Harvey's Rabbit were around for most of the 1990's and based in Manchester. I think we first got together in 1992 and played our last gig at the Night and Day Cafe on Oldham Street, Manchester in the Autumn of 1998.
We were never really part of a scene but had a few ideas and a good DIY work ethic. 1994 was a busy year. Tired of the process of recording demos, sending them off and being rejected, we decided to be a bit more ambitious and record an album "A Place For Beginners" at Studio Studio near Rochdale. We released it (Cassette only) on our own Rain Soaked label. Releasing it meant getting a few copies on the shelves of Piccadilly Records, selling some at gigs and giving a load away.
Around the same time we managed to get some dates supporting The Fall - 2 at the Roadhouse in Manchester, followed by Penzance, Exeter, Basingstoke and Oldham Queen Elizabeth Hall. And a memorable week spent commuting to Liverpool to play at the Lomax Club. One thing leads to another and no doubt it was this connection which led to us coming to John Peel's attention and getting us a session.
Links To Peel
John Peel, Radio 1, Monday - Thursday 10 -12.
3 Favourite lost classics I discovered on John Peel's show:
Clive Pig and the Hopeful Chinamen: Happy Birthday Sweet 16
The Red Guitars: Good Technology
The Comsat Angels: Total War
Like many others I grew up listening John Peel's show and discovering new music while I lay in bed in the dark. Getting the session felt like a real landmark, it was as though we'd made it even though we had no record deal or profile outside Manchester.
I can't remember much about how the session came about, I think it was a result of hopeful phone calls and sending of tapes. We didn't actually have any personal contact with John Peel during the set up of the session or it's recording but we were aware everything we were doing was "in the name of Peel".
Over the years Harveys Rabbit had a couple of line ups with different bass players and drummers. It was the first line up which set off very early in the morning for London.
All songs were Rabbit compositions apart from "Is This What You Call Change?" which was a Robert Forster song (we'd actually been playing it for a while and
It does all seem a long time ago and it's hard to remember all the details of what went on (though funnily enough I could probably still name all members of the Bradford City team from that period if anyone is interested. Funny how the brain works). I do remember:
Setting off early and everyone juggling plans with work so we could do the session
A long drive and getting there just in time
Watching out for traffic wardens as we unloaded the gear
Long BBC corridors which seemed kind of magical
June Whitfield in the BBC canteen
A great live room to record in
A really nice engineer (George Thomas-SIG) who put everyone at ease (we played it cool but at least 4 of us were as nervous as hell)
I seem to remember the session being played on a Saturday afternoon, and I remember the great anticipation waiting for each song to be played and to hear what the Great Peel had to say about us.
Rotator And The Festive 50
One thing led to another yet again and later in 1994 we signed to a new Oxford based label "Rotator". I've no doubt that the Peel Session played a big part in persuading Rotator's Richard Cotton in taking a chance with us. In 1995 we released the 7" vinyl single "Is This What You Call Change" with "Room At The Top" on the B side. To our surprise it got great reviews and radio airplay particularly from Mark Radcliffe; Steve Lamacq; Jo Whiley. Peelie also played it but to be honest I never got the impression he was never that in to us. The session was a greater thrill, but an even greater one was finding out that we had reached number 42 in Peelie's Festive 50 of 1995. Now that really did feel like making it.
Harveys Rabbit went on to release another 3 singles and an album (The New Spiritual Vacuum) on Rotator before finally calling it a day. I remember it all fondly, especially the landmarks such as first gigs; first recording sessions and demos; first single release; reviews in local papers and then an NME interview; seeing our 2nd single (Window Dresser) on display in HMV next to David Bowie's new release (Strangers When We Meet) - I bought them both. The 2 sessions we recorded (we also did one for Johnnie Walker) for national radio are deffinitely up there with the other landmarks. In Autumn 2009 Harvey Rabbit played live together for the first time in 10 years in honour of Dave Thom's birthday. It felt just the same as it used to (in some ways better). Who knows what the future will bring but feel free to check out Harveys Rabbit on My Space. Things change but the spirit of Peel does live on.
Festive Fifty Entries
- Is This What You Call Change (FF 1995 #42)
- One session, no known commercial release
1. Recorded: 1994-06-21. First TX: 23 July 1994. No repeats.
- Lie So Well / Whatever Happened To / Is This What You Call Change / Thorny Place
Other Shows Played
- 22 July 1995: Is This What You Call Change (7") Rotator
- 29 December 1995: 'Is This What You Call Change (7 inch)' (Rotator) Festive Fifty #42