Stars Of Britpop: Where Are They Now?

Stars Of Britpop: Where Are They Now?

Britpop luminaries such as Damon Albarn, Noel and Liam Gallagher, and Jarvis Cocker have been in the public eye a lot in recent years, either for reuniting their classic bands or pursuing new projects or both. But what about all the Britpop stars who aren’t consistently making headlines anymore in the States? What have those people been up to lately? It’s Britpop Week so let’s explore.

THEN: James played bass for Blur, teaming with Dave Rowntree to form Britpop's greatest rhythm section. His work on classics such as "Girls & Boys" and "Coffee & TV" is distinctive and brilliant. He also partied hard; in his autobiography Bit Of A Blur he estimates he spent a million pounds on champagne and cocaine.
NOW: James is a renaissance man! After Blur slowed down in the wake of Think Tank, he bought a farm in the Cotswolds and started making award-winning artisan cheeses. He hosted a music and food festival called Alex James Presents Harvest in 2011, followed by an event called the Big Feastival in 2012 and 2013. Thanks to his interest in astronomy, he became an artist in residence at Oxford University's astrophysics department in 2007. He's also worked with Aubin & Willis as a fashion designer and model and has hosted the radio programs Alex James's Magical Musical Tour and The A-Z of Classic FM Music. James still plays bass for Blur whenever they reunite.
THEN: As drummer for Blur, Rowntree was the other half of that killer rhythm section with Alex James.
NOW: When not drumming for the occasional Blur reunion, Rowntree pursues all sorts of disparate interests. His computer animation company Nanomation produced two seasons (or "series" as they call them in the UK) of a cartoon called Empire Square that drew South Park comparisons. He's written three academic papers on photorealistic rendering. Like James, he hosts a UK radio show (Rowntree's airs Thursday nights on XFM). He took a job as a solicitor with the East London firm Kingsley Napley in 2006 and twice lost races for political office as a Labour Party candidate.
THEN: As lead singer of Elastica, she embodied Britpop at its most punk-rock and released the fastest-selling debut album in British history. Prior to forming Elastica, she co-founded Suede with then-boyfriend Brett Anderson but left Anderson for Blur's Damon Albarn in 1991. Her romance with Albarn helped spark Blur's early rivalry with Suede; her breakup with Albarn inspired many heartrending songs on Blur's 1999 opus 13.
NOW: After Elastica's breakup in 2001, Frischmann has lived a renaissance life. She moved in with M.I.A. and helped write songs for Arular. She co-hosted a series about architecture called Dreamspaces for the BBC and was a judge from the 2003 RIBA Stirling Prize For Architecture. She moved to Boulder, Colorado in 2005 to study visual arts at the Buddhist liberal arts college Naropa University and began showing her paintings. In 2008, she married Ian Faloona, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of California-Davis. In 2012, her paintings were shortlisted for the UK's Marmite Prize. She and Faloona live in the Bay Area.
THEN: As the lead singer of the Verve, Ashcroft contributed his unforgettable voice to countless classics, most notably the worldwide smash hit "Bittersweet Symphony." He mostly stayed out the Britpop and was buddy-buddy with the Gallagher brothers -- they dedicated songs to each other, and Ashcroft sang backup on Oasis' "All Around The World."
NOW: After the short-lived Verve reunion from 2007-2009, he released a 2010 album with a new band under the name RPA & The United Nations of Sound. He released a solo song called "Future's Bright" -- premiered at Stereogum! -- on the soundtrack of the 2011 film The Adjustment Bureau. But he hasn't released anything since, so it was more like his future's blank.
THEN: Butler became one of his generation's guitar idols as a member of Suede but left the group in 1994 due to tensions with frontman Brett Anderson just as Britpop was becoming a "thing."
NOW: Butler's improvisational group Trans released a self-titled EP in 2013. He has kept up a steady stream of collaborations and production work in recent years, including involvement with Kate Nash, Duffy, Frankie & The Heartstrings, Teleman, Black Kids, Paloma Faith, Fyfe Dangerfield of Guillemots, and Ben Watt. He has not participated in Suede's reunion shows.
THEN: Burgess joined the Charlatans during their baggy phase, after which they followed stylistic currents into Britpop and continued accumulating hits. They also acquired a lawsuit from the '60s US rock band the Charlatans forcing them to identify as the Charlatans UK for stateside purposes.
NOW: Unlike most prominent Britpop bands, the Charlatans never broke up but rather descended from legit rock stars into more of a cult concern over the course of 11 albums. Burgess published an autobiography called Telling Stories in 2012 and a Daily Telegraph op-ed about transcendental meditation. In 2013 he hosted Lauren Laverne's BBC Radio 6 show while Laverne and other National Union of Journalists members were on strike. He's currently the subject of a Channel 4 documentary in which he plays shows around the UK raising money to fund the Charlatans recording their next album on the International Space Station.
THEN: Laverne was the lead singer for Sunderland rockers Kenickie, which scored a minor hit with "In Your Car" and was described by Courtney Love as "a big, raw-boned bunch of fucking sex." They broke up in 1998 after a gig at London's Astoria, which Laverne closed with the remark, "We were Kenickie ... a bunch of fuckwits."
NOW: Laverne hosts a show on BBC Radio 6, co-hosts Channel 4's satirical news show 10 O'Clock Live and is a frequent, controversial UK media personality. In 2010, she published a novel called Candypop -- Candy and the Broken Biscuits about a 15-year-old girl on her way to Glastonbury.
THEN: Booth fronted James, Madchester dance-rockers who were swept into Britpop in the mid-'90s along with the rest of the UK music scene. Their Brian-Eno-assisted single "Laid" made them one of Britpop's most popular US imports, and they spent most of 1994 touring the States in support of it. They remained a strong chart presence in the UK and a reliable US touring presence throughout the '90s despite setbacks like the departure of manager Martine McDonagh (with whom Booth fathered a child) and guitarist Larry Gott (the band's primary songwriter) and a neck injury that required emergency surgery for Booth.
NOW: Although Booth quit the band to go solo after a farewell tour in 2001, James reformed in 2007 and released a flurry of new albums between 2008 and 2010. They began regularly performing with an orchestra in 2012. A new single called "Moving On" is expected next week, culled from a new album called La Petite Mort.
THEN: The daughter of a Japanese Bond girl, Berenyi fronted Lush, shoegazers who jumped on the Britpop bandwagon with 1996's Lovelife including a duet with Pulp's Jarvis Cocker called "Ciao!" The band disbanded in 1998 following the 1996 suicide of drummer Chris Acland.
NOW: Berenyi's only musical output since Lush broke up has been a few random guest spots -- on the Rentals' 1999 album Seven More Minutes, a 2005 Flat 7 remix by Robin Guthrie, the 2010 debut album by Eric Matthews. Mostly she works as a magazine editor and raises two children with K.J. "Moose" McKillop of the '90s UK shoegaze band Moose.
THEN: Ryder already had logged a 12-year tenure with the legendarily drug-fueled Factory Records party band Happy Mondays when he formed the Britpop act Black Grape with his Happy Mondays bandmate Bez in 1995. Their debut album It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah entered the UK charts at #1.
NOW: Ryder participated in a Happy Mondays reunion in 2007 that resulted in the album Uncle Dysfunktional and another in 2012 that was supposed to have yielded another album by now. He also played a Black Grape reunion gig in 2010. That same year, Ryder finished second to Stacey Solomon on the UK game show I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!. In 2011, he published his autobiography, Twisting My Melon, which is now in the process of being adapted into a TV movie. Last year he hosted a TV series about alien encounters for the UK's History Channel called Shaun Ryder On UFOs.

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