The aim was to form a fantasy pop group: Nico, Nancy Sinatra, Diana Dors, Barbara Windsor. Sexy and literate, flippant and heartbreaking all at once. With this in mind, the Long Blondes went falling and laughing headlong into the glamorous world of heaving amps onto trains and applying eyeliner in National Express coach stations.
The first kindred spirit to notice the Long Blondes Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation, with whom the band released their ultra limited debut. Next, was hip south London independent label Angular Records. Through them, the band released a brace of exhilarating 45s; The Hitchcock-inspired Appropriation (By Any Other Name) and bona fide cult classic Giddy Stratospheres. Both have become indie dancefloor staples ever since, as has most recent release Separated By Motorways, recorded by uber-producer Paul Epworth (Futureheads, Bloc Party) at his request and released on his own Good and Evil label.
The band were leading double lives worthy of Harry Palmer for most of 2005, taking odd days off work to play in New York, Stockholm and Barcelona and signing autographs whilst their bosses weren’t looking. Meanwhile, word was spreading and all three previous singles were capturing the hearts of pop music lovers all over the world. In December, the band were personally asked to support Franz Ferdinand at Alexandra Palace – A fittingly flamboyant way to end the year.
They kicked off 2006 as recipients of the NME Philip Hall Radar Award (previously won by Franz Ferdinand and Kaiser Chiefs) and played to increasingly frenzied crowds as everyone from the Guardian to Vogue proclaimed the Long Blondes to be the Best Unsigned Band In The Country. The band blushed at such proclamations but, frankly, even the best unsigned bands have to be at the office by nine. Surely Marlene Dietrich never had to work overtime? Even in these less than productive conditions, the Long Blondes spurned the advances of many inappropriate suitors until the right one came along. And it came along alright. In April – almost three years to the day of their incarnation – the Long Blondes signed to the legendary Rough Trade records. The label that brought the world the Smiths, the Strokes and the Libertines had done it again!
In November 2006, the band released their debut album: Someone To Drive You Home, produced by former Pulp bassist Steve Mackey, accompanied by a trio of top 40 singles; Weekend Without Makeup, Once and Never Again and Giddy Stratospheres. Like the Slits playing Roxy Music or Donna Summer reciting the collected works of Harold Pinter, the Long Blondes are truly becoming auteurs of the perfect left-field pop song.
So that’s them; vocalist Kate, guitarist Dorian, bassist Reenie, guitarist and keyboardist Emma and drummer Screech. The next chapter of Sheffield’s idiosyncratic musical heritage: The suburban disco fantasies of the Human League, the opulent ridiculousness of ABC, the seedy glamour of Pulp Truly a Carry On cast’s worth of characters all with loves, hates and passions just like yours. It’s a Blonde, Blonde, Blonde, Blonde world. Now just lie back and enjoy it.
© 2006 The Long Blondes