Becoming Sneaker Pimps...
Sneaker Pimps were formed in Hartlepool, United Kingdom in the early 1990's by Chris Corner and Liam Howe. The varying line-ups consisted of: (at varying stages of the band's existence) Kelli Dayton/Ali (Vocals and occasional lyrics), Chris Corner (Guitars, keyboards, vocals and hair-dressing), Liam Howe (Keyboards and programming), Joe Wilson (Bass, guitar, programming and occasional keyboards and vocals), David Westlake (Drums and programming), Ian Pickering (Lyrics and occasional vocals and bass on later live gigs), Sue Denim (backing vocals and occasional lyrics), Zoe Durrant (backing vocals), Chris Tate (Occasional keyboards on later live gigs), Paris Hampton (Vocals on the ''Album 5 Demos''), Emiliana Torrini (Vocals on the ''Splinter'' demos) and Noel Fielding (Occasional bass on later live gigs/''IAMX'' cross-over period). It all started in the 1980's, with Liam Howe and his brother Miles making alternative acid jazz under the name ''Sleep Fuse''. These were then promoted and sold by a girl called Deborah, who distributed them at the school she was attending. Liam then started date Deborah, which is how Chris entered the scene. Liam and Chris both having some aspect of musical talent lead them to join forces and create music together. Some years passed and they were signed to ''Clean-Up Records'', mainly making obscure dance music. Their name under this label as ''F.R.I.S.K.'' (Forever Reign In Self Knowledge). Due to their low budget, they didn't have access to a recording studio and mostly recorded in Liam's bedroom and at Chris' flat above a corner shop, strangely called ''The Corner Shop''. These small projects started to become quite popular and even garnered live performances, so this gave them the push to do what they always wanted to do: to record a long-playing album. Long-time friend and fellow college student of Chris and Liam; Ian Pickering was set on, to help with writing the bespoke and fantasy-like lyrics and before they knew it, a year had elapsed and they already had it fully recorded. The only thing that was missing was a singer. Chris originally demoed the vocals for ''Becoming X'' but he felt that he wasn't up for the task of fronting a group at the time and so, whilst visiting a bar in Birmingham, they noticed a girl singing in a band called ''The Lumieres''. This happened to be Kelli Dayton. After talking to her and mentioning that they needed someone to sing for an album they were working on, they managed to convince her into joining them and so they became a trio. They named themselves after the ''Beastie Boys'' story of sending someone from the band around America to hunt down old-school sneakers due to not having any type of musical talent. 1996 saw the release of their first album: ''Becoming X'', on ''Clean-up Records''. It performed extremely well and contained five singles; Six Underground, Spin Spin Sugar, Roll On, Tesko Suicide and Post-Modern Sleaze. These singles performed so well that four of which had music videos. At the peak of the successful amount of sales the album had received (mainly due to the movie: ''The Saint'' containing ''Six Underground'' in its soundtrack), the band went onto perform a lengthy tour to promote it. To brace themselves for the ''Becoming X'' tour, they recruited best friends Joe Wilson and David Westlake to accompany them, as most of their material was sample based they felt this to be a risk, but embraced this factor which lead them to become more of a band than just a trio. A one of their first live gigs was surrounded with controversy, as their own logo mysteriously appeared as a crop circle in a nearby field. This mystery crop circle even ended up in fully published books, but in 2015, it emerged that artist John Lundberg was responsible. Due to the immense success of ''Becoming X'', it was re-released in 1997, but with different artwork and tracks; as opposed to the album version of some songs, remixes were included instead. This became the more wider-known version and in turn lead to some confusion, something the band even stated themselves. The ''Becoming X'' album had a multitude of remixes for the singles released from it, the most popular being Armand Van Helden's ''Dark Garage'' remix of ''Spin Spin Sugar''. This was featured, along with other remixes of various tracks from the ''Becoming X'' album, on the remix album: ''Becoming RemiXed'', released in 1998. Sneaker Pimps themselves were no strangers to remixing, among numerous remixes they supplied to others, some to note are their remixes of: ''Take Me Home'' for ''Sophie Ellis Bextor'', ''Permanent Tears'' for ''Eagle-Eye Cherry'' and ''Every You, Every Me'' for ''Placebo''. They also had a chance to work with ''Marilyn Manson'' in 1997 on his song ''Long Hard Road Out Of Hell'' for the movie ''Spawn'', but due the final mix not going as the group had planned, their time together was short-lived. There was to be a Sneaker Pimps mix soon after, but the plans were scrapped and so only the Manson mix exists. The song can be found on the ''Spawn'' movie and soundtrack. After their tour for ''Becoming X'' was finally reaching it's end, the band started to feel uncomfortable with each other, mostly brought on by the stress of the lengthy tour. One day, Liam decided he had had enough and got on a plane and flew back home, leaving Chris and Kelli in the middle of the desert. Other tensions such as their disillusionment of the USA had started to get worse and so they all felt down and wanted to return home. Soon after, things were given chance to simmer down and so the next album was to be prepared. A studio was booked in the beginning of 1998. Due to disagreements about song writing and how the band wanted to evolve its sound, Kelli Dayton (now known as Kelli Ali) was asked to leave the band, rendering Chris Corner the new lead vocalist. This choice didn't sit well with ''Virgin Records'' and so they dropped the band, ultimately stopping ''Splinter'' from being released in the USA. To this day, the vocal change still leaves a sour taste amongst some Sneaker Pimps fans, but a diary by Kelli from her own website states that she recently met up with Chris and Liam for a drink and all is well. In 1999, they released their second album: ''Splinter'', also on ''Clean-up Records''. It was a vast change from their previous style, sound and production, but still retained some elements of their first album. Vocal duties, this time being given to Chris Corner, it was supplied with a mixed reception. It had two singles upon release; ''Low Five'' (which was given a music video) and ''Ten To Twenty''. Shortly after the album was released, the band went on tour to promote it, exclusively at universities across the UK. Once the ''Splinter'' tour had come to an end, the band set up their own record label called ''Splinter Recordings''. They signed on 2 acts for this label; ''Robots In Disguise'' and ''The Servant''. This period of the band had them focusing on other projects, rather than their own; the next album would be released three years later. During this time, the band were collaborating with artists such as ''Double 99'' and ''Maxim'' from ''The Prodigy''. Chris also worked a lot on his own, producing ''Robots In Disguise'', for his then girlfriend: Sue Denim and supplying remixes for artists such as Inoran and ''TETSU69''. Time quickly passed by and in 2002, they put out their last, officially released album: ''Bloodsport''. It was released on ''Tommy Boy Records'', a highly popular hip-hop label, rather than the alternative pop label they were previously on. This again would be another change in tone from their earlier work, using more sample-based music, from the likes of ''Iggy Pop'', ''Visage'' and ''Bill Withers''. It was given five singles upon release; Kiro TV, Sick, Loretta Young Silks, M'aidez and Bloodsport. ''Sick'' was given a music video and so was ''Loretta Young Silks'', which starred ''Honor Blackman'' from ''007: Goldfinger''. Due to the tragic events of 9/11 in New York, ''Tommy Boy Records'' offices were destroyed in the aftermath, forcing the band to release and fund the album themselves, due to a massive loss of revenue at ''Tommy Boy Records'' end. Even though all editions of the ''Bloodsport'' album contain ''Tommy Boy Records'' logos and branding, it was actually released via the band's own ''Splinter Recordings'' record label. The rumour is that all individual band members had lost around £10,000 each, having had to fund the release of it themselves. Nevertheless, they continued to tour and promote the album up until the end of 2003 - their last ever gig being the ''Live At Sixteen Tons Club'' concert in Russia. Soon after, they were voted the best band to visit Russia and were awarded a plaque. A lot of material from this set was new; around this time, they were working on an new album, merely dubbed as ''SP4'' (due to an album name not being provided at this point). It was apparently refused when shown to record labels and due to the majority of the songs being personal to Chris, it was shelved (although it was leaked online around 2004/2005). Ever the enthusiasts, the band had wanted to make a film for quite some time and had a story and soundtrack already prepared and partially recorded. Due to funding and time issues, the project was subsequently cancelled. Supposedly, it was going to be a detective-noir, with a twisted, modern fairy-tale feel to it, called ''Blind Michael''. An actor who Liam knew, called Michael, who had previous roles in film such as BBC's ''The Bill'', was to be the main star. Some tracks from ''SP4'' were to be used in it and was very nearly completed, writing-wise. Ian describes long nights to this day where he still attempts to find the perfect ending. In 2004, a remix competition was announced, called ''Give It Another Angle'', where the stems for an unreleased ''Becoming X'' track was provided so fans could remix it. Whoever won the best remix, chosen by the band themselves, had their version featured on an upcoming DVD which was to contain live footage from various concerts, demos, remixes, b-sides and rarities. The song simply called: ''Angle'', was also reworked for the remix of ''Permanent Tears'' for ''Eagle-Eye Cherry''. After advertisement of the competition, a winner was never picked and the DVD was delayed several times until being forgotten about completely. Soon after, more plans flourished, the next one being a biography on the band. The book, intended to be called ''The Magnificent Radish!'' (working title), was to be a written history of Sneaker Pimps, but then it slowly evolved into a semi-fictional novel. Ian Pickering was in charge of writings and explains it that money at the time was running short and that the band were slowly leaving to follow different paths. At this time, Chris started to distance himself from Sneaker Pimps and formed his own group; ''IAMX'' - a derivative from the album name ''Becoming X''. Roughly, between the years 2005-2007, a music player was found in a Russian bar, with music stored on it, thought to have been new Sneaker Pimps material. The seven tracks with the mysterious, unnamed singer circulated the web for years with uncertainty (due to the lack of vocals by both Chris or Kelli), but most people thought the mystery singer being Paris Hampton, from the American pop group ''Samsara'', but she came forward and dispelled the rumour. Again, these were never released officially and were leaked online. Paris later confirmed herself that it was her singing on these tracks. Around 2012, a rumour emerged regarding their first three albums being remastered in high resolution, 5.1 surround sound form, for free. This proved to be true; online folders were even created, presumably by either Chris or Liam, but nothing was ever uploaded to them. In 2016, 20 years after ''Becoming X'' was released, an account on Twitter called ''SneakerPimpsNow'' was created by Liam Howe, promising an official reunion/album with the release of tracks from ''SP4'' - the page stating that ''This is the year''. Soon after, Chris Tweeted from his ''IAMX'' Twitter page an image showing a PC screen with a folder called ''SNEAKERPIMPS4'', with a caption stating ''I just created a new folder''. In a recent interview with Chris, he stated that he would be happy to take part in a Sneaker Pimps reprisal, providing that everyone has an equal amount of input, in other words, he wouldn't want it to be all about himself. The ''SneakerPimpsNow'' Twitter account has since gone quiet, but Chris stated in May 2019 on his ''IAMX'' Patreon that Liam was going to be joining him in Los Angeles to recommence work on the fourth Sneaker Pimps album. Some time passed and this news came true and so it has now evolved into full fledged recording sessions with Liam temporarily moving to Los Angeles to join Chris in the making of a fourth Sneaker Pimps album. Liam joined Chris on a one of his ''IAMX'' mental health gatherings and also played live on a few tracks, such as ''Mercy''. Through Chris' ''IAMX'' updates, he posts regular news about the process and even small video snippets. The most recent update being an hour long live video stream confirming (and promising) new material by the end of 2019, although it's likely this will turn out to be in 2020.
Pimps - Past/Present: