With music biz manipulation, soul- destroying tours and a cynical press conspiring to bruise their youthful spirit, the Sneaker Pimps — Britain's finest techno-folk popsters — soon found the rock 'n' roll dream wasn't quite as sweet as they’d first thought. ’When we started out in 1996, we were quite naive in terms of the pop world and how things worked. We were just a bunch of geeks, really,’ muses Chris Corner, the Pimps’ impressively cheekboned songwriter. ’We had already done our demos for our first album, but we were persuaded that we needed something different: an extra ingredient. That's where Kelli came in.’
Ah yes. Kelli. Impossiny pretty and blessed with a voice of the warmest syrup, Kelli Dayton was drafted in for what bloated record company suits would undoubtedly refer to as the ’feisty female frontperson factor'. Unsurprisingly the ploy worked, with debut album Becoming X - an intriguing, frothy tumble of trip-hop beats and organic grooves — selling over half a million copies. It was, however, a situation that sat uncomfortably with the band's original outlook. 'Kelli's vocal suited the songs at that time which, for a while, was great,’ explains Corner. ’But we just
wanted to change back to the original format really. We never really hit it off with her and we felt manipulated into being a band that we never were. Our original
vision kind of got distorted.’
Following an emotionally and physically shattering American tour (described by joint founding member Liam Howe as 'a desperately unhappy time'), the Pimps decided enough was enough. The result was a split with Kelli which, in turn, saw Corner re-adopt his original role as singer. ‘There was a while where I thought "Oh
Not Kelli's heroes: Sneaker Pimps
God — am I up for this?!" But I feel really confident now; like a completely different person. It sounds a bit dramatic but we really feel like a new band.’
And, explains Corner, the new format has also lead to a
new sound. 'The new album (Splinter, due out in the autumn) is a lot more complex, poignant and personal. But, mainly, it's a lot more honest than before. And that‘s definitely the most important thing.’ (Sarah Dempster)
I Sneaker Pimps, The Venue, 8 Aug The single ’Low Five’ is out now on Clean-Up Records.
BIG DAY OUT Summer Nights At
The estate I'm in: James Taylor
After Glastonbury and T in the Park, a sedate day on a country estate sipping something hay in the Sun probably sounds like bliss. Summer Nights at Lennoxlove is certainly something out of the ordinary compared to the rest of the music calendar this summer, and may be just what you’re looking for. It's the first such event to be held on the grounds of Lennoxlove House, the country seat of the Duke of Hamilton just outSide Haddington; but its organisers hope the setting Will in the future attract international acts
The headlining attraction is James Taylor. Over the past 30 years, he's gradually shaken off his image as the stereotypical confessional soft-rock singer-songwriter to be belatedly acknowledged as a strong, reliable acoustic artist. The latest wave of black American blues artists is
represented by its leading figure, the excellent Eric Bibb; and that growly stalwart of the Edinburgh blues scene, Tam White, Will be kicking off the mu5ic programme With his current outfit The Shoestring Band, White has never enjoyed the success he deserves, despite acclaim from such blues authorities as the late Alexis Korner, and his great v0ice and stage presence come highly recommended. And as if that weren't enough for a memorable day out, compere Clarissa Dickson Wright (one half of the Two Fat Ladies) is in charge of the food, running a barbeque for the anticipated SOOO-strong audience, a banquet inside the house and catering for the artists. Literally feeding the 5000? She'll dine out on that one for a While. (Alastair Mabbott) I Ticket enquiries: 0737 225 7888
I I t \’ This issue’s best gigs ROCK/POP Sneaker Pimps See preVieW, left Sneaker Pimps, The Venue,
557 3073, Sun 8 Aug, 8pm, [6
astrid Planet Pop's dazzling first week line-up includes the dinky lower-case retro-poppets from LeWis, who are puriting their debut album Strange Weather Late/y. astrid (Planet Pop) The Attic, 225 8382, Wed 1 7 Aug, 7.30pm, [4 ([3).
Blacka'nized Hardworking, much loved Edinburgh crew treat the inhabitants of Planet Pop to their brilliant eponymous debut album. Playing Willi Roots Manuva (see Famespotting, page 16) B/acka’nized (Planet Pop) The Venue, 557 3073, Tue 10 Aug, 9pm, [8.50 ([7)
Polly Philips Low-profile, high- potential singer, songwriter and critics’ sweetheart heads the Tron's acoustic showcase. Pol/y Philips (Fringe) The Tron, 226 093i, 8, 75, 22, 29 Aug,
8 45pm, [5 ([3)
Summer Nights at Lennoxlove James Taylor plus support. See preVIeW, left. Summer Nights at Lennoxlove (Fringe) Haddington: Lennoxlove House, ticket enquiries 07 31 225 7888, Sat 7 Aug, 4pm, £30.
Ando Drom Jaws dropped last year at the frenetic ways of this highly-regarded Hungarian gypsy troupe, a highlight of the Famous Grouse House's impressive folk and world music bill. Ando Drom (Fringe) Famous Grouse House (Venue 34) 220 5606, 9—12 Aug, 72.30am, £7.50 (£5.50).
5-12 Aug 1999 THE usr 63