Space's 1996 incarnation (l-r: Tommy, Jamie, Franny, Andy)
"Oh they want to knock us down, cuz they think we're scum
But we will all be waiting when the bulldozers come.
In a neighbourhood like this, you know it's hard to survive,
So you'd better come prepared cuz they won't take us alive!"Space
are a psychedelic-indie-punk-hip hop-techno-easy listening
group from Liverpool who had some success in the mid-to-late nineties
. Their most famous singles were 'Female Of The Species' - featured on several film soundtracks, an Impulse advert and as the theme to Cold Feet
- 'Neighbourhood', 'Avenging Angels', and 'The Ballad Of Tom Jones', a duet with Catatonia frontwoman Cerys Matthews.
The band started off as a trio consisting of Tommy Scott, Jamie Murphy and Andy Parle in 1993, with Franny Griffiths, who had previously played in bands with Tommy back in the mid-1980s, joining a year later; his keyboards and samplers were what gave the band their trademark sound. The band became a quartet when David 'Yorkie' Palmer, a long-time friend of the band who produced some of their earlier material, joined as bassist, allowing Tommy to concentrate more on vocals. Andy left the band at the end of 1997, and was replaced by Leon Caffrey. The band reached their peak of success with their second album, Tin Planet
, in 1998, but began to falter afterwards due to various problems with their record company at the time, not least involving the band's third album, titled Love You More Than Football
. The provisional tracklisting was published on the band's website, and song titles were leaked to magazines. However, the album was never actually released and is now only available on bootleg
. Around this time, Space were dropped and spent a few years hunting around for labels.
Jamie Murphy left in 2001, and the band called it a day four years later, after releasing one final album Suburban Rock 'n' Roll
. Afterwards, Jamie and Franny formed a band called Dust with three others; Leon has moved to Australia; Tommy fronted the Drellas and Tommy Scott & The Red Scare; Franny and Yorkie worked with other bands, and on solo material; and Andy Parle died in 2009. It was meeting up at his funeral that inspired the three original members to reunite the band.
In 2011, the band announced they would be Back from the Dead
to record a brand new album Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab
, albeit without Yorkie and Leon, and with a new drummer, bassist and additional keyboardist.
The band members were:
- Spiders (1996)
- Invasion Of The Spiders (B-side and remix album) (1997)
- Tin Planet (1998)
- Greatest Hits (2002)
- Suburban Rock 'n' Roll (2004)
- Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab (2014)
The band provide examples of:
- Ascended Extra: Both Yorkie and Phil were involved in the production/technicial side of the band before they become full-time members.
- Badass Mustache: Franny sported one during the 2013 spring tour, leading to Danny Trejo comparisons from Tommy. Tommy himself has started displaying facial fuzz due to a music video that made him look '96 years old'. Phil has a long, plaited Badass Beard.
- Berserk Button: the Hillsborough Disaster. The band played the Hillsborough Justice Concert in 1997 and are long-time supporters of the Justice For The 96 Campaign. Never joke about it in front of Franny or Jamie. It's Personal, especially for Franny as he is a Hillsborough survivor.
- Big Brother Instinct: Franny, towards Jamie. According to one interview, Franny saw his main role as 'stopping Jamie's head being kicked in'.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Tommy comes across as one in interviews.
- Cool Old Guy: Yorkie. And these days, Tommy and Franny would definitely qualify.
- Fiery Redhead: Jamie - and how. See Red Oni, Blue Oni below. Funnily enough, at one point, he had a side project going called Firehead.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The original line-up: Tommy (sanguine), Jamie (choleric), Andy (melancholic), Franny (phlegmatic).
- Football, Pop Music, and Flat Caps / Oop North: they're from Liverpool. As you can tell if you've ever heard Jamie or Ryan sing, not to mention Franny's vocals on 'I Am Unlike A Lifeform You've Ever Met' and 'Cameraman'. Due to his habit of singing in different voices, Tommy's Scouse accent generally doesn't come through as much in his vocals, although it's more noticeable on a good part of Attack Of The Mutant 50ft Kebab.
- Gentle Giant: Franny is the biggest band member and was once described as 'an Easter Island statue-faced bouncer on the door of the hardest nightclub in Hell'. Quite fitting, as he did used to be a bouncer, but he's actually very nice, friendly and approachable in real life, and is always happy to talk to fans.
