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Information submitted by
Cris Waren

 

Name of band

Pigbag

 

Band member
Instrument played/role in band

Simon Underwood

Bass

James Johnstone

Alto Sax & guitar

Chris Lee

Trumpet

Ollie Moore

 Tenor Sax
Roger Freeman Trombone

Chip Carpenter

Percussion
Chris Hamlyn Clarinet & percussion
Mark Smith Bass

 

Information about your band - musical style - what were you best known for
Pigbag are often referred to as a Bristol band because of their connection to The Pop Group but in fact the one hit and two great album wonders started life in Cheltenham as a manic, free-wheeling group jamming post-punk funk, frantic tribal-beats and based around fashion student Chris Hamlin, Roger Freeman (who appeared to be a dab hand at most instruments), Chris Lee on trumpet and James Johnstone, a guitarist who had also started to play alto saxophone. Although they had no collective name they soon developed a uniquely funky sound that was filled out by the addition of drummer Chip Carpenter and bassist Mark Smith. During these early sessions the song that would give them both their name and their 15 minutes of fame was developed, Papa's Got  A Brand New Pigbag, a nod to James Brown's mnid 60's floorfiller Papa's Got A Brand New Bag.

On the off chance Hamlin heard that Simon Underwood had called time on his massively influential Bristol band The Pop Group. Hamigbag are often referred to as a Bristol band because of their connection to The Pop Group but in fact tlin figuring what the hell tracked down Underwood's address and went to visit him with a demo of his still nameless band. Underwood loved the jazzy chaos of the tape and agreed to join the band, bringing with him his sax playing pal, fellow Bristolian, Ollie Moore.

Within weeks Underwood's influence and membership of the band had secured interest from Dick O'Dell, manager of The Slits and also label boss of Y Records (to whom The Popgroup were signed).

O'Dell arranged a support slot for the still nameless group with The Slits at R&J's (noe The Works) in Bristol, who proceeded to play with an epic version of their drum and brass heavy, and unbelievably catchy though still nameless anthem. It went down a storm and O'Dell signed the band on the spot, naming the band (and that momentus jam) after the pig bag that Hamlin was rarely seen without.

The subsequent single, released in 1981, was a big hit on the underground club scene and, despite Hamlin leaving the band complaining that they were already too successful and they were losing direction - or rather actually finding one. 

Pigbag continued blowing away with two further singles, Sunny Day and Getting Up, and an album Dr Heckle & Mr Jive. A subsequent tour was successful enough for Y to consider re-releasing the manic Papa's which took off and hit the Top 3 of the mainstream charts, becoming pretty much the soundtrack to the spring/summer of 1982. The band made two appearences on Top Of The Pops (the first significant because it saw Freeman depart the group, he didn't want to wear a suit and featured Wild Bunch member and later producer to the stars Nellee Hooper in the line up) and the song has since gone on to be remixed, covered and feature heavily in films and TV soundtracks as well as be used as Middlesborough FC's introductory music  when they roll onto the pitch).

A follow up single 'The Big Bean' was a less lively affair and bombed but at least showed the band were interested in moving their sound along and keen to experiement. Their second LP, 'Lend An Ear' featured a vocalist Angela Jaeger (who married Simon Underwood later the same year) and took the band touring to Japan, USA and Europe. Reaction to the new album was poor and the band decided to call it quits, playing their last live show at Portsmouth in April 1983.

 

record releases
label/date

Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag

7" Y10 1981

Sunny Day

7" Y12 1981

Getting Up

Y16 1982

The Big Bean

Y24 1982
Hit The 'O' Deck Y101

 

Did any other bands evolve from this line up?

 

Where are the band members mow?
Underwood, Jaeger and Johnstone formed the ill fated Instinct who signed to ZTT and then sank without trace. Underwood is now working on the web side of music and has designed sites for Talvin Singh and BMG Records. Johnstone is also working in web design with an animation site called infinitewheel.com that's well worth a visit. Chip Carpenter took the hint from his nick and surnames and is now a furniture designer after graduating from  London College of Furniture. Chris Lee is still asession musician (you can hear him on The Pogues hit Fiesta among many others). Ollie Moore also continues to session, past recording gigs included Float Up CP with Gareth Saeger and Neneh Cherry and Red Snapper and he's now writing and performing his own material.

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