Famous Bands from Bournemouth

Famous Bands from Bournemouth

With a number of top-draw venues, Bournemouth has spawned some exciting and innovative artists, whether they are heavier rock bands or melodic singer-songwriters, take a look and see whose footsteps you will follow.

Air Traffic is a rock foursome who burst onto the scene in 2003 with their single 'Shooting Star' that reached number 30 in the chart. The band all met while at school in Bournemouth and derived their name from when their amplifiers picked up signals from the air traffic control centres, truly Bournemouth born and bred. After picking up a record deal, Radio One airplay followed, along with an appearance on Later With Jools Holland and support slots with Snow Patrol. The band's most famous single 'Shooting Star' features singing covering a wide range, with reverb-drenched guitars reminiscent of Editors. Nominated for the 2008 XFM New Music Award, the band's album 'Fractured Life' swings between vintage British rock and more indie-pop. Making prominent use of piano, Air Traffic show a clear grasp of pop sensibilities, with singing and musicianship that cannot be faulted.

Andy Summers lived in Bournemouth from an early age, and had piano and guitar lessons there, becoming an incredibly accomplished multi-instrumentalist and, most famously, guitarist for The Police. Joining the latter in 1977, Summers had a hand in some of the band's most famous hits, including 'Roxanne' and 'Every Breath You Take', contributing heavily to their new-wave and post-punk sound. Although Sting took vocal duties, Summers contributed occasionally to lead vocals, and his primary stamp was the instantly-recognisable guitar riffs that will be learned by guitarists for years to come. After selling around 80 million albums, The Police disbanded but Summers' career certainly did not end there. His talents have reached into writing, photography, composing for film scores and producing twelve solo albums, all to critical acclaim. Summers was voted number one pop guitarist in Guitar Player Magazine for five years, and you just have to listen to his playing to agree. Always understated but adding to the mood of the music perfectly, Summers represents the more minimalist approach to playing that came out of the Punk movement, but that adds a distinct flavour to each song. To add to all this, he has an honorary doctorate from Bournemouth University, truly an inspiring figure.

Big Big Train is a progressive rock band based in Bournemouth, so you are very likely to catch them around occasionally. The band formed after discovering a mutual appreciation of Genesis, and this influence is clear in their music, with melodies verging on pop music, but backed by an intimate knowledge of the progressive instrumental conventions. Forming in 1990, the band have released eight albums to date, with their most recent release returning to their roots with a double album. The band employ a diverse range of instruments to craft their sounds, such as flute, accordion and the mellotron, an idiosyncratic keyboard that has been a staple of rock music since the 1960s. Throughout their albums, the band has slightly altered their sound, travelling through melancholy to more accessible rock and back to progressive rock all while retaining their extended tracks, some clocking in at over ten minutes. Bands like Sigur Ros, King Crimson and Genesis are cited as influences so if you are a fan of these bands be sure to book a ticket on the Big Big Train.

Electric Wizard is a metal band from Bournemouth who has been active since 1993 and released seven albums in that period. Although not to everybody's taste, the band's blend of slow, distorted guitar riffs and quiet, strained vocals has cemented them in the alternative music press as one of the genre's most accomplished bands. Their album 'Dopethrone' from the year 2000 saw almost unanimous acclaim from critics, hailing it as a masterpiece of the genre, truly high praise for a humble band from rural Dorset. The band's sound is characterised by slow tempos, in the vein of Black Sabbath and abrasive, fuzz-laden guitars that sound like they are covered in mud. Again, not for everyone, but if you are interested in the other side of Bournemouth's music scene, you probably can't go wrong with Electric Wizard, and you have to appreciate the sheer amount of noise a mere four-piece can make.

Photography: Christian Bertrand

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