Having formed in the late nineteen-nineties and releasing music, if that is what it was, from 2000-2004, Mclusky disbanded soon afterwards in a slow motion farce of not enough drama to get press off the back of it. Now they are back - well, most of them - fuelled initially by spite but now enjoying it too much not to do it, playing to crowds in the UK and Australia which are much bigger - and more hygienically inclined - than in their so-called heyday. So far nobody has complained, except for one guy in Leeds (and he was clearly on ketamine). They are writing new music, some of which may be released, if they decide it is good enough, whilst currently touting around the 20 year old album Mclusky Do Dallas like a valuable chicken. This tour - which in part is to celebrate the anniversary of the release, will constitute their first North American dates in eighteen years.
mclusky were born in 1998 when Andy Falkous (vocals) and Mat Harding (drums) met one another while working in a call centre in Cardiff, Wales. They called themselves Best but that was short-lived. They did manage, however, to release a single, Huwuno, before changing their name and recruiting Jon Chapple on bass. So begins their tale.
Unlike most bands at the time, they had no aspirations to become ‘Britpop’. They preferred Pixies, Shellac, and The Fall to Ocean Colour Scene’s warblings, Oasis’s dadrock, or Echobelly’s crapness. Who can blame them?
The public beyond the Welsh capital first became aware of them when, in 2000, they released their debut album (on local label, Fuzzbox), My Pain And Sadness Is More Sad And Painful Than Yours. Contained on there were the singles "Joy" and "Rice Is Nice" among other short and sharp sweetness. Ears began pricking up in their direction.
From there, they moved to Too Pure records (previous home for, amongst others, PJ Harvey, Stereolab, and Hefner) who, in turn, wasted no time is shipping them off to the US to work with one of their heroes, Steve Albini. The results were astounding.
In just one week, Steve Albini had recorded their second album, the excellent mclusky Do Dallas. This album spawned the singles "To Hell With Good Intentions", "Alan Is A Cowboy Killer" and "Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues", and, for the first time, someone had caught on tape the raw energy of mclusky live. Loud and spitting blood, few tracks hit the two-minute mark.
At the same time, the band had started to gain an audience internationally and soon they were playing gigs and festivals in far-flung places all over the US, Europe, and Australia. mclusky had arrived.
Before even the dust from Do Dallas had settled, the band were hard at work on new material. 2003 saw two brand new singles in the UK, There Ain’t No Fool In Ferguson / 1956 And All That and Undress For Success. Unfortunately, relations between the band became strained at the same time and this resulted in Mat leaving for pastures new. A new drummer, Jack Egglestone, joined just in time for a headline UK tour which finished with a captivating Reading festival show. Nothing was lost. In fact, they’re a better band for it.
2004 and things are definitely back on track. Their third album, The Difference Between Me And You Is That I’m Not On Fire, was released. Yet again, it was recorded by Steve Albini in Chicago but this time it’s a darker affair with some tracks straying into the four-minute territory; marking out a new direction for the band.
Having somehow managed to last three albums together (they did lose a drummer en route mind) and performing countless gigs around the world before their almost inevitable implosion, good news comes with there still being time for one final act of defiance from the Cardiff trio.
mcluskyism (2006) is a lasting testament to one of the most underrated UK bands of recent years. Either a run-of-the-mill ‘Best Of’ or a limited edition, comprehensive 3CD retrospective of A-sides, B-sides, and C-sides (rarities and live versions), there’s no arguing that mcluskyism isn’t a suitable way to end to their story.