1982 – August 1985
Diane Dubois (vocals)
Tim Arundell (guitar)
Paul Green (bass)
Kevin Hunter (drums)
Tim Donovan (keyboards)
Shaun Walby (guitar)
Stuart Hodgson (bass)
About Cold Dance
Cold Dance was a gothic post punk band, formed in 1982 from a Hull pub covers band called Useless Information, the brainchild of drummer Kevin Hunter and bass player Paul Green.
The original line-up of Cold Dance included Kevin and Paul, with Tim Donovan on keyboards and Tim Arundell, Useless Information’s former sound technician, on guitar. The final piece of the jigsaw, vocalist Diane Dubois, joined after she and several other interesting candidates auditioned for the role.
Music, Gigs & More
Songs were developed by all members of the band, bringing riffs, rhythms, beats and sounds that created an array of haunting, driving music and generated an intense live musical experience. The mysterious lyrics, all written by Diane, and her unique vocals, perfectly complemented and helped to draw out the emerging new sound of the band. Over the years the line-up changed a few times, and it was very early on that keyboard player Tim Donovan became the first member of the band to leave. The decision not to replace him was seismic – it totally redefined what the band’s sound would become, making it instantly harder and edgier, and giving it a new and clearer direction that it had previously lacked. Though the band would in time come to experiment with drum-synths, drum machines and sequencers, for now, Cold Dance made the crucial decision to strip back and build its sound around percussion, bass, guitar and vocals.
Gigs were initially around the Hull area. Cold Dance played all the popular alternative venues in the city at the time, such as The Welly, The Trades & Labour Club, The New York Hotel, Spiders, Hull Students’ Union and Spring Street Theatre. They were also the very first band to play at the now legendary New Adelphi Club. Bands and clubs existed in a spirit of mutual cooperation back then, and Diane designed and created the original sign for the Adelphi Club, in the style of a Victorian mourning card, with its black borders and stark lettering – a cheeky nod to the sombre aesthetic that she also brought to her band’s posters, badges, backdrop and, later, EP cover designs. Many of these early gigs were miners’ benefits or Rock Against Racism events, organised by “Swift” Nick Taylor, who ran The Unity Club, a series of gig nights in the Hull area, and who regularly featured Cold Dance in his fanzine, New Youth. Another publication that gave the band a lot of support in the early days was Jill Webb’s fanzine, Kindred Spirit.
More high profile gigs followed, supporting national and international bands, such as Xmal Deutschland and Gene Loves Jezebel at Hull Dingwalls, sharing support for Red Lorry Yellow Lorry with Hull’s Quel Dommage at the Trades and Labour, and at Lexington Avenue (LAs), where they enjoyed the unique experience of supporting The Pogues. Cold Dance quickly became the go-to band for promoters and venues seeking support acts for indie, goth and punk bands visiting Hull. The band also had an impressive and ever-evolving PA system, which they used to hire out or lend to charitable events. Because it originated from the days of the old covers band, they wittily called it ‘Useless PA’. The PA proved very popular and popped up everywhere, and regular Hull gig-goers will remember its distinctive logo, bright blue paint job and sophisticated kit. The Sisters of Mercy would regularly borrow the band’s then quite innovative piece of equipment that produced their trademark reverberating echo effect, and many a Cold Dance rehearsal would begin with a residual whoop from Sisters front man Andy Eldritch, whose recorded vocals emerged from their Space Echo as soon as it was plugged back into their PA!
The band grew in confidence and popularity and started playing further afield, headlining at East Coast resort venues such as Hornsea’s Hole In The Wall Club and Bridlington’s Golden Gloves, supporting The Armoury Show at Sheffield Leadmill, and making several trips down to London to play at Fulham Broadway and the Greyhound, the legendary punk venue on Fulham Palace Road. During the daytime, Cold Dance blitzed the London record companies with demos, leading to some interest from, amongst others, Arista. In their lifetime, Cold Dance would play all the famous small venues in the northeast, such as York’s Spotted Cow, the celebrated Trades Club at Hebden Bridge, and any punk or new wave venue to be found in places such as Keighley, Derby, and Newton Aycliffe, where every goth and indie kid in a fifty mile radius turned up to see them perform. A loyal group of hardcore followers went to every one of their gigs, no matter where or what distance was involved. Cold Dance was given the highest of accolades when these devoted fans started to paint the band’s name on their leather jackets.
