Lloyd Cole CV
Born – Buxton, Derbyshire to Brenda and Brian Cole. Housewife and
Heard the Beatles. Brother Adam born.
School – Chapel en le Frith, Derbyshire.
First girlfriend. Jane Edwards. Football – decent right
winger/right half – always substitute in senior team. Good at
Chelsea (my team) win FA cup – I cry.
Glam rock – T Rex – Velvet trousers – and consequently beating from
Bowie – Alice Cooper – Pass 11+ exam, go to New Mills Grammar
School, Cheshire – turns comprehensive as we arrive. 1st LP for
birthday – T Rex’s “Electric Warrior.”
Parents become steward and stewardess of Chapel en le Frith golf
club – we move into the golf world. Learn to play golf. Read a lot
of sci-fi/sci-fantasy. Michael Moorcock my favourite.
Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run.
Punk Rock – Throw out flares – get mother’s old leather motorcycle
jacket – ruin it with safety pins.
Michael Towers, Duncan MacKenzie and I form punk rock band –
perform at parties and school end of year ball. I sing/play bass.
Parents move to Chorley Lancashire – I remain in Chapel to finish O
Leyland 6th form college – study geog, math, economics. Buy just
about every punk rock 45 released – coloured vinyls etc. Join punk
rock band “Vile Bodies,” play bass. Never performed. Discover
Velvet Underground. Learn Cale bass-lines, learn to play guitar.
Parents move to Glasgow – same job more money. I remain in Chorley
in small house alone. Card games after school etc. No interest in
mod/power-pop movement – discover Chic/Funkadelic/James Brown/Stax
etc – try to emulate Steve Cropper, Nile Rodgers. Develop interest
in make-up. Pass A-levels. Accepted to study law at University
Move to London. New friends – more cosmopolitan than “up north” –
wear make-up all the time. Start smoking (menthols) – Italian girl
friend – Home county girlfriend etc. Met my best friend Michael.
Can’t get in to studying law. Go out to gigs all the time – PIL,
Magazine, Joy Division. Ian Curtis dying seems very important.
Write many songs – introvert doomy types. Perform solo at LSE –
fortunately nobody is there.
Leave UCL. Decide to study English/Philosophy/general arts.
Accepted into arts faculty of Glasgow University. Travel NW Europe
with Michael. Become proficient thief.
Study at Glasgow Uni. Listen to Staple Singers, Al Green, Orange
Juice etc. Put ad on notice board in student union “Wanted
electronic keyboard player” – meet Blair Cowan – form “Fun,”
perform twice – Soft Cell-ish pop, lamee shirt. Abort. Blair and I
form “The Casuals” – meet Neil Clark, guitarist, he agrees to help
us out, apparently people like us. Decide to form band with Neil
and Blair as prime movers – call ourselves Lloyd Cole and the
Commotions. Commotions mark one – 7 piece, 2 backing singers, do
you like the Staple Singers? We do. Develop local following then
fire the other 4 and start over. Write “Are you ready to be
heartbroken?” – somehow become a rock-pop group.
Blair and I leave college to become professional musicians. My
father lends us 500 pounds to rehearse.
Publishing deal – pay back my father. Write “Perfect Skin,” “Forest
Fire.” Everything falls into place. Stephen Irvine and Lawrence
Donegan enlisted as rhythm section.
Sign 5 album deal with Polydor records.
“Perfect skin” becomes minor chart hit. Much media attention.
“Rattlesnakes” the debut lp enters album chart at #13 in UK. Soon
becomes gold record. Eventually voted 22nd best album of all time
by readers of NME and 96th by the same magazine’s critics.
Commotions become pretty big deal in UK and to a lesser extent in
Europe and US. 2 hits, “Brand New Friend” and “Lost Weekend” and
album “Easy Pieces” sells more copies in first two weeks than
“Rattlesnakes” did in previous year. Some teen hysteria.
Most Commotions unsatisfied with Easy Pieces – Spend most of winter
85-86 trying to figure out what kind of band they want to be. 2
false starts to 3rd album. Eventually meet Ian Stanley (Tears for
Fears keyboardist/songwriter) (who produces “Mainstream” alas to
become a swansong). 5 months of hard work in the studio and Cole
has had enough of being in a rock’n’roll band – agrees one last
tour to promote LP. “Mainstream” – critically heralded as
masterpiece – produces no hit singles and consequently considerably
diminished in sales figures. (Farewell) Tour is well attended and
produces finest performances of Commotions’ live career.
