When it comes to alternative rock bands, My Bloody Valentine has picked up a lot of press and buzz. The band began back in Dublin, Ireland in 1983. The original band was just a couple of guys pulling double duty. Kevin Shields handled the guitar and vocals and Colm Ó Cíosóig worked the drums. During the late 80s and into the early 90s, the band also had singer-guitarist Bilinda Butcher and also included bassist Debbie Googe once the band landed in England.
It was in the 70s when Colm Ó Cíosóig and Kevin Shields first met and joined a Dublin rock band that went by the name of The Complex. This band also included Liam O’Maonlai who left The Complex in 83. Then singer for The Complex, Dave Conway, along with his girlfriend/keyboard player, Tina, came up with the name My Bloody Valentine.
When My Bloody Valentine was offered a gig in the Netherlands, they packed up and moved to Holland, staying for about three months. As work grew harder to get and as documentation became an issue, the band moved on to Berlin. It was in Berlin that they produced their first mini-LP which was called This Is Your Bloody Valentine. For a variety of reasons, the record failed. Four months after arriving in Berlin, the band returned to Holland for a short time and then moved on to London in 85.
In those early days, Conway wrote most of their songs which Shields and Colm would edit down as many of Conway’s songs would run on for pages. Once the edit was finished, Conway would perform the songs.
One of the band’s most impressive creations in terms of music is what has come to be known as shoegazing. This unique sound came about through the band’s use of pitch bending, distortion and reverb. This unique sound, combined with the band’s overall personality, helped to propel them upwards in the alternative rock world.
In 1991 their Loveless received critical acclaim. The album was long in coming, taking two years to complete as the band sought out funding for it. After the release of Loveless, the band went their separate ways and it remained that way until 2007 when it was announced that the band would reunited.
What happened between 1991 and 2007 is also of note to fans of My Bloody Valentine. One of the more important things to occur was that the band picked up a bass player. Up until this time, there had been no regular bassist for the group, but this changed when Debbie Googe became the band’s regular bass player. It was also during this time that Tina, keyboards, decided to leave the group.
A bit of good luck came about during this time when they were heard rehearsing at Salem Studios by Fever Records which agreed to produce and release an EP for the group entitled Geek! The EP came out in April of 86 and its release caused the group to pick up some music gigs in and around London. But like Loveless, the Geek! EP did not generate much in sales. Morale was low at this point until another bit of luck came their way.
Joe Foster who had once been associated with Creation Records decided to start his own label. It would be known as Kaleidoscope Records, and he was able to get My Bloody Valentine to record for it. The forthcoming album was called The New Record by My Bloody Valentine, which was released in October 86. During this time the group was also able to pick up more live performances and often played as front acts for bands such as The Membranes.
Their next album was released in March of 1987 and called Sunny Sundae Smile. It was on the Lazy Records label which had been started by The Primitives along with Wayne Morris, their manager. It was reported that Lazy Records had wanted to record My Bloody Valentine for a while but were unable to do so until the group left Foster whom they felt was indifferent to the group. For some months, the band played live performances and were able to play support group to the Soup Dragons. It was during this time that Conway announced that he had plans to leave the group due to illness and a general dissatisfaction with music life.
After Conway left the group, Bilinda Butcher was brought onboard as a vocalist. This occurred in 1989. Shields also began to take on some of the vocal work as well, which he is reported to have been reluctant to do.
The band began to record more often at this time. They agreed to do an EP along with another mini LP, both produced by Lazy Records. The EP came out as Strawberry Wine and was released in late 1987. The mini LP which followed a month later was entitled Ecstasy. Both of these did not do as well as expected and may have been the result of the deal the band struck with Lazy Records in which My Bloody Valentine would fund the recording portion of costs and the label would pay for the promotion. According to Shields, the group encountered many problems while in the recording process.
In February of 1989, the band started work on their next full album which was being produced by Creation Records. The label expected the album to be finished within a week and when that did not occur, problems arose. By the time it was all said and done this second album took two years to complete. Needless to say, the group was not with Creation Records anymore. They were now with Island Records who had signed them in October of 1992. But problems arose with Island Records as well and the group did little work during this time.
Many fans will recall that it was in November 2007 when the band announced they were going to do three live gigs in 2008. For the first time in fifteen years, the band played together on June 13 and 14. These dates officially began their comeback performances. In 2008, the band performed in a variety of festivals that crossed Europe from Denmark to Ireland. They then began performing in the US to both new and old fans.