we played Donington, and then we played Reading in the same year, Reading was - there was no real metal bands on there, it was having a bit of a lull - so it was great to play like the premier metal festival, and the premier indie festival. We’re like the perfect festival band in a lot of ways, because we’ll come out, we’ll play for forty minutes, we’ll play a dozen songs and everyone will go: “oh f****n’ hell, I forgot they played this one!”
Back in the nineties, the band seemed to have a lot of support from the press. Was that important to you?
LM: Yeah, of course. Every little bit helped. If Kerrang! or Raw, or NME or whoever get behind a band, then you’re on the road to success. I don’t know what it’s like now, but back in the nineties, you would have hit singles, but only if you could get on the radio, and so we had a really sweet two or three years where everything kind of lined up. I just think you have to be in the right place at the right time.
How does it feel looking back now?
LM: It was a different life, and it was amazing. I feel really thankful for it; it was just the best ten years any young man could have, because you’re living out your dreams, aren’t you?
You had massive success with ‘How To Make Friends And Influence People’, and then the follow-up ‘Regular Album Survivors’ did even better.
LM: I think certainly the hit singles were bigger, and it sold a lot more quickly, but I think that ‘How To Make Friends And Influence People’ has sold considerably more now, and more consistently. But you know, ‘Regular Urban Survivors’ almost was like the next step from that; working with the same producer, the same team, and we were still in a pretty rich vein of song writing, and we had the support of the label, so it was all good. But you know what, it was just a whirl, and you kind of work for it; you work hard, but when it comes to you, it doesn’t feel weird – you’re not thinking; “god, I can’t cope with this”, it’s just like; “yep, this is fine, I can cope with this, this is good fun”.
The success of ‘Tequila’ in 1999 changed the direction of the band somewhat, and you seemed to embrace that dance element.
LM: It’s weird you know, the whole ‘Tequila’ thing; we made this album called ‘Shaving Peaches’ when we were still with EMI, and quite a different version of ‘Tequila’ was on that record – the original version. That was a weird album; we’d lost real support from the label at that point, and we were a bit frazzled and fried ourselves, I have to say. We did it with four producers, and we were down mixing it in Cornwall and taking too many drugs and not really in the best of places. Anyway, back in the nineties they used to release a single and there was like four formats, and they’d often send your songs out to get remixed, and that [Mint Royale Remix] was just done by two kids on the cheap. The remix got sent to [Radio 1 DJ] Zoe Ball, and you know what, we were quite amused by it all. The label were probably looking for a way to get out [of our contract] at that point, and so when they said that it was on the Radio 1 ‘A’ list, we just said, well whatever, and it was like a parting shot – a parting middle finger to EMI. And it had massive success, which was quite funny.
You appeared on a lot of TV shows at that point; what was it like appearing on ‘Noel’s House Party’?!
Mark Yates: I don’t have much of a memory of it. I was drinking a lot in those days.
LM: Oh f*****g hell! I met my wife that night – my future wife. I married Mr. Blobby. She’s not Mr. Blobby, but she is pink with a lot of yellow spots.
MY: We did a lot of things in those days. There was loads of TV programmes that you could actually mime on; CD:UK and Top Of The Pops and The Big Breakfast and TFI Friday. To get in the position as a rock band to do something so commercial is quite flattering really.
LM: We were just having a laugh when ‘Tequila’ came out, and it became a big hit, and it was like; we can say; “oh we’re not doing that”, but we didn’t – we just went; “right!” We did two months straight of drinking tequila with journalists and celebrities, and just had it, basically. That song paid our rent for a couple of years.
MY: We had a box of very rare tequila send from Jose Cuervo.
LM: It’s like people sad; “do you regret it?” There’s no point in regretting it, is there?
The album that followed - 2001’s ‘Good To Go’ - seemed to follow that dance route too.
LM: Yeah. We worked with this producer called Neil McLellan who’d done The Prodigy, so he came from that sort of dance background. But what we liked about The Prodigy was their aggression, and I think that that album is pretty heavy in places, and sonically it’s got a good thing going on. We were just trying new things, and with Terrorvision, we didn’t do it on purpose; we just started writing songs; “what shall we do now? Oh all right - we’ll work with this guy”. There was no big master plan; “okay, we’re going to do a dance album now”. I don’t think you can actually say that album is a dance album. It’s got some of the heaviest songs that we’ve done on there.
MY: Also in that period in the nineties, technology was moving and was changing rapidly. It’s all settled down a bit now, but it was digital, and there was new things you could try, so bands were a bit more experimental.
One thing I have to ask is about the absence of original drummer Shutty from the reformation.
LM: [To current drummer Cameron Greenwood] Why’s Shutty not here? Cam’s our new drummer. Watch the show today and that should be your answer!
CG: That’s the best answer ever!
LM: Ah you know, Shutt’ had kind of come to the end of his natural life as a drummer in a rock band, I think.
MY: We’re still mates and that, but when we came to make ‘Super Deluxe’ in about 2011, there wasn’t the hours in the day to work with Shutty, love him though we do. So Cameron had to just help us out with that, and it’s just stayed that way.
So is Terrorvision more of a part-time concern these days?
LM: No long-term plans. As far as speaking for me, personally, it’s take each gig as it comes. As long as I’m enjoying it, I’ll say to the other guys; “do you want to do gigs?”, and I’m sure they feel the same.
MY: It’s just great being in this field today. Ramblin’ Man Fair, it’s fantastic, and I wouldn’t be here if not for Terrorvision.
Click here for eonmusic's interview with Terrorvision front man Tony Wright.
Terrorvision tour the U.K. in November with Tax The Heat. For a full list of dates visit the official Terrorvision website.