As the intensity and frequency of gigging stepped up, Paul decided to move on, and bassist Stuart Hodgson was recruited. He was a perfect fit, helping the group continue creating their intense music, and impressing all concerned by playing his first Cold Dance gig at Spring Street in Hull just a week or so after joining the band. With their new bass player firmly in place, Cold Dance rehearsed, wrote songs, gigged, and generally honed their sound. Buoyed by the interest shown by record companies toward their London shows, Cold Dance headed to Neil Ferguson’s Woodland Studios in Wakefield to record No Glamour In Industry, their first three track EP for Andy “Tommo” Thompson’s Xcentric Noise label. Eclectic, anarchic and irreverent, Xcentric Noise created a perfect synergy with the band, and, as it turned out, proved to be a far better fit for Cold Dance than any of the London labels could have ever been.
John Peel liked the EP – the highest stamp of approval possible – and played it many times, to the band’s delight. One night, Peel announced on his show that he was coming up to Hull to play in a charity football match at Boothferry Park and said that he hoped that “some of the local bands would drop by the dressing room and pay [him] a visit—especially this lot,” and, with that, he started to play the Cold Dance EP. Of course, the band were overjoyed, and accepted the invitation. As things transpired, Peel came to Hull but didn’t play in the football match as it was around the time that he had come off his bike en route to Broadcasting House, and he was still feeling a bit under par, so the band was able to have a nice long chat with him before the other DJs came off the field and hit the showers. Diane thanked Peel for playing the band’s record, and he replied by thanking the band for making great music; the band were understandably elated by his comment. Years later, Kevin had a chat with Peel backstage at Reading Festival and was delighted and a wee bit flabbergasted to discover that Peel remembered the records and said that he would have liked to have heard a session from Cold Dance – a possibility that came tangibly close for the band on several occasions but never quite materialised.
Peel wasn’t alone in admiring the recordings back then, and, after sending out copies of the pressing far and wide, more and higher profile gigs followed, in Hull and beyond. The band thrilled at the positive reviews for both gigs and recordings in fanzines far and wide, including Jello Biafra’s Maximumrockandroll, and at every little mention in trade papers like the NME. The band continued to gig and work hard, making good working friendships with bands like The Membranes and Balaam And The Angel. They also made a very close friendship with Tim Harrison, the house sound engineer at Dingwalls in Hull, a passionate and genuine music fan with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the music scene. He knew instinctively what Cold Dance were about and the band invited him to become their engineer. He soon became an indispensable part of the Cold Dance live sound. Another EP was planned with Xcentric Noise, this time with more hours in the recording studio, and by now Woodland had invested a lot of money and expanded into fancy new surroundings thanks to some Top 10 successes recorded there. The second EP, Medusa/Petrified, received even more airplay and was followed by even more gigs, including a mini tour with other Xcentric Noise acts. This time, Tim Harrison was there to act as production assistant to Neil Ferguson, adding his expert knowledge of the band’s sound on the recordings, especially on Medusa, where he managed to most successfully capture the depth, texture and mood of the band when they played the track live.
By now the work level was intense, and had been becoming increasingly so for the past year. More demos were done, and more gigs played, including Hull’s own Live Aid event at the Tower, when a photo of one of the band’s Mohicanned hardcore fans shaking hands with a vicar made the front page of the Hull Daily Mail. All the while there was a constant search for original ways to break out and move the band forward in more experimental and “hardcore indie” directions; this, and a corresponding need to devote even more time to the project, culminated in the departure of Tim, to be replaced by Shaun Walby on guitar.
A lot had been packed into just two years, and there was a growing sense that perhaps the band had achieved everything that they could for that particular time. Cold Dance had never done anything half-heartedly, or “just for the sake of it”, and so the band finally splintered in August 1985. Recently, however, there has been a renewed interest in the band, and people from across the globe have contacted Cold Dance members for copies of their releases on vinyl, for bootlegs, photographs, and further information about the band, and Kevin and Diane have fielded queries from places as far afield as New York, Australia and Berlin. Cold Dance is listed in the various encyclopaedias of gothic rock that have been published in the last couple of decades, and their music appears on a small number of compilation albums. They are featured on a range of blogs and webzines, and their tracks are getting a lot of plays on YouTube; the band are unsure as to who it was who has created and uploaded the half dozen or so videos that accompany their music but are impressed and touched by the fact that people have done so. Though the band members have all gone on and achieved success in other projects and diverse fields, and have spread across the globe, as far apart as Chicago and the south of France, band members Kevin, Stuart, Diane and Tim are currently exploring the wonders of the Internet, and its potential for making new music together again.
(Bio by Tim Arundell, Diane Dubois, Paul Green, Stuart Hodgson and Kevin Hunter – with thanks)
Singles / EPs
No Glamour In Industry (7″) – Xcentric Noise, Apr 1984
Medusa / Petrified (7″) – Xcentric Noise, 1985