"[Our purpose was] to create a heavy, melodic, intense dance band with no frills and no pretention" - Mick Reed
1919 was a year of massive change and desperate rebellion. The murder of Rosa Luxembourg, the mutiny of the French fleet in the Black Sea, the Churchill/Trotsky dual, general strikes in Belfast, Glasgow and other cities, the great red scare in America… I think it was the caved-in head of Mrs Fanny Sellins, Trade Union organizer, killed by Steel Trust gunmen in West Natrona, Pennsylvania, on August 26th, 1919, that really started my obsession with that year. After that it appeared at an alarming rate everywhere I looked.....1919.
The best 1919 image was Michael Biro's famous worker poster of a naked giant of a man about to administer the most monumental hammer blow ever ... Budapest; May Day 1919. Things were getting rather Fortean so it became the only contender for the band name. None of the other band members would get in the ring with it so that's how we came by the name. My only regret is 1919 never being credited with having the most monumental Quiffs, post Billy Fury and pre Stray cats…
The band evolved late 1980' with the sole aim of pounding out a rhythmic, menacing, atmospheric, sometimes bleak sound with hints of a dark melody. I had two Vox AC 30's with the original blue speakers – apparently the dog’s bollocks – the sound I required was like vicious monsters jumping out of the speakers; aural beasts from Hades. There weren’t too many ingredients to the 1919 sound – if we couldn't file it under EVIL it would not make it onto the set list. 1919 was four Northern souls desperately different in temperament but with a much focused musical vision, which Attila the Stockbroker once described as "Stockhausen on guitars with some long lost tribe on drums".
– Mark Tighe
ANARCHY IN THE UK
In 1977, two teenagers are watching the Sex Pistols play in a Keighley nightclub. Sid Vicious is pretending to play bass just six-feet away and John Lydon taking some cough medicine before launching into Pretty Vacant. Then there is the Clash playing Leeds, supported by the Slits, early Adam and the Ants with Matthew Ashman on guitar, Siouxsie and the Banshees at Huddersfield Poly, and Throbbing Gristle at Wakefield. These bands were the early influences of Ian Tilleard – the original singer in 1919 – and Mark Tighe.
Early incarnations of the band included Mark Manning (Zodiac Mindwarp) and Aky (Southern Death Cult) before settling as 1919, who were already right in the mix of a West Yorkshire scene that included New Model Army, Southern Death Cult, Sisters of Mercy, and The March Violets.
With the addition of Mick Reed on drums, the original 1919 line-up (as well as their trademark tribal sound) was complete. Reed had made a name for himself already as part of The Psykik Volts, whose 1979 single Totally Useless // Horror Stories #5 had been given regular airplay by John Peel on Radio 1. In 2006, the single featured in Record Collector magazine's "Top 100 rare punk singles" list and was Volts' only release, however Reed and vocalist Victor Vendetta would release a further single, Wooden Heart in 1980 under the name Pop-Tones (after the PiL track). Upon his arrival into the 1919 fold, Reed developed a strong writing partnership with Tighe that would endure thereafter.
It all started with a white label promo, limited to 500 copies; Repulsion // Tear down these Walls. After sending a copy to John Peel marked "take it or leave it", the legendary DJ travelled to Shipley and asked the band to do a session at Maida Vale studios. The Machine LP was heavily inspired by Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and the theme of alienation is prominent in the band’s oeuvre.
BURN BRIGHT, FADE FAST...
After 3 intense years of touring and releases, including Caged // After the Fall, and Cry Wolf // Dream. By the release of Earth Song in 1984, the band had split into two splinter projects, with Reed continuing as 1919 AD before reuniting with (early 1919 synth player) Sputnik to form The Hive. The others became Another Cinema, signing again to Red Rhino Records and releasing two singles, Hallucination Spires, and later Midnight Blue Oceans. The Hive released a cassette album, Stream of Consciousness, on Sicky Spread Tapes, and the 12" EP, Kingdom Rise Kingdom Fall, on Hum Music. Both bands had disbanded by 1986.
“The band always felt like outsiders, people liked to tag us with various movements but we were having none of it and remained outsiders looking in. Cry Wolf, the last single said it all "You got what you wanted, all cry wolf" so we split the band…” - Mark Tighe
In 1986 Another Cinema called it a day and bassist Madden decided to go to London. Ian and Mark rehearsed and worked on tracks, eventually forming Zap Gun Virus. This band later morphed into Slaughterhouse 5, but shortly afterwards Tighe tired of the music scene and disappeared – travelling to Israel and then Italy before eventually returning to the UK. After a while the enthusiasm was rekindled, and in 1997 Tighe worked on a mini album entitled Freaks Geeks and Sacred Monsters - The songs of Morton McReary which again was picked up by Peel. After that he drifted off once more; this time to customise and chop motorbikes, and build guitars under Zendog customs.
Mick, meanwhile, had kept himself busy within the industry, and maintained a prolific output over the coming decades. The years immediately following The Hive saw him feature on releases for a number of artists, before turning his attention full-time to the experimental psych band Ship of Fools. Alongside Mick was Sputnik once again (on bass this time), Les Smith (later of Cradle of Filth) and Damien Clarke (keys), Andy Banks (guitar), and Graham Wilkes (harmonica/whistle). The band released two albums, Close Your Eyes (Forget The World) and Out There Somewhere, in 1993 and '94 respectively, a mini album, one single, and two compilations in a period that stretched from 1992 to 2002 (although the band was not active for all of this time.)
