The TPE story
Well let`s travel back in time......THE UNDERTONES, Derry`s one and only punk band,
were formed in 1975.
THE UNDERTONES were; Michael Bradley on bass, Billy Doherty on drums, Feargal Sharkey on vocals, Damian O`Néill on guitar/keyboards and Sean O`Néill on guitar. They recorded their first EP "Teenage Kicks" on the 16th of June 1976. In 1978,John Peel (get outta here if ya dunno who he is!) played "Teenage Kicks" on Radio One. In January 1979 they released their debut album called "The Undertones", they followed up the huge success of the debut by releasing album number two "Hypnotized" in April 1980, their third album "Positive Touch" came in May 1981. Their "grand finale"..."The Sin of Pride" was released in March 1983. Two months after the release of the fourth and last album, the band decide to split. Feargal Sharkey, the lead-singer, went on to persue a solo-career. He released three solo albums ("FEARGAL SHARKEY", "WISH" and "AFTER THE MARDI GRAS") before he started working for Virgin Records, and now works for the BBC.
In 1984 Sean O`Néill, the main songwriting force behind The Undertones, and Reámann O'Gorman were DJ'ing in a club in Derry, Ireland, called The Left Bank. The two did some demos, and soon Alan McGee from Creation Records asked them to come to London to record a single. Ciaran McLaughlin joined in on drums before the three of them headed of to London. In London Sean`s brother, and companion from The Undertones, Damian, joined the band on bass. While they where waiting for McGee to sort out the recording sessions, they played a couple of gigs together as NOVACAINE COMBO (cool name), with Mel, a girl, on vocals. They also did a couple of gigs with the vocals shared by Réamann and Damian.
They weren't quite satisfied with how the vocals turned out, and so they where still looking for a lead singer. In March, Steve Mack, a Seattle native who had recently arrived in London, shoved up on a rehearsal. He got the job, they chanced their name, and THAT PETROL EMOTION was ready to enter the musical scene.
The name "That Petrol Emotion" was taken from a BAM BAM AND THE CALLING song, entitled.... "That Petrol Emotion".......
The first thing Steve had to do, was to to re-record the vocals for "Keen" and "A great depression on a slum night", which had been recorded about a week earlier with Raymond and Damian taking lead vocals respectively.
After several months waiting for McGee to sort it all out, they where thinking on returning to Ireland and calling it quits. But then The Pink Label came to the rescue, and they went into studio. In September 1985 THAT PETROL EMOTION released two singles "Keen" / "A great depression on a slum night" on The Pink Label, and "V2 / "Happiness drives me round the bend" on their own label "Noiseanoise".
They released their debut album MANIC POP THRILL in 1986, on Demon Records. The album was immediately hailed as a stunning indie debut. They had a strong political agenda, and the inner sleeve of the alnum was adorned with anti-British notes, containing a passage from Irish Republican Michael Dacitt`s 1904 tract, "The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland"
After signing to the UK major label Polydor, the band hit the critical and commercial jackpot in the UK with BABBLE, containing songs as "Big Decison" and "Swamp" roundly praised for its groundbreaking fusion of dance, rap, and hard guitar elements into a pulsating, addictive groove. Combining a pop sensibility with political agitation born out of the band's Northern Ireland roots, BABBLE represented a full-frontal pop-rock assault. Despite that album's success, the band was unhappy with Polydor, and escaped to Virgin Records through a loophole in their contract, right after the release of BABBLE.
"The Clash crossed with Creedence" (Rolling Stone, Oct '87).
"Fire, Mutilation and Splendid Chaos" (San Francisco Calendar, Nov 87).
"The Petrols put on the kind of electrifying show that you hear about but rarely experience these days...the songs are a fresh and startling amalgam of sound and idiom - music that starts with a bang, builds to a roar and explodes into sheer chaos only to come back again with a whomping beat you can feel deep down in the marrow of your bones."(Riverside CA-Press Enterprise 87).
