1985 – 1988
Michael McGrath (lead guitar, vocals)
Mike Hemblade (rhythm guitar)
Andy Stansfield (bass)
Michael Norton (drums)
Kevin Wade (rhythm guitar)
Mike Catling (bass)
The band that eventually became The Pressure Group first started rehearsing in the sound laboratory that was the bathroom of student house, 34 Auckland Avenue. Michael McGrath and Kevin Wade had rudimentary grasps of guitar chords, Mike Catling was OK on the mouth organ and drummer Mike Norton cut his teeth by banging an upturned waste bin and a ‘biff’ – one of the large cushions students used to laze around on all day in the common room.
From 34 Auckland Avenue the band gravitated towards The Dock – a rehearsal space on St. Andrew’s Dock where, for paltry sums, many of Hull’s nascent bands hired the facilities, equipment and even their instruments courtesy of proprietor, Graham Gosshawk, owner of GLM (General Lack Of Management) Graphics. This was a cold and uncomfortable, even hostile, environment in which to ply one’s musical trade but it was as good as it got in mid-to-late eighties Hull if you had no money and no instruments, as we didn’t.
Raw and unrehearsed, the band, then known as Progressive Corruption, played their first live gig at the University Student Union. An announcement on the tannoy system said, apparently, that “a band sounding like The Doors” were playing upstairs. That was us.
Always considering ourselves outsiders, we swiftly alienated the oligarchic clique that was the University Music Society and subsequently found securing gigs was difficult. That’s when we discovered The New Adelphi club as a place to secure an audience, all the time tightening up our playing and improving our songwriting skills, down at The Dock.
Musical Differences saw members leave the band. Bassist Mike Catling’s days were numbered following his announcement that Elton John’s Captain Fantastic was his favourite album. He was replaced by local lad Andy Stansfield, a far better bassist and all round musician. Kevin Wade left the band, which had been renamed The Pressure Group, under a much lighter cloud, deciding that his life was outside of music. Having played one helter skelter gig at the Adelphi as a three piece, The Browmoppers, Kev’s replacement Mike Hemblade was recruited from wall of noise purveyors Teethmarks On The Bathroom Door with the proviso he could contribute to the songwriting. The “classic” line up had emerged.
The Pressure Group saved up enough money to go into the Animal Tracks recording studio in 1987. The fruit of this session was an EP, Only God Is Perfect, primarily aimed at the A & R men of record companies up and down the country. It elicited a paltry number of pre-written responses and not much else – though John Peel did play the song “Occupation Lane” on his evening radio show. Little did we know at the time that this record would one day sell for hundreds of pounds on the rare occasions it appears on the internet.
The Pressure Group called it a day late in 1988 when it was apparent they were not going to “make it”. The members went their separate ways and were largely out of touch until they were approached in 2016 by a guy in Richmond, Virginia desperately seeking a copy of Only God is Perfect. The Virginian put the band in touch with Uwe Weigmann, boss of Berlin’s Firestation Records who said he’d like to re-release Only God Is Perfect. In a coup de main the band secured an expanded release with eight additional tracks. Their retrospective CD album All Of This And More was released on 7th April 2017, 30 years after the band had released Only God Is Perfect.
All Of This And More (CD) – Firestation Records, 2017
Only God Is Perfect (7″) – Poltroon Records, 1987