Pale Saints were Ian Masters, Graeme Naysmith and Chris Cooper. They formed in Leeds, after Graeme and Chris spotted an ad Ian placed in April 1987. They spent their first year playing gigs around the Leeds area, until eventually a deal was made, with another local band, The Savlons, as well as a friend of the band (Jane Fox, from The Marine Girls), to put out a flexidisc, in the summer of 1988. Funding was made available, 1000 flexis were made and sleeves were glued together, half available with a York based fanzine and the remainder shared by The Savlons and the Pale Saints. The flexi featured four different postcards, featuring one of each band, and one for the label, Panic Recordings.
The track 'Children Break' came from their first demo tape, released in 1988, called 'Some New Songs By' - the songs featured were 'Wasting My Time', 'Children Break', 'The Way The World Is' and 'Sea Of Sound'. 'Wasting My Time' made it onto a Bi-Joopiter compilation tape, called 'What Feet', and a compilation with another fanzine, called 'Are You Ready'. The band started to get gigs around the country, some in Stoke On Trent, another in Lancaster...
In late 1988, the band tried an experiment in the Hyde Park pub, where they had a local gig. Fed up of the constant 'play a song, applaud, play another song, applaud' that their gigs brought, they decided to improvise, and put sections of music between each song. They continued to do this, and used this same idea on their first album. Additional guitar duties were looked after by Ashley Horner, then Richard Formby (The Jazz Butcher, Spectrum, also a producer), once Ashley's band The Edsel Auctioneer (who Chris Cooper also drummed for) signed a record deal.
Late 1989, the band recorded a second demo, at Woodhouse Studios in Leeds.This one was called 'Barging Into The Presence Of God' - featuring 'Introduction', 'She Rides The Waves', 'Colours And Shapes', 'Sight Of You' and 'Listen To Your Heart'. A compilation album 'Diamonds and Porcupines' was released, featuring 'She Rides The Waves'.
The demo made it's way to a handful of record labels, and in turn, the band got a gig in London supporting future labelmates Lush, where they caught the attention of 4AD owner, Ivo Watts-Russell. This eventually left the band with the choice of signing for just two labels, 4AD or One Little Indian, who had also shown interest.
The band chose 4AD, and towards the end of 1989, their first EP for the label, also called 'Barging Into The Presence Of God' (taking two tracks from the demo of the same name, although it's hinted on the sleeve some Gil Norton production may have been done to the tracks) made its way into the shops, where NME and Melody Maker adopted the term 'shoegazing', when referring to the band (and quite a few others from around that time). The band headed out on a co-headline tour around the UK, with labelmates Lush, who had signed to the label for a one-off deal around the same time as them. Both bands would end up long term recording artists for 4AD.
1990 brought their debut album 'The Comforts Of Madness' on vinyl and CD, the vinyl coming with some limited edition postcards humourously referred to as tea towels... some adverts for Pale Saints gigs around this time, featured a reference to the time Sunderland beat Leeds United in the 1971 FA Cup final - Vaughan Oliver, a huge Sunderland fan, snook it in there, much to the Pale Saints (Graeme and Chris were huge Leeds supporters) amusement (and disgust).
Late 1990, and the band were struggling in their quest to keep a second guitarist in the band - so far the position had been kept by people who had other bands, until Miki from labelmates Lush stepped in. She's quoted as having said around the time that she should start a "rent a band" type deal, as she was always putting her friends in touch with bands who needed them - and so the Pale Saints expanded to a full time four piece, with the addition of Meriel Barham, formerly the original singer with Lush. Meriel moved to Leeds, and the band set to work recording their second album.
In the meantime, the 'Half-Life, Remembered' ep made it's way into the shops, and onto The Chart Show, complete with video of someone singing along to the song, in a bed of baked beans. Lovely. This was the first recordings featuring Meriel, although at that point she wasn't a full time member of the band. The ep also featured a secret hidden track on the vinyl, and uncredited on the CD, called 'The Colour Of The Sky', which later made its titled debut on the 'Mrs Dolphin' compilation CD.
The 'Flesh Balloon' ep followed in mid 1991, with no particular title track, although their cover of Nancy Sinatra's 'Kinky Love' had a video made for it, featuring Graeme in drag, and the band sitting on a bed in the middle of a field. The Chart Show gave it an airing, as well as programmes like 'Transmission' which existed around 3am in the morning.
The band did a double header tour around the UK with the Boo Radleys around this time, it coming just as the Boo's had released 'Everythings Alright Forever' on Creation, and were just heading towards 'Giant Steps' their third and possibly most talked about record (which also featured Meriel's vocals on a couple of tracks).
March 1992, and their second album 'In Ribbons' gained it's worldwide release. US editions of the album also included a cover of Slapp Happy's 'Blue Flower'. UK editions of the album on vinyl, included a free 7", with two versions of Pale Saints songs recreated by the Tintwistle Brass Band, a brass band based near Glossop. The single which followed the album, 'Throwing Back The Apple' was the last Pale Saints single to feature Ian Masters.
Fed up with the constant touring, and routine, Ian left the Pale Saints in 1993. He started a solo career, as Spoonfed Hybrid (a collaboration with Chris Trout, they released an album on the 4AD offshoot Guernica), and continues to make music today under various guises (including as ESP Summer with Warn Defever of His Name Is Alive). Canadian Colleen Browne was drafted in to take his place on bass.
The 'Fine Friend' ep got it's release, in 1994, followed closely by the 'Slow Buildings' album, their last record. Rumours of a follow up single exist, although nothing ever surfaced. Feeling a lack of focus, after touring the album in 1997, Pale Saints split. Their final studio recording was a version of "Jersey Girl" for the Tom Waits tribute album 'Step Right Up'.
Nowadays, Graeme and Chris have a new band, they used to be called Lorimer, then The Detonators, but now they're in the rather marvellous The Program, who are set to play their debut gig in September 2010. Meriel Barham released a CD under the name of Kuchen, and Colleen Browne, after spending some time in The Warm Jets and Rialto was in White Hotel and now is in a band called Rykarda Parasol.