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Members include Christopher Acland (born September 7, 1966, in Lancaster, England), drums; Emma Anderson (born June 10, 1967, in London, England), guitar, backing vocals; Meriel Barham, vocals; Miki Berenyi (born March 18, 1967, in London, England; replaced Barham, 1988), vocals, guitar; Philip King (born April 28, 1960, in London, England; replaced Rippon, c. 1992), bass guitar; Steve Rippon, bass guitar. Addresses: Record company--4AD, 8533 Melrose Ave., Suite B, Los Angeles, CA 90069; Reprise Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.
Lush presents a vision that is sometimes pure stratospheric waltzing, sometimes ethereal thrash-core, and sometimes (as on the band's version of Abba's 'Hey Hey Helen') just plain absurd," remarked David Quantick in Spin. Ethereal, moody, and spooky are certainly often-used terms in describing the British group, but vocalist/guitarist Miki Berenyi insisted in Spin, "There is rocking out." Enigmatic in interviews, Lush bandmembers usually let the songs speak for themselves and do not mind that they don't get the club play that fellow Brit dance bands command, instead asserting that they just want respect for what Quantick called their "tiny-pearl-dropped-into-the-milky-ocean-of-serenity vibe."
At the age of 14, Berenyi met future bandmate Emma Anderson at Queen's College in England. They found they had a common bond: their parents had bounced them both from school to school depending on family finances at the time. Two years later, the two teenagers wrote and produced a fanzine called Alphabet Soup, which only lasted for five issues. In 1988 Berenyi studied English literature at London's Polytechnic University, where she met drummer Christopher Acland, bassist Steve Rippon, and singer Meriel Barham. Along with Anderson, they decided to form their own band. Anderson's friend Kevin Pickering told her he thought Lush would be a perfect name for a band. Anderson agreed, suggested the name to the band, and they started writing and rehearsing. After that conversation, Anderson never saw Pickering again.
On March 6, 1988, Lush played their very first performance at Camden Falcon in London. Not long after the band's first show, the U.K. press started to take notice with favorable reviews. But Barham decided he didn't want to stay with the band and later went on to join Lush's 4AD labelmates, the Pale Saints. The remaining members of Lush placed ads in local papers looking for Barham's replacement, but they couldn't find the singer they wanted. Berenyi took over the vocals, and the band continued to perform in clubs around London.
In January of 1989 Chris Roberts in Melody Maker wrote a rave review of Lush, describing them as "a delta," "irresistible" and "monstrously wonderful." Once the magazine hit the street, Lush received nonstop phone calls from record companies interested in the band. By the summer, 4AD Records had sent them into the studio with producer John Fryer to record a three-song demo called Etheriel. Those three songs became the first side of Lush's debut mini-album, titled Scar, which they released that fall.
When Chris Roberts interviewed Lush for Melody Maker following his original review, he wrote his impression of the band off the stage: "Lush apologize a lot, whine a lot, fall silent a lot and say, 'I dunno' a lot." The members of the band apologized for any flaws they saw in themselves as a brand-new, still-growing band before any music critic could knock them. But the reviews remained favorable. Lush became their own worst critics. Though their success came relatively quickly, they strived to adapt while continuing to improve their songs and their performances. "I remember when I couldn't play, I wasn't in a band, didn't know anyone else who could play, and now we've got a record out on 4AD. I sometimes find it impossible to come to terms with what's happening," Anderson told Everett True in Melody Maker.
On February 26, 1990, Lush released their next EP, Mad Love, and its first single, "Sweetness and Light." Produced by Cocteau Twins' guitarist Robin Guthrie, Mad Love provided another step in their musical growth and got the attention of Warner/Reprise Records, who licensed the band's releases in the United States. Lush didn't set out on a certain plan in their career from this point; they put aside ambition and decided to take things one step at a time.
Anderson and Berenyi continued to write all Lush's material from a "female" rather than "feminist" point of view, and they immediately became the focal point of the band. Annie Liebowitz, the world-famous photographer, saw their picture in a magazine and wanted to set them up as models for the "look of the '90s" in advertising campaigns for companies like the Gap. But the band continued to put all their energy into their music. In December of 1990 4AD/Reprise compiled and released Lush's two preceding EPs as Gala, their first release in the United States. The group named the album after Salvador Dali's wife.
