Wire band

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Wire is a British punk/experimental rock band formed in 1976 by Graham Lewis (bass, vocals), Bruce Gilbert (guitar), Colin Newman (vocals, guitar) and Robert Gotobed (drums).

Their sound is often associated with a vague subgenre of punk called art punk or post-punk, mostly due to their richly detailed and atmospheric sound, often obscure lyrical themes and, to a lesser extent, their situationist political stance. The group exhibited a steady development from an early raucous style (1977's Pink Flag) to a more complex, structured sound involving increased use of synthesizers (1978's Chairs Missing and 1979's 154). As a result, they had a tremendous influence through later decades on a variety of bands and rock music genres, notably in The Urinals, The Minutemen, R.E.M., who covered "Strange" on their Document album and most recently, Bloc Party, Futureheads and Franz Ferdinand.

During 1979, creative differences pulled the band in various directions, culminating in the Document & Eyewitness LP (along with a somewhat more successful set at Notre Dame Hall).

There followed a period of suspension (1980-1985) in favour of solo and non-Wire collaborative projects, including Dome, Cupol, Duet Emmo, and several Newman solo efforts. In 1985, the group reformed to renewed critical acclaim, but without carving quite the same niche as in the earlier decade. Reforming as a "beat combo", the group became increasingly immersed in electronics, causing Gotobed to famously make himself redundant in 1990 when he realised a drummer was suddenly surplus to requirements, even at the band's live gigs.

The remaining trio marked Gotobed's exit by renaming the group "Wir", and released one further album (The First Letter, 1991), which, although gaining a mixed reception, contained a sound that was ahead of its time. The odd collaborative effort punctuated a further period of solo recordings, during which Newman founded the Swim~ label with his wife, ex-Minimal Compact bass player Malka Spigel, but it wasn't until 1999 that Wire once again became a full-time entity.

With Gotobed (now Robert Grey) back in the line-up, the group initially reworked a substantial chunk of its back catalogue for a performance at Royal Festival Hall. Great receptions during a short tour of the USA and a number of UK gigs convinced the band to continue, and the band's sound was reborn once again, largely based around clockwork guitar hooks and very fast drum beats. Two EPs and an album (Send, 2003) followed, as well as live collaborations with Es Devlin and Jake and Dinos Chapman.

Their influence on the Britpop movement should also not be understated; a particularly celebrated plagiarism case between Wire's music publisher and Elastica over the similarity between Wire's 1977 song "Three Girl Rhumba" and Elastica's 1995 hit "Connection" resulted in an out-of-court settlement. Blur's work, along with many more minor Britpop bands, has been particularly redolent of 1970s Wire at various points. Like The Velvet Underground, Wire are a band whose influence has outshone their (comparatively modest) record sales by some distance.





Singles & EPs

  • Mannequin / 12XU / Feeling Called Love (Nov 1977)
  • I am the Fly / Ex-Lion Tamer (Feb 1978)
  • Dot Dash / Options R (June 1978)
  • Outdoor Miner / Practice Makes Perfect (Jan 1979, UK #51)
  • A Question of Degree / Former Airline (June 1979)
  • Map Reference 41°N 93°W / Go Ahead (Oct 1979)
  • Our Swimmer / Midnight Bahnhof Cafe (May 1981)
  • Crazy About Love / Second Length (Our Swimmer) / Catapult 30 (Mar 1983)
  • Snakedrill (EP, Nov 1986)
  • Ahead / Feed Me (live) (Mar 1987)
  • Kidney Bingos / Pieta (Mar 1988)
  • Silk Skin Paws / German Shepherds (June 1988)
  • Life in the Manscape / Gravity Worship (May 1990)
  • So and Slow It Goes / Nice from Here (Apr 1991, as Wir)
  • First Letter / The Last Number (Dec 1995, with Hafler Trio)

Compilations & live albums

  • Document and Eyewitness (live, June 1981)
  • Play Pop (Mar 1986)
  • In the Pink (live, Aug 1986)
  • The Peel Sessions (EP, Nov 1987)
  • It's Beginning To And Back Again (live, May 1989)
  • On Returning (1977-1979) (July 1989)
  • Double Peel Sessions (Feb 1990)
  • 1985-1990 The A List (May 1993)
  • Exploding Views (Sep 1994, with book)
  • Behind the Curtain (May 1995)
  • Turns and Strokes (May 1996)
  • Coatings (Oct 1997)
  • Honi Soit (2004?) bootleg LP of 'On The Box'
  • On The Box: 1979 (Oct 2004)
  • The Scottish Play: 2004 (May 2005)


Year Title Chart positions Album
US Hot 100 US Modern Rock US Mainstream Rock UK
1989 "Eardrum Buzz" - #2 - - It's Beginning to and Back Again
1989 "In Vivo" - #24 - - It's Beginning to and Back Again

External links