Anni di attività
1977 – oggi (41 anni)
In 1976 Nick Lightowlers attended a party in London's Tooley Street. At the party the owner of the rehearsal studio where the party was being held asked Nick what he was doing messing around on the typewriter in his office. On being told that a song was being written the studio owner asked Nick to audition with his band the following week. As there was no band in question at that time Nick had just a few days to put together a line up for the audition, he recruited a Camberley based guitarist, Gary Baker and the two of them rounded up bass player Steve Morley and for the initial audition used an old friend of Nick's from school called Steve Maycock. Due to Maycock's aversion to the idea of being spat at in the clubs and gigs at the time the trio recruited another Camberley boy, and brother of a close friend, Clive Parker (CP Snare).
Early excitement soon gave way to friction between Baker and Morley. Baker engineered the ejection of Morley from the band and recruited his friend and BA co-worker Chris Payne. Drummer Clive Parker opted to go on a school trip in the early stage of rehearsals at Tooley Street with the band, and found he was ejected from the band on his return. Parker was replaced by Adrian Lillywhite. Parker later joined Jean Marie Carroll's brother's band, The Planets, who supported The Members for a few dates at the Camden Centre and Moonlight Clubs in London. After they split Parker joined the leftfield 'Spizz Energi' (Rough Trade), who later became successful New Wavers Athletico Spizz 80 (A&M). Later Parker played with the inaugural line up of Big Country, then went on to join Scary Thieves (EMI), and then ex-Mary Chain member John Moore in The Expressway (Polydor).
Tesco requested that the band audition trainee merchant banker Jean Marie Carroll, known as "JC Carroll", to the line-up as he had long been an admirer of his style and songwriting abilities. Carroll was dismissed by other members of the band as they did not consider that he was the right choice. Tesco's opinion was that JC Carroll added visually to the band on stage This was the start of major friction within the band. The trial was extended several times and eventually it became a fait accompli. Tesco had found his ally and it was the Tesco-Carroll axis that now began to dominate the band.
The band had recorded several demos but the first released recording was produced by Adrian's brother Steve Lillywhite. The track, "Fear On The Streets", appeared on the first record ever released by Beggars Banquet; a punk compilation called Streets. Lillywhite went on to become one of the most successful record producers to come out of this era. This track demonstrates their initial sound before the band established an original sound of their own, owing much to the run of the mill punk sound that was current in London at that time. As Tesco had envisaged in recruiting Carroll to the line up, their future lay in incorporating their love of reggae into the rock sound. The Members first single appeared on the Stiff Records One Off series. Titled "Solitary Confinement" the track was produced (or, in his word and due to the artistic conflict between Tesco and JC Carroll, 'umpired') by Larry Wallis.
The last person to leave the band at this point was Baker. After the dust had settled Tesco/Carroll had now effectively removed all of the original line-up making their control complete. The final one being Nicky Tesco (vocals), JC Carroll(vocals & guitar), Nigel Bennett (guitar), Chris Payne (bass) and Adrian Lillywhite (drums).
From 1978 through to the end of 1979 the band became a mainstay on the London circuit and were regularly featured in all the music papers of the time. After signing with Virgin Records in 1978 they recorded "The Sound of the Suburbs", again with Steve Lillywhite, which was their biggest chart success and became their best known song in the UK. The follow up single, "Offshore Banking Business", did not cause the same commercial excitement. A reggae tune written by JC Carroll, complete with dub mix, about the then obscure world of offshore banking. It caused ripples around the world, particularly in countries where offshore banking thrived. The band were condemned as 'hop heads singing horse manure' in the Bahamian Houses of Parliament.
The band's first album, At the Chelsea Nightclub, was critically acclaimed but did not set the world on fire. They went on to record a second album for Virgin, 1980 The Choice Is Yours. Once again this was well received but pretty much sank without a trace. The Members, however, were by this time enjoying a reasonable level of success in the U.S.; enough to make a living touring.
After some time without a recording deal they recorded their last album, Going West (In the U.S. - Uprhythm Downbeat), that featured their high profile airplay hit "Working Girl". After their last tour of the U.S. in 1983 Tesco left the band. He went on to appear in the 1989 film Leningrad Cowboys Go America written and directed by Aki Kaurismaki, as well as working with the Leningrad Cowboys, the fictional band from the film which then became a real band. Tesco recorded with the band Thru The Wire and The Doors classic "L.A. Woman", as well as appearing in the critically acclaimed video for Thru the Wire directed by Kaurismäki. Tesco also later appeared in two other Kaurismäki films.
The Members soon broke up after Tesco's departure and have never officially reformed. Nevertheless, in 2006, The Members did briefly play together at a birthday party for J C Carroll. Guitarist on this occasion was Gary Baker. Nigel Bennett was invited but was in the U.S. at the time.
Tesco works as a music journalist for the magazine, Music Week and regularly appears on 6Music's Roundtable as a commentator on new releases.
On 26 January 2007, The Members played a reunion gig at The Inn On The Green, Ladbroke Grove, London, to celebrate the 50th birthdays of Chris Payne, Nigel Bennett and Mrs Nicky Tesco. The gig, MC'd by Phill Jupitus, featured all the songs from At the Chelsea Nightclub, along with "Police Car", "Offshore Banking Business", "Rat up a Drain Pipe" and "Working Girl". A video of this event can be found here. The support act was Tom Lillywhite, son of the band's drummer. Jupitus (under his 1980s performance poet stage name Porky The Poet) also performed three of his poems.
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