I Belle and Sebastian sono un gruppo pop-rock scozzese formato a Glasgow nel 1996.
I Belle and Sebastian sono un gruppo Indie pop del circuito indipendente scozzese. La band si è formata a Glasgow nel gennaio del 1996, grazie a Stuart Murdoch, che durante l'università si iscrisse ad un corso di musica professionale, e per realizzare il suo progetto finale mise insieme una band per registrare un album. La band era composta da studenti del college, e l'idea iniziale era quella di rimanere un progetto e non una band vera e propria, che avrebbe impegnato totalmente il loro tempo. Decisero quindi di realizzare due album e dopodiché sciogliersi. Ma le cose andarono in maniera molto differente.
Il loro primo album autoprodotto, Tigermilk, costruito principalmente attorno alla mente creativa Stuart Murdoch, fu pubblicato in sole mille copie di vinile attraverso l'etichetta indipendente Electric Honey Records. Nonostante la bassa tiratura di copie, Tigermilk scatenò un passaparola generale che gli fece conquistare un piccolo seguito da cult-band. Grazie a questo iniziale successo, il gruppo divenne qualcosa più che un semplice progetto universitario, diventò una band vera e propria. Infatti, passando alla leggermente più grande Jeepster Records, pubblicarono l'album If You're Feeling Sinister sempre nel 1996. L'album fu pubblicato successivamente in America dalla sussidiaria della EMI, la The Enclave, mentre nel frattempo la stampa specializzata inglese (ne parlarono anche giornali come The Sunday Times e The Face) iniziò ad interessarsi alla band e ad accreditarle buone recensioni, ed il loro seguito era cresciuto, tanto che pianificarono un tour negli USA, che però fu annullato perché la The Enclave fece bancarotta e chiuse i battenti.
Nel 1997 pubblicano una serie di EP, che uno dopo l'altro scalarono le classifiche indie, e si guadagnarono critiche eccellenti. Il loro terzo album, realizzato dalla americana Matador Records, The Boy with the Arab Strap, inciso nel 1998, entrò nella classifica dei 20 album più venduti nel Regno Unito. Il gruppo vinse il premio di Best Newcomer (migliore novità) nei British Awards del 1999; nello stesso anno la band curò un festival musicale chiamato The Bowlie Weekender. In seguito alla realizzazione nel 2000 dell'album Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant, Stuart David lascia la band per dedicarsi al suo progetto solista, i Looper.
Nel 2001 la band realizza due singoli/EP, Jonathan David e I'm Waking Up to Us, e registra la colonna sonora per il film di Todd Solondz Storytelling. Nella primavera del 2002 iniziano una tournée negli Stati Uniti e nel Canada, prima di tornare in Europa nel periodo dei festival estivi. Nel mezzo di questi due tour, Isobel Campbell lascia la band. Nel luglio del 2002 annunciano il passaggio alla Rough Trade Records. Nell'estate del 2003 pubblicano l'album Dear Catastrophe Waitress, prodotto da Trevor Horn, il loro primo successo mainstream negli Stati Uniti, grazie anche ai singoli Step Into My Office, Baby e I'm a Cuckoo, che realizzerà il loro miglior piazzamento nelle classifiche inglesi, posizionandosi al quattordicesimo posto.
Nel gennaio del 2005 i Belle and Sebastian sono stati eletti miglior band scozzese superando Simple Minds, Idlewild, Travis, Franz Ferdinand, The Proclaimers e altri.
Nel maggio del 2005 a conclusione del periodo passato sotto contratto con la Jeepster i Belle and Sebastian pubblicano la raccolta "Push bar(man) to open (old wounds)", un doppio cd in cui vengono inclusi i brani contenuti negli EP pubblicati in precedenza, mentre inizia le registrazioni in uno studio californiano del nuovo album in studio "The life pursuit" che vedrà la luce nel Febbraio del 2005, raggiungendo il numero 8 nella classifica degli album più venduti in Gran Bretagna ed entrando persino nella top 50 degli album in Italia.