Unfortunately, the band's second experience on a major label failed to satisfy. Their Virgin debut, THE END OF THE MILLENNIUM PSYCHOSIS BLUES, was not a success. Worse, founding member and main songwriter Sean O`Néill left the band shortly after that album's release in order to spend more time with his family. This was a setback for the Petrols, as Sean was responsible for their signature agitprop songwriting style.
In 1988 Steve contributed (as a solo act) on the AIDS-trust tribute album of Johnny Cash covers, "'Til Things Are Brighter". He did "Rosanna's Goin' Wild". The album was produced by Jon Langford of The Mekons.
In 1989, Stange Fruit Records released two albums, or EP's. THAT PETROL EMOTION : THE PEEL SESSIONS BBC archives and THAT PETROL EMOTION : THE PEEL SESSIONS, selections of their earliest songs. The first one containing four songs, the other one eight. The Undertones also got their Peel Session album released in 1989.
The band bounced back once again, as Ciaran McLaughlin, Damian O`Néill and Reámann O`Gorman took the opportunity to develop their writing skills and to steer the Petrols toward less politically charged themes. Damian O`Néill took over on guitar, joining Reámann, while John Marchini was brought in to handle the bass. The band's second Virgin release, CHEMICRAZY in 1990, pumped up the volume with such pop-rock gems as "Hey Venus" and "Sensitize," which even got time on MTV..........
"Watching them live is like getting a dose of everything good that rock music has come up with in three decades".(Evening Herald '90).
"Steve Mack thrashes and flails and stagedives and sings all our faves and I've never seen so many beaming faces in my entire life. They must be one of the most vital bands happening anywhere EVER! You can find them in the dictionary next to absolutely fecking amazing!" (Hot Press '90).
"TPE live are velocity, space and motion. And fun..."(Melody Maker 91).
"Masters of the kill-thrill riff pop song!"(MM 91).
"A band out of their time, before their time, after their time, very much of their time." (MM 91).
But despite great reviews, success still eluded the boys and they were soon released from their Virgin contract.
The last thing that even diehard fans expected from THAT PETROL EMOTION in 1993 was a new album...or ...well any album.
Suddenly a promotional cd was available with different tracks from some of their albums, called EXPLODED VIEW, and it contained a new track.........
John Marchini on bass had been replaced by Brendan Kelly and the lads had taken the matters into their own hands and came out with a tough, melodic collection of bruising guitar rock; FIREPROOF.
From the rolling guitar intro of "Detonate My Dreams" to the final fade of "Metal Mystery", FIREPROOF displays the determination of a band that had emerged from commercial hell, stronger and more focused than before. The slashing guitars of "Catch A Fire", the frantic pop of "Infinite Thrill", the beauty of "Heartbeat Mosaic," are three of the "manic pop thrills" to be found on the Petrols` return to absolute top form.
Saddly, the "Fireproof Tour" would turn out to be their last.......... :o(
The two last gig`s the band performed was recorded, and on August the 28th 2000 the live album was released, FINAL FLAME, spanning their whole career. Séan O`Neill even plays on one of the encores.
FINAL FLAME really rocks, and clearly shows what a f***** great live band THAT PETROL EMOTION really was. The music scene has lost one of it`s finest contributors. If you are one of them that were able to catch them live you sure as hell know what I mean.........
On the same date as FINAL FLAME was released, a new version of FIREPROOF was released. This time some early versions of some of the songs appeared as bonus tracks together with an unreleased song written by Damian.
A re-release of BABBLE, adding some bonus tracks was also released in 2001 along with a remastered version of FIREPROOF, also conatining several bonus tracks!!!
The story of THAT PETROL EMOTION is obviously not over..... in spring 2008 rumours started... The Petrols where planning a reunion, playing live again..... Eagerly anticipating confirmation on the rumours, we were not dissapointed. TPE launched their official web page www.thatpetrolemotion.com, and finally confirmed three live dates... so far.