Bis In-depth Biography
Taking inspiration from the amateurish antics of Huggy Bear} and then acting like they were seven years old, the Bis} were one of the strangest phenomenons of late '90s British indie-rock. Aggressively primitative and defiantly childish, the Bis} claimed to be at the forefront of "the Teen-C Revolution," which apparently translated as young adults wishing they were still in elementary school. Inspired by the Nation of Ulysses}, Huggy Bear}, Blur} and the "cutie" indie movement of Sarah Recrods, the group crossed D.I.Y. aesthetics with the incessant bounce of New Wave dance pop. Bursting out from nowhere in early 1996, the Bis} became the first unsigned band to appear on Top of the Pops}, and over the first six months they became a sensation within the British music press. But just as quickly as they rose to prominence the backlash began, and by the end of the year, only a handful of supporters remained in the UK. However, the Bis} had won fans in the Beastie Boys}, who signed them to Grand Royal Records, positioning the band to join the ranks of the international pop underground, where the message was just, if not more, important than the music.
Comprised of keyboardist/vocalist Manda Rin}, guitarist Sci-Fi Steve} and his younger brother John Disco} (guitar), the Bis} formed in Giffnock, Scotland in late 1994. All three had been friends since their early childhood, but they didn't form a band until they finished high school. In addition to writing music, they also published the fanzines, Funky Spunk} and Paper Bullets}. The group began playing local clubs, including Nice 'n' Sleazy, eventually earning the attention of the Spanish-based indie Acuarelia, who released the Transmissions on the Teen-C Tip} EP. Following its release, the band moved to the Glasgow-based indie label Chemikal Underground on a verbal agreement, at which time they also signed to PolyGram publishing. After the "Disco Nation" single appeared in August 1995, they released The Secret Vampire Soundtrack} early in 1996 and it received good word-of-mouth within the underground, including positive reviews in the UK music weeklies, before Ric Blaxhill, the producer of Top of the Pops}, heard the EP and asked the Bis} to play the show. It was the first time in the show's 32-year history that an unsigned band played the program. Suddenly, the Bis} were a sensation, being played constantly on BBC's Radio 1 and appearing throughout the media. In June, the group released Bis Vs. the DIY Corps} on their own Teen-C label, and it was also a critical and commercial success. Soon, there was a bidding war over the band, and the group decided against going to a major label, signing with Wiija in the UK and Grand Royal in the US. Early in 1997, Grand Royal released the EP This is Teen-C Power}, which was comprised of previously released material, and the Bis} released their first full-length album, The New Transistor Heroes}, in the spring. Intendo} followed in 1998, and a year later the group resurfaced with Social Dancing}. The Music for a Stranger World} EP followed in fall 2000. Blending an eclectic influential mix of Talk Talk}, Blur}, Can}, and New Order}, Bis} released Return to Central} in fall 2001. They were also composing music to go along with the Cartoon Network's Powerpuff Girls video game. Plastique Nouveau}, which appeared the next year, showcased Bis}' biggest dance oriented effort to date. Sadly, in February 2003, the trio announced their split. Bis had spent nine years as a group and released three albums. Plans for three farewell shows and a final single were in development at the time of the breakup. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide