(Thanks to Dale Farrington for the information below.) American TV Cops were a four piece, from Lichfield in the English midlands. The line up was:
- Anthony Cluer - Vocals, guitar
- Dale Farrington - Guitar
- Steve (Sam) Allsop - Bass
- Andy Whitty - Drums, vocals
During the mid nineties they released three critically acclaimed 7" vinyl singles on their own Pest Records label. The first of these, 'Thirst', was granted Single of the Week status on BBC Radio One's Steve Lamacq Show, and all three enjoyed extensive airplay on national and local radio as well as exposure on at least one French station. Over the same period they gigged extensively around England, appearing at all the major music venues of the time and supporting the likes of Deus, Shed Seven, These Animal Men, Smash, Cable and Bush.
The four ex-members of the band are now scattered across the globe. Anthony lives in London, Dale in Thailand and Sam in New Zealand. Andy still resides locally to Lichfield. He is rumoured to be putting together a new group, Andy Whitty's American TV Cops, in order to tour British seaside resorts during the summer months.
Links to Peel
- The band recorded one session for John Peel. The taping took place at the BBC's Maida Vale studios on Sunday 15th January, 1995 and was broadcast four weeks later on Saturday 11th February. It was re-broadcast on Saturday 16th September. The four songs that made up the session were all Farrington/Cluer originals, and "Cruiser" was a re-recorded version was released as the band's third single. The band's friend and producer, Gavin Monaghan, provided backing vocals on two of the songs. The session was well received, with Peel himself describing it as "excellent". John also related the tale of how he'd used his new mobile phone (which he admitted to be very embarrassed about owning) for the first time, other than to call his family, to contact ATVC to ask them to record the session.
From The Horse's Mouth
- A memoir of the circumstances surrounding the session, kindly provided by the guitarist Dale Farrington.
From being a teenage punk rocker growing up in deepest Staffordshire all I ever wanted to do was record a session for John Peel. Over the years I’d sent him numerous tapes of varying quality from the countless bands I was in. I even resorted to leaping out from the shadows near Broadcasting House before pressing a C30 into his still trembling hand. All to no avail. Finally, when I was in my early thirties, and old enough to know better, my dream came true. I’d returned to Staffordshire after a few years working back in my native north west and fallen in with great bunch of musicians all considerably younger than me but who shared my ambitions. We had decided right from the start that we would aim high and wouldn’t waste our time playing the Lichfield circuit like our contemporaries but would get out and play in London, Manchester and Birmingham and send out cassettes to national DJs and journalists rather than the local hacks. True to this ideal within a few months of forming, Steve Lamacq played our demo tape (demo tape!) on his Radio One evening show. Spurred on by this we decided to club together and release the song, “Thirst”, as a single on our own record label (christened 'PEST Records' after a 15ft high piece of graffiti spotted from a train window just outside Nottingham). Lamacq made it his “Single of the Week” and world domination beckoned. The record received considerable airplay (even in France) and we were offered some high profile gigs and support slots on the back of its relative success and positive reviews in the music papers.
Peel Gets In Touch
However, it was to be our second single, “Atrocity Girl”,that pricked Peel’s interest. We sent him a white label copy, as we had done with “Thirst” and he played it on his Saturday programme a few days later. Within a week or so we got the call. Or rather our guitarist Anthony’s mum did. In an age before mobile phones hers was our contact number because she had an answering machine. One night I was round at Anthony’s writing songs and planning our next gigs when his mum brought us both a cup of tea. After delivering the drinks she turned to leave but suddenly remembered a message she had received. “Anthony,” she said, “Some bloke called John Bell rang. He wants you to call him back.” John Bell? John Bell? Neither of us knew anybody by that name. Who was he? A promoter? A journalist? A fan? We slipped downstairs to listen to the tape. Straight away we recognized those dulcet tones that we’d heard so many times over the years. We stood in silence. Looked at each other, rewound the tape and listened to it again. This time we both leapt around screaming like two schoolgirls who’d just met Robbie Williams. We immediately called Sam and Andy and retired to the local pub to celebrate.
Preparation For The Session
Recording the session was a hugely enjoyable experience. The whole day was timetabled and only a certain amount of time was allowed for each part of the process, which meant that we had to be well prepared. The BBC had sent us a list of all the timings, along with a stern warning that everything must be done according to the schedule so we knew what was expected of us. Even though we were used to a much more laid back approach, the Beeb’s rather schoolmasterly methods seemed to suit us. As the engineer on the day said, “We’re looking for a performance.” And we performed. We had decided some time before on the four songs we would be recording but on the way down, Anthony had a slight change of heart. He wanted us to include a new song which we had written and rehearsed the previous weekend. However, by the time we arrived in London he’d agreed with the rest of us that it wasn’t quite ready to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public. The song, “Mouthwash”, later turned up, with a new set of lyrics, on the flip side of our third single, “Cruiser”.
