Originally named Arabicus Pulp (after a coffee bean commodity some one read about in the Financial Times) , Pulp was created during a boring economics lesson at Sheffield City Comprehensive. This was before the definition of pulp as throwaway material was widespread, so the band had to be put up with being called odd names (ie Pope and The Pulps, Pulpies, etc). The original line up of the band included Jarvis Cocker (vocals), Peter Dalton (guitar), David Lockwood (bass), and Mark Swift (drums). They covered songs such as 'House Of The Rising Sun' and ventured into self-penning their own songs, including 'Shakespeare Rock' and 'Message To The Martians'.
The Super 8 Movies
Instead of making an album, they made films. The first being a silent movie called The Three Spartans, which starred Jarvis, Mark, and Peter. One had to hold the camera so a beanpole often played the part of the third spartan. The second film was Spaghetti Western Meets Star Trek which featured Jarvis as Clint Eastwood and had voice overs and a soundtrack. Pulp showed these films during school lunch and charged 10p, they made about £10.
Do You Remember The First Time?
Pulp's first show (which was arranged by Marcus Featherby of Aardvark Records) was at the gymnasium-like Rotherham Arts Centre on 5 July 1980. Follow up shows included The Leadmill Club (which Russell Senior reviewed for his fanzine), the Marples pub, and the George IV pub (where Jarvis started crying due to ridicule from the crowd). Their early shows were odd affairs accentuated by Jarvis' stage patter and toilet paper rolls they used as props. Around this time they also made a tape for John Peel using homemade equipment - 'the synth drum was made out of an old electronic calculator attached to a rubber burglar alarm mat, making this stupid noise'. There were 4 tracks on the tape: 'Turkey Mambo Momma', 'Refuse To Be Blind', 'Please Don't Worry', and 'Wishful Thinking'. Jarvis now finds the tape extremely embarrassing and hopes it never reaches the public.
Tony Perrin (the manager for a group called Artery) came to manage Pulp and raised enough cash to enable them to make a mini-LP on Red Rhino. And so It came to be. The warm, acoustic, and extremely sappy album bombed (it sold a mere 300) and was vilified by many music magazines. After It, the band began to disinigrate and several secondary groups were formed, including: The Jarvis Cocker Explosion Experience, Repressive Minority, and Michael's Foot.
Russell Senior entered the scene ready to stir people up. He took over the business side of Pulp, and played guitar and violin as well. More new members were added including Peter Mansell on guitar, his girlfriend, Candida Doyle on keyboards, and her brother, Magnus Doyle on drums. They signed to Fire Records and recorded the Little Girl (With Blue Eyes) E.P. which bombed as well and followed with the Dogs Are Everywhere E.P. which also only sold 300 copies. And then Freaks was made...a bleak, depressing album that managed to win over some critics.
Legal Fight With Fire: Seperations
The band seemed keen on leaving Fire Records due to lack of promotional punch and budget (their albums weren't selling well and the band thought this was due to mediocre production) and their refusal to release the band's new album Seperations. However, a Canadian woman, Suzanne Catty, had come to be their manager. She had many connections with major labels and experience, but she turned out to be too ambitious when she went around claiming Pulp were free of their contract with Fire and available to sign. Even though they still legally belonged to Fire, Pulp managed to release singles on Sheffield's new label, Gift. The fight with Fire lead to the deterioration of Pulp's relationship with Catty as well; they argued over lawyers, legal bills, etc. and the band began to believe she was keeping them in the dark about the music business. To make matters more complicated, the major label Island, the label of U2, now wanted to sign Pulp as well. A temporary agreement was reached, Pulp would remain on Gift Records but Island would finance their releases. It took over two years of litigation before Fire settled on royalties and allowed Pulp to record for Gift and sign to Island. Catty had the option to sue Pulp but never did due to her "love for Pulp".
On To Success
The Gift Recordings (collected on the compilation Intro) met with critical acclaim from such magazines as NME, Melody Maker, and Smash Hits. After signing to Island, Pulp released Lipgloss as a single which broke into the Top 50; their next single Do You Remember The First Time?, was another gem. When the album His 'N' Hers was released, it managed to reach number 9 in the album charts and the Sisters E.P. broke the Top 20 as well.
After the success of His 'N' Hers, Pulp had become massive enough to take over the headlining act of Glastonbury when the Stone Roses had to pull out because John Squire was injured. The highlight of their act was their performance of their new single, Common People, a number that made the 50,000+ audience sing along. When the follow up album, Different Class was released, it went straight in at number 1, Jarvis had become a sex symbol, and the band had met with universal acclaim.
This Is Hardcore
Although, chart-wise, it didn't do nearly as well as Different Class, This Is Hardcore also met with critical acclaim. Released over 2 years after Different Class, fans eagerly anticipated the new album and not many seem disappointed. Live on.