My Bloody Valentine are a shoegazing band formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1984. The founding members were guitarist/singer Kevin Shields and drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig. The band's lineup during their heyday also included singer-guitarist Bilinda Butcher and bassist Debbie Googe.
As My Bloody Valentine's music progressed, their use of distortion, pitch bending, and digital reverb resulted in the sound that was to become known as shoegazing. Their 1991 album Loveless took two years to make due to funding problems, but once released it was critically acclaimed. Following Loveless, My Bloody Valentine became inactive, with Shields discarding several albums' worth of follow-up material. In 2007, Shields announced that the band had reunited and were recording new material.
Colm Ó Cíosóig and Kevin Shields met in the late 1970s as teenagers in Dublin. They quickly became friends and joined a local punk rock band named The Complex. Toward the end of 1983, Shields and O'Ciosoig formed their own band with singer Dave Conway. Conway, who went by the stage name Dave Stelfox, suggested names such as "Burning Peacocks" before they settled on "My Bloody Valentine" after a 1981 Canadian slasher film of the same name. The band was completed by Conway's girlfriend Tina, who played keyboards.
Gavin Friday of Dublin post-punk band The Virgin Prunes gave the group contacts that secured them a show in the Netherlands. Based on getting that one gig, the band moved to Holland and ended up staying for three months. Due to a lack of opportunities and a lack of correct documentation, the band then moved to Berlin, where they recorded the mini-LP This Is Your Bloody Valentine. The record failed to have the expected impact, and, after four months, the band left Berlin, returning to Holland briefly before settling in London around the middle of 1985.
Settling in London
After a period when My Bloody Valentine members lost contact with each other as they looked for places to stay, the band regrouped and decided to audition bass players. The band lacked a regular bassist and Conway's girlfriend had decided to leave the band, not feeling confident in her abilities as a keyboard player. Having been given the telephone number of a bass player in London, Debbie Googe, they invited her to audition, and, ultimately, to join the band, fitting in rehearsals around her day job.
At this point the band were rehearsing at Salem Studios, which was connected to the record label Fever Records. Impressed by what they heard, Fever agreed to release an EP. On the strength of this, Googe left her job, and the EP, titled Geek! was released in December 1985. The band soon began to play on the London gig circuit, but the record failed to make as much of an impact as the band had hoped. With the band's slow progress, Shields contemplated moving back to New York, where some of his family were living.
However, Joe Foster, an associate of Creation Records, had decided to set up his own label, Kaleidoscope Records, and persuaded the group to record for him. The EP, The New Record by My Bloody Valentine, was the result, released in early 1986. The band also began to step up their live appearances, developing a small following and venturing outside London for gigs.
The band's next record was Sunny Sundae Smile, an EP released in February 1987 by Lazy Records, a label set up by The Primitives with their manager Wayne Morris. The label had been interested in My Bloody Valentine for a while, and the band turned to them this time due to Foster's indifference. The band then spent a few months performing in London and managed to secure a support slot with the Soup Dragons. During the shows with the Soup Dragons, Conway announced his decision to leave the band; he had been ill for a while and felt he was not reaching his potential with the band. Conway has since pursued a career as a writer.
Conway departs and Butcher joins
Conway's departure left the band without a vocalist, a situation they decided to remedy by placing advertisements in the music press. This process proved torturous, Shields noting, "It was pretty dangerous, I made the mistake of mentioning The Smiths because we liked their melodies, the whole thing was disastrous and excruciating, you should have seen some of the fruitballs we got."
The band eventually turned to recommendations and experimented with having two vocalists: Bilinda Butcher and Joe Byfield. It soon became apparent that Byfield was unsuited to the band, and Shields took on second vocalist duties alongside Butcher; he noted she "sounded all right and she could sing one of our songs which sounded fine, we just had to show her how to play guitar."
Under pressure from Lazy Records to produce an album, the band compromised, citing the need for time to stabilize their line-up. The band agreed to record an EP followed by a mini LP. The EP, Strawberry Wine, consisted of three tracks and was released in August 1987. The mini-LP, titled Ecstasy, followed soon after. The EP has been described as "certainly the better of the two releases." Ecstasy has been criticized as showing "a group who appeared to have run out of money halfway through recording," which was indeed the case. Ecstasy also suffered from production difficulties, as Shields described errors in mastering the recordings. These hardships were not surprising as the band were funding the studio time themselves; The deal with Lazy was that the label would do the promotion, the band paying for the recording.
In January 1988 My Bloody Valentine played a gig with Biff Bang Pow!, a band that featured Creation Records owner Alan McGee as a member. The performance convinced McGee that they were the Irish equivalent to American band Hüsker Dü, and he approached the band after the show. The band decided to record a single for the label. My Bloody Valentine recorded five songs at a studio in Walthamstow in east London in less than a week. Released as the EP You Made Me Realise, the release was the band's first to be largely well-received by critics. The group followed with the EP Feed Me with Your Kiss and the LP Isn't Anything (1988). The band's multi-layered guitar sound became a major influence on a number of new bands who the British music press grouped together under the shoegazing label.