Il nome della band è tratto da Belle & Sébastien, un libro per ragazzi della scrittrice Cécile Aubry su di un ragazzo (Sébastien) e il suo cane (Belle). Dal libro fu tratta una serie di cartoni animati giapponesi nel 1981.
Membri della band sono stati coinvolti nei progetti The Gentle Waves, V-Twin, e Looper e il gruppo ha partecipato con altri gruppi alle compilation "A day in the life" (legata ad un progetto di raccolta fondi per Save The Children) e "Colours are brighter", un album contenente canzoni per bambini realizzate tra gli altri da gruppi come Franz Ferdinand e Kooks.
Belle & Sebastian are an indie pop band formed in Glasgow, Scotland in January 1996. They have been called the greatest Scottish band ever, and are one of the most celebrated groups of the 1990s. Belle & Sebastian are often compared to influential indie bands such as The Smiths, as well as classic rock acts such as Love, Bob Dylan and Nick Drake. The name Belle & Sebastian is inspired by Belle et Sébastien, a children's book by French writer Cécile Aubry. Lauded by critics, Belle & Sebastian's "wistful pop" has nevertheless enjoyed only limited commercial success.
After releasing a number of albums and EPs on Jeepster Records, they are now signed to Rough Trade Records in the United Kingdom and Matador Records in the United States.
Belle & Sebastian were formed in Glasgow in 1996 by Stuart Murdoch and Stuart David. Together they recorded some demos with Stow College music professor Pilar Duplack, which were picked up by the college's Music Business course that produces and releases one single each year on the college's label, Electric Honey. As the band had a number of songs already and the label were extremely impressed with the demos, Belle & Sebastian were allowed to record a full-length album, which was named Tigermilk. Murdoch once described the band as a "product of botched capitalism".
Tigermilk was recorded in three days and originally only one thousand copies were pressed on vinyl. These original copies now sell for up to £400. The warm reception the album received inspired Murdoch and David to turn the band into a full-time project, recruiting Stevie Jackson (guitar and vocals), Isobel Campbell (cello/vocals), Chris Geddes (keys) and Richard Colburn (drums) to fill out the group.
After the success of the debut album, Belle & Sebastian were signed to Jeepster Records in August 1996 and If You're Feeling Sinister, their second album, was released on 18 November. The album was named by Spin as one of the 100 greatest albums between 1985 and 2005, and is widely considered the band's masterpiece. Just before the recording of Sinister, Sarah Martin (violin/vocals) joined the band. Following this a series of EPs were released in 1997. The first of these was Dog on Wheels, which contained four demo tracks recorded before the real formation of the band. In fact, the only long-term band members to play on the songs were Murdoch, David, and Mick Cooke, who played trumpet on the EP but would not officially join the band until a few years later. It charted at #59 in the UK singles chart.
The Lazy Line Painter Jane EP followed in July. The track was recorded in the church where Murdoch lived and features vocals from Monica Queen. The EP narrowly missed out of the UK top 40, peaking at #41. The last of the 1997 EPs was October's 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light. The EP was made Single of the Week in both the NME and Melody Maker and reached #32 in the charts, thus becoming the band's first top 40 single.
The band released their third LP, The Boy with the Arab Strap in 1998, and it reached #12 in the UK charts. The opening track of the album, "It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career", has been hailed by Australian music critic Toby Creswell as one of the great songs of all time. While often cited by critics as the band's best album, Arab Strap has nonetheless had its detractors. Pitchfork gave the album a particularly poor review, calling it a "parody" of their earlier work. In spite of this, the album garnered positive reviews from Rolling Stone, and the Village Voice, among others. The name of the record also created a bit of tension between Belle & Sebastian and fellow Glasgow band Arab Strap. During the recording of the album long time studio trumpet-player Mick Cooke was asked to join the band as a full member. The This Is Just a Modern Rock Song EP followed later that year.
In 1999 the band were shockingly awarded with Best Newcomer (for their third album) at the BRIT Awards, upsetting the much better known acts Steps and 5ive. That same year, the band hosted their own festival, the Bowlie Weekender. Tigermilk was also given a full release by Jeepster before the band started work on their next LP. The result was Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant, which became the band's first top 10 album in the UK. A stand-alone single, "Legal Man", reached #15 and gave them their first appearance on Top of the Pops.
As the band's popularity and recognition was growing worldwide, their music began appearing in films and on television. The 2000 film High Fidelity mentions the band and features a clip from the song "Seymour Stein" from The Boy with the Arab Strap. Also, the title track from Arab Strap was played over the end credits of the UK television series Teachers.
Stuart David soon left the band to concentrate on his side-project, Looper, and his book writing, which included his The Idle Thoughts of a Daydreamer. He was replaced by Bobby Kildea of V-Twin. The "Jonathan David" single — sung by Stevie Jackson — was released in June 2001 and was followed by "I'm Waking Up to Us" in November. The latter appears to describe Murdoch's relationship and breakup with Campbell, but Murdoch denied this in the sleeve notes to 2006's The Life Pursuit. "I'm Waking Up to Us" saw the band use an outside producer (Mike Hurst) for the first time. Most of 2002 was spent touring and recording a soundtrack album, Storytelling (for Storytelling by Todd Solondz), a movie which the New York Times has called one of the best 1,000 movies ever made. Isobel left the band in spring of 2002, in the middle of the band's North American tour.
The band left Jeepster in 2002, signing a four album deal with Rough Trade Records. Their first album for Rough Trade, Dear Catastrophe Waitress, was released in 2003, and was produced by Trevor Horn. The album showed a markedly more 'produced' sound compared to their first four LPs, as the band was making a concerted effort to produce more "radio-friendly" music. In spite of this, the album was warmly received, and is credited with returning the band's "indie cred". The album also marked the return of Murdoch as the group's primary songwriter following the poorly-received Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant and Storytelling, both of which were more collaborative than the band's early work. A documentary DVD, Fans Only, was released by Jeepster in October 2003, featuring promotional videos, live clips and unreleased footage. A single from the album, "Step into My Office, Baby" followed in November 2003 — it would be their first single taken from an album.
The Thin Lizzy-inspired "I'm a Cuckoo" was the second single from the album. It achieved their highest chart position yet, reaching #14 in the UK. The Books EP followed, a double A-side single lead by "Wrapped Up in Books" from Dear Catastrophe Waitress and the new Your Cover's Blown. This EP became the band's third top 20 UK release and the band went on to be nominated for both the Mercury Music Prize and an Ivor Novello Award. In January 2005, B&S was voted Scotland's greatest band in a poll by The List, beating Simple Minds, Idlewild, Travis, Franz Ferdinand, and The Proclaimers, among others.
In April 2005, members of the band visited Israel and the Palestinian territories with the UK charity War on Want; the group subsequently recorded a song inspired by the trip titled "The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House", which would later be released as a B-side on 2006's "Funny Little Frog" single. Push Barman to Open Old Wounds, a compilation of the Jeepster singles and EPs, was released in May 2005 while the band were recording their seventh album in California. The result of the sessions was The Life Pursuit, produced by Tony Hoffer. The album, originally intended to be a double album, became their band's highest charting release to date upon its release in February 2006, peaking at #8 in the UK and #65 on the US Billboard 200. "Funny Little Frog", which preceded it, also proved to be their highest charting single, debuting at #13.
On July 6, 2006, the band played a historic show with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. The opening act at the 18,000 seat sell-out concert was The Shins. The members of the band see this as a landmark event, with Stevie Jackson saying, "This is the biggest thrill of my entire life". In October 2006, members of the band helped put together a CD collection of new songs for children titled Colours Are Brighter, with the involvement of major bands such as Franz Ferdinand and The Flaming Lips.