Ned's Atomic Dustbin Biography

Formed in Stourbrige, West Midlands, England in 1988 by local characters Jonn Penney (17 September 1968, Quarry Bank, West Midlands, England; vocals), Rat (b. Garath Pring, 8 November 1970, Sedgley, West Midlands, England; guitar), Matt Cheslin (b. 28 November 1970, Quarry Bank, West Midlands, England; bass), Alex Griffin (b. 29 August 1971, Kingswinford, West Midlands, England; bass), and Dan Warton (b. 28 July 1972, Sedgley, West Midlands, England; drums).

After dubious gothic beginnings, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin began to find their feet in 1989 with the establishment of their own Furtive Records label and a series of tour supports, notably with regional contemporaries the Wonderstuff. Notable for having two bass players, uniformly crimped hair and an unequivocally daft name (taken from BBC Radio’s The Goon Show), the band’s urgent, aggressive sub-hardcore sound still managed to offset any gimmicky connotations, turning a potential freak show into a challenging pop act.

Armed with a multitude of original merchandising ideas - within three years the band produced 86 different T-shirt designs - their ‘Kill Your Television’ single (on the Chapter 22 label) entered the UK Top 60 and resulted in a major contract with Sony Music. With the financial wherewithal to back their imagination, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin soon translated their ideas into a phenomenal commercial success, peaking when God Fodder entered the UK charts at number four in 1991. The rest of the year was filled by hectic touring commitments, with America followed by Japan, a prestigious spot at the British Reading Festival, a UK Top 20 hit with ‘Happy’, back to America (with Jesus Jones) and then a British tour which resulted in singer Penney collapsing from exhaustion on the last night. Are You Normal?, with production by Nirvana -collaborator Andy Wallace, was a disappointing album despite featuring another UK Top 20 hit, ‘Not Sleeping Around’.

Following a lengthy period out of the spotlight, the band returned with the excellent Brainbloodvolume, but its lack of success in a vastly changed music scene led to their demise in August 1995. Penney was briefly in Groundswell with Rat, before the Neds reunited for a performance in 2000, with Andy King (bass) and Martin Warlow (guitar) replacing Cheslin and Rat respectively. Several low-key reunions have taken place since, with a 2002 show recorded for posterity on DVD.

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

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