Every so often someone will tell me about a band that I somehow either missed the 1st time around or hadn’t taken the time to delve into their catalogue. I have a few weaknesses, one of them being bass heavy post punk from the late 70’s into the 80’s (and let’s be honest, all the various revivals from the last 15 years or so). A friend of mine in the city of Angels buzzed me a few years ago asking if I’d heard that The March Violets had gotten back together. I’d heard the name (Sisters of Mercy connection in the early years) but sadly hadn’t heard any of their records. Somewhat hard to find, though not impossible in these glorious days of the “world wide web”, I quickly became a huge fan as I indulged in the early singles & records.
Formed in the early 80’s, The March Violets were label mates for a short time with the great Sisters of Mercy. Bass heavy, backed by the motorik throb of a drum machine, the band stood out from bands pursuing a like-minded sound. The original band featured Tom Ashton on guitar, Laurence Elliot on bass, and presented an interesting dynamic with male / female vocalists – Simon Denbigh and Rosie Garland. Make no mistake, the band was on equal footing with such luminaries as Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The early sound is best represented by the robotic pulse of Religious as Hell and its to the point chorus of “Religious as hell / Really nice / We’re so religious”. A perfect post punk song that the goths can love too, it is one of band’s many classics.
Religious as Hell can be found on the compilation albums Natural History (1985) and Botanic Verses (1993) – the latter giving a more complete overview of the band’s 80’s output. The band ground to a halt in the late 80’s, with all members finding success in their post MV endeavors. I really do recommend seeking out those original recordings by The March Violets – they veer from post punk brilliance to slightly more pop oriented material. Simon Denbigh went on to have success with The Batfish Boys, the band he formed immediately following his exit from The March Violets. Fortunately for us, The March Violets story wasn’t yet complete.
In the late 00’s (still sounds strange to say “aughts”) the original band reformed to play a one-off gig. The band realized that they had more to say and used a Pledge Music campaign to finance new recordings. It culminated in the 2013 release of the brand new record, Made Glorious. What strikes me about the record is that although it is seeped in the classic March Violets sound, it feels like a natural successor to the early works. Throbbing bass (not gristle), Mr. Drum Machine giving a robotic pulse, male / female vocal interplay – it’s an absolute classic. Check out the official video for Dandelion King embedded at the bottom of this piece.
If you are on the left coast of the USA – you are in luck. The band is embarking on a brief tour, starting Saturday the 21st in my adopted hometown of Seattle, WA. Make sure to check out the band’s Official Website and pick up a copy of the latest record via Bandcamp. All photos used with permission granted by The March Violets. “Like” the band on Facebook here and follow the links to the show you want to attend. Here are the dates:
Into the Sun Tour – US West Coast June 2014:
- June 21 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
- June 22 – Portland, OR – Church Of Hive @ Star Theater
- June 25 – San Francisco, CA – DNA Lounge (Death Guild Presents)
- June 27 – Las Vegas, NV – Scarlet @ LVCS
- June 28 – San Diego, CA – Soda Bar
- June 29 – Los Angeles, CA – Part Time Punks @ The Echo