1. Following the demise of Alligator Gun and LoOmis, Pele was formed in the summer of 1997 by guitarist Chris Rosenau, bassist Scott Schoenbeck, and drummer Jon Mueller. Two weeks before recording their debut album Teaching the History of Teaching Geography, the trio brought aboard bassist Scott Beschta to play keyboards. The keyboards proved to be the dominant musical element of the album as well as its companion remix disc People Living with Animals. Animals Kill People., which included remixes from Bundy K. Brown, Mark Greenberg and future Pele member Jon Minor. Shortly thereafter, both Scotts left Pele. Schoenbeck agreeed to assume Beschta’s onetime bass duties in The Promise Ring, Beschta moved to NYC to join old friends New Rising Sons.
Down to a duo and without a bassist, Rosenau and Mueller soon recruited bassist Matt Tennessen whom they’d worked with in the pre-Pele group Tussin. As a trio, the band discovered their trademark sound, re-entering the studio to record 1999’s Elephant. While to this point critics had dubbed the band post-rock, they now heard the striking jazz elements found in the songs’ collective underbelly. The guitars were now nimble. The bass was rolling. The drums were skittering with angular fills and layered beats.
Spring 2000 saw the band signing with Polyvinyl Records in time to release their fourth album, The Nudes. The album received a strong push from college radio and, based on their raucous, incendiary live sets, the band was quickly beginning to make a name for themselves. In addition, Rosenau and Mueller could be found throughout various Milwaukee nightclubs performing in improvisational groups. The previous year, the two had founded Crouton Records in 1999, a label dedicated to improvisational and experimental recordings. This experimentation would carry over into their fifth full-length, 2002’s Enemies.
Enemies saw the arrival of new Pele member Jon Minor on laptop. A long-time Pele associate, Minor’s addition proved to be the perfect compliment to the band’s sound. Starkly different than previous Pele efforts, Enemies fully embraced the band’s improvisational jazz moments and filtered them through syncopated handclaps, voices, and various blips and bleeps.
Furthering their reputation for turning in blistering live performances, 2002 also marked Pele’s first tour of Japan. On a nightly basis, Japanese television crews followed the band from venue to venue, simultaneously broadcasting their performances to television sets across the country. The band won over a new horde of fans as unprecedented amounts of Japanese mail orders began flooding the Polyvinyl office. Three songs from this tour were later released with Polyvinyl’s 2003 reissue of Elephant, and a DVD of the tour is currently in the works for release on Crouton.
After 7 years, 13 releases, and various national and international tours, Pele announced that their winter 2004 tour would be their last. Over the years, it had been a pleasure to work with them and their contributions to the label will sorely be missed. Fortunately, their members will continue to make music. Guitarist Chris Rosenau, percussionist Jon Mueller, and laptopist Jon Minor have a new full-length out under the Collections of Colonies of Bees moniker, available from Crouton. Bassist Matt Tennessen will continue his work with Paris, Texas who released their 2004 full-length, Like You Like an Arsonist, on New Line Records.
2. Electronic producer from Rosenheim, Germany. Real name: Patrick Gallenmüller. Has released several 12”s on the Connaisseur Supérieur label.
3. The UK Pele were formed on Merseyside in 1990 by guitarist and frontman Ian Prowse and keyboard player Andrew Roberts. They were joined by Dally on drums, James McCallister on bass guitar and finally Nico on violin.
By the time they split in 1996, the full list of band members past and present was:
Ian Prowse - guitar and gob
Andrew Roberts (Robbo) - hammond and piano
Andrea Nicholson (Nico) - violin
P Dallison (Dally) - drums
James McAllister - bass
Wayne Morgan - bass
Tony Kiley - drums
After gigging around Liverpool and Chester the band were signed to brand new label M&G Records after the head of A&R (and old admirer of Ian’s previous bands) heard a rough demo of Megalomania. Within weeks the band set about recording their debut LP, Fireworks, at Metropolis studios in London with producer Gary Langan.
Debut single Raid the Palace As the album took shape the record company decided to rush out the first fruits of the sessions by releasing Raid The Palace as the first single. Everybody was stunned as BBC Radio 1 put the single on it’s playlist for six weeks, especially as the songs lyrics suggested people should scratch the cars of the rich and then shoot them!
