Topping the charts in the 90s, they are back to perform their hits in Yorkshire. Jon Cronshaw talks to Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff.
Veteran indie band The Wonder Stuff will be joining the likes of Primal Scream and the Human League at next weekend’s Bingley Music Live festival.
The band rose to fame in the early 90s with a series of hit singles including Welcome to the Cheap Seats, The Size of a Cow and Dizzy featuring comedian Vic Reeves.
Unlike many bands that rest on the laurels of their youth, The Wonder Stuff continue to record music and are energised by the prospect of playing their new songs to a festival audience.
“We’ll be playing a few songs from the new album Oh No! It’s the Wonder Stuff,” says frontman, Miles Hunt. “And then we’ll be pretty much covering all of our previous albums right back to Eight Legged Groove Machine.
“I really enjoy playing the new stuff because it offers me a bit more of challenge. We’ve been playing the old songs for so long that I can recite the alphabet backwards in my mind while I’m doing them.
“That’s not to say I don’t enjoy doing them – I love doing them. When we get to the part in the set where we play the old stuff I can just enjoy the experience.”
Miles and his partner, The Wonder Stuff violinist Erica Nockalls, played an acoustic set at last year’s Bingley Music Live and were asked to return this year with the full line-up.
“It was a lovely vibe,” says Miles. “We didn’t really know what to expect, but the audience were great.
“The promoters had dressed the stage really beautifully. There were these old reading lamps that made it look like an old Victorian sitting room – it was absolutely gorgeous, so we’re really looking forward to going back.
“Yorkshire has always been a great place for us, even going back to the late 80s playing in the Warehouse in Leeds. We’ve been lucky that we’ve always had a lovely audience in Yorkshire.”
While at the festival, the band hope to watch some of the other acts on the bill.
“I’m looking forward to Chic. When I found out we were going to be on the same stage as them on the same day I thought ‘get in!’ I absolutely can’t wait to see them. Then you’ve got the Human League – it’s just hit after hit with the League.”
The Wonder Stuff will be returning to Yorkshire in December when they play alongside other early 90s indie acts Pop Will Eat Itself and Jesus Jones at Sheffield’s O2 Academy.
The acts involved have had a close connection since the late 80s.
“When I was 18 I got a flat with Clint Mansell from Pop Will Eat Itself in Stourbridge,” says Miles. “He formed Pop Will Eat Itself at the same time we formed The Wonder Stuff, so there’s always been that link there.
“We would have been clueless about setting up an indie label if it wasn’t for Pop Will Eat Itself. They gave us loads of ideas, gave us our contacts – so we owe a lot to them. It’s a crowd of a similar age which is really interesting. You see people pulling out their old ‘Senseless Things and Eat’ t-shirts – that’s if they still fit into them, of course.”
Miles was raised in the Marston Green area of Birmingham and is proud of the musical heritage of the Midlands – artists who are often overlooked by the mainstream music press.
Last year the band recorded an album of cover versions by artists from the Midlands including Duran Duran, The Beat and Dodgy entitled From the Midlands With Love.
“We thought it would be fun to bring some much-needed attention to some of the great Midlands’ artists who don’t get the look-in they deserve,” says Miles. “When I was a kid building up my record collection, I listened to a lot of Slade and Wizard. By the time you had punk rock and new wave in the late 70s, you had all the reggae coming out of Birmingham like UB40, Steel Pulse and Weapon of Peace. Then you had bands like Au Pairs and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. As well as loving the music, when I’d buy these seven-inches, I had this extra sense of pride that these guys were from just around the corner. It inspired me to think that if these guys from Birmingham, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Dudley, were releasing these records then why can’t I?”
Bingley Music Live, Myrtle Park, Bingley, August 30 to September 1. The Wonder Stuff will be playing on September 1.
Wonderful career of Stourbridge’s finest
the Wonder Stuff formed in 1986 in Stourbridge in the West Midlands. Their debut album Eight Legged Groove Machine was released in August 1988, entering the UK album chart at number 18. In March 1991, the band achieved chart success with their top five single The Size of Cow. The group topped the charts in November 1991 with their cover of Tommy Roe’s Dizzy with comedian Vic Reeves. The band split in July 1994 after a headline set at Stratford-upon-Avon’s Phoenix Festival. After pursuing solo projects, the band reformed in 2000, since recording three albums.