The Tony Head Experience were formed in Street, Somerset in early 1991 by Elisa Young.
Within days she had roped in her ex-Felicitys band mates Nik Dalgarno, James Merry and Rob Buckley to record a four song demo at Nik's Giant Recording Studios in Compton Dundon. Along for the ride and to produce this meisterwork came Jon Mates (Basinger/ex-Felicitys) and Nick Osbourne (The Becketts) who also helped out on guitar and tambourine respectively. Recorded in a day and featuring the songs 'Lighthouse', 'Sleeper', 'Let Her Drive' and 'Go' the recording was deemed a triumph in low-fi barn recording and hi-fi lager drinking. The following Sunday on The Caz Ford Show on BBC Radio Bristol, Caz played the demo and enthused. Greatly encouraged Elisa, Nik and Jon (now ex-Basinger) recorded more tunes at Giant, whilst James and Rob went and formed Three Men In A Boat with (another ex-Felicitys) Hugh Edwards. James and Rob would return though for the recording of the bands debut single in August of that year…..
Taking advantage of the momentum built up from numerous radio plays and a special offer at a London record manufacturer the group reconvened at Giant to record their debut single in that balmy summer. Re-recording demo faves 'Sleeper' and 'Let Her Drive' the band dismissed their initial attempt at an A-Side as awful, and returned three days later with the newly written 'Debbie One'. It was deemed cool! Especially the drumming by guitarist Nik. So the band formed their own label, Big Internation , and via the Cartel distribution network released their debut single 'Sleeper E.P.' in Oct '91 on glorious 7" vinyl. The single was picked up quickly by various regional radio stations, received a glowing review in the NME, and then as if by magic was played on The John Peel Show on Radio One…twice! The orders flooded in, and the band realized that they had a going concern and should maybe think about playing live.
James and Rob returned to Three Men In A Boat and with Elisa on Vocals, Jon on guitar and Nik on lead guitar they needed a rhythm section. First to sign up was Strode College student Matt Fry on bass and then a letter and record was sent to the Netherlands……..Steve Mobley had been a local drummer of some regard (and another ex-Felicity!) and was at the time working in a frozen fish factory, living on a barge, and avoiding debts on the outskirts of Amsterdam. He didn't have a record player but liked the look of the single and so hurried himself back to Somerset in time for the groups first gig at the Fleece in Bristol supporting Ocean Colour Scene.
Job done the band began a relentless tour around the indie venues of England and Wales ( sorry Scotland they never made it!) for the next year, and swiftly released a follow up record, the 'Albatross E.P.' a three track 7" flexi-disc. Recorded again at Giant Studios, by now relocated to an industrial unit in Street, the flexi shot to the top of radio playlists in France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Japan, Germany and the States, and the three thousand copies distributed by fanzines in the UK and Europe sold-out within eight weeks. Nice.
Now with local face Anschul Brandt already installed on additional guitar, in the summer of '92 Matt Fry left the group to go to university and Anschul took over the bass guitar duties. Matts final contribution came on the track 'Jack's Back' which was released on a Big Internation split-flexi with Automatic Dlamini. Then in the autumn the band recorded a session for BBC Radio Bristol produced by Mike Chinaski (The Becketts), and recorded (and aborted) the 'Freeway E.P.'
Turning to local producer John Parish (Automatic Dlamini/PJ Harvey) to help record a proper follow-up to 'Debbie One', 'Heavy Mother'/'Kelly's Hotel Forever', a double A-side 7" was released in the spring of '93 on Simon Barbers' (The Chesterfields) Hair Records. The group shot videos for the single directed by Dan Knight (Hoffman) and continued their tour around England's indie toilets to much acclaim and indifference….great reviews though for the single began to pour in from Europe and coupled with extensive radio airplay a tour of Germany was scheduled for the autumn. Unfortunately, again, the pull of higher education was too much and Anschul left the band in August '93 to take up his university studies in London.
Nick Osbourne (The Young Hurlants), now a music teacher at Bridgewater college, recommended a replacement for Anschul in the form of 17 year old Rob Perdrix and the group set off on some warm-up dates around Somerset. Then Nik dropped a bombshell. Indifferent to thoughts of Germany and newly in-love, he left the band. Luckily, Rob's best mate Paul Kelly was a fan and an outstanding guitarist. The fellow 17 year old joined and played his first gig in Germany in the December of '93. The two week tour was a big success. Gigs in Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, and throughout East Germany brought big crowds and great times. Tour managed by Nick Osbourne (yes…Parrot), and sound engineered by Haggis, the tour was to prove the highlight of the bands career. It ended in Hamburg in a fog of marajuana smoke, riots, and a cover of The Beatles 'Day Tripper'……………..
The band returned from Germany just in time for The Head Club's Xmas Party at the Tor Leisure Centre in Glastonbury, which featured local legends Gutless and Hoffman, and a sell-out crowd. Then in the new year of '94 they contributed two tracks to the Hair Records CD compilation 'Trigger'. The songs 'Horse and Van' and 'Who Is Roscoe?' were recorded by the band during the previous summer and re-mixed by Head (PJ Harvey). They turned out to be the groups epitaph.
Parting company with Rob in March '94 the group re-enlisted Anschul for what turned out to be the Tony Heads finally show. On April 23 The Tony Head Experience appeared at Tor Leisure Centre in Glastonbury alongside The Family Cat, Bandit Queen, and Hoffman for the final night of their 'Head Club'. The band members had been promoting these live music nights in one form or another every week or two for over six years and with the group relocating to London it was a night of high emotion and fantastic music. In the summer of '94 Elisa, Jon and Steve moved to London, Paul stayed in Somerset and Anschul returned to university. The group dissolved officially in Feb '95 when Jon joined the band Pout. That would be the kiss of death for anything.
Jon left Pout after three months but two of the fellow inmates happened to be Sam Miller and Joe Thompson who subsequently turned up in the only live reformation attempt of The Tony Head Experience in 1997 at the Fortress Studios in London. Irving Welsh walked in during a version of 'Leather'. That was the highlight…. The group did release new material that year on the London based Sounds Junoversal label but re-workings of songs from their last major recording session at Giant in the summer of '93 proved uninspired and the band quickly disowned the recordings. And that was that.
Jon Mates eventually moved to New York, met up with Elizabeth Mone', returned to London and formed My Symptoms. He then went on to lead the group English Electric (www.myspace.com/theenglishelectric) and is now out doing his own thing at www.myspace.com/jonmatesmusic.
Elisa Young became a midwife and a wife of Pout bass player Joe Thompson (Stanton/Hey Colossus). She occasionally still sings on records, has two sons, and is now back living in Street.
Anschul Brandt briefly re-united with Jon in dance music outfit Firefox before launching a variety of musical visions onto an unsuspecting world. Currently residing in Sweden his last major contribution to the culture was the Giants Of Design www.myspace.com/giantsofdesign.
Nik Dalgarno has a family and is believed to be in the Somerset area.
Matt Fry graduated Oxford University with flying colours.
Steve Mobley joined Yeovil based Elliot Green after the demise of The Tony Head Experience. The band released a couple of classy singles and the album 'United States' on the legendary Playtime record label.
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