Johnny Dean, photographed in 2017
|Origin||Camden Town, London, England|
Menswear (sometimes written "Menswe@r") are a Britpop band formed in October 1994 from Camden in London. They released a number of singles and an album, Nuisance on the short-lived London Records subsidiary Laurel. They recorded a second album which was released in Japan only and broke up in 1998. Menswear, made up of a new line-up in addition to frontman Dean, played their first show in 15 years in August 2013.
The beginnings of the band were a feature in a Select article about a supposed London mod revival led by Graham Coxon. Two individuals closely associated with the burgeoning Britpop scene, Chris Gentry and Johnny Dean, made references to a "top new unsigned band" (Menswear), an act which did not yet exist. They later appeared on the cover of Melody Maker before they had released any material. Their dress sense was Mod (tight fitting suits etc.) whilst their music was influenced by both Blur's second album Modern Life Is Rubbish and Elastica. Gentry and Dean had a single song - called "Daydreamer" - but soon recruited friend Simon White, who contributed "I'll Manage Somehow" to add to the setlist necessary for their upcoming debut gig at a Britpop-oriented club on Regent Street called Smashing. The music press reviewed their performance enthusiastically, with the NME comparing them to a "Tarantino film... totally derivative but totally brilliant", increasing the record labels' interest.
After a frantic race between record companies, they signed to London Records for £90,000 and a lucrative 18.5% gross revenues after just their fifth gig. Shortly afterwards, they signed a £500,000 publishing deal despite having just seven songs in their repertoire - working out at around £70,000 per song.
They appeared on Top of the Pops a week before their first single had even been released. Their first single was "I'll Manage Somehow". Their second single "Daydreamer" peaked at number 14 in the UK Singles Chart but saw the band accused of plagiarising Wire, with Allmusic describing the track as sounding "more like Wire than Elastica, only funnier, even if it may be unintentional".
The band released their debut album Nuisance in 1995, described by Allmusic as "the perfect product from a band that is better known for being seen than being heard". Menswear did, however, play at the Glastonbury Festival in June 1995 at the peak of Britpop's popularity. Similar to other bands of the Britpop era, such as Oasis, the album made use of familiar riffs from 1960s and 70s British rock, such as on the tracks "Stardust" and "Stardust (Reprise)" which tapped the intro from The Rolling Stones classic "Gimme Shelter."
Including "Stardust," a total of five singles were released from the Nuisance album, with the last one, "Being Brave" (released in early 1996), giving the band their first and only top-ten hit. Another non-album single, "We Love You," was released in the summer of 1996, stalled at number 22 in UK charts and marked a change in the band's musical direction.
In 1997 they parted company with Laurel after delivering their country-rock-tinged second album Hay Tiempo!. The record was released in Japan in 1998 but did not get a release anywhere else in the world. They played their last live show at London's Camden Palace the same year. Hints at causes towards the breakup have been mentioned recently in Johnny Dean's blog.
Stuart Black formed a new band, Messiah, that lasted until 2000. Guitarist Chris Gentry went on to play with the band, Vatican DC. Simon White played as a touring and studio musician for various artists including Finley Quaye. Drummer Matt Everitt was fired in 1996 and later joined The Montrose Avenue, he now works on the news team at Radio station 6Music. Drummer Todd Parmenter left the band to play in his main band Heck. He went on to play with Lungleg, The Beal, Evan Dando and The Beatings. Stuart Black is now in the band Bella Echoes with former Messiah member Barnsey.
Lead singer Johnny Dean was finally diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 2008 and has started campaigning on behalf of the National Autistic Society. In recent interviews Dean has expressed the torment he experienced before his diagnosis and his desire to raise awareness of the Autistic syndrome spectrum. On Friday 7 June 2013 Dean made his first sold out live appearance in 15 years with the Nuis@nce Band performing the songs of David Bowie which raised thousands of pounds for The National Autistic Society in London.
A new Menswear line-up played their first show in 15 years on 16 August 2013. Original member Johnny Dean was joined by members of The Nuisance Band as a different Menswear line-up. The sold out event was in aid of the mental health charity PMA Sport's Academy and #TimeToChange campaign which Johnny Dean was invited to promote alongside The Saturdays' Frankie Sandford, Uri Geller and Ruby Wax.
On 26 March 2014, the new line-up of Menswear performed their first sold-out gig at London's Bush Hall, debuting the new single "Crash '14" amongst the set-list. It was released on 26 May that year via Nuisance Recordings & POST/POP Records on limited edition 7" single and cassette as well as download.
Menswear played as part of the line-up at the Shiiine On Weekender festival (6-9 November 2015), playing alongside acts such as Happy Mondays, Peter Hook, The Wedding Present, 808 State and The Orb. This was to be the last gig the revamped line-up played, celebrating 20 years since the release of debut album Nuisance. A statement on the bands Twitter account in August 2016 announced there would be no more Menswear. Dean has since started a new band, Fxxk Explosion.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|"--" denotes a release that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"I'll Manage Somehow"||1995||49||Nuisance|
|"We Love You"||22||Non-album single|