THE MUSIC 1999-2011:WHY THEY’LL BE MISSED. By Tim Chester.

It came as a cruel irony today that midway through our first listen to the godforsaken new Brother record, news landed that The Music were splitting up. As we sat through the dying grunts of Britpop reimagined by four urchins from Slough, it sunk in that one of the most inventive turn-of-the-millenium bands – one of the groups that saved us from those dark days – are no more.

The Music might only be mourned by a select few but their two-night funeral party this summer ought to be packed to the rafters. They were, quite simply, in a class of their own. It’s easy to forget that when Steve Lamacq started championing them we were living in a world of Hives, Vines, and Travis travesties. In 2001 the NME tour featured Amen, Starsailor, JJ72 and Alfie, the latter of which feel like less a band than a vague bad dream. And shortly before The Music’s debut Fierce Panda release ‘Take The Long Road And Walk It’ hit the shops we were featuring proto X-Factor TV show Popstars on the cover. Dark times.

And those early The Music tracks hit like a truncheon to the nethers. Not only ‘Take The Long Road And Walk It’’s baggy-grunge-disco strut or ‘The People’’s big-riffing ballsiness but most of the B-sides too: The Mogwai-goes-tribal ‘The Walls Get Smaller’’s and ‘New Instrumental’’s mesmerising squiggly post-rock among the most memorable.


They might not have been arsed to write proper song names (and when they did they were never much better than the dismal ‘You Might As Well Try To Fuck Me’), but they knew their way around a tune.

And as for their debut – near perfection. At the time NME wrote: “epic is the scale. Frazzled are the incantations. Heavy are the riffs. Ablaze are the lakes of fire burning in the bellies of these preposterously ungainly jams”, which just about summed it up. Raising itself out of a wall-of-noise miasma during ‘The Dance’ and going on to display a technical ability and more importantly a natural groove that belied their shaggy-haired stoner façade, it – along with the singles and b-sides – armed the band with a formidable live show.

I saw them many times, but perhaps the most memorable was on the NME Stage at Reading in the early noughies. I’d hustled onto the site as an Oxfam steward and my only job was to stop people climbing up those ladder tower things. Needless to say two songs in I was down the front while some bloke disappeared up the pole and out onto the roof to the strains of Robert Harvey singing ”what’s it like up there” at the start of ‘Getaway’. They were one of those bands.

Sure, the tracks got progressively less awesome, and Harvey went through a whole drink/drugs/depression phase (about which he was admirably honest and open), but they regained most of their form for a least half of third album ‘Strength In Numbers’. However, they never did quite recapture that early alchemy and that was about it. Perhaps the formula was just too volatile – too unique to produce again and too complicated to develop. Eventually they got left behind. But they’ve left behind more tunes in more brains than Brother will ever hope to.

Kevin Walsh · Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
the music were one of the best bands of the last decade.that first album and b-sides like Dragon Song, Jag Tune and Let Love Be The Healer piss all over anything the likes of kasabian have ever done.brilliant live and rob harvey was one of the the best frontmen ive ever seen.history will have a place for them yet.


The Music
O2 Academy Leeds
Fri 05 Aug 11
Door time: 7.00pm
Show time: TBC
After 10 years, three albums and some unforgettable live performances, The Music have announced a series of final shows in Japan and England before going their separate ways at the end of this summer.




The Music all met at Brigshaw High School and began playing in 1999. In 2001 the song “Take the Long Road and Walk It” circulated as a demo before being released by Fierce Panda as a 1000-copies-only single, a rarity from its day of release. Around this time the NME and Steve Lamacq were describing them as the best unsigned band in Britain. The band were quickly signed by Hut, who released their first EP You Might as Well Try to Fuck Me.
In 2002, following another EP (The People) they released their eponymous debut album which reached #4 in the UK album charts. Their debut single was re-issued as part of a two-disc set to promote the album, and reached #14 in the singles chart. Two further singles from the album, Getaway and The Truth is No Words reached #26 and #18 respectively. June 2003 saw them filling in for an absent Zwan on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival.
In autumn 2004, they released their second album Welcome to the North and the accompanying single Freedom Fighters, before touring with Incubus. August 2005 saw the band play at the dual-venue V Festival. In late 2006 they played a few UK gigs and subsequently posted on their site the video new song entitled, Fire, which would eventually be released on Strength in Numbers two years later. The site also featured a video for unreleased track Kill 100 by X-Press 2 featuring Robert Harvey.
The band signed a new deal with Polydor in 2007 and spent the rest of the year recording their third album with producers Flood and Paul Hartnoll.
During this time Harvey also revealed the reason for the band’s extended absence. On The Music’s official website, he told of his initial abuse of drugs in his mid-teens: “the addiction began to sit into its groove. At first it was a joy then later became a habit and a way of escaping”. He later quit drugs, but around the time of the band’s second album, had replaced the addiction with alcohol: “Drinking became the place to hide. he would have a bottle of wine before 7pm, then go out and make a fool of himself. The next day was always panic and more questions; it took a close friend to say ‘Robert, you are depressed'”. He sought help at the end of 2005, and undertook a program that included medication.
In June 2008, the band released their comeback single “Strength in Numbers”, and the album Strength In Numbers the following week.
In January 2010, the band began demoing material for their fourth studio album.