- He's Back: Jamie rejoined the band for their 2011 reunion gig in Liverpool, though he left again the following year.
- Lead Bassist: Tommy started out as a Type A, playing bass as well as doing lead vocals, before Yorkie joined as bassist in 1997 and Tommy switched to guitar. This explains the difference between the basslines on Spiders and the ones on Tin Planet and later albums, as Tommy was heavily influenced by Cypress Hill when working on Spiders, and his basslines are more groove-oriented. In the new line-up, Phil's style of playing is more in line with Tommy's.
- Nice Hat: the fez sported by Ryan in the 'Fortune Teller' video, and at most of their gigs.
- The Nineties
- Nobody Loves the Bassist: averted with both Yorkie and Phil, who have sizeable followings of their own outside Space: Yorkie for his solo music and work with Moongoose, and Phil for his and Allan's other band, Super Fast Girlie Show. Not to mention that Yorkie did a fair bit of press with Tommy while he was in the band, and Phil is Tommy's Lancer in the current line-up.
- Older Than They Look: Tommy was born in 1964 and was 32 when 'Female Of The Species' came out, but you wouldn't think so to look at him. Lampshaded by Jamie in various interviews, particularly back in 1996 when Tommy used to lie about his age, knocking at least 6 years off.
- Peek-a-Bangs: Franny, in the 'Female Of The Species' and 'Me & You Vs The World' videos.
- Putting the Band Back Together: after Andy Parle's death and funeral. Tommy, Franny and Jamie explained what happened in this interview from 2011.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Jamie and Tommy respectively. Jamie was a Fiery Redhead whose constant partying caused him to have a nervous breakdown, while Tommy was the more sensitive and introverted one of the two. The trope also applies in the musical sense as Tommy's songs were more melodious and romantic - albeit in a rather twisted way - while Jamie's were darker in tone, particularly on Spiders, and more indie rock-oriented.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: there was a rumour going around in 2009 that Tommy had died. Tommy found out and unsurprisingly, was not happy.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: no, there was nothing going on with Tommy and Cerys in 1998, even if they did have a lot of chemistry whenever they were performing 'The Ballad Of Tom Jones' on TV or elsewhere (since Space and Catatonia played a lot of the same festivals around the time the song came out).
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: try finding an uncensored interview with Space where Jamie does not use the word 'fuck' and variants thereof at least five times. Franny can give him a run for his money.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Tommy and Jamie, with an emphasis on the vitriolic part.
- In the current line-up, Tommy and Franny, if their onstage banter is anything to go by.
The band's music provides examples of:
- Anti-Love Song: Yorkie summed up Space's approach to songwriting as 'boy kills girl, falls in love'. It's easier to name songs by the band that don't fall into this category somehow.
- Ax-Crazy: 'Mr Psycho' plays this for laughs. There's also 'Piggies' from Tin Planet.
- Black Comedy: Their bread and butter. 'Neighbourhood' could be a Trope Codifier.
- Break Up Song: 'Begin Again', 'There's No You', 'Now She's Gone', 'Influenza', 'Disco Dolly', 'One O'Clock', 'Love You More Than Football'. And a whole lot of others, probably.
- Subverted with "Falling in Love", which is a Getting Back Together Song.
- But I Can't Be Pregnant!: 'Fortune Teller'.
- Call-and-Response Song: 'Cameraman'.
Franny: Why do you do it?
Tommy: I do it 'cos I can!
- Also occurs in 'Hitch-Hiking' and 'She's In Love With A Boy in a Body Bag'.
- Careful With That Axe: 'Armageddon'.
- Cover Version: 'We Gotta Get Out Of This Place', 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen', 'Sunny Afternoon' with Tom Jones, 'Massachusetts'. At recent live shows, they've tagged 'Dark Clouds' with 'La Bamba' and played 'Oh Pretty Woman' at their reunion gig.
- Darker and Edgier: 'Darker Clouds' and 'Storm Clouds', both considerably more downbeat versions of 'Dark Clouds', which the band reportedly prefer to the original. Likewise, the number of tracks premiered at a small exclusive gig in 2002, some of which made it onto Suburban Rock 'n' Roll or the singles released from it, some of which were released over the website - definitely qualify, having a harder, more experimental sound and darker lyrics than the songs from the Tin Planet / Love You More Than Football era, about alienation, paranoia, apocalytic scenarios, mental illness, and suicide.
