My Bloody Valentine are an alternative rock band formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1983. The band's lineup has consisted since 1987 of founding members Kevin Shields (guitar and vocals) and Colm Ó Cíosóig (drums) with singer-guitarist Bilinda Butcher and bassist Debbie Googe.
As My Bloody Valentine's music evolved, their use of distortion, pitch bending, and digital reverb resulted in a sound that came to be known as shoegazing. The group's seminal 1991 album Loveless, which took nearly two years to make and nearly bankrupted their record label Creation Records, received extensive critical acclaim and remains iconic. FollowingLoveless, My Bloody Valentine became inactive, with Shields rumoured to have recorded - and shelved - several albums' worth of songs. In mid-2007, Shields announced that the band had reunited and were working on new material. The band subsequently toured across Europe and the U.S. The band's third album, m b v, was released in 2013.
Kevin Shields and Colm Ó Cíosóig met in late 1978 as teenagers in Dublin. The pair became friends in what is described as "an almost overnight friendship" and later formed The Complex, a local punk rock band, in 1979. The Complex featured guitarist Liam Ó Maonlaí. Shields described the band as "what all the nerds and weirdos actually do as opposed to the cool people with the leather jackets" and said "we started rehearsing, it was an every Sunday kind of thing." In 1981, Ó Maonlai left The Complex to form Hothouse Flowers, and Shields and Ó Cíosóig decided to form another band with vocalist David Conway, who performed under the pseudonym Dave Stelfox. Conway suggested a number of names, including Burning Peacocks, before the band settled on My Bloody Valentine. It is unclear whether Conway took the name from the 1981 horror film My Bloody Valentine.
Soon after recording the demo tape, Ivers left the band and Conway's girlfriend, Tina Durkin, joined as a keyboard player. Around this time, Shields contacted Gavin Friday of the Dublin post-punk band The Virgin Prunes. According to Shields, he met Friday in Finglas and asked "look, we're in a group, have you got any advice?" to which Friday replied "get out of Dublin. Friday gave the band contacts that secured them a show in Tilburg, Netherlands. The band moved to the Netherlands after the show and lived there for nine months, opening for R.E.M. on one occasion on 8 April 1984. Due to a lack of opportunities and a lack of correct documentation, the band then relocated to West Berlin,Germany in late 1984 and recorded its debut mini album, This Is Your Bloody Valentine. The album failed to receive much attention, and the band temporarily returned to the Netherlands, before settling in London, United Kingdom in the middle of 1985.
After a period when My Bloody Valentine members lost contact with each other as they looked for places to stay, the band regrouped and decided to audition bass players. The band lacked a regular bassist and Conway's girlfriend had decided to leave the band, not feeling confident in her abilities as a keyboard player. Having been given the telephone number of a bass player in London, Debbie Googe, they invited her to audition, and, ultimately, to join the band, fitting in rehearsals around her day job. Conway was the main songwriter in the early line-up, with Shields describing the process: "for each song he'd write about 3 pages of lyrics and usually me and Colm would pick out the bits we liked and David would sing that".
At this point the band were rehearsing at Salem Studios, which was connected to the record label Fever Records. Impressed by what they heard, Fever agreed to release an EP. On the strength of this, Googe left her job, and the EP, titled Geek! was released in April 1986. The band soon began to play on the London gig circuit, but the record failed to make as much of an impact as the band had hoped. With the band's slow progress, Shields contemplated moving back to New York, where some of his family were living.
However, Joe Foster, an associate of Creation Records, had decided to set up his own label, Kaleidoscope Records, and persuaded the group to record for him. The EP, The New Record by My Bloody Valentine, was the result, released in October 1986. The band also began to step up their live appearances, developing a small following and venturing outside London for gigs supporting bands like the Membranes.
The band's next record was Sunny Sundae Smile, an EP released in March 1987 by Lazy Records, a label set up by The Primitives with their manager Wayne Morris. The label had been interested in My Bloody Valentine for a while. The band then spent a few months performing in London and managed to secure a support slot with the Soup Dragons. During the shows with the Soup Dragons, Conway announced his decision to leave the band; he had been suffering with a gastric illness for a while and had become disillusioned with music. Conway has since pursued a career as a writer.Butcher on stage in 1989.
Conway's departure left the band without a vocalist, a situation they decided to remedy by placing advertisements in the music press. This process proved tortuous, Shields noting, "It was pretty dangerous, I made the mistake of mentioning The Smiths because we liked their melodies, the whole thing was disastrous and excruciating, you should have seen some of the fruitballs we got."
The band eventually turned to recommendations and experimented with having two vocalists: Bilinda Butcher and Joe Byfield. It soon became apparent that Byfield was unsuited to the band, and Shields took on second vocalist duties alongside Butcher; he noted she "sounded all right and she could sing one of our songs which sounded fine, we just had to show her how to play guitar". Shields was initially reluctant to take on a vocal role, but stated in 1988 "I've always sung in the rehearsal room, I've always made up the melodies." With the new line-up in place, the band intended to leave the My Bloody Valentine moniker behind, but according to Ó Cíosóig "we never could think of a good enough name".
Under pressure from Lazy Records to produce an album, the band compromised, citing the need for time to stabilize their line-up. The band agreed to record an EP followed by a mini LP. The EP,Strawberry Wine, consisted of three tracks and was released in November 1987. The mini-LP, titled Ecstasy, followed soon after in December. The EP has been described as "certainly the better of the two releases". Ecstasy has been criticized as showing "a group who appeared to have run out of money halfway through recording", which was indeed the case. Ecstasy also suffered from production difficulties, as Shields described errors in mastering the recordings. These hardships were not surprising as the band were funding the studio time themselves; The deal with Lazy was that the label would do the promotion, the band paying for the recording.
In January 1988 My Bloody Valentine played a gig with Biff Bang Pow!, a band that featured Creation Records owner Alan McGee as a member. The performance convinced McGee that they were the Irish equivalent to American band Hüsker Dü, and he approached the band after the show. The band decided to record a single for the label. My Bloody Valentine recorded five songs at a studio in Walthamstow in east London in less than a week. Released as the EPYou Made Me Realise, the release was the band's first to be largely well received by critics. The group followed with the EP Feed Me with Your Kiss and the album Isn't Anything (1988). The band's multi-layered guitar sound became a major influence on a number of new bands who the British music press grouped together under the shoegazing label.Shields in 1989.
My Bloody Valentine began work on their second full-length album in February 1989. Shields said that Creation Records thought the album could be recorded "in five days"; he later recalled, "But when it became clear that wasn't going to happen, they freaked." Work continued throughout the year. Shields and McGee agreed to release an EP prior to the album's release, so the band recorded Glider, which was released in 1990. In May 1990 the band recorded a second EP, Tremolo (1991). The band halted work on the album in order to tour behind the release ofGlider in Summer 1990.
|"Soon"MENU 0:00 "Soon", from the 1991 album Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, features a dance-oriented beat behind three tracks of guitarist Kevin Shields' "glide guitar" playing.----|
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It ultimately took My Bloody Valentine two years to finish their second album Loveless (1991). The making of the album was rumored to have cost £250,000 and to have nearly bankrupted Creation Records, claims which Shields has denied. Reviews of Loveless were almost unanimous with praise.The NME review of Loveless declared, "...however decadent one might find the idea of elevating other human beings to deities, My Bloody Valentine, failings and all, deserve more than your respect". However, the album failed to perform commercially. Loveless peaked at number 24 on the British album charts, and failed to chart in the United States, where it was distributed by Sire Records.[ McGee dropped My Bloody Valentine from Creation soon after the album's release because he could not bear working with Shields again; "It was either him or me", he told The Guardian in 2004.
Remastered editions of Isn't Anything, Loveless and a compilation of their EPs from 1988-1991 were released in May 2012.
