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Kenickie

+ {Rosita}

Starring lead singer/rhythm guitarist and subsequent TV presenter Lauren Laverne, punk-y Britpop quartet KENICKIE spanned only four years, but it was a four years that packed in so much (i.e. several mid-chart singles and a couple of similarly-successful sets).
Formed in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, in August 1994, the English band consisted of peroxide-blonde lyricist Lauren (born Lauren Cecilia Gofton), her drummer brother Johnny X (aka Pete Gofton), lead guitarist/occasional vocalist Marie du Santiago (born Anne Marie Nixon) and bassist Emmy-Kate Montrose (born Emma Jackson); their moniker tapped from a character played by Jeff Conaway in the movie, Grease (premiered, incidentally, the year Lauren was born).
In a proper attempt to keep it strictly indie, the teenagers unfettered their debut release, the 8-track 7-inch EP `Catsuit City’, for Slampt Underground Records, the following summer. Recalling the amateurish d.i.y. days of DELTA 5, FATAL MICROBES and KLEENEX, it included their first version of `Private Buchowski’. Turning their noses up to an offer from Alan McGee at Creation Records, and bolstered by an opening slot to the RAMONES at Brixton Academy, the month of February ’96 unveiled their sophomore single for Fierce Panda: `Come Out 2Nite’ (also part of the “Skillex” CD-EP).
Their fusion of radical punk-pop and femme-power endeared KENICKIE to a more lucrative deal with Emidisc, an offshoot enterprise run by SAINT ETIENNE’s Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs. This shrewd move paid off with a fist-pumping Top 50 hit, `Punka’. `Millionaire Sweeper’ couldn’t quite emulate its predecessor, but with `In Your Car’ – released in the early hours of 1997 – they’d pierced the Top 30. In fact, that year, KENICKIE became regular chart fixtures with two further hits by way of `Nightlife’ and a re-issued `Punka’, squeezed either side of Top 10 album, AT THE CLUB {*7}.
Stateside corporate Warner Brothers had already moved in for the group and endorsements from COURTNEY LOVE from their meeting in New York, KENICKIE looked to be soaring high among the day’s big guns, having moved up the corporate ladder to E.M.I. Records. But as the Britpop bubble was about to burst, the quartet’s punk-pop didn’t quite have the same positive impact on Top 50 breakers, `I Would Fix You’ and `Stay In The Sun’ (B-side, a cover of Brotherhood Of Man’s `Save Your Kisses For Me’). Mixed reviews, a relatively middling chart return stalling at No.32, and a switch to SLEEPER/ECHOBELLY-styled Britpop territory, 1998’s GET IN {*5} alienated some of the same fans that initially supported them. The fact was we’d heard it all before and lessons had not been learned despite Pete co-producing the set with Adrian Bushby and Andy Carpenter. A month after its release, they disbanded on 15 October at a London Astoria gig; the line-up had added Dot Allan (keyboards) and future DATA PANIK geezer Graham Christie (drums); Johnny X was now on guitar.
Early the following year, Emmy-Kate, Marie and Dot were back on the pop trail with fresh 5-piece ROSITA (other two were guitarist Matt McGinn and drummer Paddy Pultzer), although only two singles surfaced either side of the millennium: `Live It Down’ and the EP `Santa Poca’s Dream’. Meanwhile, siblings Lauren and Pete (Pete would become laptop folky J XAVERRE) briefly founded the band Chris. After guesting on MINT ROYALE’s Top 20 single, `Don’t Falter’ (in April 2000), Laverne became a TV presenter for BBC Select’s Alphabet Show and numerous others, including the perennial Glastonbury Festivals. A TV host much in demand, one’ll catch her on BBC2’s The Culture Show and on her radio programme for BBC6 Music.
© MC Strong 1998-2003/GRD // rev-up MCS Aug2016

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