- Flies, from around the same era, definitely would have qualified for this trope, had it been released.
- Attack Of The Mutant 50ft Kebab takes it up a notch, both musically - it's heavy influenced by punk and post-punk - and lyrically. Heroin addiction, miserable teenage girls, suicide, gang violence, unwanted pregnancies, the world being destroyed…it's all there. The title track makes the street in 'Neighbourhood' look like Canterlot in comparison.
- "Days of the Week" Song : 'Diary Of A Wimp'.
- Distressed Dude: Tommy, Jamie, Andy and Franny are tied up with a large amount of blue rope on the cover of 'Female Of The Species'. Tommy plays this role in the video for 'The Ballad Of Tom Jones', with Cerys Matthews cornering him on the bonnet of a car on a cliff and threatening to push him off.
- Genre Roulette: Tin Planet. Compare 'Disco Dolly' to 'Piggies', 'Unluckiest Man In The World' to 'Avenging Angels', or 'Begin Again' to 'Fran In Japan'. No two songs sound similar.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: strangely, the line about castration in 'The Ballad Of Tom Jones' wasn't censored on the radio.
- Going Cold Turkey: "Armageddon" is about getting through a heroin withdrawal.
- Gratuitous Spanish: Briefly used in "Day of the Dead".
- Grief Song: 'Avenging Angels' and 'Bad Days' were both tributes to the band members' lost loved ones. In light of Andy Parle's death, the songs are even more poignant.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Tommy seems to love doing himself down and/or playing the part of a loser in his lyrics, particularly in 'Begin Again', 'Unluckiest Man In The World', 'Me & You Vs The World' ("you took a chance on a loser like me") or 'Only Half An Angel' ("you're brilliant, witty, ambitious...all of the things that I could never be").
- Hidden Track: 'Yes You Do' on Love You More Than Football.
- Instrumentals: most of Franny's tracks were instrumentals, normally at the end of each album. Spiders had 'Growler', Tin Planet had 'Fran In Japan' (and 'The Man' is semi-instrumental), and Love You More Than Football had 'Juno'. The trend with bucked with Suburban Rock 'N' Roll and beyond.
- On the B-side front, there's 'Had Enough', 'Stress Transmissions', 'Yeah Right!' and 'Theme From Baretta Vendetta'.
- I Love the Dead: heavily implied in 'She's In Love With A Boy In A Bodybag', coupled with Together in Death when the girl decides she's had enough of living. Since this is Space we're talking about, the narrator is jealous of the dead man.
I'm so jealous that I'm alive
But I'm too scared of suicide
She held him tight in that lonely morgue
She thinks he's poetry, even in death...
- Lyrical Dissonance: 'Me And You Versus The World' is quite a cheerful-sounding song...about a couple who try to rob a shop and end up being shot dead. Still, at least they die happy. And 'Avenging Angels' takes on a darker tone once you realise it's about your dead loved ones watching over you.
- 'Quiet Beach' is a atmospheric, pleasant-sounding ballad about a couple who drown themselves at sea.
- The Masochism Tango / Slap-Slap-Kiss: taken Up to Eleven with 'The Ballad Of Tom Jones', and even more so in the video, where Tommy and Cerys are on a car on top of a cliff, with her forcing him ever close to the edge. The characters in the song are constantly trying to torture and kill each other, and the only thing that prevents either of them from murdering the other is the music of the titular Welsh crooner.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly / New Sound Album: while they're generally classified as indie, they also draw influences from hip-hop (particularly on Spiders), film soundtracks, big band, rock 'n' roll, techno, and electronica, with Tin Planet being the most noticeable example of this. It's kind of expected, really, since the band had a singer who was more influenced by films than music, a classic rock fan guitarist, one drummer into jazz and another one into hip-hop and loops, a keyboard player who was seriously into dance music, and a bassist who liked literally anything. Jamie's songs were more indie/rock oriented, while Franny's tracks were almost entirely electronic instrumentals. Spiders made heavy use of loops and samples, Tin Planet was noticeably poppier, while Suburban Rock 'n' Roll and the never-released Flies had a harder edge to them. The lost album Love You More Than Football was somewhere in between. Attack Of The Mutant 50ft Kebab is more ska / rockabilly influenced, partly thanks to Phil, Ryan and Allan joining.
- Nightmare Fetishist: if his lyrics are anything to go by, Tommy is one. To a lesser extent, so is Jamie.
- Obsession Song: Space seem to like this trope. 'Drop Dead', Turn Me On To Spiders', 'Bastard Me Bastard You', 'Be There', 'Diary Of A Wimp', 'If I Ever', and 'There's No You' are all examples.
- Performance Video: most of their videos fall under this category, particularly 'Female Of The Species' and 'Dark Clouds'.
- Precision F-Strike: 'Turn Me On To Spiders':
"But if anybody comes near me / she'll cut their fucking balls off."
- Sampling: Space absolutely loved doing this, particularly in the early days. Spiders is very heavy on samples - the one that stands out the most being the Elephant Man sample on 'No One Understands' - as are several B-sides. See Spoken Word in Music below.
- Sanity Slippage Song: 'Mr. Psycho' and 'Drop Dead'. 'Armageddon' and 'Frightened Horses' probably qualify as well.
- Shout-Out: it would take less time to name a song written by Tommy that didn't namecheck various celebrities or fictional characters. 'Charlie M', 'The Ballad Of Tom Jones', 'Female Of The Species' and 'Bad Days' are particular examples, namechecking Madonna, Hannibal Lecter, Sherlock Holmes, Mr Blond and Mr Blue, Charles Manson and Dracula amongst others. The lyrics of 'The Ballad Of Tom Jones' also Title Drop various Tom Jones songs.
- 'Voodoo Roller' was inspired by The Usual Suspects.
- The title of 'Female Of The Species' is a possible Shout-Out to Rudyard Kipling.
- 'A Liddle Biddy Help From Elvis'.
- 'Pretty Suicide' was inspired by the band Suicide.
- 'Children Of The Night' is a Shout-Out to Dracula (1931). Right down to the sample about the song of the wolves.
- The beginning of 'Kill Me' is a slightly speeded up version of the intro to 'Foxy Lady' by Jimi Hendrix.
- Several high street chains and department stores are namechecked in "Attack of the Mutant 50ft Kebab", along with a reference to The Exorcist.
- Special Guest: Cerys Matthews (formerly of Catatonia) memorably duets with Tommy on 'The Ballad of Tom Jones'.
- Also, Edwyn Collins pops up to make a brief cameo on "Thank You".
- Spoken Word in Music: loads of examples. 'No One Understands' has a sample from The Elephant Man as its middle eight; 'Bastard Me Bastard You' has an Alfred Hitchcock sample; 'I Am Unlike A Lifeform You've Ever Met' is entirely spoken word and ends with an American radio announcer talking about a zombie attack; 'Disco Dolly' starts with a car horn and a group of Scousers talking outside a club; 'The Man' and 'Juno' are instrumental tracks with sampled speech scattered throughout; and other songs have fragments of unintelligible speech, some apparently from the band themselves.
- Step Up to the Microphone: all band members except Phil and the drummers have done lead vocals at some point.
- Jamie: 'Voodoo Roller', 'No-One Understands', 'Kill Me', 'Gravity', 'One O'Clock', 'Evil Eye', 'Despise', 'Major Pager', 'Piggies', 'Lovechild Of The Queen', 'Voices', and various B-sides.
- Yorkie: 'Why Can't We Turn On The Lights?', 'Supersonic Jetplane' and 'Lost In Space'.
- Franny: 'I Am Unlike A Lifeform You've Ever Met'.
- Ryan: 'Happy Clowns'.
- Surreal Music Video: '20 Million Miles From Earth'.
- The Something Song: 'The Goodbye Song'.
- Take That: 'Attack Of The Mutant 50ft Kebab' is a dig at corporate chains causing local businesses to lose out. No, really.
- Together in Death: The last verse of 'Me & You Vs the World' - see You Are Worth Hell below. Also 'Quiet Beach', 'Pretty Suicide', and 'She's In Love With A Boy In A Bodybag' (as mentioned above). Tommy Scott seems to like this trope.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: 'Zombies', 'The Devil's at the Party'.
- "Bad Days" changes key in the third verse but reverts back to its original pitch by the end.
- Wretched Hive: 'Neighbourhood' is a song about one. Apparently it's based on where the band members grew up.
- "Hell's Barbecue" is a post-apocalyptic spin on the subject.
- You Are Worth Hell: 'Me & You Vs The World'.
You took a chance on a loser like me, but you never let me down
And whether we're in Heaven or Hell
I know it's better than in separate cells