Gene

The subject of the inevitable Smiths comparisons because of their Morrissey-esque lead singer, Martin Rossiter; Britpop band Gene would dominate the British musical landscape during the mid 1990’s. Formed in 1993 from the ashes of the Stone Roses-like band Spin (formerly The Go Hole) the band consisted of vocalist Martin Rossiter, guitarist Steve Mason, Kevin Miles on bass and Matt James on drums.

The combination of “Rossiter’s eloquence, warm, emotive voice, Mason’s intricate guitar riffs Miles’ melodic basslines and James’ various rock drumming styles” provided a solid musical base; and the group’s sound impressed NME journalists Keith Cameron and Roy Wilkinson

“enough to form independent record label Costermonger, created with the sole purpose of promoting Gene to a wider audience.”

The group’s, and Costermonger’s debut release, the double A-sided single “For The Dead” / “Childs Body”,was released in a limited edition of 1,994 copies in May 1994 and sold out in two days. Live shows, one in particular in support of Pulp would help the group develop a large devotional following. Hoping to capitalize on the group’s new found popularity Costermonger released a second single, a triple A-side consisting of “Be My Light Be My Guide”, “This Is Not My Crime” and “I Can’t Help Myself” in August 1994. Well received by the English musical press the single would reach the top spot on the UK indie chart and number 54 on the UK national chart. The success of that single lead to their first UK headlining tour, culminating with a show at “London’s Paradise Club which sold out immediately, cramming 800 people into the venue.”

The group’s success hadn’t gone unnoticed by the major labels and the band signed with Polydor. A successful appearance at 1994’s Reading Festival would lead to a national tour and several sold out French dates. In between Reading and the national tour the band released their third single “Sleep Well Tonight”, which reached #36 on the British charts.

For Gene 1995 would be noted for its excess of success. They would be one of the headliners at 1995’s Reading Festival, perform at the Glastonbury Festival, tour Japan and Europe, and then make a brief tour of the US. Their fourth single, “Haunted By You”, would reach #32 on the British pop charts; while their debut album, Olympian, reached number 8 on the album charts and with “recording sales of over 70,000 in the UK alone” garnered for Gene their first silver disc. When the last single from the album, the epic “Olympian“, was released it went straight into the British Top Twenty.

Honors also abounded for the group in 1995. They were winners of the inaugural NME Brat Award for ‘Best New Act’. They were on the cover of both NME and Melody Maker, “who also voted them their ‘Brightest Hope’ for 1995”.

Gene’s second full length, 1997’s Drawn to the Deep End, is

“a lavish production replete with strings, far more prominent guitar solos from Mason, and a rather warbling vocal affectation from Rossiter”

but Rossiter was in the depths of depression during the production of the album and the album’s lyrical content reflects that depression; the long-term effects of child abuse on “Voice of the Father,” or conjuring up London’s fog and grime on the murder ballad “The Accidental.” On it’s release the album entered the top 10 on the album charts, while two singles from the album, “Where Are They Now?” (22) and “Speak to me Someone” (30) both appeared in the Top 40.

1998 saw the band play a few low key shows, but the bulk of their time was spent writing new material for their third full length, Revelations. Released in February 1999 the album rocks harder than previous efforts, but the group’s clumsy attempts at social activism, with political songs like “The British Disease” and “Mayday,” and the first single off the album, the Jam-like “As Good As it Gets” were met with lukewarm reviews.

The group toured England in support of the album and once again appeared at that years Reading Festival, but Polydor provided little support for the album or the group; Rossiter later explained the break with their label as

“Only when we got to Gretna Green did we realise that Polydor had disembarked at Crewe.”

Even without major label support they spent part of 2000 on a world tour, including the US. Their show at Los Angeles’ Troubadour was web cast to a then record-breaking 60,000 people worldwide. A live album from that show, Rising for Sunset, was “promoted with a pioneering international internet-only campaign,” resulting in the sale of 40,000 units upon its release.

Released in 2001 on the band’s Sub Rosa label, Libertine, was the band’s last album. Dismissed by some critics “as a more sleazy rock-style record” most saw it as a return to Olympian’s form.

Knowing that “they were never going to become world-conquering greats” and feeling that “they were somewhat stuck in a rut,” Gene amicably broke up in 2004, playing their last show on December 16, 2004 at the London Astoria.

