Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Whatever Happened to The Long Blondes?

The other day, I found myself revisiting Someone to Drive You Home, The Long Blondes' sterling debut album (which, incidentally, will turn 10 years old later this year). The band, sadly, has been defunct since 2008, but the five people who made Someone to Drive You Home - and its underrated successor "Couples" - are still out there somewhere.

Shall we find out what they've all been up to since The Long Blondes' stint as Sheffield's coolest ambassadors was cut short? Yes, I think we shall:

Kate Jackson

Lead Vocals

Well here's some good news right off the bat: not only is Kate Jackson still making music, but her debut solo album (British Road Movies by Kate Jackson and The Wrong Moves) is due out sometime soon. You can sign up to Jackson's newsletter here; this rough 'n' ready live performance of a song called The Westerlies suggests that British Road Movies (which will take the form of both an album and an art exhibition - Kate Jackson does art, too) will be well worth looking out for:

UPDATE (Aug 2016): British Road Movies is now available and Kate was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about her first solo album - click here to read the interview.

Dorian Cox

Lead Guitar / Keyboards

When I Googled the name 'Dorian Cox', the top result was this Guardian article, which features Cox's account of the stroke that put an abrupt, premature end to The Long Blondes and, sadly, rendered him incapable of playing guitar. When that article was written, it was unclear whether or not its author would ever be able to play again; "doctors and physiotherapists cannot give me a definitive answer," he wrote. "I'm trying to write songs and am still managing to write lyrics. Musically, all I can do is play a keyboard with one's not the same as playing guitar."

Seven years later, the outlook is bittersweet. Dorian Cox now makes experimental electropop music under the name The Only Blonde in the World (a callback to his former outfit, one presumes); his new tracks are conspicuously bereft of anything resembling a guitar, so it's not clear whether or not he ever fully regained his former abilities. Either way, though, we can at least be glad that he's still writing and recording, particularly when the results are as compellingly odd as this:

Kathryn 'Reenie' Hollis

Bass Guitar / Backing Vocals

Finding out what former Long Blondes bassist Reenie Hollis is doing with herself nowadays proved somewhat tricky. My initial Google search turned up a Twitter account (@Reenie_Hollis) that may or may not belong our Reenie; digging deeper, I also came across a LinkedIn profile belonging to a Sheffield-based Reenie Hollis who's currently involved with something called FindA University Ltd.

At this point, I was beginning to feel like a bit of a creep, so I decided to curtail my efforts. Whether Reenie Hollis of The Long Blondes is the woman who works for FindA University or somebody else entirely, I daresay she wouldn't much care for small-time blogdorks like me trying to Google up the finer details of her personal life.

Emma Chaplin

Rhythm Guitar / Keyboards / Backing Vocals

Emma Chaplin in 2016 is even more of an enigma than her former bandmate Reenie. The only decent lead I can find is this tweet from a year ago:

Robinson Library is part of Newcastle University, so if Emma works there on Sundays, I suppose she lives in Newcastle now.

Or she did a year ago, anyway. Now...who knows?

Mark 'Screech Louder' Turvey


Now this guy I managed to track down (unsurprisingly, there are far fewer Screech Louders on Twitter than there are Emma Chaplins). Louder's tweets have been few and far between of late, but this one does at least confirm that, yes, he is that Screech Louder:

(Don't bother clicking that Instagram link - it's broken.)

Again, I wasn't able to get much of a handle on how Mark Turvey has been spending his days since he last beat a drum for The Long Blondes, but his most recent tweet - which, at time of writing, is les than two weeks old - is oddly heartwarming:

So they were The Long Blondes: some of them are still making music, and some of them aren't (or, if they are, the general public has yet to hear it). I suppose I haven't really achieved anything here besides proving what a rubbish investigative journalist I would make, but hey, if I've given you a yen to revisit "Couples" and Someone to Drive You Home then maybe it was worth it.

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