The Pop Group - Biography

The Pop Group
The Pop Group are a post-punk band which formed in 1977 in Bristol, England. They consisted of Mark Stewart (vocals), John Waddington (guitar), Gareth Sager (guitar), Simon Underwood (bass) and Bruce Smith (drums).

The band reformed in 2010 for a reunion tour. In November 2014, the Pop Group announced that they would release an album of new material titled "Citizen Zombie" on 23 February 2015. The album was produced by Paul Epworth.

Their uncompromising, dissonant sound spanned punk, free jazz, funk and dub music. Their lyrics were, more often than not, politically charged. In '79 they issued their debut single, "She is Beyond Good and Evil" on the Radar label.

Their debut album Y, was produced by reggae veteran Dennis Bovell to critical acclaim but low sales figures. Although it did not chart, the album's success was sufficient to convince Rough Trade to sign the band, but not before more line-up changes, with Dan Katsis, formerly a guitarist in the Glaxo Babies, replacing Underwood on bass.

The band's career with Rough Trade commenced with what is possibly their best-known single "We Are All Prostitutes", which featuring a guest appearance by free improviser Tristan Honsinger on cello. This was followed the release of their second album, For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? in 1980, which included a contribution from US proto-rappers The Last Poets.

Shortly afterwards The Pop Group released a split single, "Where There's a Will There's A Way", with The Slits, a band with whom they now shared a drummer and managers (Christine Robertson and Dick O'Dell), as well as a growing interest in exploring dub and funk rhythms.

The band split in 1981, after legal wranglings and internal disagreements. Members of the group went on to form bands including Pigbag, Maximum Joy, Head and Rip Rig & Panic, the latter notable for the involvement of Neneh Cherry.

Singer Mark Stewart, meanwhile, collaborated with Adrian Sherwood and the On-U Sound posse, issuing records firstly as Mark Stewart and Maffia, then as a solo artist.

The Pop Group and associated bands started a Bristol 'scene' that would later spawn trip-hop.

It was reported on 24 May 2010 that the Pop Group would be reuniting. Stewart announced the first two dates of a reunion tour. Three members of the original line up were part of the reunion with two gigs in London and two in Italy initially confirmed. The band played live in Paris (for the first time) on 6 September 2010, at La Machine Du Moulin Rouge venue as part of "L'Etrange Festival" Film Festival which served as a kick off to their five date tour through Europe which included a London gig on New Year's Eve with Sonic Youth and Shellac.

In a 2010 interview, Stewart said that the reformed Pop Group was recording a new album, to be titled The Alternate. However, this album never materialized. The band were chosen to perform at the ATP I'll Be Your Mirror festival curated by ATP & Portishead in September 2011 in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

They have been cited as an important influence in the development of alternative music in the 1980s; Mike Watt, of Minutemen and, more recently, Nick Cave , have cited the Pop Group as an important source of inspiration on their own work. In November 2013, the band played the final holiday camp edition of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Camber Sands, England.

The Pop Group's 1980 LP We Are Time saw its first reissue worldwide (ex. Japan) on October 20, 2014. The band also released a brand new compilation of rarities titled Cabinet of Curiosities. In support of the reissues the band undertook a 7 day UK tour starting on October 20 in Edinburgh and ending on October 26 at the Islington Assembly Hall in London. Richard Williams - who championed the band and featured them on the front of Melody Maker on 24 March 1979 - wrote in his review of the London show: 'one of the most important British bands of the 1970s, the gig provided evidence of their continuing relevance'
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