Label Profile: Fierce Panda
Label: Fierce Panda Website: http://www.fiercepanda.co.uk/ From: London Founded: 1994 Founder: Simon Williams Previous artists: Coldplay, Keane, Supergrass, Death Cab For Cutie, Placebo, Bluetones, Electrelane Current artists: Spinto Band, Walkmen, Hatcham Social, Shitdisco, Molotovs What is there to say about Fierce Panda Records? They are pretty much the Godfather of indie labels. This year they celebrated their 15th Birthday, quite how they managed to survive this long... (continued)
Label: Fierce Panda Website: http://www.fiercepanda.co.uk/ From: London Founded: 1994 Founder: Simon Williams Previous artists: Coldplay, Keane, Supergrass, Death Cab For Cutie, Placebo, Bluetones, Electrelane Current artists: Spinto Band, Walkmen, Hatcham Social, Shitdisco, Molotovs What is there to say about Fierce Panda Records? They are pretty much the Godfather of indie labels. This year they celebrated their 15th Birthday, quite how they managed to survive this long remains a bit of a mystery. Without any real desire or plan on how to make money from the venture Simon Williams (alongside John Harris and Paul Moody) founded Fierce Panda in a now defunct pub in North London with the intention of releasing a one-off EP rather wonderfully titled 'Shagging in The Streets'. Since this debut compilation Fierce Panda has come a long way and become a key indie talent spotter in the UK. Over the past 15 years the label have had a variety of big name artists on their books, names such as Coldplay, Keane, Supergrass, Death Cab For Cutie have all released records through Fierce Panda only to move on to mega contracts with the majors. By way of a bit of a summary of 15 years of Fierce Panda Records, here's a video timeline that kind of documents their evolution and highlights some of their fine back catalogue... 1994 - Supergrass - 'Odd' Yes, before they signed up to Parlaphone and released the Britpop classic 'I should Coco' Oxford's finest released 'Odd' through Fierce Panda, which was later included as the B-side to 'Mansize Rooster'. 1995 - Placebo - 'Bruise Pristine' 1996 - Kenickie - Skillex - Live version of 'How I Was Made' Yes, before she became the darling presenter of the BBC, Lauren Laverne was the lead singer of indie popsters Kenickie. Prior to their first album launch they too released an EP on Fierce Panda, here's a live version of the first track that featured on the EP... Also in 1996... The Bluetones - 'Slight Return' This one is really just for my own benefit. Sorry to be a bit self-indulgent but I LOVED this track (and this band) throughout the mid to late 90s and hearing it all again just brings it all back. Shame Mark Morris did that solo thing though, sort of tainted it a bit. Anyway, onto 1997 - Embrace - 'All You Good Good People' / 'My Weakness Is None of Your Business' I know what you're thinking... Danny McNamara couldn't carry a tune in a bucket... Still never stopped them from going to sign a deal that saw them release five studio albums, a singles album and a b-sides album through Virgin and EMI and go a bit massive though did it...? 1998 - Seafood - Messenger in The Camp A mini album release for the London indie-popsters which included the rather fantastic 'Porchlight' one of the tracks that formed a staple position in my university indie playlists. Here are the band performing 'Porchlight' live at Reading in 1999 1999 - Coldplay - 'Brothers and Sisters' By the time their 5th birthday came around Fierce Panda had launched a variety of bands into major label deals and onto the radio airwaves and the masses. However none quite compare to the outcome of this release. Whether you love them or (more likely) loathe them Coldplay's rise over the last 10 years or so has been nothing short of remarkable and before they went all 'Yellow' on us they only released their debut single through Fierce Panda - that single? 'Brothers and Sisters'. 2000 - Electrelane - 'Le Song' By the turn of the new millennium and a life after Coldplay, Fierce Panda continued in their talent spotting mantle with the release of Electrelane into the indie populous. Because it's nigh on impossible to track down a full length version of 'Le Song' I've included a video of the Brighton trio playing the B-Side 'U.O.R.' recorded live in Montreal from last year... These girls really know how to wig out... 2001 - The Music - 'Take The Long Road And Walk It' Remember this lot? Yep, they were fronted by the weird-looking-baggy-jeaned-funny-dancing front man Robert Harvey and came from Leeds. Well, they released their first single 'Take The Long Road and Walk It' on Fierce Panda and the print run was restricted to just 1,000 copies. They later went on and got signed by Hut and released their self-titled LP that reached as high as number 4 in the charts... This single was re-released to help promote said album and did rather well... charting in the top 20 in the UK. 2002 - The Faint - 'Agenda Suicide' If, like some British towns, indie music labels were twinned with foreign counterparts, then Fierce Panda would surely find it's other half in Nebraska's Saddle Creek. And, you know what...? They kinda did. By tying up a bit of a distribution deal between the two labels Fierce Panda were able to release 'Agenda Suicide' by The Faint. Random Faint fact for you... The Faint were actually born as Norman Bailer and included a certain (Saddle Creek founding) Conor Oberst as a member (though he left shortly afterwards). 