Arriving At The Studio
I don’t think that any of us were overawed by the rather palatial surroundings of the Maida Vale studio but we were impressed and inspired. Only Andy, our drummer, showed any signs of nerves and we had a couple of attempts at recording the first song before he settled down and we hit our stride. I’m rather ashamed to admit that I can’t remember the names of the producer and the engineer (Mike Engels & Julia Carney-SIG) but they were very good to us. Professional, of course, but also extremely supportive and they seemed to like our stuff. Furthermore they kept us entertained during the mixing process with tales of all the musicians and DJs they’d worked with. The engineer came from Staffordshire so we had some common ground there. Having our own producer, Gavin Monaghan, with us proved to be a big help. He is vastly experienced having played in a few of the early London punk bands, worked at the BBC and produced some fairly big names – Edwyn Collins being one, which was good enough for me. He was also able to give us some invaluable advice about how to achieve the sound we wanted without wasting too much time. We rewarded him by letting him sing backing vocals on a couple of the songs. I’m sure it was the highlight of his career!
Once everyone was satisfied and our time was up we were each given a cassette copy of our efforts and a blank form. On the form we had to write a short description of the band and our music for inclusion in the Radio Times. I can’t remember exactly what we wrote but it was the toughest thing we had to do all day. It’s not easy trying to sum up your bands style in fifteen words or less! The whole day had gone by in a flash and we were soon loading up the van for the drive back to the Midlands. However, we still had two more stops to make. The first one was at Abbey Road, where we posed for the obligatory photo on the zebra crossing. And the second was at a pub in St John’s Wood for a celebratory pint or two. I’m not sure how many times we played the tape on the way home but I know that we were all more than satisfied with our days work. Only four more weeks until we would hear our efforts broadcast on the John Peel Show.
(Anthony: I recall we made Dale take his shoes off and he complained "Why do I have to be McCartney! - does anyone still have this photo????)
The Session Is Broadcast
The four weeks between the recording and the broadcast was a busy time for us. We were still gigging extensively and writing and rehearsing at weekends. With the exception of Anthony we all had full time jobs so it was very tiring but I don’t think that any one of us would have changed a thing. The buzz that recording a John Peel Session had given us, helped to keep us going. On the day of the broadcast I was staying with Kate, my then girlfriend, in the nurse’s home at Selly Oak Hospital. We had been shopping at the Rag Market in the morning to buy some new (second hand) clothes to wear at that evenings Morrissey gig. However, I made sure that we were back in plenty of time to listen to the show. I also made sure that I had a couple of blank cassettes handy to record every single minute of it. Just before Peelie was about to come on air we were joined by a group of Kate’s friends. And that is how I listened to the first broadcast of the American TV Cops session, surrounded by nurses. John’s comments about the songs were very complimentary, signing off with, “That was ‘Lip Splint’, the last of what has been an excellent session.” Earlier he had compared us to The Quads – their single, “There Must Be Thousands” is well known to be one of his favourites- and told the mobile phone story. In between playing the songs he gave out snippets of information about our current and future activities; forthcoming gigs and the fact that we planned to release “Cruiser” as a single, plus the line up of the band. I had phoned him the week before to give him all the details. I also asked him to dedicate the session to Kate, as it had been her birthday two days earlier (“The same day as producer, Mike Hawkes”). As always, it was a pleasure talking with the great man. I’d met him a few times previously when I’d found him easy to get along with. He was just as amiable over the phone and he seemed genuinely interested in the band and what we were up to.
After The Broadcast
After the round of back slapping and good wishes that followed the last song, I phoned up the other three Cops and we basked for a while in the glow of our new found fame. I also called my parents, who had managed to figure out how to use a tape recorder just in time to capture their son’s big moment. After all the compliments and expressions of goodwill it was time to head off for the Mozzer concert. I remember how wonderful I felt walking into the Aston Villa Leisure centre that night and wondering how many of the people in there had just heard MY session on John Peel!
My thanks once again to Dale Farrington for sharing his memories with the Wiki. (SIG)
Festive Fifty Entries
- One session: no known commercial release.
- Thirst / Cruiser / Captain Marvel, Pervy Dimo / Lip Splint
Other Shows Played
- 26 August 1994: unknown
- 16 September 1994: Thirst (7") Pest PES01
- 17 September 1994 (BFBS): Thirst (7") Pest PES01
- 04 November 1994: 'Atrocity Girl (7")' (Pest)
- 12 November 1994 (BFBS): 'Atrocity Girl'
- 19 November 1994: 'Atrocity Girl'
- 26 November 1994 (BFBS): 'Atrocity Girl'
- 07 January 1995 (BFBS): 'Atrocity Girl'
- 05 May 1995: 'Cruiser (promo)' (white label)
- 14 May 1995 (BBC World Service): Cruiser (7") Pest
- 22 July 1995: Captain Marvel (EP: A Field Guide To The Starfish Club, 2nd Anniversary) Starfish Club Records
- 29 July 1996 (BBC World Service): Turbulence #5 (CD Single) Starfish