These days, if you pick one of the key bands from the first peak of Shoegaze in the 90’s and ask “Whatever happened to them?” the answer is very likely to be “They’re back together again!” My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive, Swervedriver, The Jesus and Mary Chain… we no longer need to wonder where they wandered off to, because they’re playing live shows and/or releasing new music. As a longtime fan of the genre, it’s been great to see the return of so many seminal ‘gazers as a result of the Nugaze explosion and the changes in the music industry that opened up myriad new distribution channels.
That said, there are some bands that are, unfortunately, probably gone for good. While I’m not holding my breath for a Lush and Pale Saints reunion tour, stranger things have happened…
But even though the bands may never reappear in their old form, individual members have worked on various projects over the years. Many of these releases were very hard to track down when they first came out (good thing I’m persistent!), but are now easily available through Amazon, iTunes, or other sites. Some of the projects may be familiar to you, but I’m hoping I can provide at least a few pleasant surprises.
The sad and tragic end of Lush, following the suicide of drummer Chris Acland in 1996, closed the book on the band forever—Emma Anderson and Miki Berenyi have said that without him it just wouldn’t be Lush. Emma moved on to form Sing-Sing with Lisa O’Neill, and working with Mark Van Hoen of Locust, they released two albums, a few EPs, and some singles between 1998 and 2006. She’s got a Twitter account but doesn’t tweet much about music. Bassist Phil King went on to join The (now-reunited) Jesus and Mary Chain.
Miki Berenyi left the music world almost completely behind, although she has popped up as a guest vocalist from time to time. In 2013, she appeared on stage for the first time in 17 years to sing the song “You Still Here?” with the band Hard Skin, for whom Chris Acland used to drum, and she lends vocals to the track’s album version. In July 2014, she bantered on stage with David Quantick at the launch party for his book, Memoirs of a Shoegazing Gentleman, and shared some memories of the early 90’s music scene.
And then in November she came on stage alongside Phil King to add vocals to “Just Like Honey” during a JAMC show in London.
Last fall, Emma and Miki gave an interview with Under The Radar magazine about the making of their album Lovelife and the end of the band, and they followed that up recently with a similar interview about the making of Split. Here are some links to help you track down Miki and Emma’s various projects and appearances, plus a couple tracks Lush contributed to tribute albums:
Miki Berenyi guest appearances:
Seinking Ships – Museum Quality Capture (2010), tracks:
Flat 7 – Lost In Blue, tracks: Smile, Smile (Robin Guthrie Remix)
The Rentals – Seven More Minutes (1999) track: The Cruise
Hard Skin – Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear (2013) track: You Still Here?
Hard Skin live appearance October 5, 2013: You Still Here? (Miki’s intro starts at 3:45 into the video)
Sing Sing albums, EPs, and singles:
Lush compilation appearances:
Whore: Various Artists Play Wire – track: Mannequin
A Houseguest’s Wish: Translations Of Wire’s ‘Outdoor Miner’ – track: Outdoor Miner
(Interestingly, Colin Newman of Wire considers these his top two all-time favorite Wire covers.
Under The Radar Interviews:
By the way, if you’re interested in tracking down Lush rarities, I suggest checking out Kneel’s Lush Discography as a starting point to see what’s out there.
Over the course of its three albums for 4AD, Pale Saints had two quite different primary singer/songwriters. Ian Masters was the frontman on The Comforts of Madness, and then he shared lead duties with Meriel Barham on In Ribbons. Following Masters’ departure, Barham helmed the band’s underrated final album, Slow Buildings in 1994. Interestingly, both Masters and Barham moved away from the Shoegaze influences of Pale Saints in their subsequent projects.
Ian Masters worked his way through numerous band aliases, releasing music that ranges from catchy – and occasionally noisy – pop to eccentric experimentation. Before leaving the 4AD stable, he collaborated with Chris Trout of AC Temple under the name Spoonfed Hybrid. The duo’s sole, self-titled album came out on the short-lived 4AD offshoot Guernica in 1993. Two EPs followed on other labels.
