In the summer of 1984, over a few drinks in a London pub, FM was formed. Comprising the ex-Samson pair of bassist Merv Goldsworthy and drummer Pete Jupp, the formidable Overland brothers – vocalist/guitarist Steve and lead guitarist Chris; both formerly of Wildlife – plus the keyboard talents of Philip Manchester (better known as sci-fi nutcase Didge Digital), the band wrote six songs. In December of that same year they secured a recording contract with the CBS/Portrait label.
The first public appearance of FM was on Valentine’s Day of 1985, attracting rave reviews. The debut album, INDISCREET, wasn’t far behind. A fully-fledged masterpiece, every track hit the spot and the mega-ballad ‘Frozen Heart’ caused lips to quiver and tear ducts to moisten whenever it was played.
‘Frozen Heart’ was heard in many venues during 1986 and FM hit the road in Europe supporting Tina Turner, Meat Loaf, Foreigner, Gary Moore, Status Quo and Magnum, also opening for REO Speedwagon at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. At the year’s end they were delighted to accept a spot with the white-hot Bon Jovi on the ‘Slippery When Wet’ tour.
It seemed that the roadwork was paying off handsomely. When CBS folded the Portrait label FM switched to Epic. The Overland brothers were flown to America to write with hitmaker Desmond Child, returning with a few great stories and the awesome hard rock anthem ‘Bad Luck’. Completing the jigsaw, Queensrÿche/Dokken producer Neil Kernon was engaged to oversee 1989’s TOUGH IT OUT, a harder-edged second album that saw FM at last realising the sound they’d envisaged all along.
To promote TOUGH IT OUT the band set out on a gruelling 42-date UK tour that would see them returning to Hammersmith Odeon, this time as headliners (Romeo’s Daughter were the trek’s special guests). Soon afterwards, however, Chris Overland decided to leave FM, his final performance taking place at the sold-out Town & Country Club.
In his place, FM recruited Andy Barnett, a guitarist who’d already been in a prototype line-up of the group (indeed, if you look closely, Barnett scored a co-writing credit for the ‘Indiscreet’ song ‘That Girl’). The impish Londoner brought with him a harder guitar sound and his influence upon FM’s musical direction soon became evident. His debut with the group, 1991’s TAKIN’ IT TO THE STREETS album, was a more than creditable achievement.
FM had moved on. There was a new record label – the well-regarded independent Music For Nations. The loud suits, flowing cloaks and bouffant hairstyles of the past were all conspicuous by their absence, likewise the fluffy keyboards (Didge Digital would parp his last with the band in late 1991). The quality of the songs more than compensated, and their reworking of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ deserved to have been a hit single.
But TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS didn’t prepare anyone for the following year’s APHRODISIAC, a collection of heart-wrenching ballads (‘Closer To Heaven’) and balls-out rockers (‘Breathe Fire’, ‘Blood And Gasoline’).
In undertaking a gigantic string of acoustic dates in the winter of 1992, FM would prove their rock ‘n’ roll credentials beyond all reasonable doubt. Combining an organic musical sound and the band’s unstoppable party attitude, the 40-odd dates they played crossed Europe, sweeping aside any preconceptions that might still have remained. The experience is still available if you pick up a copy of NO ELECTRICITY REQUIRED (also available on long-form video as LIVE ACOUSTICAL INTERCOURSE).
With Europe and the Far East opening up, a full-time keyboard appointment was made. The affable Jem Davis had played with Tobruk, Midnight Blue and UFO. Sadly, the arrangement was to prove short-lived. In the post-grunge fallout, bands like FM had become distinctly unfashionable. Under normal circumstances, the quintet wouldn’t have given a damn about such a predicament. They had begun to feel, however, as though they were painting themselves into a corner with aptly titled DEAD MAN'S SHOES album. Shortly after it’s release in 1995, the band quietly slipped away to pursue a variety of other opportunities.
The individual members soon discovered however, that it was impossible to get through an interview without being quizzed about the possibility of an FM reunion. The re-issuing and re-packaging of most of their albums on CD simply served to turn up the heat.
And so it came to pass. At Nottingham Rock City on 27th October 2007, after considering (and declining) multiple previous approaches from the organisers of a melodic hard rock all-dayer called Firefest, Merv, Steve, Pete, Andy and Jem finally played together again in public for the first time in 12 years. What a deeply emotional experience it turned out to be.
With stage two of the group’s career about to begin, the band were disappointed to accept the resignation of Andy Barnett. With an exciting new guitarist on board however, their plans were very soon back on target. Brought into the band at Steve Overland’s suggestion, Jim Kirkpatrick was already a huge fan of FM so it was an honour to accept the chance of joining a group whose records he loved. Kirkpatrick was blooded at a low-key gig at Wigan’s Winstanley College in March 2009, followed in more public fashion by a return headline spot at Firefest VI the following October, in addition to playing on the WILDSIDE EP released that same month.
'Wildside' blew away any remaining cobwebs, setting the scene for FM's first new album in 15 years – the highly acclaimed METROPOLIS. The band celebrated the release of METROPOLIS by putting on a release party gig with 600 FM fanatics crammed into a sold-out Roadhouse in London’s Covent Garden at the beginning of February 2010. In May the band released Hollow / Flamingo Road as a single and the band soon found themselves playlisted on radio stations in many countries, not least on the UK's biggest radio station BBC Radio 2, where Hollow remained on the playlist for a month.
FM 'live' was very much the theme for the rest of 2010, with the band playing to packed houses all over the UK throughout the year. The resurrection was completed with invitations to play the main stages at Download in June and Hard Rock Hell IV in December. The band somehow found the time to release a 9-track mini-album CITY LIMITS EP in October 2010, featuring brand new song 'Start It Up' and live performances of several METROPOLIS songs recorded at concerts earlier in the year. The lead track on the mini-album 'Bring Back Yesterday' continued the success of its predecessor 'Hollow' by being playlisted at BBC Radio 2 for a month along with many other stations all over the world.
2011 saw FM return to many overseas FM strongholds of years gone by – headline shows in Holland and Spain; a show with D-A-D in Portugal; major festivals Sweden Rock and Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium and dates with Journey and Foreigner in Germany, Belfast and Dublin. The guys were also honoured to be invited back to play at Download for the second year running.
FM are currently writing and recording the follow-up to METROPOLIS.
In January they headlined the Rock Stage at the Great British Rock & Blues Festival. During March 2012 they staged 3 special shows in Glasgow, Manchester and London to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of their début album INDISCREET. These shows presented the opportunity to see FM play Indiscreet in its entirety for the first time ever live as part of a full show.
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