While there are no plans to re-unite in

“January 2008, all four members of Gene briefly took to the stage again for their ex-manager’s 50th birthday party,”

at the 100 Club in London, performing 5 songs: “Be My Light, Be My Guide”, “For The Dead”, “Where Are They Now?”, “London, Can You Wait?” and “Olympian”.

DISCOGRAPHY

Singles

“For The Dead” (7″) (Costermonger) 1994
“Be My Light, Be My Guide” (7″) (Costermonger) 1994
“Sleep Well Tonight” (7″) (Costermonger) 1994
“Haunted By You” (7″) (Costermonger) 1995
“Be My Light, Be My Guide” / “I Can’t Help Myself” (Sub Pop) 1995)
“Olympian” (7″) (Costermonger) 1995
“Still Can’t Find The Phone” (Germany) 1995
“For The Dead” (Cass, Single) (Costermonger) 1996
“Fighting Fit” (Single) (Polydor, Costermonger) 1996
“We Could Be Kings” (7″) (Polydor) 1997
“Where Are They Now?” (7″) (Polydor) 1997
“Speak To Me Someone” (CD, Single, CD2) (Polydor) 1997
“As Good As It Gets” (CD, Single, CD1) (Polydor) 1999
“Fill Her Up” (CD Single, CD1) (Polydor) 1999
“Revelations” (CD Single, CD 1) (Polydor) 1999
“Is It Over?” (CD, Maxi) (Contra Records) 2001
“Does He Have a Name?” (promo) 2001

“Let Me Move On” 2004

Full-length

Olympian (CD, LP) (Polydor, Costermonger) 1995
To See The Lights (CD, 2xLP) (Polydor K.K., Costermonger) 1996
Drawn To The Deep End (CD, LP) (Polygram Records) 1997
Revelations (CD, LP) (Universal / Polygram) 1999
Rising For Sunset (CD) (Contra, Worldwide Tribe) 2000
As Good As It Gets: The Best Of Gene (CD) (Polygram U.K.) 2001
Libertine (CD) (Contra Music / Universal) 2001
The Collection (CD) (Commercial Marketing) 2006
The John Peel Sessions: 95 – 99 (2xCD) (Universal UK) (2006)

Tracks Appear On:

“Be My Light, Be My Guide” Indie Top 20 Volume 20 (CD) (Beechwood Music) 1994
“I Can’t Help Myself (From The Evening Session)” The Radio 1FM Sessions Vol 1 (Cass) ( Vox Magazine) 1994
“To See The Lights” Volume Ten (CD) ( Volume) 1994
“Sick, Sober And Sorry” Brat Pack ’95 (Cass) (New Musical Express) 1995
“Sleep Well Tonight” CMJ New Music June – Volume 22 (CD) (College Music Journal) 1995
“Haunted By You (Live)” Exclusives (Cass) (Select Magazine) 1995
“Sleep Well Tonight” HuH – CD 6 (CD) (Huh Music Service) 1995
“Autumn Stone” Long Agos And Worlds Apart – A Tribute To The Small Faces (CD) (Nippon Crown) 1995
“To See The Lights” Sharks Patrol These Waters – The Best Of Volume Part 2 (2xCD, 2xCass ) (Volume) 1995
“Haunted By You” Shine Too (CD) (PolyGram TV) 1995
“A Car That Sped” Six Pack (Cass) (Melody Maker) 1995
“For The Dead” Turn It Up & Pass It On – Volume 5 (CD) (AIM Marketing) 1995
“Sleep Well Tonight (Live)” Wild CD 02 (CD) (Wild Magazine) 1995
“Don’t Let Me Down” CMJ New Music January – Volume 29 (CD) (College Music Journal) 1996
“Autumn Stone” Long Agos And Worlds Apart – A Tribute To The Small Faces (CD) (Nice Records) 1996
“Sleep Well Tonight” Shine 5 (2xCD) (PolyGram Record Operations) 1996
“Fighting Fit” Shine 7 (2xCD) ( PolyGram TV) 1996
“For The Dead” The Basement Tapes Volume 1 (Cass) (Melody Maker)1996
“Haunted By You” The Best Of Brit Pop (2xCD) (Magnum) 1996
“Olympian” The Best… Album In The World…Ever! (2xCD) (Circa Records Ltd.) 1996
“For The Dead” The Best…Album In The World…Ever! Vol.3 (2xCD) (Circa Records Ltd.) 1996
“Sleep Well Tonight (Live)” Volume Fourteen – Reading ’95 Special (2xCD) (Volume) 1996
“Where Are They Now?” CMJ New Music May – Volume 45 (CD) (College Music Journal) 1997
“For The Dead” Crush (2xCD) (PolyGram TV) 1997
“London Can You Wait?” Face – OST (CD) (Island Records) 1997
“Fighting Fit” New Voices Vol. 9 (CD) (Rolling Stone (Germany) 1997
“New Amusements” NME Presents Radio 1 Sound City Oxford ’97 (Cass) (New Musical Express) 1997
“London Can You Wait?” Outafocus Volume One Come Along And Mistreat Yourself!! (CD) (Focus) 1997
“We Could Be Kings” Shine – Best Of 97 (2xCD) (PolyGram TV) 1997
“Be My Light, Be My Guide” Deceptive Fifty (CD) ( Deceptive) 1998
“Olympian (Live)” Radio 1 Sound City Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (CD) (New Musical Express) 1998
“Where Are They Now?” Shine 10 (2xCD) (PolyGram TV) 1998
“Town Called Malice” Fire & Skill – The Songs Of The Jam (CD) (Ignition Records) 1999
“Love Won’t Work” Unconditionally Guaranteed Volume 3 (CD) (Uncut Magazine) 1999
“Speak To Me Someone” Trigger Happy TV – Soundtrack To The Series (CD) (Channel Four Music) 2000
“Don’t Let Me Down” Why Don’t We Do It In The Road? (CD) (Uncut Magazine) 2001
“Where Are They Now?” Nineties Box Set (3xCD) (Universal International Music BV) 2003
“We Would Be Kings” 90’s Rockers (DVD, PAL) (Uncut DVD) 2004
“Fighting Fit” Songs To Save Your Life (CD) (New Musical Express) 2004
“As Good As It Gets” Play It Loud (2xCD) (Universal Music TV) 2007
“Sleep Well Tonight” The Brit Box: UK Indie, Shoegaze, And Brit-Pop Gems Of The Last Millennium (4xCD) (Rhino Entertainment Company) 2007