Aside from projects such as Mandala and Nine Invisibles, Mick turned his attention to live/session work and touring the world in various roles for acts including Anathema, Cradle of Filth, and Paradise Lost. Mick had also committed himself to helping provide young bands in West Yorkshire with advice, rehearsal facilities, and use of equipment through his own small studio. It would be some time however before he and Mark would speak again.
PLAYING WITH FIRE
Since the release of "The Complete Collection" on Cherry Red in 2001, and with the emerging influence of social media, 1919 had had 200,000 streams on sites such as Last.FM through fan uploads alone. In 2014, Mark Tighe had the urge to pick up where he left off 30 years ago.
“I still dream of vicious monsters leaping out of the speakers, my trusty old Vox, the valves waiting to be red hot again, the smell of the burning dust, the crackles and then the German radio outbursts like long lost broadcasts from Berlin." - Mark Tighe
With communications yet to be re-opened with Reed, an oversight that occurred more by luck than by design, Tighe turned his attention to recruiting a singer and bassist. Then, after almost a year, in walked Rio Goldhammer who could fill both roles.
From a young age, Rio developed obsession with lyrics and started working with glam punks Stiletto Farm, as well as the band that would later become PseudoNympho. Over a decade, Rio has recorded in several countries for different labels – with varying results – and released a smattering of records on his own Bunnysnot Records label. He also featured in the documentary Madder than a Full Moon Dog (2012) at the end of his time with Stiletto Farm.
Tighe and Goldhammer started to develop a prolific writing partnership at this point, culminating in a video for "Revenge" which started to stir interest in new and old fans. The new lyrics smacked of the alienation closely associated with the original band, and Rio was proving to be a perfect misfit for the perpetual outsiders 1919; a band considered “one of the most overlooked bands of the early eighties” (Gods and Alcoves). As a 3-piece, 1919 performed in Leipzig headlining the 10th Anniversary of Gothic Pogo festival, as well as a headline show at London's Electrowerkz. But the final pieces of the puzzle were yet to fall into place.
THE PHOENIX RISES
In August 2015, the resurrection of 1919 was completed as the band announced Mick Reed would be returning full-time on drums. The album that Tighe and Goldhammer had been working on was put on hold - later to be released as Circle of the Absurd - as they began writing and rehearsing material with Reed. With the addition of Mick's long-time collaborator Karl Donner on bass guitar - who notably performed for a number of years with The Ruts' Paul Fox and featured in a latter incarnation of Ship of Fools - the band was once again a 4-piece.
Within weeks, the band announced the release of 2015: "The Madness Continues" Sessions... The album features a collection of classic 1919 songs alongside four new tracks (including a re-recording of "Revenge") recorded live during a rehearsal. The new tracks would become the Death Note EP, the first 1919 release in over three decades, and the band hit the road in 2016 to play shows across Europe. And with that, 1919 had risen again…
BLOODLINE LP / MARK R.I.P
In July 2016, 1919 released a promo video for Bloodline, which was to be the title track for their second studio album. The band had signed a deal with Westworld Recordings to release the album but, with a release date not yet set, ventured once again into Europe to promote the single. After the first leg of the tour, the band were forced to cancel most of the remaining shows as Mark had been diagnosed with cancer on his return home. The band played a final show at Brighton Racecourse's Undercover Festival, with Mark's dramatic weight loss making it impossible to travel for extended periods. This show, regrettably, would be his swansong.
On 28th January 2017, 1919 announced the tragic news of the passing of their iconic guitarist, aged just 56, after his short battle with the disease. The coming days saw tributes pour in from around the world as the news broke throughout the music press, and his obituary was posted in multiple languages as a result. With Tighe insistent the band continue indefinitely in his absence, an album-release show was still scheduled for the following week in Leeds. At the last minute, and after careful deliberation despite the insistence from Mark in his final days, the remaining band decided to press ahead with a show to honour the great man, with Joel Heyes stepping up to play guitar for the night. With people travel from near and far to be in attendance, it proved to be a special performance and a fitting tribute to Mark, with money collected for Marie Curie in his honour (and you can choose to donate here.)
"we said [to Howard, the promoter] 'I think we're gonna do [the February 4th show]... we might, we're gonna try... we'll try'. And Mark said 'no, you're doing it.' - Rio Goldhammer
Bloodline was released on 3rd March 2017, 34 years after 1919's debut LP, Machine, with a vinyl release scheduled for September. Early reviews have been immeasurably positive, and with the band now determined to honour their fallen comrade and cement their place in history, plans to get back on the road are underway again. It may have taken a four decades and a great deal of heartache to arrive at this point, but as Vive le Rock's Pete Woods wrote of Bloodline, "Good goths come to those that wait."
In April 2017, 1919 confirmed that Sam Evans would be joining as the band's full-time guitarist. Later that month the first leg of the Bloodline tour was underway. Kicking off with "superb" support shows with Spear of Destiny and Westworld labelmates Chelsea, the short trip through western Europe, culminating in a headline performance at Gotham Sounds Festival in Hilden, showed the band were on a mission and hadn't missed a beat. The remainder of the tour saw a string of 1919 shows across Europe.