Leatherface Biography

Although little known outside of punk circles, Leatherface has produced a highly impressive body of work and had in vocalist/guitarist Frankie N.W. Stubbs a sublime lyricist and, in conjunction with original second guitarist Richie Hammond, an outstanding songwriting team. Formed in Sunderland, England, in 1988, the band in addition to Stubbs and Hammond comprised drummer Andrew Laing and bass player Stuart Schooler. A five-track demo followed the same year as well as local gigs, and the following year saw the band undertake their first European dates (although minus the briefly absent Hammond). A double a-side ‘Beer Pig’/‘Cherry Knowle’ preceded the debut Cherry Knowle, which saw the band laying down the foundations for their later work. Fill Your Boots quickly followed, with fast and abrasive tracks such as ‘Razor Blades And Aspirin’ and ‘New York State’ demonstrated their grip of hardcore dynamics and pop sensibilities. Gigs with Snuff followed and heralded the beginnings of a close association between the two bands.

After going through a number of bass players, the band achieved a measure of stability with the hiring of Steven Charlton before the release of the outstanding Mush. Lyrically superb, the album ranged from the thoughtful ‘Not A Day Goes By’ and the melancholic ‘Dead Industrial Atmosphere’ to the raging ‘I Want The Moon’ and ‘Winning’. The album was Leatherface’s only contemporary US release. The band recruited former Snuff bass player Andrew Crighton (4 July 1963, London, England, d. 1998) to replace Charlton in time for the follow-up Minx, recorded by the band in their studio. Although it struggled to meet the standards set onMinx, the tracks ‘Books’, ‘Fat, Earthy, Flirt’ and ‘Pale Moonlight’ demonstrated that the band could still produce inspiring material. The mini-album The Last showed a band maturing and broadening their scope, with the album’s stand-out track ‘Little White God’ built on a reggae groove. The lament ‘Shipyards’ featured Stubbs pushing his throaty growl in a Louis Armstrong direction. It would be the last new material for a time however, with the band splitting on stage in London a few weeks later. The posthumous Live In Oslo followed, a blistering set of songs featuring an electric version of the standard ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’.

In the wake of the break up, Stubbs formed Jesse And Pope and produced Welsh punks Four Letter Word, while Hammond joined Doctor Bison. Interest from the USA in the band provoked a re-formation in 1998, and the band struck a new recording contract with BYO (Better Youth Organization) Records. Their first release was a split album with Hot Water Music, which included ‘Andy’, a heartbreaking tribute to bass player Crighton who had committed suicide in the intervening years. Horsebox featured original members Stubbs and Laing, guitarist Leighton Evans and bass player David Burdon. A rousing return to form, from the driving opener ‘Sour Grapes’ to ‘Lorrydriver’s Son’, and typically inspired covers of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colors’ and Nick Cave’s ‘Ship Song’.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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