The Membranes are a post-punk band which formed in Blackpool, Lancashire, England in 1977, the initial line-up being John Robb (bass guitar), Mark Tilton (guitar), Martin Critchley (vocals) and Martin Kelly (drums). Critchley soon left, with Robb taking on vocals, and Kelly moving to keyboards, with "Coofy Sid" (Coulthart) taking over on drums. Their first release was the "Flexible Membrane" flexi-disc in 1980, and over the next 11 years they would go on to release 6 studio albums. Their first single proper, "Muscles", was a single of the week in the UK music press and a big club hit in New York being played in the Danceteria by the likes of The Beastie Boys eventual DJ Mojo and other cutting edge New York DJs. Kelly left after "Muscles", to be replaced by Steve Farmery on guitar for the follow-up Pin Stripe Hype EP. The band pioneered the avant noise scene of Big Black and Sonic Youth for several years with their critically acclaimed "Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder" single and Death To Trad Rock EP (which were indie chart top 5 records in the UK) and their debut Gift Of Life album. They were the first band to be signed to Alan McGee's Creation label but the deal fell though when McGee could not afford to pay their studio bill for the "Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder" single. The band relocated to Manchester in 1983, and "Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder" was issued on the Criminal Damage label, which met with a positive critical response.
In 1984/85 The Membranes had a ferocious live reputation with the loudest gigs in the UK and their anti rock attitude. Mark Tilton's quiff and John Robb's exploding hair and wild clothes gave them an instantly recognizable and uncategorizable image that matched their music. Musically they were beyond punk as well with their dedication to noise but always with songs buried in the power. Tilton's slide guitar and frenetic rhythm guitar combined with Robb's outrageously heavy bass and heartfelt vocals as well as Coofy Sid's pounding drumming created an instantly original sound.
After Tilton left the band released their debut album, the indie chart number one, Gift Of Life' on Creation Records, this was followed by 'Songs Of Love And Fury' which was a big critical success in the USA and a top 10 indie chart album in the UK. The band's 1987 album. Kiss Ass Godhead' was their best selling release and also their best album.
After The Membranes split in 1990, Robb went on to form Goldblade.
In 2009 the band reformed at the request of My Bloody Valentine to perform at an All Tomorrows Parties festival that MVB were curating. After which, The Membranes played a series of concerts worldwide. The band released the album Dark Matter/Dark Energy in 2015.
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