in Sheffield, the group began recording for their new record
label. Curiously, the group's first Virgin release was issued
under the pseudonym of The Men. The single, I
Don't Depend On You,
was recorded to appease those at Virgin who feared that the
public would not accept a synthesizer-only group. The track
featured a live rhythm section and female backing vocalists,
and was decidedly more commercial than the group's previous
now, Martyn and Ian were also contributing lyrics to the songs.
Philip: "Martyn Ware is a very good lyricist. Ian wrote
the Men lyrics... people would take the lyrics as a block thing,
they'd either take it or leave it. However, sometimes I might
find that I'd said everything I want to say in the first verse,
and ask someone to finish it. It was really, really shared.
We wanted to be a cottage industry with a few machines. It was
socialist. It was us against the world."
release of the group's ground-breaking debut album, Reproduction,
in October 1979 was met with a number of unenthusiastic
reviews. Although promoted with the subsequent release
of the Empire
single, taken from the album, sales of Reproduction
were substantially lower than Virgin had anticipated.
a result, Virgin decided to cancel all but two dates of
the group's proposed UK tour. At the remaining shows,
Adrian's short film Zero As A Limit was shown on
a 21' by 14' screen and Teardrop Explodes provided support.
Virgin instead arranged for the group to support Talking
Heads on their November tour of the UK. However, things
changed again soon after Bob Last issued this press release
to announce the group's plans for the tour:
Human League, intrigued to experience their own performance
themselves, have designed a remotely controlled touring entertainment.
Therefore, 30 Human League minutes will be available on the
upcoming Talking Heads tour. The League themselves may well
join the audience on some evenings to savour the occasion. The
arrangement will allow them on other evenings to continue working
on their second album in their Sheffield workshop."
someone somewhere was clearly not amused by this concept of
live performance and the League were dismissed from the tour
shortly before the first show. The news came in the form of
a telex: "Regret must cancel Human League appearance on
Talking Heads tour in deference to ticket buyers due to format
of League's show."
Bob was understandably annoyed: "What right has the agent
and promoter to speak for ticket buyers? Why do we have to get
up on stage and pose with a guitar?" But despite having
invested much time and money in these plans, the group were
not too distraught. In fact, they seemed to thrive off such
"Spirits were quite high, because everybody was against
us and we were all really tough about it."
the record, the League planned to include the following songs
in these shows: King Of Kings,
Circus Of Death,
Zero As A Limit
and Empire State Human.
next challenge was to persuade Virgin to finance the establishment
of their own personal recording studio in Sheffield. Virgin
were eventually convinced, realising that it would cost less
to set up the group with their own studio than it would to hire
other studios for future recordings.The League chose a disused
vetinary surgery, close to their old rehearsal room in the centre
of Sheffield, and with their tongues planted firmly in their
cheeks, named the new studio Monumental Pictures...