Dark Star – In Session – 1999 – Past Daily Soundbooth
Dark Star – In session – March 17, 1999 – BBC Radio 1 –
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Dark Star to begin what is sure to be an “interesting” week this week. Recorded for BBC Radio 1 on March 17, 1999.
Formed in 1996 in London, Dark Star comprised vocalist/guitarist Christian Hayes, drummer David Francolini and bassist Laurence O’Keefe. Born from the ashes of the trio’s former band Levitation, who split up onstage in 1994, Francolini suggested working together again to Hayes and O’Keefe in 1996, stating that “there was always this sense of unfinished business”. Following the demise of Levitation, Hayes began working with Heather Nova and All About Eve’s Julianne Regan and O’Keefe collaborated with Dead Can Dance’s Brendan Perry, while Francolini stopped playing due to disillusionment with the music industry (although he did help Scottish band Octopus get signed to Food Records and produced their debut album From A to B). They booked a studio and started rehearsing the day after they went to see Sonic Youth play at The Forum in Kentish Town in April that year. After advertising for and auditioning several singers including Daisy Chainsaw and Queenadreena guitarist Crispin Gray, Hayes took over vocals. Francolini commented that the singers they auditioned “seemed to suck the power out of it… it was weird. Really good people we worked with, you know? But once they opened their gob, it was like the power of the group was gone”.
The band first signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music. When the A&R scout they were dealing with there moved to work at EMI, their first intention in their new job was to sign the band. The band released their debut EP Graceadelica in 1998 on Harvest Records, the progressive rock subsidiary of EMI. They released their second EP I Am The Sun in 1999, along with their debut single About 3am.
Dark Star released their debut album, Twenty Twenty Sound on 21 June 1999. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, the album was recorded live, with Hayes stating that the band “recorded it all live so basically we just got in there, set up and did what we always do and got the best take. It’s the best way to record a record really. If you haven’t seen us live you may not think that, but it’s exactly like we play it—there’s no overdubs. It’s basically what we do, it’s what we play”. Francolini described the band’s sound as “Levitation, with all the chrome stripped off and painted matt black”, with Hayes stating that he personally thought they sounded “like Hawkwind and The Pixies”. The album was followed by re-releases of “Graceadelica” and “I Am The Sun” (albeit in remixed form), which gave the band two Top 40 UK Singles Chart hits.
The band split in 2001 with no announcement, to pursue different projects.
As a reminder, here is the session they did at BBC Radio 1 – recorded on March 17, 1999 – crank it up.