Big In Japan - Where are they now?- Library of Mu

Library of Mu record:
Title: Big In Japan - Where are they now?
Date: January 1992 ?
Journal: Q Magazine
Author: ?
Type of resource: Features
Status: text
No. views: 12568
Description: useful article summarising the history of BIJ with details of what former members did next, and quotes from some of them about BIJ

Big In Japan - Where are they now?

By ? (January 1992, ? Q Magazine)

FEW OTHER groups in the post-punk era can claim to have launched so many successful careers as Big in Japan -The KLF, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Lightning Seeds and Siouxsie & The Banshees owe at least part of their existence to them.

Although each member frequented the infamous Eric's club in Liverpool, the group met more by accident, via Ken Campbell's 24-hour stage opus Illuminatus, which was being staged at the Liverpool School Of Dream And Pun. Bill Drummond was the set designer, lan Broudie and Budgie lent their respective guitar and drums while Jayne Casey had landed a stage role. Big In Japan was originally Drummond, Phil Allen and Kevin Ward, but the lineup gelled when lan Broudie joined, followed by Casey, who introduced her friend Holly Johnson to the band. Pete Burns (Dead Or Alive) and Paul Rutherford (Frankie) were also involved from time to time. "Every member had really strong ideas," Casey recalls.

"Holly and I were into the whole Warhol superstar, plasticky mentality, lan was the most proficient musician, while Bill was just off his head - and remains so!" The group only released two singles, Big In Japan/Do The Cud (the latter credited to the Chuddy Nuddies), released in November 1977, and the posthumous From Y To Z And Never Again EP, released in November 1978. "So what happened to the infamous Big In Japan?" wonders Mark Catterson from Oxford.

Bill Drummond (rhythm guitar): The everbusy KLF co-founder was too busy making three videos to pass comment on his old group but his past reads like this: founded the Zoo label (run from a cafe where he used to work), releasing the debut singles by Echo &The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes (both of whom he subsequently managed) and his own part-time band Lori &The Chameleons. Eventually became A&R man for WEA, signing, among others, Brilliant, whose guitarist Jimmy Cauty became Drummond's partner in first The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu and then The KLF.

Kevin Ward (bass): Fellow art-school student with Drummond, Ward was the original bassist but admits he wasn't much of a musician: "I played parrot-fashion". Moved over to vocals but got squeezed out: "lan Broudie started turning our simple stuff into real songs and I was defunct." Did artwork for various Liverpool bands before moving to Kent, where he made models for petro-chemical engineers. Hasn't played music since leaving the band.

lan Broudie (guitar): "The band was in a good spirit of fun more than a great musical event." Formed The Original Mirrors with Steve Allen (ex-Deaf School), releasing two albums. A chance meeting with Echo &The Bunnymen led to producing half of their debut album. Formed Kingbird when producing The Bunnymen's third and has since produced (among others) Colour Field, Frazier Chorus, Primitives, Icicle Works and Northside. Formed Care in 1983 with ex-Wild Swans guitarist Paul Simpson (three singles) but soon split. Returned to recording in 1989 as The Lightning Seeds, when Pure was a Top 20 single. Has just finished the second Lightning Seeds album.

Jayne Casey (vocals): Left the group soon after Johnson: "We both were thinking about electronic music - we'd heard Devo and The Normal, who were so different." Formed Pink Military - "with lots of people, but I haven't got a good memory, sorry!"- and subsequently Pink Industry. Joined Liverpool's Bluecoat Arts Centre as Director of Performing Arts and is currently director of Liverpool's Festival Of Comedy. "l'm interested in how festivals can develop the perception of a city." Has just released the single Keep The Love (G-Love featuring Jayne Casey): "I recently had a throat operation and was told I wouldn't be able to sing again, so I asked the surgeon if he could make me sound like Eartha Kitt. Three out of four reviews I've read say it does sound like her! A satisfied customer at last."

Holly Johnson (bass): Replaced Kevin Ward on bass. Was "voted out" after a year - "Someone said, We don't want to work with you any more, though they didn't give me a reason. I know I wasn't the greatest bass player, because I wasn't that interested. I was 16 whereas the others were in their twenties, and some of them were taking themselves seriously, like it was their last chance to be in a pop group. But it was something to do, and it meant I got into Eric's club for free and my picture in the NME I also remember some jealousy because Jayne and I got offered a record deal by Stiff as our sideline, The Sausages From Mars, while the band were desperately trying to get one. I always thought the rest had no talent whatsoever, although I liked working with Budgie. I thought I was destined for better things." He was replaced by Dave Balfe, latter-day Teardrop Explodes member and now running Food Records). Released two solo singles, Yankee Rose and Hobo Joe, before forming the embryonic Frankie Goes To Hollywood with Steve Lovell and Ambrose Reynolds. Continued making demos with Lovell before meeting Peter Gill and Mark O'Toole and writing Relax and Two Tribes And the rest is history. Is currently writing songs, painting pictures and writing a book "about life": "l'm not Paul McCartney but l'm surviving."

Budgie (drummer): Recruited from The Spiffire Boys (whose singer was future Frankie Goes To Hollywood dancer Paul Rutherford) to replace Allen. Subsequent short-lived groups included The Secrets (Budgie, Broudie, Frankie Average aka Steve Lindsay, ex-Deaf School bassist and Dave Off-The-Wall and Clive Langer And The Boxes (Langer, Budgie, Average and Ben Barson) He joined The Slits, recording the Cut album but left after a year: "I always loved what they were doing but felt l'd done all I could with them." The Jimmy Norton Experience (with Glen Matlock, Steve New and Danny Kustow) was also brief affairs. "We were all too mad for each other" - but a call soon came from Siouxsie & The Banshees, who'd lost their drummer in mid tour (Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols recommended him), which is where Budgie has remained for 12 years. Married Siouxsie earlier this year (1992). Considers Big In Japan "a process of growing up. I just wish we'd done more justice to our songs - there were some pretty ambitious ones in there."

Phil Allen (drums): Joined up with Ward and Drummond, "who knew a couple of chords, for a bit of a joke". Got bored and left "as soon as it got to the stage of record companies. The whole idea was to be a caricature of punk rather than the real thing".Subsequently joined The Egyptians, The Moderates, and in the mid-80s, The Hunters (two singles on MCA) but has mostly earned a living as a session musician and teaching keyboards/guitar. Has formed the more dance-oriented The Hail Marys, who have their own label, LAP Records.


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Posted by Guest on 2006-05-30 04:36:52

"Liverpool School Of Dream And Pun" should read "Liverpool School Of Language, Music, Dream And Pun", founded by Peter O'Halligan, Sean Halligan and Charlie Alexander as the original "Aunt Twacky's". They created the first Annual Jung Festival in 1976 where Deaf School played their first outside gig. The School, also, became the home of the Science Fiction Theatre of Liverpool [Ken Campbell] which went on to create "The Warp". Comment provided by Larry Sidorczuk [May 2006]

Posted by Guest on 2006-09-26 07:45:15

Didn't include David Balfe, brief member and co-founder of Zoo with Bill Drummond who went on to manage and be in the Teardrops, as well as manage them and EATB with Bill

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