Unofficial Releases:

“Velvet Times” Mayday In Newcastle (CD) 1999

For The Dead (1995)

Playing Time: 14 minutes 51 seconds

gene-for the dead

1. For The Dead (3:29)
2. Sick. Sober and Sorry (2:52)
3. To See The Lights (2:30)
4. Don’t Let Me Down (3:10)
5. Her Fifteen Years (2:50)

Drawn to the Deep End (1997)

Playing Time: 52 minutes 52 seconds

drawn to the deep end

1. New Amusements (6:51)
2. Fighting Fit (3:56)
3. Where Are They Now? (4:15)
4. Speak To Me Someone (3:56)
5. We Could Be Kings (5:15)
6. Why I Was Born (6:00)
7. Long Sleeves For The Summer (3:31)
8. Save Me. I’m Yours (4:25)
9. Voice Of The Father (3:21)
10. The Accidental (3:02)
11. I Love You. What Are You? (4:42)
12. Sub Rosa (3:38)

Drawn to the Deep End [Part 1] [Part 2]

Libertine (2002)

Playing Time: 1 hour 13 minutes 54 seconds


gene-libertine

1. Let Me Move On (4:50)
2. Does He Have a Name? (7:16)
3. A Simple Request (3:49)
4. Yours for the Taking (6:25)
5. Is It Over (4:42)
6. O Lover (5:59)
7. With Love in Mind (3:07)
8. Let Me Rest (6:13)
9. From Georgia to Osaka (3:18)
10. We’ll Get What We Deserve (4:52)
11. Walking in the Shallows (2:51)
12. You (4:02)
13. Spy in the Clubs (4:16)
14. Somewhere in the World (12:14)

Libertine (Part 1) (Part 2)


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3 responses to “Gene

  1. Thanks for compiling this comprehensive Gene bio. As one of my favourite bands, I feel they were immensely overlooked. There songs still conjure emotion in me as they did when I first heard them.

    • There are so many bands producing music that the vast majority of them never go anywhere, or are just criminally ignored. Gene, unfortunately was one of those bands. Too often it’s being in the right place at the right time, and luck, not talent that helps a band (or for that matter anyone) achieve success. Glad that you liked the post though.

  2. Pingback: Newly Added « Old Fart at Play

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