photo courtesy Cyrille FolliotLush History
Meshing dreamy, feedback-drenched guitars with airy, catchy melodies, Lush were one of the most prominent shoegazing bands of the early '90s. Led by guitarists Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson, the British band earned a cult following within the British and American undergrounds with its first EPs, yet the group never quite attained the critical respect given to its peers My Bloody Valentine and Ride. Even so, Lush lasted longer than any other of their contemporaries (with the exception of the Boo Radleys), developing sharp pop skills as their career progressed. By the time of their final album, 1996's Lovelife, they had converted themselves into a power pop band with dream pop overtones, which resulted in the greatest chart success of their career. Their success was dealt a blow when drummer Chris Acland committed suicide in the fall of 1996. The band was at an end.
When did it all begin?
Lush were born on a dark, winter day in 1987, in a college dorm at North London Polytechnic where all four members attended. But their origins date back almost a decade before. when Berenyi and Anderson met in primary school. Soon they became close friends. "Emma introduced me to getting drunk on cider." Laughs Berenyi.
Miki Berenyi, Emma Anderson, Chris Acland, Steve Rippon (bass), and Meriel Barham (guitar) formed Lush in 1987 in London, England. Prior to the group's formation, school friends Berenyi and Anderson had collaborated on a fanzine together, as well as played in a number of other bands individually. Anderson, who had been working as a DHSS clerical assistant, had played bass with the Rover Girls, while Berenyi had been a member of I-Goat and Fuhrer Five. Berenyi's then-boyfriend, Acland had previous played with several other groups as well, including Panik, Infection, and A Touch of Hysteria. Barham left Lush soon after the band's formation to form the Pale Saints, and the remaining members began playing around London, quickly earning a number of fans, including Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins. Guthrie helped the band secure a contract with 4AD Records, and they released their acclaimed debut EP, Scar, in 1989. Lush supported the EP with opening tours for Loop and the Darling Buds, and by 1990, they had graduated to headlining tours of their own.
In 1990 the LP Gala, which combined the material from the first three EPs, was released by Reprise in the United States, -this being the first exposure of Lush in North America.
Throughout 1990, the band's reputation in the British music press began to grow as they released the acclaimed EPs Mad Love and Sweetness and Light, played high-profile gigs like the Glastonbury Festival, and became favorites of the music weeklies' gossip columns. Gala, an album compiling their three EPs, became the band's first American release at the end of 1990. Lush spent most of 1991 recording their debut album, releasing the Black Spring EP in the spring.
The band's second album - and the first made up of completely new material was Spooky in the spring of 1992. Produced by Robin Guthrie, Spooky featured a sound which was often compared to Guthrie's band Cocteau Twins, with walls of sound and a great deal of flange. But their sound was not the same, Lush was much, much better!
The album sold well, reaching the British Top Ten and topping the U.K. indie charts, and of course the press heaped plenty of criticisms on it. The elite press thought that Guthrie's production brought the sound away from the band's original creative vision.
Bassist Steve Rippon left the band to concentrate on writing, though his book Cold Turkey Sandwich - a fictionalized chronicle of his time in touring - was rejected by publishers. He was replaced by Phil King, a former picture researcher for NME and a previous member of Felt, Servants, and Biff Bang Pow.
In 1992 the band supported the album, touring America with the second Lollapalooza festival. Though they quickly increased their exposure in the States, the dream pop sound was somewhat out of place amongst the metal and poprock of the festival. It was an unenviable position to be in, but the band held up and came to be remembered nostalgically by the members.
Lush released their second album, Split, in the summer of 1994. Split reflected the band's growth, the music shifted to more of a rock-edged sound on some tracks alternating with the softer offerings like Desire Lines and Never-Never.
The elite music press say Lush adapted from the roots of their shoegaze-style to the newly popular sounds of the britpop era. I believe it was more of a natural progression as the band matured, and the studio recordings reflected more closely their hard-driven live sound. Lush never had cared much for labels and felt no obligation to be pigeon-holed and conformed by them.
Lush's 1996 Lovelife became the biggest seller of their career, including the hit singles Ladykillers, 500Single Girl. Also on this album, Jarvis Cocker from Pulp contributed guest vocals to Ciao! The album became a British Top 20 hit. Meanwhile in the States, Lovelife became their best selling album.
Lush had completed touring for the year and was on break when Chris Acland, suffering from depression, had unexpectedly hung himself in his parent's home on October 17, 1996. Devastated by the loss, the remaining members of Lush dropped out of the public eye. With the chemistry that made up the band shattered, the remaining members made it official, with the announcement in 1998 that the band was no more.
Emma Anderson has since formed a new band, Sing-Sing, who have released two full-length albums to date. The last release was in 2006, and it's doubtful there will be any more since Emma is devoting time to her new baby.
Phil King went on to play with a number of other bands, becoming a fulltime bassist for The Jesus and Mary Chain which he remains with to this day.
Miki Berenyi stayed out of the limelight for many years, working with a magazine. Then quite suddenly she began to occasionally appear on recordings for bands such as the Rentals, Flat7 and Sienking Ships. She went on to record and appear on stage with punk band Hard Skin, a group which Lush's Chris Acland was associated with.
Lush All Over Again
On September 28, 2015 the official announcement came that fans worldwide had been dreaming of for 19 years.
"Shoegaze band Lush have confirmed their first live show in almost 20 years.
The band, who split in 1998, will reunite for a gig at London’s Roundhouse on May 6, 2016. Tickets go on sale Wednesday (September 30) at 9am...
“The opportunities and practicalities of reforming Lush meant that for 20 years it was an impossible undertaking,” Berenyi said of the news, adding, “but we all loved what we did, and the time is finally right for us to do it again.”
Lush have confirmed that a world tour will be “announced shortly”. The band’s label 4AD are also reissuing their 'best of’ compilation 'Ciao!’ on vinyl in November, followed by a five-disc box set titled 'Chorus’ in December."Lush Trivia
Before a friend came up with the name Lush, they were going to call themselves "The Baby Machine."
Miki and Chris were massive fans of the Tottenham Hotspur, a local football club, which eventually would lead to their association with the Lillies super-indie band.
Cold Turkey Sandwich and more: http://eyesore.no/tfdi/demon/p_art3.html