A brief* history of Space.
1993: In the Beginning
May 1993 - Tommy Scott and Andy Parle have been floating around their hometown of Liverpool for too long. In a town where the shadow of The Beatles still hangs over every aspiring Liverpudlian musician, finding the personnel to translate the sound in Scott's head had proved a frustrating and fruitless task. 17 year old would-be guitarist Jamie Murphy was always around. A precocious musical talent and hive of hyperactivity, he'd always seemed too young to be involved. With a saying in mind ("If you're big enough, you're old enough"), the first time Scott saw him out in a local nightclub, he decided to give it a go. Murphy turned up to his first rehearsal in school uniform.
Kraftwerk fanatic Franny Griffiths was in a nightclub one night in his native Liverpool, minding his own business when someone delivered an empty pack of cigarettes to him. Scrawled on the back of the package was an offer for the keyboardist/sampling wizard to join the quirky rock group Space. He immediately dismissed it as soon as he read who had signed it: singer-bassist Tommy Scott and drummer Andy Parle. Griffiths knew better...
Space 1994: Franny, Jamie, Andy and Tommy
"I know Tommy and Andy from way back when," Griffiths said in an interview, "and they didn't like each other when we were kids. So, I get this note that said, 'Please come and join, help us do a demo.' I thought someone was joking because Tommy and Andy were never friends, and here's their names written on the back of a cigarette box." Cautious but curious, Griffiths agreed to meet Scott, Parle and guitarist Jamie Murphy the next day. Lo and behold, the group's strange little songs showed promise and Scott and Parle were working together side by side. Franny was in!
The original line-up was complete. Space had been born...
Liverpool manager Mark Cowley has been with the band since their first gig and recorded the band's first single If it's Real on his own label Hug Records, with The Farm's Carl Hunter designing the Artwork. It was from this that Gut Records first discovered the band. Gut started a sub label called Hug Records and asked Mark's permission to release a record using the same label name.
An initial low key single Money/Kill Me was released in November 1995 - it left the shops as quickly as it had entered. They cut their live teeth around this time too, but it was the release of their first proper single Neighbourhood that really kicked things off for the band. It told the tale of Tommys childhood street in Liverpool, but with serial killers and transvestites in starring role. This was pop music with a dark and sharp edge, a taste of things to come.
The second single Female of the Species was a bolt from the blue. Scott wrote this song for his late father, who had always hated his music. He wanted it to sound like a Burt Bacharach tune sung by Frank Sinatra. The results were wonderful. Female of the Species was an instant classic, staying in the UK top 40 for an amazing 3 months. It was this song that catapulted Space to a whole new audience. The debut album Spiders was a resounding critical success. Three sold out tours, three further Top 20 singles (Dark Clouds, a re-released Neighbourhood and the Top 10 hit Me and You Versus The World) and some triumphant festival appearances followed.
Old acquaintance Dave Palmer, better known as Yorkie, joined the band in late 1997. After helping out with the album, Yorkie was asked to become the bands' full time bassist, allowing Tommy to concentrate on vocals.
Internationally, things began to happen for the band, already a massive hit in the UK Female of the Species also gained moderate airplay on college radio and MTV in America as well. With success comes touring, with touring comes stress... A tour of the US followed in mid-1997. Jamie, the youngest member of the band at only 21, found it all too much. He took a break, missing some live shows and TV appearances. The death of Palmer's mother, legendary Liverpool singer Gladys Palmer, also devastated the band.
1998: Tin Planet
Jamie returned for the recording of Space's second album Tin Planet. This was a darker, more song-led album than their debut. Scott's voice was at the fore, as the band mixed the classicism of his songs with Griffiths' keyboard backdrops, Murphy's energy and Parles' solid rhythms.
Tommy describes Tin Planet as, "More darkness, but the songs are pure love songs. Our first songs used to be trying to be like Speedy Gonzales or Peter Lorre. Now its more Marlene Dietrich. It's still Space, the strangeness and the stories; it's just darker, and well, better. This LP what I wanted much more, Im looking forward to people hearing it, we're raring to go now."
In early 1998 after finishing Space's second album Tin Planet, drummer Andy Parle left. He was immediately replaced by Leon Caffrey.
