My Bloody Valentine Biography

It took several years for My Bloody Valentine to capture their groundbreaking hybrid of ethereal melodies and studio-orientated, discordant sounds that proved so influential on the independent scene of the late 80s. Their roots lay in Dublin, Eire, where guitarist Kevin Shields (21 May 1963, Queens, New York City, New York, USA) joined drummer Colm O’Ciosoig (b. 31 October 1964, Dublin, Eire) in the short-lived the Complex. Forming My Bloody Valentine in 1984 (taking the band’s name from a Hollywood B-movie), the pair moved to Berlin, joined by Dave Conway (vocals) and Tina (keyboards). A mini-album, This Is Your Bloody Valentine, on the obscure German Tycoon label in 1985, made little impression (although it was later reissued in the UK), so the band returned to London and recruited bass player Debbie Googe (b. 1962, England). The 12-inch EP Geek! (and the accompanying, ‘No Place To Go’) emerged on Fever in mid-1986, and, like their debut, was strongly influenced by the Cramps and the Birthday Party.

Later that year, the band signed with Joe Foster’s fledgling Kaleidoscope Sound label for The New Record By My Bloody Valentine EP, which revealed a new influence, the Jesus And Mary Chain. A switch to the Primitives’ label Lazy, produced ‘Sunny Sundae Smile’ (1987), which meshed bubblegum pop with buzzsaw guitars, a formula that dominated both the Strawberry Wine EP and the mini-album, Ecstasy, released later that year. The departure of Conway and Shields’ growing influence signalled a change in musical direction, reinforced by the arrival of vocalist and guitarist Bilinda Butcher (b. 16 September 1961, London, England), who made her debut on Strawberry Wine.

A further move to Creation Records allowed for a drastic reappraisal in recording techniques, first apparent on the formidable You Made Me Realise EP in 1988. Enticing melodic structures contrasted with the snarling, almost unworldly collage of noise, developed more fully that year on My Bloody Valentine’s pivotal Isn’t Anything, from which was drawn the barrage of guitars, ‘Feed Me With Your Kiss’. At last, the band had unearthed a completely new sound, and following the album’s release their status mushroomed. The release of an EP, Glider (1990), alongside a remix from the in-demand DJ Andrew Weatherall, flirted with both dance music and the charts while ‘Tremelo’ (1991) must rank as arguably the most extreme piece of music to reach the UK Top 30. To quote the band, it ‘sounded like it was being played through a transistor radio’.

My Bloody Valentine’s increasing maturity saw the meticulously produced Loveless (1991) reinforce their reputation as one of the prime influences on the late 80s UK independent scene, and one to which bands such as Slowdive, Lush and Chapterhouse owed a great deal. The massive studio bills run up during this time saw My Bloody Valentine leave Creation, moving instead to Island Records. At this point, another agonising gestation period was embarked upon, allegedly due to difficulty installing equipment in their purpose-built studio in south London. The only track to emerge during this period was a cover of Wire’s ‘Map Ref. 41N 93W’ for a tribute album, and by the mid-90s the band had been put on indefinite hold.

O’Ciosoig and Googe had already tired of waiting for their errant leader, forming Clear Spot and Snowpony respectively. Shields contributed to the 1996 Experimental Audio Research album Beyond The Pale before becoming a semi-permanent member of Primal Scream, contributing to their albums Xtrmntr (2000) and Evil Heat (2002). He recorded his first significant new material in 12 years for the soundtrack of the 2003 movie, Lost In Translation. In late 2007, Shields announced that he was re-forming My Bloody Valentine with Butcher, Googe and O’Ciosoig for a series of live shows.

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

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