St Christopher - Interview

  by Dixie Ernill

published: 21 / 6 / 2022

St Christopher - Interview

Dixie Ernill catches up with Glenn Melia, mainstay of cult York indie outfit St Christopher for a chat about the band’s recent return to the fray with new LP ‘Of Angels and Kings’ and their appearance on the Skep Wax compilation, 'Under the Bridge'


Fronted by Glenn Melia for close to forty years, St Christopher are a band probably best known for their few years on the revered Sarah Records label, despite only delivering four singles and a mini album in that time. Away from Sarah they have released five studio albums (three of which on Vinyl Japan), four compilation discs, a live LP and a fine selection of sort after singles and flexi discs. Last year saw the release of their first album in over twenty years, the excellent ‘Of Angels and Kings’. Standout track ‘Stornaway’ from the LP was included on ace new compilation ‘Under The Bridge’, which hit the shops recently. In a chat with Pennyblackmusic Glenn Melia opened up on the past present and future of the outfit. PB: I first came across you in 1990, as a student at Newcastle Poly, when I took a gamble on buying the 'Antoinette' 7”, without ever having previously heard a note by St Christopher. At the time, I was heavily into bands like Cud and The Wedding Present, but the lilting melody and almost choral vocals, whilst differing to my usual musical faire, mesmerized me and I played is repeatedly for weeks after. The song remains a favourite to this day. What was the story behind it and who was Antoinette? GM: Antoinette was – as per many of the females mentioned in my songs – an entirely fictitious being I’m afraid, I just really liked the exotic name! The song was our third release on Sarah and followed 'All Of A Tremble', so I tried to write something in a completely different vain. I guess I succeeded, although sales of the record would suggest otherwise, compared to ‘’Tremble’! PB: I quickly went about buying up the earlier singles which led me into the world of Sarah Records. In a lot of ways you were at odds with much of the music on the label. The band had already released a number of singles and flexi discs prior to being signed by them, which again bucked the trend. Did you feel part of the Sarah scene? Which bands did you particularly like on the label? GM: When the label began I don't really think there was a 'scene' or 'Sarah sound' as such. The bands were quite diverse, as per the Orchids, Field Mice, Heavenly, etc and I guess we were ‘different’ again. We played lots of gigs with those bands, home & abroad and share good memories. I particularly admired the Field Mice, in their initial phase as a two piece with a drum machine, it worked really well for them and I wish they were still around. PB: Opinion seems to be divided amongst Sarah fans, with many either loving or hating St Christopher. The recent documentary “My Secret World: The Story of Sarah Records” and book about the label both criminally quickly gloss over your involvement on the label. Were you even interviewed for either project and are you a little disappointed not to have had more of a mention in them? GM: We were interviewed for the book “Popkiss: The Life and Afterlife of Sarah Records”, for which I was grateful, although it seemed a bit of an afterthought. I don't really mind, as we didn’t stay that long with the label and were maybe thought of as ‘abscondees’ when we went to Vinyl Japan. I think the passing of time will show our music to have “staying power” and always be out there in the ether! PB: Your most prolific period, album wise, came in the 90’s on the Vinyl Japan label. The third of which. Lioness, I think is your best. Did being on that label bring you some success and lead to gigs in Japan? GM: It was an unsettled time for the band, with many line up changes, it was virtually a ‘solo project’ by that stage. Something I was quite happy with, having always being a self-confessed megalomaniac when it comes to writing and recording everything myself, for good or bad. I still think those VJ albums stand up well today and I’m particularly proud of ‘Love You To Pieces’. We had two trips to Japan as part of the VJ ‘deal’, firstly with Field Mice and then with The Bluebells just before their ‘Young At Heart’ single became a UK number one when re-released after being used on a TV advert. Again, good times! PB: Having been in music for over forty years, starting with Vena Cava, prior to St Christopher, are you surprised that so many of the old faces are still making music? And with them being brought together for the excellent ‘Under The Bridge’ compilation? GM: Ten years ago I would have been surprised by the resurgence of most bands, but actually not now. Somehow it now seems much more acceptable to be still involved in the ‘music biz’ regardless of age, band longevity and history, etc. It seems that every ‘big’ band from the sixties to the nineties could still play to hundreds of people on a regular basis if they so desired. I think the public and younger generations in particular are discovering or rediscovering those halcyon days and sounds. Long may it reign! PB: There are live gigs too featuring bands from the album, which promise to be special, with Bristol and London announced so far. Any gigs further north planned? GM: Not as yet, although I feel sure – and hope, being from the North! - that they will come about. It’s probably dependent on how the Bristol and London gigs fare in terms of recouping finances! PB: You also released a new album yourselves late last year - the rather wonderful ‘Of Angels and Kings’. It’s your first for twenty years. It’s great to have some new music by the band, but what took you so long? GM: I released a couple of singles for small labels in the past few years but never really had the wherewithal to grind away and record a full album. I guess the ‘lockdown’ cliché comes into play, as that’s when I did all of the recording and ‘writing’, mostly last Spring in a bedroom. I just seemed to rediscover my enjoyment of finding new sounds and melodies. I think the album is the ‘truest’ St Christopher album yet. PB: I presume much of the new album will be showcased at the gigs, but will there be a few old favourites in the set too? GM: Sure, it will be a mixture of new and old material. There’s plenty to go at, let’s face it! PB: Influence wise, The Walker Brothers seem an obvious one, but who else has helped shaped your music? GM: Lots of things from my particular era of ‘nostalgic sounds’, Bowie, glam rock, punk, all the way up to Britpop. PB: Looking forward, what does the future hold for St Christopher? GM: The new album has just been taken up by a small US label who are releasing it on vinyl this summer, so that’s a focus and hopefully there will be more gigs and perhaps more recording. PB: And looking back, is there any possibility of the Vena Cava tracks being made available again? GM: I doubt there's any level of demand to make it worthwhile to be honest, but you never know! PB: Thank you.

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