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Members include DominicChad (born on June 5, 1973, in Cheltenham, England), lead guitar, backing vocals; PaulDraper (born Paul Edward Draper on September 26, 1972, in Liverpool, England), lead vocals, guitar; StoveKing (born on January 8, 1974, in Ellespere Port, England), bass; Andie Rathbone (born on September 8, 1971, in Chester, England), drums. Addresses: Home--Mansun/Dark Mavis, P.O. Box 3102, Chester CH4 7ZR England; Record company--Parlophone Records.; Fan Information--Mansun World Information Service, P.O. Box 72, Liverpool L69 1YG England. Phone: +44 (0) 1244 675442.
Powered by noisy guitars and catchy choruses, Mansun's sound combines elements of alternative rock, British pop, glam rock, psychedelic rock, and grunge. They became one of the major success stories of 1996 in Great Britain, building their reputation on a series of EPs, hit songs, and non-stop touring before releasing their album debut, Attack of the Grey Lantern, in 1997. The band's popularity endured throughout the remainder of the 1990s due to the strength of additional hit singles, television performances, and a frenetic touring schedule. In 2000, Mansun returned with their third full-length album, Little Kix.
Mansun formed in the summer of 1995 in the city of Chester, located in northern England near Liverpool, by guitarist/vocalist Paul Draper, guitarist Dominic Chad, bassist Stove King, and drummer Andie Rathbone. The only member of the band actually born and raised in Chester, Rathbone admited that he did not want to join the group at first, thinking that they would end up playing typical Brit pop music. Bandmate Chad, a native of Cheltenham, England, came to the town of Chester after receiving a notice of ejection from Bangor University, North Wales, where he had been pursuing a degree in Russian and French. While at college, Chad worked evenings at the Fat Cat pub, then, upon his dismissal from Bangor, took a job as bar manager of a newly opened Fat Cat in Chester. Draper, raised in Liverpool, England, where he began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 11, arrived in Chester via another Welsh connection, having moved from his hometown to Deeside, a Welsh industrial town just a few miles from Chester.
King, originally from Ellespere Port, located on the outskirts of Merseyside in England, and Draper became friends through a mutual interest in graphic design and frequently met for drinks at the Fat Cat, where the idea to form a band came about. Draper and King, former students at Bangor Art College and Liverpool Graphic Arts College, respectively, had played in various rock groups in college, and Rathbone had played drums since his childhood, but King had never picked up an instrument before Mansun. He went out and purchased a second-hand bass guitar just so he could play with the band.
Choosing a name for the band before they even started practicing, the foursome originally called themselves Grey Lantern, then renamed the group A Man Called Sun. However, after discovering that the name sounded too similar to another rock act, A Man Called Adam, they changed the name again to Manson. But because of the spelling, legal action was apparently threatened by the estate of Charles Manson, whose name was patented for merchandising rights. Thus, in an attempt to divert any controversy, the group settled for Mansun.
Starting out, Mansun rehearsed and recorded demos at the Crash Rehearsal Studios in Liverpool on their day off and were discovered almost by accident. One Sunday evening, an A&R man was visiting the Liverpool studio to listen to another group in an adjacent studio when he heard the sounds of samples and punk rock guitar noise coming through the door, which turned out to be Mansun. Subsequently, an early demo circulated around various record companies in London, initiating one of the biggest A&R scrambles in British rock history. Up until this point, Mansun had not even played their first professional gig.
Courted both legally and illegally by several labels, Mansun decided to turn down offers for the moment. Instead, they pressed 1,000 copies of the single "Take It Easy Chicken," a track from their demo, onto vinyl. Mansun distributed the song, issued on their own Sci Fi Hi Fi label, to record stores, and in September of 1995, all copies sold within 48 hours after the band had sent the record to John Peel and Steve Lamacq at Radio 1. Both DJs were taken aback by Mansun. Peel quickly invited the group to record a session, and Lamacq named the song "Single of the Week" twice. Mansun then put out a second record, "Skin Up Pin-Up," which entered the British indie chart at number four in November of 1995 and prompted the band to play a handful of gigs, including their first at the Lomax club in Liverpool and a support slot for The Charlatans.
Penniless by January of 1996, Mansun finally bowed down and signed to Parlophone Records in the United Kingdom and Epic in the United States. The deal, however, was clinched by Parlophone's agreement to a detailed plan. First, Mansun wanted to release a string of EPs instead of highly promoted singles and have total control of their music by self-producing everything. Secondly, the group insisted upon backing for a touring schedule of more than 200 gigs through 1996 in order to hone their live skills.
