(Photo: Pat Pope)
Stuart Reid (vocals)
Mike Milner (guitar)
Chris Charlton (guitar)
Liam Maloy (bass)
Carl Lonsdale (drums)
Soda rose from the ashes of Mindgarden, themselves a well known band on the Hull music scene. After several line-up changes, Mindgarden became Soda around the time of a big support slot with Oasis at the Adelphi (10 April 1994). New bassist Liam Maloy joined core members Chris Charlton, Carl Lonsdale and Mike Milner.
The band played a number of local and out-of-town gigs as Soda. New vocalist Stuart Reid had some contacts in the Shed Seven camp (as he came from their hometown of York) and managed to get the band a support slot on the northern leg of a big Shed Seven tour.
At one of those gigs (Middlesbrough Arena, 22 September 1994) the band were spotted by a member of Shed Seven’s management team, and after putting them in the studio to record some demos (Fairview Studios in Hull, and Submarine in York) the band signed a management deal.
Things snowballed pretty quickly and the band closed out 1994 with more Shed Seven dates, as well as gigs with the likes of Supergrass and Cast, before releasing a self-financed single (“Slave To The Fashion Page”) on their own label in September 1994).
Next came the record industry showcases with just about every major label (including Capitol Records’ USA branch) coming to see them play at various locations across York and Hull.
More big support slots came: Blur (May ’95), Supergrass, The Bluetones, The Longpigs, Pere Ubu and others, before the band eventually signed a six-album record deal with Fontana (by then a subsidiary of Mercury) on 25 July 1995.
The band recorded their first ‘proper’ single at Townhouse Studios with Paul Corket and embarked on their first major UK tour to promote it in November 1995.
“The Young Own The Town” was released on 20 November 1995, winning Single Of The Week in Melody Maker and reaching number 13 in the Indie Chart. The video for the single (shot in Camden) appeared on The ITV Chart Show.
In January 1996, the band again supported Shed Seven on a major tour of the UK which coincided with the release of their second single “Inside”, produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who had previously worked with the likes of The Teardrop Explodes, Madness, Elvis Costello and Dexy’s Midnight Runners.
The “Inside” single (released 29 Jan 1996) made number 75 in the mainstream charts and Soda appeared on the Big Breakfast TV show with Zig & Zag. During this time, the band were recording their debut LP, again with Langer and Winstanley, at Westside Studios in London.
April 1996 saw them embark on a UK tour with Baby Chaos. Liam was electrocuted on stage in Scotland and the tour had to be cut short.
There came one more full UK tour (this time with Mansun) commencing in June ’96 (again doomed). Soda performed at the Phoenix Festival in July, and released one more single “Dragging You Into My Dreams” in August 1996.
From the records, it appears that the band fittingly played their last ever gig at the Adelphi Xmas party on 20 Dec 1996, back where it had all started back in the early 90s.
The Langer/Winstanley produced debut LP Artificial Flavour (reputed to have cost £250,000 to make) was scrapped and has never seen the light of day…until 2016 (more below).
The band continued under another name (Imperial) with a line up change through 1997-8. However, Liam contracted leukaemia. He survived, but was too ill to continue at the time, and the band finally called it a day.
Sadly Mike Milner, Soda’s lead guitarist, passed away in 2014 after a long illness.
That much-touted debut album was finally released on November 20th, 2016 on the band’s own label Prettiest Souls. Hull Music Archive were the first to play an exclusive album track on our Hull Music Vault radio show on Hull Kingston Radio.
(Carl Lonsdale / Hull Music Archive)
Artificial Flavour (CD / Cassette) – Prettiest Souls, Nov 2016
Slave To The Fashion Page (7″) – Bubble Dog, Sep 1994
The Young Own The Town (7″ / CD) – Artificial, 20 Nov 1995
Inside (7″ / CD) – Artificial, 29 Jan 1996
The Prettiest Souls (Promo only CD) – Artificial, May 1996
Dragging You Into My Dreams (7″ / CD) – Artificial, August 1996
Album Sampler (Promo only CD) – Mercury, 1996
Soda (3-track cassette) – self released, 1994