My Bloody Valentine began work on their second full-length album in February 1989. Shields said that Creation thought the album could be recorded "in five days"; he later recalled, "But when it became clear that wasn't going to happen, they freaked." Work continued throughout the year. Shields and McGee agreed to release an EP prior to the album's release, so the band recorded Glider, which was released in 1990. In May 1990 the band recorded a second EP, Tremolo (1991). The band halted work on the album in order to tour behind the release of Glider in Summer 1990.
It ultimately took My Bloody Valentine two years to finish their second album Loveless (1991). The making of the album was rumored to have cost £250,000 and to have nearly bankrupted Creation Records, claims which Shields has denied. Reviews of Loveless were almost unanimous with praise. The NME review of Loveless declared, "...however decadent one might find the idea of elevating other human beings to deities, My Bloody Valentine, failings and all, deserve more than your respect." However, the album failed to perform commercially. Loveless peaked at number 24 on the British album charts, and failed to chart in the United States, where it was distributed by Sire Records. McGee dropped My Bloody Valentine from Creation soon after the album's release because he could not bear working with Shields again; "It was either him or me", he told The Guardian in 2004.
My Bloody Valentine signed with Island Records in October 1992, reportedly for £250,000. The band spent their advance on constructing a studio in a house in Streatham. The studio was completed in April 1993, but problems with the studio and attempts to repair them sent the band into "semi-meltdown" according to Shields.
The group recorded very little, which included the contribution of a cover of a James Bond theme song to a charity compilation (We Have All the Time in the World), and a cover of the Wire song "Map Ref. 41 Degrees N 93 Degrees W" for the tribute album Whore: Tribute to Wire. Unable to finalise a third album, Shields isolated himself and, in his own words, went "crazy", drawing comparisons in the music press to the behavior of musicians such as Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd. The other band members went their own ways during the period of inactivity following Loveless: Butcher contributed vocals to Collapsed Lung's 1996 single "Board Game", Googe had been sighted working as a cab driver in London and formed the supergroup Snowpony in 1996, O'Ciosoig joined Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, while Shields collaborated with Yo La Tengo, Primal Scream, and Dinosaur Jr.
Rumors spread among fans of albums being recorded and then shelved. In 1999, it was reported that Shields had delivered 60 hours of material to Island. According to sources, one was possibly influenced by jungle music. Shields later confirmed that at least one full album of new material was abandoned. He said, "We did an album's worth of half-finished stuff, and it did just get dumped, but it was worth dumping. It was dead. It hadn't got that spirit, that life in it." Shields later said to Magnet magazine, "We are 100 percent going to make another My Bloody Valentine record unless we die or something", and attributed the band's sparse output to a lack of inspiration.
In 2007 Shields announced that the band had reunited and that a new album they had started recording in 1996 was "3/4th finished." In August 2007, internet rumors claimed that the band were negotiating a performance at the 2008 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival or were planning a world tour. Vinita Joshi, Kevin Shields' manager, said "there are no confirmed shows at all."
On November 15th 2007, My Bloody Valentine announced three upcoming live gigs in the UK for 2008. On June 13th and 14th, the band played in public for the first time in thirteen years, offering a pair of 'Live Rehearsal' presentations at the ICA in London and officially starting their series of comeback performances.
The band went on to play a slew of festivals in Summer and Fall of 2008, which included the Roskilde Festival (Denmark, July 3rd-6th), Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (Spain, July 17th-20th.), Fuji Rock Festival 08 (Japan, July 25th-27th), Øyafestivalen (Oslo, Norway, August 5th-8th) and The Electric Picnic Festival (Ireland, August 29th–31st), and Bestival 2008 (Isle of Wight, September 5th-7th). On September 19-21, My Bloody Valentine curated and performed at the 2008 All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Monticello, New York.
Following the festivals, the band played dates in New York, Chicago, Toronto, and LA in late September, early October.
Following their appearance at the All Tomorrows Parties festival, the New York Times reported that Shields was planning to complete the unfinished album: "I realized that all that stuff I was doing in 1996 and 1997 was a lot better than I thought."
My Bloody Valentine have also been confirmed to curate the All Tomorrow's Parties 'Nightmare Before Christmas' festival in December 2009, where they will also be playing.
The band played an exclusive small capacity club show at the Effenaar club in Eindhoven, The Netherlands on May 25th, 2009, nearly 25 years after the show they played there on November 24th, 1984.
In July 2009, there were four songs, rumoured to be unreleased demos that were leaked onto the internet. The tracks are said to be mostly from the Isn't Anything era recording sessions. Song titles include "Cowboy Song", "Kevin Song", "Bilinda Song", and "Good For You".
- Brown, Nick. "My Bloody Valentine" Spiral Scratch, February 1991.
- Cavanagh, David. The Creation Records Story: My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry for the Prize. (London) Virgin Books, 2000. ISBN.
- DeRogatis, Jim. Turn On Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock. Milwaukee: Hal Leonard Corporation., 2003. ISBN.
- McGonigal, Mike. Loveless. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2007. ISBN.
Biography from Wikipedia