2003 - Keane - 'This is The Last Time' Following on from the indie credibility of Saddle Creek tie-ins comes a release from Keane. Yes, the rock band without guitars started their life as another of the Fierce Panda Academy graduates having released both 'This is The Last Time' and 'Everybody's Changing' with the Pandas only to move on to Island records where they released their album and sold millions of copies and invaded an airwave near you... 2004 - Death Cab For Cutie - 'Sound of Settling' Another of Fierce Panda's success stories lies in their signing of Bellingham, Washington's Death Cab For Cutie who had a string of UK releases with the label. This includes the rather brilliant 'Photo Album' and 'Transatlanticism' both of which grew in stature thanks to their popularity with Seth Cohen on the OC. Actually that's not necessarily true, but anyway... They also released a few singles with Fierce Panda including this, which one of my personal favourites... 2005 - Art Brut - 'We Formed a Band' The debut album by Art Brut is terrific. Anyone that has not yet heard it should immediately stop what they are doing and go buy a copy. Actually finish reading this article and then go buy a copy. Eddie Argos' lyrics are immense and none more so than on this track here... They are a remarkable spectacle live too. Quite how one man can sweat so much and survive it is beyond me... Pound for pound, Mr Argos is possibly the sweatiest man in Europe. 2006 - The Maccabees - 'Latchmere / Bicycles' No, not the Jewish national liberation movement that fought for and won independence from Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Hellenistic Seleucid dynasty (yes, i can use wikipedia too!); but South London's very own indie-rockers. You see they too began life as a Fierce Panda seedling and have since blossomed and grown into a major label flower that has recently released their second album 'Wall of Arms'. This track, written about a wave machine in a leisure centre in Battersea was released through Fierce Panda in April 2006. 2007 - Shitdisco - 'Reactor Party' This mob from Glasgow are still with Fierce Panda (yay!) and are, quite frankly, mental. Renowned for over indulging in a variety of substances I recall a rock 'n' roll excess story surrounding their first Fierce Panda tour where the drummer ended up breaking his arm from falling off the tour bus roof whilst under the influence... 2008 - White Rabbits - 'While We Go Dancing' Love this band! Love this album! Love this single! Yep, this was one of my top 10 records from last year. Although it was released in 2007 in the US, Fierce Panda did the noble thing and brought Brooklyn's White Rabbits to the UK in 2008. Whilst here they were playing to paltry audiences at London's Borderline (it was a GREAT show) they were appearing on Letterman in the US and supporting the Walkmen on a US tour. They have just released their follow up record go get it! 2009 - Hatcham Social - 'Murder In The Dark' To celebrate their 15th birthday Fierce Panda had a bit of a party in February where Hatcham Social supported The Walkmen. For me, they blew them off the stage. This track was the first single that they released with Fierce Panda and was the lead track used to promote their album 'You Dig The Tunnel, I'll Hide The Soil' which is out now and was produced by The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess... Well, there you have it, a whistlestop tour of the last 15 years of Fierce Panda. They've slightly switched their focus of late with a move to releasing full length albums rather than the promos, singles and EPs as in the past, but with the portfolio of artists that they have on board at the moment, you can't really argue with that. There's plenty more terrific music coming our way from North London's Godfather of indie labels. For a full discography of what and when they releasd stuff, click here To listen to some of their stuff they have released listen to my Fierce Panda Spotify Playlist here... (You will need Spotify Installed for this to work).
Record LabelIndieFierce PandaColdplayKeaneHatcham SocialWalkmenWhite RabbitsSupergrassKenickieSimon WilliamsDeath Cab For CutiePlaceboSpinto BandShitdiscoMolotovs