For in-depth (though sometimes inaccurate) details, consult the various rock encyclopaedias. Ones that feature us include: THE GREAT INDIE DISCOGRAPHY (ed. M.C.Strong), THE VIRGIN ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF 80’S MUSIC (ed. Colin Larkin), THE ROUGH GUIDE TO ROCK, although they appear to think the band has split up, and MUSIC HOUND ROCK, THE ESSENTIAL ALBUM GUIDE (ed. Gary Graff & Daniel Durcholz).
Essentially, the facts are these:
The BLUE AEROPLANES formed out of the ashes of the ART OBJECTS. Their first gig under the name BLUE AEROPLANES was at the King Street Art Gallery in Bristol in 1981, although the band did not properly form until 1984. This initial line-up was mainly ex-ART OBJECTS, plus NICK JACOBS on guitar and vocals. The same line-up played 3 or 4 gigs over the next couple of years, either at the gallery or for benefits, including a Karl Marx centenary gig at the Victoria Rooms with BLACK ROOTS (and featuring additional tru
mpet and didgeridoo players!).
Meanwhile, GERARD had been putting together a set of recordings featuring the above musicians and IAN KEAREY (also of the OYSTER BAND). These turned into the first album “BOP ART”, which was ready for release in 1984 on the band’s own label. A live band was put together to promote the album, including NICK JACOBS, ANGELO BRUSCHINI and CAROLINE TRETTINE (then CAROLINE HALCROW) on guitars, SIMON HEATHFIELD on bass, JOHN LANGLEY on drums and, of course, WOJTEK DMOCHOWSKI on dancing.
The album got rave reviews in the NME and SOUNDS and led to the band signing to FIRE RECORDS. At this point, and not for the last time, the band split. GERARD and NICK called in RICHARD BELL and RUTH COCHRANE (guitar and bass) and DAVE CHAPMAN (guitar, bass, mandolin, clarinet) and this line-up was stable enough to record both “TOLERANCE” and “SPITTING OUT MIRACLES” before splitting up in mid-1988 to get proper jobs. With a certain amount of overlap (RICHARD delayed his entry into the real world until the end of 1988), the band turned into a much rockier unit with the return of ANGELO BRUSCHINI and the addition of RODNEY ALLEN on guitar and vocals, ALEX LEE on guitar and ANDY McCREETH on bass.
This infusion of youthful ambition (RODNEY was 20 and ALEX was 18) seemed to lead directly to where the band wanted to go. After supporting the DARLING BUDS and REM (how often do you hear those 2 names in the same sentence?) the BLUE AEROPLANES signed to ENSIGN, forming the incredibly hip roster of SINEAD O’CONNOR, THE WATERBOYS, WORLD PARTY and the AEROPLANES. This led to the release of “SWAGGER” and touring 17 countries in a year, many of them several times. Unfortunately, this uncharacteristic burst of energy led to tensions in the band and JOHN LANGLEY quit at the end of 1990, just before the recording of “BEATSONGS” (not produced by ELVIS COSTELLO, as several encyclopaedias seem to think).
ALEX LEE then quit immediately after the recording of “BEATSONGS” (in the best studio in the world, LA’s Oceanway) and was replaced by HAZEL WINTER and, for one tour only, ex-ART OBJECT ROBIN KEY.
A potential hit single in the US was scuppered by a record-company buy-out and legal problems prevented the band from releasing their next album till 1994 and a move to BEGGAR’S BANQUET. The album “LIFE MODEL” sold surprisingly well and there was a sell-out tour of the UK with A HOUSE and SLEEPER supporting, but after the following year’s “ROUGH MUSIC”, GERARD took a break, supposedly to research his history of rock music based on one snapshot moment (still unfinished, unfortunately), returning in 2000 with the experimental folk-rock-psych-prog “CAVALIERS” and the weird-pop solo album “RECORD PLAYER”, featuring ex-EAT guitarist MAX NOBLE.
The band then signed with EMI/HARVEST and released “ALTITUDE” and “SWAGGER DELUXE” (an expanded version of their biggest UK album) to a chorus of 4 and 5 star reviews. They played “SWAGGER” in its entirety at a sweaty over-sold gig at the Borderline where WOJTEK (in spite of his current part-time status due to family commitments) almost destroyed the overhead sprinkler system with some over-enthusiastic audience interaction.
The musicians that formed to tour “ALTITUDE” consisted of GERARD LANGLEY, JOHN LANGLEY, MAX NOBLE, JOE ALLEN on bass and JULIAN POOLE on guitar (both formerly with JOHN LANGLEY and ALEX LEE in STRANGELOVE) and GERARD STARKIE on guitar and vocals (formerly with JOHN LANGLEY in WITNESS).
After the tour, this lineup set about recording a set of new material with JIM BARR (bassist with PORTISHEAD and owner of J&J Studios in Bristol) and CHRIS SHARP, involving new faces RITA LYNCH and KATIE TOMLINSON and old hands ANGELO BRUSCHINI, IAN KEAREY and DAVE CHAPMAN on a variety of guitars, keyboards, mandolins, banjos, fiddles, harmoniums etc. Mixed in London by STEVE LIMA, the album “ANTI-GRAVITY” featured several new live favourites, including ‘Sulphur’, ’25 Kinds Of Love’ and ‘Oak Apple Day’, as well as a cover of a song by the then obscure ST VINCENT. The album was initially released on vinyl only, but a 2CD version was made available at the end of 2012.
Due to a perhaps justified suspicion of the music industry, the band have treated the whole enterprise as a cottage industry for a while, releasing limited edition albums via its own website and acquiring THE FLEECE, a 400 capacity venue in Bristol. Then GERARD started writing with two new musicians, BEC JEVONS and MIKE YOUE, and after four or five sessions jamming at THE FLEECE with JOHN LANGLEY and CHRIS SHARP it became obvious that this was a new BLUE AEROPLANES lineup. Following CHERRY RED’s re-issue of “BEATSONGS DELUXE” and a short tour to promote its release, GERARD STARKIE re-joined and the sextet (not counting WOJTEK!) have now finished writing the next album, due for release in 2016.
1984 (Party Records)
1995-1999 (Beggars Banquet)
2000-2005 (Swarfinger Art Star)
2009-present (Art Star)