Gala also included a version of the Abba song "Hey Hey Helen," which brought an onslaught of comparisons between Lush and the Swedish pop/disco group, which also consisted of two women and two men. Lush received positive initial response in the United States and moved a little further along the success continuum. However, Lush continued to apologize and downplayed their progress. "I don't thik we're at all successful ... yet," Anderson told Ted Mico in Melody Maker. "Are Lush going to be around in five years? Personally, I don't think so."
Despite their pessimism, the members of Lush proceeded with their musical quest. In April of 1991 they returned to the United States for their second tour co-headlining with Ride. Then, at the end of the year, bassist Steve Rippon left the band to concentrate on writing novels full time. To replace him, Lush approached Philip King, a former New Musical Express journalist, who had played bass for many U.K. bands, including Felt and Biff Bang Pow!
With their new lineup in place, Lush headed back into the studio and released their next EP, For Love, in January of 1992. Later in the year, Lush arrived in the record stores once again with their next album--also produced by Robin Guthrie--called Spooky. Although it debuted at Number Seven on the U.K. charts, it received a negative reaction from the press. Some critics berated the band for bad songwriting, and others accused Guthrie of subduing the band's talents.
But Lush ignored the press. They toured Great Britain, the United States, and Europe, then returned to the States to join the second annual Lollapalooza tour with Pearl Jam, Ministry, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and Ice Cube. At the end of the summer, the band took their tour to Japan and Australia.
Lush spent most of 1993 recording their next album at Rockfield Studios in Wales, but they did take a break to perform at some special events. Lush played in 4AD's "13 Year Itch" celebration at England's Institute of Contemporary Art and joined Rage Against the Machine for a special benefit concert for the Anti-Nazi League at the Brixton Academy.
On June 14, 1994, Lush released Split, produced by Mike Hedges. In Great Britain, 4AD simultaneously released two EPs along with the album--Hypocrite and Desire Lines. Berenyi wrote four of the album's songs, and Anderson wrote the other eight. Chris Gill in Guitar Player commented, "Split shares moments of hypnotic, resplendent pleasure-punk and hard, lardy angst-pop" and added that the album was "easily the British dream-pop band's most varied, cocksure, and commercial effort."
After six years, Lush elaborated more on the concepts behind their songwriting. "I think the theme on this album is about relationships gone wrong," Anderson said in the band's press biography. "In some way, it's about parental-childhood things that happened when you were small. Some of the things will be really obvious." Berenyi added, "We don't graphically describe everything. They are about specific events, some of them, but we just sort of poeticize them a bit. Thoughts and memories, you know."
by Sonya Shelton
Band formed in London, England, 1988; signed with 4AD Records in the U.K., 1989; released two EPs before licensing for U.S. distribution with Reprise Records, 1990; released debut LP, Gala, 1990; embarked on U.S. tour, 1991; performed on Lollapalooza tour, 1992.
- Selective Works
- Scar, 4AD, 1989.
- Mad Love, 4AD, 1990.
- Gala, 4AD/Reprise, 1990.
- For Love, 4AD, 1992.
- Spooky, 4AD/Reprise, 1992.
- plit, 4AD/Reprise, 1994.
- Hypocrite, 4AD, 1994.
- Desire Lines, 4AD, 1994.
- The Trouser Press Record Guide, edited by Ira A. Robbins, Collier Books, 1991.
- Periodicals Billboard, August 29, 1992; May 7, 1994.
- Entertainment Weekly, July 15, 1994.
- Guitar Player, February 1991; June 1991; September 1994.
- Melody Maker, January 28, 1989; March 18, 1989; March 25, 1989; October 14, 1989; October 21, 1989; February 17, 1990; March 3, 1990; March 24, 1990; November 3, 1990; December 1, 1990; December 15, 1990; April 20, 1991; October 5, 1991; October 12, 1991; December 21, 1991; January 11, 1992; January 25, 1992; February 15, 1992; May 23, 1992; February 13, 1993; July 24, 1993.
- Musician, June 1992.
- New Musical Express, June 4, 1994: June 11, 1994.
- Rolling Stone, April 16, 1992.
- Spin, April 1992.
- Additional information for this profile was obtained from 4AD/Reprise press material, 1994.
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