Leave everything behind to move to New York in September – all
aspects of life having now collapsed, a new city seems like a good
idea. Become very prolific songwriter. Drink a lot. Enjoy new “kid”
in town syndrome. Grow hair – attempt to change “image” – don’t
shave often – learn to play poker, pool and other late night
With Producer/drummer Fred Maher and Producer/Engineer Paul
Hardiman (“Rattlesnakes”) and a New York band featuring Robert
Quine (guit), Matthew Sweet (bass – backing vocals) and Blair Cowan
(Scot) (keyboards) record debut “solo” album. Whole project takes
about same amount as “Rattlesnakes” (2 months) and produces twice
as many songs. Enjoy working again. Living alone for first time
since 1983. Not for long. Meet Elizabeth Lewis – become involved
Get married to Beth.
Living with wife in rented accommodation. Write more songs – many
with Blair Cowan. Many seeming to need a different arrangement
style. Decide to make album 1/2 rock ‘n ‘roll, 1/2 orchestral pop.
Working with same base of musicians and producers – enlisting Paul
Buckmaster (legend) to arrange orchestra – record “Don’t Get Weird
on Me, Babe.”
Split album, split response – much acclaim, much disdain. Performs,
commercially, slightly worse than X album.
Having finally bought an apartment – decide to build studio in
spare bedroom – this takes much thought, time, money and bullshit.
Builders around all the time, dust and the wife’s pregnant.
Enlist services of Adam Peters – remixer, cellist, keyboard-player (who remixed “Butterfly” off the “Weird album) – make him producer – start work
on what eventually becomes the wonderfully sprawling ‘Bad Vibes’
4 Oct 92
Baby boy born. William Cole. Time off.
A few months later
Work and more work in my studio and many, many others with many, many musicians and Adam and I still don’t really know what we’re up to, but we had fun and the album is finally released in the summer of 1993 to the fanfare of
‘So you’d like to save the World’. Sadly, few notice and those who do consider it ‘overproduced’ (hindsight has proved a little kinder, thankfully). Sales are poor, not to say – pitiful. Not a good career year.
Tried this and tried that and failed more often than not – What to do now? Cole
retreats (or should that be advances?) to singer songwriter territory and finds himself surprisingly comfortable..
Songs come easier on the guitar than in the studio (soon to be scrapped, anyhow) and simple demos prove so popular with record Co. that they eventually form the
core of the next record.
‘Love Story’ released to general acclaim and renewed notice. ‘Like Lovers Do’ marks Cole’s first ‘Top of the Pops’ performance since the Commotions split. Live shows around UK, mainland Europe and US persuade media and Cole that he is not completely forgotten.
Ask me why and I’ll tell you “I don’t know” but after all of the supposed lessons of the last ten years I went straight into the studio again and recorded most of a record that only my A&R man liked, and then he got fired… Most of these recordings will eventually make it onto albums, but not as originally intended. Record Co. decide that they want to release a compilation
record and I need two new songs, both of which must be smash hits..
I spend much of this year in search of ‘inspiration’, fully aware that I had probably used up my short term supply on the unreleased songs… I try to collaborate with various songwriters and eventually come to the unpleasant conclusion that I don’t want to write songs anymore. At least not like that, just for the sake of writing them..to make records..which is my job..oops. (aside: Looking back, some of these songs are fine and, strangely, not shallow, and I’m sure I will revisit some of them soon.)
So I wrote some instrumental music, an album’s worth in fact. As you can imagine, this was not exactly what my Record Co. were looking for.
We moved our family to Chelsea, supposedly to have more space. The West Village is becoming prohibitively expensive to live in. Neither Beth nor I love it there, in amongst the galleries.. We wish we could think of somewhere we’d like to live.. have we become slaves of New York?
And then I thought it might be fun to have a band to play with… The Negatives were born in the early winter of ’97, originally Michael Kotch (guitar), George Rush (bass) and Rafa Maciejak (drums) and myself. Immediately I started to write songs again, that is, without pulling teeth.. and most of them turned out.. ..well, ‘the Negatives’ will be released in early 2000, probably on various labels, none of them being the Mercury or Rykodisk..
