Britpop – as remembered by a 90s rock star
blur parklife

To many, Britpop was an unrivaled time of optimism and flair for British music. But what was it like as a non-Britpop rocker, viewing the movement as a bemused bystander?

We asked Tony Wright, lead singer of Terrorvision, for his take on the ’90s pop culture phenomenon.

“It made me laugh”

“What did Britpop mean to me as a rocker in the nineties?

“To me it was just something I was aware of while better things were happening. The battle for the kings of Britpop was to me a bit like the quirky mockney sounds of Tommy Steele vs the Northern soundbites of John Lennon.

“It made me laugh to think that safety and mediocrity was being hailed as dangerous, lairy, even rock’n’roll – when at best it was what I’d call a bit ‘woho, a bit wahay’.

“It was around the time that music papers like Melody Maker and Sounds, and their diverse attitude, fell by the wayside, and rock and indie became polarised – with ‘alternative’ being a victim.”

britpop-quiz

“It wasn’t all bad”

“It wasn’t all bad actually. It stalled the parping keyboards and droning synths in favour of picking up a guitar again, learning some tunes your mum and dad liked and changing the lyrics slightly to make folk feel like they’d written a song that was theirs.

“That familiarity, feeling you’d heard it somewhere before, worked well in defining the sounds of the main two contenders.

“Singing songs instead of just spinning them was always a preferred option as well, when it came to watching a band or facing the DJ.”

“It drove rock fans away from the mainstream”

“There were several bands that weren’t in the competition for ‘kings of Britpop’, but used the time to write some cracking albums. To be that ‘alternative’, I mentioned.

“Pulp and Space, even the Stone Roses, pushed more boundaries than buttons and had a sound of the time that was for that time. Prodigy to Skunk Anansie to Therapy too.

“It drove rock fans to get as far away from the mainstream as possible, which was great for everyone – from us to Metallica.”

Stone Roses

Stone Roses

“It left a generation who still walk like their socks are wet”

“Festivals and gigs that weren’t going to be in the Guiness book of records for the largest crowd were exciting and vibrant, loud and passionate.

“Even Robbie wrote a crackin’ set of songs and entertained us, and in doing so took the slightly blunt sting out of ‘Britpop’.

“It came and it mostly went, leaving behind a large part of a generation of blokes who still walk like their socks are wet – but they’ll always be more ‘summer hats and anoraks’ than ‘cigarettes and alcohol’.”

“It was easy to rail against”

“It made me proud to be in a rock band at the time.

“It was easy to rail against but it let the real rock ‘n’ roll get on, without attracting the unwanted attention that could quite easily have shocked or got you arrested.

“We even got tagged as ‘Britrock’, which was the closest thing to being linked to Britpop. It was British and it was rock as opposed to British and being pop, and that says everything you need to know about how how great it was to be in a rock band in the nineties.”

Tony Wright has a new solo album out, Walnut Dash.

Terrorvision tour in November to mark the 20th anniversary of their album Regular Urban Survivors. For more information, head here

More:

Cocaine, casualties and carnage: the dark side of Britpop

10 forgotten Britpop albums you need to revisit

Quiz: How well do you remember Britpop?