The first single from Tin Planet was Avenging Angels which was released in December 1997 and went straight into the charts at No. 6. Next came The Ballad of Tom Jones, a duet with Cerys from Catatonia, which was released in February 1998 and entering the charts at Number 4. The album itself was released in March 1998 and entered the album charts at Number 3! The next single Begin Again was released in June 1998. The Tin Planet Live video was also released on the same date.
1999: Love You More Than Football
During 1999 Space took a well earned break from the rigours of touring and concentrated on writing material for their third album. Love You More Than Football was due to be released in the UK in mid 2000 and was eagerly anticipated by Space fans all over. However after the first single Diary of a Wimp didnt meet expected sales levels, the release of the album was delayed indefinitely by Gut records. A further UK tour was announced in September 2001 but later cancelled due to legal problems with the record company. These difficulties forced the band to wait for a termination agreement before recording any new material.
2002: Getting Intimate
Between record companies Space took time rewriting material for their new album and at the end of 2001 announced a free intimate gig for the fans, scheduled for the 26th January 2002 at the Unity Theatre in Liverpool. However with just a week to go before the performance fans were thrown into confusion when the news spread that Jamie Murphy had left the band again. But the show went ahead regardless and was performed in front of 150 fans, a demonstration of the new material written and also a selection of the old favourites. A free CD containing two tracks (later to become part of the Music For Aliens series) was given to all who attended. The show went well despite the last-minute loss of Jamie and was enjoyed by all, with the new songs sounding great and Space giving a superb performance.
Space 2002: Franny, Tommy, Leon, and Yorkie
In June 2002 Space signed to Mutant Records, a new label founded by Stephen Lironi and the bands' manager Mark Cowley. They then went into the studio to record their new album Suburban Rock 'n' Roll. Described as "11 brilliant trips into the crazed mind of Tommy Scott", this was the new Space sound at its best. In September/October 2002 Space held an intimate UK tour with gigs in Liverpool, London, Cardiff and Sheffield. The first single from Suburban Rock 'n' Roll, Zombies, was released in November 2002. Sadly it only reached 47 in the UK singles chart.
2003: Suburban Rock 'n' Roll
More record label trouble followed and the release of the next single and the album suffered a series of further setbacks. Fast-forward through 2003 with a near-signing to another label and a series of Music For Aliens releases to keep the loyal fans happy and we arrive in November 2003, when Space signed to randm records.
The first release under randm came in February 2004, with the title track from the new album, Suburban Rock 'n' Roll. It reached 16 in the UK Indie charts. This was closely followed by Suburban Rock 'n' Roll the album in March, the first Space album to hit the shops in 5 long years. The last release under randm, and the last to date, was the single 20 Million Miles from Earth, released in May 2004. It reached 35 in the UK Indie chart.
2005: The End?
By now the band was fatigued from years of delayed releases, problems with record labels and a lukewarm response to their latest releases. Following months of speculation about their status by fans, Space were finally declared to have parted ways in an email from Yorkie to a fan. An unfortunately low-key and quiet ending for a band that was still beloved by many.
Following their split the group went separate ways musically. Tommy formed a new band called The Drellas, to be later joined by Leon. Franny produced under the name Subway Showdown, then reunited with Jamie as band members in Dust. Yorkie continued to produce music and work on his solo project Moongoose.
In August 2009, Space's former drummer Andy Parle sadly passed away. The remaining original members met at his funeral and this broke the ice between them. This encounter sowed the seeds for what was to follow.
2011: Space Reunited
In November 2011 the big news hit that Space were back. The new line-up reunited original members Tommy, Jamie and Franny back together for the first time in 10 years. They were joined by the other members of Tommy's band Tommy Scott and the Red Scare; Phil Hartley (Bass / Double Bass), Ryan Clarke (Vintage Keys) and Allan Jones (Drums). Space's return was cemented with a reunion gig at the O2 Academy Liverpool in December 2011. The show was a quick sell-out, and gave fans an early taste of the band's new material and sound.
Space 2011: Franny, Phil, Ryan, Tommy, Jamie and Allan
Through 2012 Space worked on their latest album Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab, as well as performing at various venues and festivals. By September it had become apparent that Jamie was no longer part of the group, though no official reason was given for the latest split. The rest of the band continues to work towards a 2013 release for the new album and a UK tour.
* Well it was brief, back in 2002 when the first version was written!