Also, I joined a band as synthesizer player. Brilliantine is really a one man band – Dave Derby, but as a live unit we’re a four or five piece. Not singing is great, and I get to feel really old in small clubs full of young(ish) hipsters. (Brilliantine’s second album ‘My life and the beautiful game’ was released in 1999. I don’t play on it, but I have a hand in some of the production and song arrangement.)
A few of the ‘Negatives’ songs pleased the Record Co. and we recorded several as possible tracks on the compilation. By the time everybody was happy, or so it seemed, we had recorded the best part of an album.. The Negatives evolved into a five piece with Jill Sobule adding a third guitar and Dave Derby replacing George as the bassist. We performed regularly in the New York area, even touring around the US for a month in a van recently vacated by Jefferson Starship.
The compilation was due to be released in October of 1998 but by September there seemed little future in my relationship with Mercury Records and we agreed to part company. Divorces are unpleasant, and I’m not even legally allowed to talk about it publicly. Both sides behaved decently, I think, and my legal fees were not as awful as I’d expected..
January 3rd. Frank Cole born.
‘Lloyd Cole – The Collection’ released in world ex USA
‘the negatives’ is completed. A collection of songs played (mostly) with that band, recorded before and after the split with Mercury and mixed (mostly) by Stephen Street. It will sit on my shelf for 18 months before anyone hears it, and longer in many territories.
Negatives play a few European concerts, in London and Portugal. Everyone loves the band, and why not? they’re great. I look for a Record deal, or Plan B..
We move our family to Massachusetts.
Learn web site design. Start work on lloydcole.com
I continue to play my folk singer shows, and with my new (1986 Subaru) car I’m free to slip off for a couple of days with the guitars in the trunk.. and I enjoy that.
Folk singer/Web designer?
New Directions.. can be hard to find.
Placing ‘the negatives’ in the hands of the right distributors and record companies proves problematic. Details dull, much tedious back and forth between old record co. and potential replacements, legal bills, etc etc
I continue to expand the repertoire of the folk singer show and take it all over the world.. East Coast US and UK in late winter, Ireland in the spring, US west Coast in the summer, Scandinavia, Paris and London in the winter and Australia and New Zealand at the end of the year (their early summer). I see many favourable reviews, even in the UK (nobody shows me the stinkers..) and I meet many wonderful audiences and find it ironic to be enjoying myself so much when working out of necessity, all other income generating areas of my ‘career’ being ‘on hold’..
lloydcole.com opens in the spring to general applause and some disbelief that it is actually me in all that first person text.. Many warm letters from fans, and an optimistic feeling that this may be the vehicle for the future. Fans come on board and help with the behind the scenes work of typing, translating and writing code. We have an actual community.. Hippy, moi?
‘the negatives’ finally finds a European home with XIII Bis records. The album is released by them in Germany, then France and eventually most of mainland W. Europe.
I go to Hamburg and Paris to meet the media and having had a rest from seeing me for 5 years we seem to enjoy each other’s company all the more and I am afforded more praise and visibility than an aging folk singer can rightly expect.. I wonder if the record will actually sell any copies?
The band play one show in 2000; a student festival in Braga, Portugal.
I enter into a relationship with March Records (New York) and At Source (Colorado) for US manufacture and distribution of ‘the negatives’. Neither will be ‘my record company’ as such, but the relationship will extend far beyond that of a licensing agreement. As this goes to press ‘all parties are cautiously optimistic’.. Release is schedules for mid March 2001. Internet sales are already happening.
I am also entering into a musicians’ cooperative with Aimee Mann and Michael Penn and (hopefully) others. It is called ‘United Musicians’ and to start with it will operate e-commerce for all of out web sites, so that we can share overhead costs and compete with amazon.com for your business. What this cooperative will become, who knows.. but for Aimee, Michael and myself it seems to offers a real alternative to our corporate chequered past.. We expect the site to be functioning early 2001.
My ‘lost’ 1996 album – ‘etc’, and my instrumental project – ‘plastic wood’ will be available, possibly exclusively, from my label (I don’t have a name yet), through United Musicians. I master them in New York tomorrow.
LC. Western Massachusetts, Dec 2000
Publication date: 31/12/00