'London's finest female-fronted guitar combo' (www.drownedinsound.com)
'This is fabulous. The B-52s showering Sergio Leone in M&Ms ... the Cramps performing Barbarella shop quartets ... surf punk with well observed nods to Sid 'n' Nancy.' (www.liveclub.co.uk)
Formed Halloween night, 1999. That first night saw bassist Henderson Shatner and the original Swedish vocalist perform for an intoxicated, scared yet captivated audience. One dressed as a green-faced witch and the other as green-faced Mr. Spock no doubt helped things along on their surreal way. With guitarist Igor, they put together a home-recorded demo and sent it off to an obscure ad in Melody Maker which saw them signed to Stevo Pearce's legendary Some Bizarre label. That opened the door to a Pandora's box of some of the darker warrens of Central London, to which they availed themselves, tumbling, like any good outfit should, headlong into very clichéd and imminent self-destruction.
Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Sally-Anne Marsh was embarking on an album of sunny, pure pop for Zomba Records. While on holiday in Australia, she got into guitar music and returned with a very jaded eye on manufactured pop. Marsh set her sights on fronting a guitar band and creating credible music -- not carefully-packaged, sterile pop with all the unit-shifting demographic appeal of a reality-tv contestant. This went down none too well with her label.
By this point, Shatner and Igor had separated from their vocalist and, by proxy, their label, none of whom seemed too disturbed to see the songwriters out the door. They gigged and independently released the Retrovision Coma USA EP and Argyle Gargoyle Grrl single which hit the Peoplesound.com Indie charts Top 10 and as an editor's choice track, lurking there for several months in mid-2000, receiving better-than-good underground press reviews. Little did they know they were on a collision course with an equally pissed-off Sally-Anne Marsh.
By then Brand Violet had come to the attention of former Arista records/Rhythm King head Martin Heath, who sets up the meeting where Marsh, Igor and Shatner meet and spill an entire bottle of very, very red wine on what appears to be a very, very expensive powder blue sofa.
With Marsh on mic, Shatner, Igor and drummer Cobra Jones forge ahead, gigging hard, releasing an EP (A Grave Mistake) which does well on Vitaminic.com (track of the week - April 2001) and MP3.com (1,350+ downloads). For a strange couple weeks in June-July 2002, tracks from the EP hold the top 5 places in the MP3.com London Indie chart and stay in the top 50 through December 2002 (with a couple songs still lurking in the top 20 as this goes to press). Brand Violet tracks are even featured in edgy teen-indie Canadian cartoon programme 'Girlstuff-Boystuff', which is also broadcast in America and Australia.
The band decide to sign again, this time with London-based Riverside Records, while MCS Music form a publishing company for the songwriting team. The first single and video will showcase the band's mix of pervy indie/punk rock and hooky pop choruses that stick in the head like either a crawly spider or a Kylie song. No one is quite sure which, just yet.