The 00’s musicians who built Brighton’s DIY scene – where are they now?
Kate Bowie updates us on the musicians Latest was talking to 20 years ago…
It’s safe to say that no one knows local pop-culture like Latest Brighton. While you might be well-acquainted with our online articles or live TV station, it was forty years ago when a bushy-eyed Latest team published their first culture magazine under the name The Punter. From then onward, the library of Latest stretches back like an ancient Egyptian scroll – fascinating, exhaustive, and with chunks lost to the mists of time.
Imagine my delight, then, when buried in boxes at Latest HQ I found what can only be described as a relic. Brushing away thick layers of dusk and peeling off a near fossilized plastic film cover, I discovered a batch of LUV magazines. Standing for ‘Latest Underground Vibe’, Latest published the mags to ‘showcase the amazing diversity of musical and creative talent in Brighton’ (according to the editor’s note in issue one). Even better, they’re remnants from a land lost to time, an age barely remembered, ancient history if you will – 2003.
Hyperbole aside, 20 years may as well be ancient history in musicians terms. Even leafing through the obnoxious neon pages that cover just one year, Latest’s LUVs see artists grow, join or abandon the scene. Which begs the question, where are they now?
Electric Soft Parade
Perhaps the most frequent caller of Latest’s LUVs, Electric Soft Parade were and remain one of Brighton’s most infamous musical outputs. The brothers’ second album ‘Holes In The Wall’ shot them to acclaim in 2002. A year later, in LUV’s third issue, Alex (21) and Thomas (19) White were gearing up for their 3rd album. The two were excited for the freedom of ‘American Adventure’; ‘we felt quite a bit of pressure making the last album, like we were toeing the line a bit too much’. In true disaffected-youth style, they bemoan ‘all this media shit’ and the ‘major labels – it’s all money, completely fabricated and people lose out on the things that really matter. I think that people like Dr Fox and Simon Cowell are responsible for people getting chronic depression and getting fucked up […] they should be shot!’.
While ESP might have shaken off some of their teenage angst since then, their 2019 pro-remain mini-European tour entitled ‘The Brexit Outreach’ suggests they are just as politically engaged. Their subsequent five albums also suggest a similar disinterested in the formulaic pop they derided 20 years ago. 2022 album ‘Stages’ thematically tackles grief, after the two endured the death of their mother. The album’s shimmering synths and aching acoustics are undoubtably something their teenage selves would approve of.
Equally heavily featured, Indie Rock female four-piece Electrelane were the band on everyone’s tongue in 2003. Their 2000 debut ‘On Parade’, which Latest said ‘struts like a Pit Bull spoiling for a fight’, cemented then as ‘a band that means business’. When we chatted to them last, they were all geared up for the next one. Made with indie legend Steve Albini (producer for Nirvana and The Pixies), Electrelane were right when they said ‘this record has really exceeded our expectations’ – it stands as their post popular to date.
The band announced an ‘indefinite hiatus’ in 2007 with a final Brighton gig. However, fans might need not despair. Not only did the group reform for a festival tour in 2012, but in 2021 they announced they were ‘working on new music’ and that ‘playing together again feels really, really good’.
Last time we caught up with Turin Brakes, the then-26-year-olds had just released their 2003 album ‘Ether Song’. The album was a departure from their ‘new acoustic’ roots into more downright rock. At the time, Ollie Knights said he could ‘see people sitting by the stereo with their fingers in their ears, saying, ‘What the hell are they doing?’. Luckily, his premonition was wrong, ‘Esther Song’ propelling the band into mainstream success with a UK top five hit.
Since then, the duo has grown into a four-piece and are still making music. With eight albums now behind them, production seems nowhere near slowing down. New album ‘Wide-Eyed Nowhere’ is on the horizon, and you can listen to three pre-released singles right now.
Words by Kate Bowie