After supporting bands like Audioweb and Cast, headlining rounds of national tours, and releasing a series of four EPs, Parlophone was rewarded for their faith in Mansun. In June of 1996, "Stripper Vicar," a song about a cross-dressing member of the clergy off the group's third EP by the same name, entered the British chart at number 19, becoming Mansun's first song to receive extensive radio play; it led to television appearances on TFI Friday and Top of the Pops. Mansun released their fourth EP, Wide Open Spaces, in November of 1996. It entered the charts at number 15, and the title track became the number-one played song on national radio through the Christmas season, during which time Mansun opened shows for Sleeper and Suede for their United Kingdom tours. In early 1997, Mansun returned with a fifth EP, featuring the lead track "She Makes My Nose Bleed," the group's first top ten single.
On February 17, 1997, Mansun arrived with their full-length debut, Attack of the Grey Lantern, earning rave reviews from New Musical Express (NME), Melody Maker, Vox, London Times, The Independent, and The Guardian. Abroad, Billboard reviewer Paul Verna wrote, "Fortunately, the full-length release lives up to its weighty expectations, thanks to Mansun mastermind Paul Draper's inspired songwriting and strong, crystalline voice and the band's penchant for musically inspired arrangements." Verna called Mansun "a band that melds orchestral music and psychedelic rock without succumbing to the pretensions of either."
Entering the British album chart at number one, Attack of the Grey Lantern knocked the Spice Girls and Blur from the top positions and went gold in its first week out. Soon thereafter, the group won a Brit Award for Best Newcomer, spent the month of March on a sold-out national tour, then embarked on a world tour starting in Australia. From there, Mansun performed headlining concerts in Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Germany, Canada, and the United States before returning to the United Kingdom, where they initiated yet another national tour.
In May of 1997, Mansun appeared on French television in a performance for the Cannes Film Festival, thereafter returning to the United States to play gigs in New York City to promote the album for its Epic release. They ended the month back in Britain, with an arena show supporting the Manic Street Preachers in Manchester, England, and a headlining gig at the Barrowlands in Glasgow, Scotland. Concerts continued for Mansun in June of 1997, including performances at summer music festivals throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, as well as an appearance on the Later with Jools Holland television show. In July, Mansun supported the legendary David Bowie for three shows in Italy.
Amid more touring, including a return to the United States for gigs with the Seahorses, Mansun released a seventh EP that included the song "Wide Open Space," which received significant airplay on alternative radio in America and climbed to number 25 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart. In the spring of 1998, Mansun released the four-song Legacy EP, followed by a new album Six, in September of 1998, after dates at various summer festivals. Both projects, said Draper, included some of the best work the band had produced. "We've had three to four months to record the album and the EP tracks--it's the first time we've taken a break from touring for more than a couple of weeks," he explained to Melody Maker's Carol Clerk. Six, which included the hit single "Being A Girl," garnered praise from the music press. According to Melody Maker reviewer Daniel Booth, "Six is so bitter, so colossal, so heroically ambitious, it will surely catapult Mansun further into the limelight they are already being blinded by."
Mansun welcomed 1999 with a New Year's concert at the Edinburgh Princess Street Garden, broadcast live on Scottish television, and played a show with the Chicks and Witness at the Astoria in London in January. The band continued to tour through the end of the year, including festival appearances that summer.
In the August of 2000, following the July release of another EP, Mansun released their third album, Little Kix, which entered the British album chart at number 12. Highlights from the set included the orchestral "Soundtrack 4 2 Lovers," the lyrically-conscious "I Can Only Disappoint U," and the self-loathing closing track "Good Bye." "Little Kix, bombastically speaking, makes the Great Wall Of China look like a garden fence," asserted Mark Beaumont in a review for Melody Maker. "Stops are pulled, AmEx cards broken, Chad's riffs are visible from the moon."
by Laura Hightower
Formed band in the summer of 1995 in Chester, England; released two singles on their own Sci Fi Hi Fi label; signed to Parlophone Records, began releasing series of EPs, 1996; "She Makes My Nose Bleed" became first U.K. top ten hit, released debut album Attack of the Grey Lantern, 1997; released Legacy EP and Six album, 1998; released Little Kix, 2000.
Brit Award, Best Newcomer, 1997.
- Selected discography
- Attack of the Grey Lantern Parlophone, 1997.
- Legacy (EP), Parlophone, 1998.
- Six Parlophone, 1998.
- Little Kix Parlophone, 2000.
- Billboard, February 22, 1997; May 31, 1997; August 16, 1997.
- Boston Globe, August 4, 1997.
- Guitar Player, July 1999.
- Melody Maker, October 4, 1997; December 6, 1997; December 20-27, 1997; March 28, 1998; May 16, 1998; July 4, 1998; August 8, 1998; August 15, 1998; August 29, 1998; September 5, 1998; October 17, 1998; November 28, 1998; January 23, 1999; January 30, 1999; August 28, 1999; October 2, 1999; July 26-August 1, 2000; August 9-15, 2000.
- Rolling Stone, August 21, 1997.
- Mansun Official Website, http://www.mansun.co.uk or http://www.mansun.com (September 21, 2000).
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