THE FANZINE THAT FEATURES SMALL AND UNSIGNED BANDS
Sunday, February 7, 2010
HEROES : FRANK TOVEY
When interviewing a band myself, one of the questions I like to ask is “Do you have any heroes yourself?”. Some have, some don’t and sometimes some say it’s better not having heroes as they only can disappoint you. For me this doesn’t count as in a sort of childish way I have tons of heroes (sadly enough some have gone to heaven already) and so far I haven’t been disappointed by them. Maybe I made a good selection, who knows… Anyway in this section of my fanzine I wanna pay tribute to them. I’m going to do it in my way, what they meant for me, how I experienced their music because if you just wanna read a biography I guess you just can click wikipedia. Everything started for me when I heard in the discotheque a rather nasty tune called “Coitus Interruptus”, of course there was the title (some years ago I was still listening to the kind discobeats of Boney M). Mind you, I was at a quite early age (14 I guess) to be found at discotheques but I also got attracted by those electronic beats and so it happened I bought my first album “Fireside Favourites”. It looked like I didn’t miss that much as “Fireside Favourites” was the debutalbum by Fad Gadget that was released in 1980. Frank Tovey was born as Francis John Tovey on 8th September 1956. Frank met Daniel Miller during a concert of Monochrome Set and they agreed that Frank would be a recording artist for Miller’s label Mute. If you don’t count Miller’s own band (The Normal), Fad Gadget were the first band on Mute. Frank decided to call his band Fad Gadget and from the very first single (‘Back to nature’) it became clear that Fad Gadget would become one of the most important bands in the electronic scene. It’s always funny if you ask people the most influential band on Mute, 99% will come up with Depeche Mode but I belong to that 1% who’ll tell you that they think Fad Gadget are more important, even if I do like Dave Gahan’s musical outfit a lot. It’s just that the music from Fad Gadget goes much deeper, a bit darker and far much more innovative. Fad Gadget were a name but even if tracks like “Collapsing new people”, “One man’s meat”, “Ricky’s hand”, “The Box” or “I discover love” were the vast ingredients that could be heard on every new wave party, the band never got the success they deserved. Maybe it was the approach of things that stood success in the way, most photos were taken by Anton Corbijn and nice melodies were “disturbed” by unusual sounds like the scream of a baby, a nursery rhyme (you can hear a Dutch one “Kortjakje” on the “Under the flag”-album) or the more industrial beats that took their references from bands like Einsturzende Neubauten. Whatever it might be, Frank Tovey got many times press-attention because of his unusual stageperformances. Shaving himself, throwing out pubic hair and once he fell in Amsterdam (at the Paradiso-venue in 1983) and broke his two legs and completed the set while crawling across the floor. In 1984 the dream came to an end, “Gag” was the last album and “One Man’s Meat” the last “hit”. But one year later Frank Tovey came back as …Frank Tovey. The first solo-single was “Luxury” and everybody was surprised why he ever disbanded the band cuz this song was typical Fad Gadget. Today I still think “Luxury” is one of the best songs Frank penned down. But it was soon clear Frank wanted something else and on the albums that followed like “Snakes and ladders” (a genius one, although forgotten) he made some paths that would lead to Frank Tovey and The Pyros which is generally known as the folkyears from Frank. In all honesty, you can never lie to your heroes, it was only after Frank’s death that I gave these albums a serious listen and even if it’s not the “wow”-effect that got created by Fad Gadget, I dig these albums a lot. And in all honesty, I think that most people should give this music a 2nd chance. In any case, it became clear that his folksongs were literally pearls for swines cos nobody would give it a listen, not the press and not even an audience. It might be a total turn but for those who know Frank’s music, they shall notice that just like with Fad Gadget, Frank wasn’t afraid to spread his critism on society, Thatcher was his fave target… From 1992 it seemed like Frank Tovey would disappear from view because nothing was heard from the man till 2001 when out of a sudden Frank announced the return of Fad Gadget! Most concerts were done as the support act from Depeche Mode which meant shows from circa 25 minutes. I myself was one of the lucky ones who saw Fad Gadget headlining the Eurorockfestival in Belgium. They totally blew me away, I never saw them before, and it must be one of the greatest come back-acts I ever saw (and believe me, I saw a lot of come backs). It was soon clear that Frank didn’t forgot his stage-act…all the 80’s tricks (pubic hair, shaving, climbing on music material) were all there. A bit more of a half year later I couldn’t believe my eyes when I held the NME in my hands in where was stated that Frank died from a heartattack on the 3rd April 2002, he was 48 years. It’s always a bitter pill to swallow to see your heroes gone like that, especially someone like Frank who seemed indestructible. But after all he was only human who left manhood with some of the greatest tuners ever written, my faves always will be “Life on the line”, “Love parasite” and “Luxury”. RIP Frank.