OFTEN unfairly labelled as Britpop survivors, The Bluetones continued to plough their own furrow, producing a succession of beautifully crafted albums and irresistibly catchy pop tunes, before unplugging their guitars in 2011 and going.
“Britpop was a double-edged sword for us, and we were in the eye of the storm,” said their former lead singer Mark Morriss.
“It was a big and popular thing and helped raise our profile, but people pigeon-holed us because of the association with that scene.
“We always thought of ourselves as just a band, but as soon as Britpop came into the equation it all became something else.
“I felt The Bluetones, in many ways, were disregarded and undervalued.
“We were unfortunate to come along at the same time as that quite insular scene — and possibly the connotations of our name didn’t help us in that respect — so it gave us something to prove, but it also opened a lot of doors.”
It was the release of their splendid debut album, Expecting to Fly in 1996 that really cemented their lofty position in the Britpop hierarchy with Oasis and Blur, coupled to a string of top 40 hits.
“I’m incredibly proud of what The Bluetones achieved and if you listen to our final album you wouldn’t think that this was a band that had lost their creative spark,” he added.
“So it’s a shame that we had to call it a day.
“Commercially, though, it didn’t do well, so we were faced with the option of becoming one of those bands that just keeps touring and playing its greatest hits or one that calls it a day and goes out with their heads held high.”
Morriss is now forging a successful solo career and his debut album, Memory Muscle was released to favourable reviews. He plays Preston next Friday.
“Doing my solo work is more autocratic and gives me the chance to really take charge,” he said.
“I didn’t want — or have — to hold back, to get things exactly how I wanted them.
“I’ve always liked to marry dark lyrics with sunny, upbeat melodies and that’s how the record came out.
“I don’t march on stage with a set list now.
I don’t have one eye on the charts and I don’t care what’s hip in the music press anymore.
“I just like it to be a bit more instinctive than that.”
He added: “It would be churlish not to play some Bluetones songs because they played such a huge part in my life and I still love their music.”
- Mark Morriss, 53 Degrees, Preston, Friday, January 11. Details from 01772 893000.