All you ever wanted to know about LAF, but were afraid to ask…
LAF the early years
LAF was formed in the mid 80s by Phil Matthews and Alastair Boden as a vehicle for their self-penned songs which were recorded in a small studio in Phil's house. Originally named Lost and Found (well it was the era of Hue and Cry, Tears for Fears et al) the pair released a ten track album titled Ten By Two as a blueprint for what was to come.
The decision was made to bring in a couple of extra musicians before starting work on the next batch of songs. Enter Chris Charlesworth on keyboards and Steve Shephard on guitar and bass.
The band, in truth, had never been averse to augmenting their sound with other performers when available, a fact borne out by the inclusion of Rod Doherty playing a ripping sax solo on Rebel Without a Cause on Ten By Two.
Missing in action
Although Al had played a full part in writing the material for the next album, On My Own, he had gone "missing in action" at this stage, and it was by an incredible chance that Phil discovered that his next door neighbour Stewart Ryan proved to have a voice to die for and he handled most of the vocals this time out.
The second album featured the only vocals provided by anyone outside of the bands’ inner circle as Jeff Tracy took the lead on Thunderbirds Are Go - with help from his son Scott, along with Lady Penelope and Parker.
The nearly suite
Everything seemed to reach top form at once during the making of the finest album to date, A Walk In The Sun. Alongside a whole raft of sparkling tunes was a suite of three songs based round the last day in the life of a group of World War One soldiers waiting for the order to go over the top for the final push. The three tracks were Sunrise, A Walk In The Sun, and Sunset.
LAF sing the blues
It was a further two years till the next album, a collection of individual songs called Blues for Kirsty. Although this offering contained no central theme a progression from A Walk in the Sun was clearly apparent. Blues for Kirsty DOES feature the only lead vocal thus far from Phil - on the eerie and cinematic Mystery Train.
No sooner was Blues for Kirsty released than Phil and Al began work on what they planned to be their magnum opus - a collection of songs that they hoped would show all that they had learnt about the craft of song writing and the art of recording, while also benefiting from their ever improving performance skills. This was LAF Presents. The album contained 13 songs and on all fronts seemed to be the best yet. Three of the tracks were picked up by a remarkable man by the name of Arthur Strand as the first single on his new Escutcheon label. It was at this stage that the LAF story stalled. The marketing and promotion was not in place to really push the e.p. and with boxes of unsold CDs littering the recording space the band lost heart.
As the band slowly drifted apart, Al and Phil continued to play together only for their own amusement, electing to perform covers rather than their own material. As a result a number of completed tracks never saw the light of day.
Back to the future
The creation of a MySpace page dedicated to the band at the start of 2009 saw a renewed interest in the music of LAF and the band suddenly found a new worldwide fan base that they could never have imagined when first starting up. Phil and Al decided to revive LAF as a going concern and immediately set about writing fresh material. The first new songs were released as a 4 track e.p. titled Sparkle at the start of 2010.
LAF were invited to contribute tracks to a compilation album called Assisted Flight around the same time with proceeds from sales going towards a fund to help veteran British folk-rock band Stackridge travel to the USA for a TV appearance.
Ultimately LAF were offered the opportunity to put out their first full length album in 15 years via Jupitersmoon.com. Random Play All was a compilation of songs from throughout the entire career of the band came out towards the end of 2010.
Got live if you want it
Phil and Al then decided to put together a semi-acoustic version of LAF to take the songs out on the road for the first time ever. The band is initially intended as a quartet with Andy Dobson and Rachel McCullough more than making up the numbers.
Early in 2012 top producer Gavin Monaghan (Robert Plant, Grace Jones, Babes in Toyland etc.,) approached the band with an offer to produce a single.
As Gavin's rule was to only work with artists that he had personally approached LaF were very flattered, and between the band and the producer settled on two tracks Learning to Let Go and Pictures of Hiroshima.
30 hours in a too studio working on 8 minutes of music shows how much effort everyone put into it.
We hope that you enjoy the results!