Inspiral Carpets In-depth Biography
After the Stone Roses} and Happy Mondays}, Inspiral Carpets} were arguably the third most popular band to emerge from the late-'80s/early-'90s Madchester} scene. Like the Charlatans UK}, they weren't quite as innovative as the city's two standard-bearers, relying less on the contemporary dance club beats that became Madchester} pop}'s identifying signature. They did, however, share a fascination with trippy psychedelia}, particularly the Farfisa organ-drenched sound of Nuggets}-style garage rock} from the '60s, which set them apart from their peers. It also enabled them to tinker with their sound once the Madchester} fad had passed, and the group continued to score hits right up to their mid-'90s breakup.
Inspiral Carpets} were formed in the Manchester-area town of Oldham by guitarist Graham Lambert}, who'd been playing around the area since 1982. His group -- named after an area clothing store -- finally began to settle on a permanent lineup in 1986, when drummer Craig Gill} and Farfisa organist Clint Boon} joined up. They were soon augmented by vocalist Steve Holt} and bassist Dave Swift}, and built up a following around Manchester with their demo tapes (done in a '60s-influenced garage punk} style). Clever merchandising helped the band out financially; they sold T-shirts featuring their smoking-cow logo and their slogan "Cool as F*ck," which got them media attention when a student wearing the shirt was arrested for violating obscenity laws. Their first national release came in 1988 with the Plane Crash} EP on Playtime Records}, but when that label's distributor went out of business later that year, the band set up their own imprint, Cow Records}, which was financed mostly by T-shirt sales. The first release on Cow} was the 1989 EP Trainsurfing}, which got the band even more national attention. At this point, Holt} and Swift} -- not keen on professional careers involving lots of time and travel -- decided to leave, and were replaced by vocalist Tom Hingley} (ex-Too Much Texas}) and bassist Marty Walsh}. With their arrival, the band's Madchester}-compatible style began to crystallize, as evidenced on the new lineup's first release, the swirling, organ-driven psychedelic} tune "Joe"} (May 1989). The single caused a stir in the indie} underground that only intensified with the follow-ups "Find Out Why"} and "Move,"} and after being courted by several major labels, the band wound up signing with the large London-based indie} Mute}.
Inspiral Carpets}' debut album, Life}, was released in the spring of 1990. Their first single for Mute}, "This Is How It Feels,"} hit the British Top 20 and landed them a TV appearance on Top of the Pops}; the follow-up, "She Comes in the Fall,"} reached the Top 30. The band recorded sessions with DJ John Peel} and appeared at that year's Reading Festival}, helping make Life} a sizable hit. After releasing the Island Head} EP late in the year, the band completed its next full-length, the darker The Beast Inside}, which appeared in the spring of 1991. For the supporting tour, the band hired future Oasis} mastermind Noel Gallagher} as a roadie. Inspiral Carpets} scored their biggest chart hit in the spring of 1992 with "Dragging Me Down,"} which appeared on their third album, Revenge of the Goldfish}, released later that fall. Although it produced three more Top 40 singles and got the band a bigger overseas audience, the album proved to be their worst seller to date, possibly because the Manchester scene's moment was perceived to have passed. In response, the group returned to a more basic garage}/psychedelic} sound for their next album, 1994's Devil Hopping}. It was generally well received, with the singles "Saturn 5"} and "I Want You"} (the latter a duet with the Fall}'s Mark E. Smith}, who did not appear on the album version) returning them to the Top 20. In late 1995, Mute} released a compilation called The Singles}, and soon after, it was announced that label and band were parting ways. Inspiral Carpets} called it quits not long after; Boon} formed the Clint Boon Experience}, while Hingley} formed a group called the Lovers} with Jerry Kelly} of the Lotus Eaters}. Hingley} went solo in late 2000, issuing the album Keep Britain Untidy}. ~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide