A brilliant York band has become the first in the city to sign a major label record deal since Shed Seven in the 1990s.
Bull, a four-piece, have celebrated their deal with EMI Records with the release of the single Green.
The deal was arranged in association with Young Thugs, the city’s enterprising record label and studio that works with artists from York and the north of England.
Formed in 2011 by vocalist and songwriter Tom Beer and lead guitarist Dan Lucas, they claim diverse influence from bands such as The Pixies, Yo La Tengo and Pavement.
Drummer Tom Gabbatiss joined after he and Tom Beer jammed in bars while they were back-packing in the Far East (that’s Thailand, not Scarborough).
Kai West, an in-demand bassist, and a regular player with several York bands, including the city’s top busking band, Hyde Family Jam, became a member of Bull after frequently joining the band to dance on stage with them for impromptu performances.
Feelgood hit of summer
Bull’s success is no surprise to York’s music fans who have watched their steady development over the last couple of years.
Tom Beer’s eye-catching and engaging performance as lead singer highlights a down-to-earth approach that is suffused with a healthy dose of wry humour – and genuine warmth.
At early gigs, when the crowds weren’t so big, Tom was known to have hugged nearly every member of the audience.
That won’t be possible once they are playing to stadium audiences. But you can get a flavour of the band’s charm and outgoing warmth in the single, Green, which is an early contender for the feelgood hit of the summer.
Recorded and filmed on the band’s pre-lockdown trip to Amsterdam, the jangle-pop guitar sound evokes memories of surf-rock bands and psychedlic swirl from the 1960s whilst remaining bang up to date.
It was this rare pop-sensibility that has already endeared them to major new acts like The Orielles, Pip Blom and Squid, all of whom have been supported by Bull.
Developing music scene
The signing of Bull is the latest evidence of the huge, developing music scene in the city.
Lockdown might have limited live performances, but the last year has seen the emergence of scores of acts, including
- The Howl And The Hum (whose critically-acclaimed debut album, Human Contact, was released on the Kobalt label last month)
- Skylights (a 90s-influenced rock band, recently signed to 42’s, an independent label based in Manchester)
- Bonnie and the Bailers (a tight, country-influenced band with a cheeky, risque edge and a nice line in humour, just beginning to tap their potential),
- and up-and-coming youngsters, Talk More, about whom, we will have a lot more to say very soon.
Added to this, there is a large electronic, ska, punk and post-punk underground music scene in the city too.