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The story of England's first true electronic pop group begins in the industrial South Yorkshire city of Sheffield, in the early 1970s.
Ian Craig Marsh (pictured right, born 11th November 1956) joined the local civic youth theatre group, Meatwhistle. Here, he met Mark Civico, with whom he would form a satirical 'theatre-rock' group named Musical Vomit. They took their name from a Melody Maker review of a concert by New York band Suicide, which described them as "musical vomit".
They played just two shows together, Ian accompanying Mark's vocals by coaxing noise from his cheap Woolworths guitar, before Ian was expelled from his school halfway through his A-level studies, having been branded 'an undesirable subversive element'.
Ian Craig Marsh
At this point, Ian left Musical Vomit and Meatwhistle in search of work, though Mark kept the band going in various forms, recruiting other Meatwhistle friends such as Paul Bowers, Haydn Bowes-Weston, Adolph 'Adi' Newton, Glenn Gregory and newcomer Martyn Ware.
Martyn (pictured below, born 19th May 1956): "I'd been working as trainee manager at Sheffield and Ecclesall Co-op, when a friend took me down to Meatwhistle. I walked in wearing white flares, white t-shirt, silver platform boots with five inch heels and a diamante cat collar. We're talking heavy Kiss now, that was the image. Gary Glitter, T-Rex."
Glenn, who also sang with Ian in another band named Music Of Honour around this time: "I remember it vividly. I knew immediately we'd get along well. I was wearing jeans with 24 inch bottoms and gold baseball shoes." Martyn soon bought his first musical instrument - a Stylophone. Not just any Stylophone, but the deluxe dual-stylus Stylophone. This purchase was a direct result of Martyn trying to play guitar and finding it made his fingers sore; the Stylophone (as used and advertised by David Bowie around the time of Space Oddity) seemed a much more civilised route towards music-making.
Before long, he was onstage at the Bath Arts Festival with a new line-up of Musical Vomit, performing numbers such as Denim Mind and Whip King Of Mars to an audience of bemused hippies. Glenn: "We lasted all of two minutes before the hippies started showering us with bottles and cans."
Martyn Ware
Meanwhile, Ian had found work and was able to afford the do-it-yourself synthesizer kit he'd seen in the local library's copy of Practical Electronics magazine. Having bought and constructed the primitive synthesizer, he struggled to get it to work particularly well, though "it made very good motorbike noises".
Soon afterwards, he returned to Meatwhistle, taking his synthesizer with him, and was persuaded to play the instrument with the ever-changing line-up of Musical Vomit.
Various other bands would emerge from the Meatwhistle group, all with 'colourful' names, such as The Dead Daughters, The Underpants, Dick Velcro & The Space Kidettes, Androids Don't Bleed, Totem Pole, The Hari Willey Krishna Band and Arthur Craven's Tent Band. Each of these bands played together at least once, usually on Sundays in a small room known as Simon Scott's Kit Kat Club.
However, Musical Vomit seems to have been the primary musical collective from this scene, as in 1976, they were booked to appear at the famous Reading rock festival. Here they were spotted by future X-Ray Spex leader Poly Styrene, who would later claim Musical Vomit were the very first punk band.
Martyn: "Sheffield engendered a certain desperation to get on with something different and creative, 'cause really there wasn't a lot happening. It was a place of great depression at the time, 'cause of all the factory closures.
"I was desperate not to replicate my father's life, 'cause he worked in a steel works for fifty years... my father had to retire early through ill health, probably through inhaling metal filings through most of his life, and got a gold watch and no pension.... so I was going, 'This is outrageous, I am never going to be in this position again'. This was my motivation."
By 1977, both Ian and Martyn were working as computer operators (for tool manufacturers Spear & Jackson plc and auto parts distributor Lucas Service respectively). Martyn: "I'd just started working in a well-paid job and I've got some spare cash for the first time in my life... what shall I spend it on? The first commercial synthesizers - cheap ones - were just coming onto the market, and so I went and bought one."
Martyn's first synthesizer was a Korg 770S, which cost £800 - a lot of money in 1977, but still far less expensive than most other synthesizers. The Korg was quickly put to use when he, Ian, Adi and other Meatwhistle members formed a one-off band to play at a friend's 21st birthday party.
Ian: "We played under the name of The Dead Daughters or something. Very strange. There was a guitar, a drummer, my synthesizer and loads of tape loops, all being put through various effects units. We did things like the Doctor Who theme tune and Louie Louie."
Adi, Martyn and Ian enjoyed the experience and decided to form a new band together - The Future.