Much of Masters’ post-4AD work was done in collaboration with Warren Defever of His Name Is Alive. The highlight of the post-Pale Saints output has to be the album Mars Is A Ten, which was originally offered to (and turned down by) 4AD. Depending on where you live, the band name for this album may have been ESP Summer, ESP Continent, or ESP Dolphin. The album features Masters’ distinctive vocals against a musical backdrop that is much quieter than what we heard from Pale Saints. Defever’s fondness for sometimes-quirky production shows up in occasional unexpected odd noises. The band’s complete output, including Mars Is A Ten, a follow-up 10” EP, and other assorted tracks is available as The Complete Recordings from Silver Mountain Media Group (the home for all things HNIA-related). Silver Mountain also recently released the long-delayed HNIA rarities collection, Frog and Toad , which includes an Ian Masters demo of the track “ESP Summer”.
From there, tracing Masters’ musical journeys is a complicated and exhausting task. In collaboration with Warren Defever and his Time Stereo label, Masters released the CD-R Noise Bucket under the name Pail Saint, and recording as I’m Sore (and playing an electronic musical saw), he released the Musical Saw cassette and shared a split CD with Michigan’s noisy Princess Dragonmom. Sore and Steal released the album Many Moons A-Go-Go in 2009 (free download available), with Masters once again playing “musical sore” (saw) accompanied by David Rothon on “steal” (steel) guitar. Defever and Masters also recorded as ESP Neighbourhood and Friendly Science Orchestra, and under the latter name contributed a track to The Winner Is The Loser, a 2000 compilation featuring a number of bands from the Defever/Masters universe. Friendly Science Orchestra also appears on a couple tribute compilations, performing “Because of You” on the Tim Buckley tribute album Sing A Song For You, and “Parasite” on Poor Boy: The Songs of Nick Drake.
After that, Masters put out music (solo or with collaborators) as Oneironaut, Two Sun Tears, Unfriendly Science Orchestra, Mountain Ocean Sun, Wingdisk, and probably others I’m not aware of. You can find a bit more info about Masters’ various projects on his website The Institute of Spoons, which hasn’t been updated since 2009, and is tricky to navigate – some pages are only accessible from certain other pages. A couple starting points are here and here (use the drop down menu at the top left to access other pages). Masters currently lives in Japan, and as far as I know, he’s no longer recording music – although it may just be that he has a couple dozen new musical aliases I don’t know about. If you have any inside info, please feel free to share in the comments!
Here are a few guest appearances he’s made:
Ian Masters guest appearances:
Dive Index – Mid/Air track: Hoku Onchi
Waves On Canvas – Into The Northsea track: Starfish
Luminous Orange – Sakura Swirl track: Silver Kiss
Meriel Barham’s post-Pale Saints discography isn’t nearly so sprawling or complicated. After a long absence, she turned up in 2001 as Kuchen with a charming album of sweet, low-key Indietronica titled Kids With Sticks on the Karaoke Kalk label. The Kuchen website has more info, including an interview about the end of Pale Saints and the genesis of Kuchen. She followed up Kids With Sticks in 2003 by collaborating with Stefan Schneider on Kuchen Meets Mapstation. Her musical trail goes cold after that, and she currently works as an Outreach Administrator at the University of Manchester. Here are a few guest appearances and a compilation track from the Barham-helmed incarnation of Pale Saints that was the band’s final studio recording:
The Edsel Auctioneer – The Good Time Music Of… tracks:
The Boo Radleys – Giant Steps tracks:
Rodney King (St. Etienne Remix) (available in the 2010 reissue box set)
Pale Saints compilation appearance:
Step Right Up, a Tribute to Tom Waits track: Jersey Girl
The remaining Saints – Colleen Browne, Graeme Naysmith, and Chris Cooper – have been part of various bands through the years, including some in which they’ve worked together, but I’ve not pursued them and can’t offer many insights. So I’m going to have to leave it to Wikipedia and Discogs (Browne, Naysmith, and Cooper) to fill you in on those.
If you’re looking for info about Pale Saints’ history or discography, palesaints.co.uk is a good place to start.
Hopefully you found something in this article to tickle your musical fancy or bring back memories of the old-time ‘gaze days. Look for another installment of Life After ‘Gaze on Step On in the future.
By phil locke