The Membranes with John Robb in conversation with David Eastaugh
The Membranes are an English post-punk band formed in Blackpool, Lancashire in 1977, the initial line-up being John Robb (bass guitar), Mark Tilton (guitar), Martyn Critchley (vocals) and Martin Kelly (drums). Critchley soon left, with Robb and Tilton taking on vocals, and Kelly moving to keyboards, with "Coofy Sid" (Coulthart) taking over on drums.
Their first release was the "Flexible Membrane" flexi-disc in 1980, and over the next 11 years they went on to release six studio albums. Their first single proper, "Muscles", was a single of the week in the UK music press and a big club hit in New York being played in the Danceteria by the Beastie Boys eventual DJ Mojo[clarification needed] and other New York DJs. Kelly left after "Muscles", to be replaced by Steve Farmery on guitar for the follow-up Pin Stripe Hype EP.
The band pioneered the avant noise scene of Big Black and Sonic Youth for several years with their critically acclaimed "Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder" single and Death To Trad Rock EP and their debut Gift Of Life album. They were destined to be the first band to be signed to Alan McGee's Creation label, but the deal fell through when McGee could not afford to pay their studio bill for the "Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder" single. The band relocated to Manchester in 1983, and "Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder" was issued on the Criminal Damage label, which met with a positive critical response but distribution problems limited its impact
In 2009, the band reformed after My Bloody Valentine asked the band to play their All Tomorrows Parties festival. The Membranes then recorded the critically acclaimed Dark Matter/Dark Energy album and have been playing festivals across Europe since then as well as special event gigs such as at the top of Blackpool Tower. The band received press acclaim for a series of concerts they played with choirs in Estonia and Portugal as well as the BIMM choir in the UK.