Musically Pele had set out their stall: unbelievably melodic pop music led by a fiddle or piano riff, married to a set of words that were never throwaway. Whilst everybody warmed to this brand new band the record company were taken by surprise and their were no records in the shops resulting in no hit single and the first suspicions in the Pele camp that this new record company might not be up to the task.
In the week after release Pele hit the road with a gig at Kingston University, they basically didn’t stop until 1995 with a gig at Treforrest (University of Wales). In between, the band played hundreds of gigs all over Europe and any Pele fan will tell you that it was on the stage that the band truly shone.
In February 1992 second single Megalomania was released. Again BBC Radio 1 playlisted the single and the band nearly died of surprise when the song went to number one in South Africa.
Fireworks, the Gary Langan-produced debut album
The following month Fireworks the album was released to excellent local and national reviews. The album was a riot of infectious Celtic tinged, extremely lively pop. Dexy’s were mentioned, the Waterboys were mentioned but most of all the live shows were not just being mentioned but raved about.
The summer saw the release of Fair Blows the Wind for France as the third single - although in truth the album was made up of twelve potential singles - and it was the bands biggest hit yet.
Huge tours with Del Amitri and The Pogues followed and the year was rounded off with Fireworks Celtic Rumour EP, including live favourite Moondance, and their biggest headline tour yet.
Lead single from The Sport of Kings, Fat Black Heart The band then went straight into Rockfield studios in Wales to record the follow up album with producer Jon Kelly, picked because he had worked on Kate Bush’s first album. Fat Black Heart was the band’s first single off the new album and was also the bands first ballad.
After the album was finished Jim mysteriously disappeared and only surfaced in June of 1998 year in exactly the same clothes! He was replaced on the bass guitar by the gorgeous Wayne Morgan. The day after Wayne joined the band Pele did a festival in Estonia shouting out the chords as they went along, then returned for their best-ever show at The Phoenix Festival in England sending 4,000 Pele fans mad.
second long player
Don’t Worship Me was Pele’s sixth single - (a hit in Holland and Germany) and was followed in early December by The Sport Of Kings album. This second album was a reaction to criticism that the first album was relentless in it’s upbeat vibe. It included a few more ballads used huge string riffs and was better produced than the first LP.
Second long player, The Sport of Kings
Despite many great songs, the album didn’t capture the essence of the band the way Fireworks did. The band themselves felt some of the songs were easily the best work they had done yet, but the so far excellent relationship between the label and the band was about to take a massive downturn.
In spite of the fact that the band had not had a major hit M&G decided to ‘pick up the option’ and make a third Pele album. At this very time Steve Kutner - the A&R man who had signed and championed the band - decided to leave the company, his replacement Jack Stevens came from a dance music background and on the very dawn of Britpop told the band that reckin’ live guitar bands were over and done with.
A cumbersome attempt to split the band and sign Ian as a solo star was comprehensively rejected. Legally the record company had to make an album the new A&R man didn’t want to make, a stand off ensued that rapidly diminished into a fierce and futile legal battle.
Live album A-Live A-Live-O Against their own legal advice the band agreed to let the label release a live mini-album, A-Live A-Live-O in the hope the company might see things from the band’s perspective. With nil promotion and selling to mailing list fans only, the live album was perceived as a stop-gap to the already written and demoed third LP.
But alas M&G Records redoubled their legal efforts and managed to drop the band on a technicality, and after a truly bitter fight, M&G were free of their financial obligations, leaving the band deep in debt.
Injunctions meant the band didn’t own anything not the songs or the name, so a period of depression ensued, only lifted with the news this year that M&G Records had closed down and the band could do what they liked with the name and the songs. All of a sudden (arguably) Britain’s most exciting live band were free to record and play live again.
All the members of Pele have in fact played music locally under assumed names in the last few years but now is the time for a new Pele chapter to begin. How exciting is that?! From Loughborough to Portsmouth from Glasgow to Canterbury, this band is not dead yet…
This Time Next Year, the third ‘lost’ Pele albumDecember 2001 saw the release of the third Pele album This Time Next Year, a collection of recorded songs and demos from 1994/5 that gives an indication of the direction Pele were going in. This album is available to but now from the Pele shop.
the next chapter
Lead singer/songwriter Ian has now formed a new band Amsterdam, who released their official debut album in 2005. Visit www.amsterdam-music.com for the latest news on this. You can even catch the odd classic Pele song at Amsterdam gigs!
Edited by atomjack1000 on 8 Jan 2012, 20:04
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