Sneaker Pimps Biography

One of the most unusual and potentially exciting bands to emerge out of the alternative rock milieu of the mid-90s, the Sneaker Pimps were immediately signed up by One Little Indian Records in the UK, a contract with Virgin Records in the USA being brokered shortly thereafter. The band’s elegant fusion of dance music, indie and electronic sounds is dependent on the collaborative work of keyboard player Liam Howe, famed for regularly displaying his first ever purchase, a £20 Casio synthesizer, at the band’s live shows, and guitarist Chris Corner. The pair had grown up together in Hartlepool, England, before relocating to London. Prior to Sneaker Pimps, both had spent several years working on the fringes of the electronic and experimental dance scenes as FRISK and then Line Of Flight. Anglo-Indonesian vocalist Kelly Dayton, formerly of London indie outfit the Lumieres, was brought in for their new project, broadening the horizons of the previously studio-bound Howe and Corner, as the trio began playing low-profile gigs with a live rhythm section. The band made its debut in April 1996 with ‘Tesko Suicide’, which incorporated elements of folk among the trip-hop beats and attracted strong critical praise. Much of Becoming X, their debut album released in August that year, was informed by a budget-mentality, the recording taking place at Howe’s father’s house in his tiny bedroom. Dayton reportedly sang the album’s vocals while sitting in a nearby cupboard owing to the lack of space. Despite this, the Sneaker Pimps fermented a sound that encouraged very different perceptions of the environment in which it was created - the instrumentalists’ lightness of touch combined with an aura of rhythmic space to offset the claustrophobia evident in the vocals. ‘6 Underground’, was included on the soundtrack to The Saint. The band appeared regularly on evening radio and charmed critics with their fresh, unsullied approach both to music-making and the media. They also made inroads into the fickle American market. Howe subsequently began working on remix projects, including a new version of the Shamen’s ‘Move Any Mountain’. Corner took over as vocalist when Dayton left the band at the start of 1998 to start a solo career as Kelli Ali. Corner featured on the excellent follow-up Splinter.

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