My Bloody Valentine signed with Island Records in October 1992, reportedly for £250,000. The band spent their advance on constructing a studio in a house in Streatham. The studio was completed in April 1993, but problems with the studio and attempts to repair them sent the band into "semi-meltdown" according to Shields.
The group recorded very little, which included the contribution of a cover of a James Bond theme song to a charity compilation ("We Have All the Time in the World"), and a cover of the Wire song "Map Ref. 41 Degrees N 93 Degrees W" for the tribute album Whore: Tribute to Wire. Unable to finalise a third album, Shields isolated himself and, in his own words, went "crazy", drawing comparisons in the music press to the behavior of musicians such as Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys and Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd. The other band members went their own ways during the period of inactivity following Loveless: Butcher contributed vocals to Collapsed Lung's 1996 single "Board Game", Googe had been sighted working as a cab driver in London and formed the supergroup Snowpony in 1996,O'Ciosoig joined Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions, while Shields collaborated with Yo La Tengo, Primal Scream, and Dinosaur Jr.
Rumors spread among fans of albums being recorded and then shelved. In 1999, it was reported that Shields had delivered 60 hours of material to Island. According to sources, one was possibly influenced by jungle music. Shields later confirmed that at least one full album of new material was abandoned. He said, "We did an album's worth of half-finished stuff, and it did just get dumped, but it was worth dumping. It was dead. It hadn't got that spirit, that life in it." Shields later said to Magnet magazine, "We are 100 percent going to make another My Bloody Valentine record unless we die or something", and attributed the band's sparse output to a lack of inspiration.
In 2007 Shields announced that the band had reunited and that a new album they had started recording in 1996 was "3/4th finished". That August, Internet rumors claimed that the band were negotiating a performance at the 2008Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival or were planning a world tour. Vinita Joshi, Kevin Shields' then-manager, said "there are no confirmed shows at all".
On 15 November 2007, My Bloody Valentine announced three upcoming live gigs in London for June 2008 which later turned into a 5 night residency at the Roundhouse in London. On 13 and 14 June, the band played in public for the first time in fifteen years, offering a pair of 'Live Rehearsal' presentations at the ICA in London and officially starting their series of comeback performances.Shields performing with the band in 2008.
The band went on to play a slew of festivals in Summer and Fall of 2008, which included the Roskilde Festival (Denmark, 3–6 July), Festival Internacional de Benicàssim (Spain, 17–20 July.),Fuji Rock Festival 08 (Japan, 25–27 July), Øyafestivalen (Oslo, Norway, 5–8 August) and The Electric Picnic Festival (Ireland, 29–31 August), and Bestival 2008 (Isle of Wight, 5–7 September). On 19–21 September, My Bloody Valentine curated and performed at the 2008 All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Monticello, New York.
Following the festivals, the band played dates in New York, Chicago, Toronto, Denver, San Francisco, LA, and Austin in late September, early October.
Following their appearance at the All Tomorrows Parties festival, the New York Times reported that Shields was planning to complete the unfinished album: "I realized that all that stuff I was doing in 1996 and 1997 was a lot better than I thought."
My Bloody Valentine curated, and played on 3 nights of, the All Tomorrow's Parties 'Nightmare Before Christmas' festival in December 2009, where they were obliged to perform on a smaller stage due to noise level issues.
In November 2012 Kevin Shields announced plans to release a third My Bloody Valentine album in an interview with NME. He stated plans to release it on his website before the end of 2012, and said the album's release would be followed by a series of live shows.On 24 December 2012, it was announced via the band's Facebook page that the album had been completed three days earlier on the 21st. On 27 January 2013, during their first concert since 2009, the band played a new song labeled "rough song", according to a photo of a setlist that looks to be sitting on the soundboard. During that same concert, Kevin Shields told the audience that the third album "might be out in two or three days". The album, titled m b v, was released on the 2 February 2013 at 11:58 pm, although the server crashed as soon as the album was released. In response, the band made the album available on YouTube, albeit a low sound quality version.