Gene – live in Paris – 1994 – Black Session – RFI –
Gene in concert to close out Friday – recorded in Paris for the Black Sessions at Radio France International in 1994.
Gene rose to fame in the early ‘90s thanks to the buzz created by the British music press. When Gene released their debut LP Olympian in 1995, it received warm reviews and moderate chart success. Olympian is probably Gene’s most “Britpoppy” record. Tracks like “Haunted By You” and “Left-Handed” appealed to the indie rock crowd. Olympian‘s softer, darker sound contributed to the press’ tendency for drawing comparisons to the Smiths and Morrissey. Formed in 1993, they were popularly labelled as a Britpop band and were influenced by the Jam, the Smiths, the Style Council and the Clash.
Gene’s origins lie in a previous band which was first called The Go Hole, named after a fictional “Beat” club in John Clellon Holmes’ novel Go, and later renamed Sp!n when they became a four-piece. The band was formed by Lee Clark (vocals/guitar) and Daz Walton (bass). Soon afterwards, James joined on drums with John Mason on bass. Their first single recorded in the same studios as The Ruts’ In a Rut’ appeared on their own Big Pop Records label. A John Peel session fueled their early success where they mixed with the Camberwell scene mingling with members of House of Love, My White Bedroom and Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. Self-managed, apart from a couple of brushes with mini music moguls (in their own minds), John Mason would organize and negotiate much of the group’s gigs, contracts and press especially later when they were a four-piece. After 18 months Clark, Mason and James invited John’s brother Steve Mason to play lead/rhythm guitar and thereby free Clark to focus on vocal style.
John Mason, disappointed with the music business and his ideals of The Clash, Crass and independence overlooked for the limited vision of those caught up in legal wrangling, went on to become a writer. Clark briefly recorded demos with Andrew “Snake” Newton, who had been the live sound engineer for Spin, then gave up music to become a primary school teacher. Clark felt he was getting a bit old to be a rock star and decided to play and record only in his own bedroom and indeed returned to this after a hiatus of about ten years.
Wanting to continue together in a band, Steve Mason and James recruited bass player Kevin Miles, who had a long association with the band. After seeing Watford-based Welshman Martin Rossiter cross the floor of a club, Mason approached him and they began to talk. Their meeting ended with Rossiter handing out his business card (“Martin Rossiter: Soothsayer to the Stars”) and Mason asking Rossiter if he would like to audition with the band. Rossiter appeared on Spin’s last demos as “Martin T. Falls” (a nod to the Mancunian band The Fall) shortly before the decision was made to adopt the name Gene.
By the time NME journalists Keith Cameron and Roy Wilkinson encountered Gene, the band had already gained some live experience and written several songs. Cameron and Wilkinson were impressed enough to form independent record label Costermonger, which was created with the sole purpose of promoting Gene to a wider audience. Their double A-sided debut single “For The Dead” / “Child’s Body” was released on Costermonger in May 1994. The single received a great deal of attention from the music press: Select named it “Single Of The Month”, whilst NME made it their “Single of the Week”.
As a reminder of that breakthrough year, here is their Paris gig for Bernard Lenoir and RFI in 1994. Crank it up and enjoy.
Here comes the weekend.