Young Marble Giants biography

Last updated: 03 July 2009

Young Marble Giants were a three piece post-punk group from Cardiff, creating sparse soundtracks from a bleak 1980s Cardiff landscape.

When we first started playing we felt almost apologetic because we weren't loud and danceable. We were quiet and slow and melodic and all those things you shouldn't be, especially after punk.

Phil Moxham

Although they were only together for a couple of years, they made a mark on the Welsh music scene, and influenced a number of musicians.

They formed when Stuart Moxham returned to South Wales from living in Germany. With his brother Phil he joined cover bands, one of which - True Wheel - featured backing vocalist Alison Statton. Stuart decided to put together a new band, and recruited Phil and Alison.

The name Young Marble Giants was taken from a book describing kouros, ancient Greek statues representing youth.

A demo tape was recorded in 1979, which featured rough versions of songs which would later appear on the Colossal Youth album. The demo was eventually released in 2000 as the Salad Days collection, on the Vinyl Japan label.

Young Marble Giants contributed two tracks to Is The War Over?, a compilation featuring unsigned bands from the Cardiff scene. Through it the band signed a deal with Geoff Travis' Rough Trade, and released the 15-song Colossal Youth - recorded for just £1,000 - plus the Final Day single and the instrumental Testcard EP.

Resolutely uncommercial ("Young Marble Giants is a reaction to everything successful today," Stuart Moxham told Sounds in 1980), the band were never destined for great fortune and fame, but they built up a strong following nonetheless. With minimalist production, hollow drum loops and Alison Statton's distinctive, unemotional vocals, they shared the much of the sparse sound of peers Joy Division.

"When we first started playing we felt almost apologetic because we weren't loud and danceable... we were quiet and slow and melodic and all those things you shouldn't be, especially after punk," said Stuart.

Although live performances were infrequent, Young Marble Giants toured in America and Europe. They split up following their American tour in 1980, due to musical differences and tensions in the band.

The band members continued making music, occasionally with one another, and planned a YMG reunion in March 2001 to coincide with Rough Trade's 25th anniversary. However, it never happened. And although their releases can be hard to get hold of, the group's influence endures. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was a big fan, Super Furry Animals' Gruff Rhys has namechecked them in interviews, and Hole covered the song Credit In The Straight World on their album Live Through This.

In January 2004, the three members of the band plus drummer Andrew Moxham participated in a BBC Radio Wales documentary about the group. They recorded some music at the radio studio. It was their first performance as Young Marble Giants since 1980.

On 27 May 2007 the band reunited for their first live show in 27 years, at the Hay Festival. It came just weeks ahead of a re-release of Colossal Youth, on Domino Records, which also featured single and EP tracks and rarities.

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