In tribute to one of the UK's most influential labels, founder of Fear & Records' Peter White says: "Fierce Panda is essentially the reason why people like me think it is a good idea to continue to release records on seven inch vinyl."
Here, Peter shares a selection of his favourite tracks and some forgotten gems from the label's 15 year history.
If Motown is the sound of 1960s Detroit soul and Sub Pop is the sound of flannel wearing rock in the late '80s, Fierce Panda Records was the sound of North London in the second half of the '90s. Simon Williams was responsible for the majority of trouble that occurred between The Camden Falcon, Dublin Castle and the Camden Palace. Especially on Tuesday nights. Fierce Panda is essentially the reason why people like me think it is a good idea to continue to release records on seven inch vinyl.
The label is celebrating its 15th birthday this year. While it is no secret that the label is responsible for bands such as Ash, Keane and Coldplay (if I were Williams I would press up 50 copies of the Brothers and Sisters EP to put on Ebay every Christmas), Fierce Panda released hundreds of records. Here are some of my forgotten favourites:
b/w 'Lifeline' (Ning08) - 1995
Camden was always full of pretty boys in eyeliner. Jamie Hince was the leader of a gang that spawned Placebo's Brian Molko. Despite this, his angular outfit never achieved the success outside of the Camden Palace that they deserved, and it wasn't until he started hanging out with Discount's Allison Mosshart [and formed The Kills] that he really made it. I wonder whether Ms. Moss has a copy of 'Skinny' in her record collection.
From Screecher Comforts EP (Ning24) - 1996
Snug were the teenage pop-punk band fronted by Ed Harcourt before he left to sing serious folk music, with an acoustic guitar. Snug wrote ridiculously catchy songs about inane subjects and pretty girls. 'Supermodel' appeared on Screecher Comforts with bands including Symposium, Tampasm and Midget.
b/w 'I Want To Be A Writer' (Ning42) - 1997
The Highbury Garage was one of the sweatiest hellpits in town. This, however, didn't stop me spending over £5 to watch some hotly tipped Scottish punks Idlewild support Warm Jets (!). I fell in love with Roddy and Bob's raucous ways as a result. 'Chandelier' is the closest that iDleWild came to punk rock greatness.
Chewy 'All Over The Place'
b/w 'Second Hand Magic' (Ning48) - 1998
Despite sounding like they were born and raised exclusively in NW1, Chewy were, in fact, Swiss. This was extremely confusing. But they wrote spiky songs about Luke Skywalker so it didn't really matter.
Llama Farmers 'Paper Eyes'
b/w PVC (Ning49) - 1998
The Llama Farmers were the most exciting cardigan wearing kids to set up in the Camden Falcon, round the back of Camden Road rail station. They sounded like we all thought we sounded when we pretended to be Kurt Cobain. Except they were pretty good at it. 'Paper Eyes' was simple and brilliant.
Twist 'Shari Says'
b/w 'Slow Down' and 'Her Reflection' (Ning75)- 1999
To complement the fact that most of the guys in North London thought they were Kurt Cobain (see Llama Farmers), most of the girls tried to be Courtney Love. Twist were essentially the Feet First-attending version of Hole. They wrote dirty noisy pop songs, while Emma was Courtney and Vanessa was Melissa.
Jellicoe 'Arcade Superhero'
Cutting Hedge (Ning92) - 2000
Jay Taylor is one of the funniest, most heart warmingly cynical bastards in the music industry. Some will know him as Beans on Toast, others will know him as manager of The Holloways and kingpin of Nambucca and Frog. However, I will always remember him as the friendly grunge hippy that hung around outside of Camden's clubs handing out flyers. He was also the lead singer of Jellicoe, a Sonic Youth-y esque outfit that appeared on Cutting Hedge alongside The Junket and Caretaker.
God Bless You, Simon.
Peter White was one of the founding members of the DiS editorial team. He now runs Fear & Records, a label and management company which represents: ¡Forward,Russia!, Data Select Party, Good Books, Johnny Foreigner, Rolo Tomassi, Sky Larkin and Sportsday Megaphone.