| The La's
| John Power
The band released four albums between 1995 and 2001. Liam Gallagher of Oasis once described them as one of the few contemporary bands he actually liked. Though the group continued to release records after the fall of the Britpop movement at the end of the '90s their commercial success died with the movement and they are generally not regarded as Britpop "survivors".
It has been suggested that the name "Cast" was taken from the final word on The La's eponymous (and only) album. The song "Looking Glass" ends with the repeated line "The change is cast". John Power has stated when interviewed that this is a coincidence.
The La's were support act to the 'lost' early Britpop band One Thousand Violins at a 1990 gig at The Leadmill in Sheffield. One Thousand Violins' drummer was a former member of 1980s Sheffield group The Cast.It is possible that this meeting was the source of Cast's name.
John Power had previously been the bass player in The La's, but left in December 1992 after long being frustrated by Lee Mavers' overzealous perfectionist approach to the band's recordings. Drug use and Lee Mavers' refusal to play any of John Power's songs have also been identified as reasons for his departure. After leaving the band Power stayed in Bruckley House, the same place and time where 3 beat records started up.
John Power decided to stop playing bass and started playing rhythm guitar while residing at Bruckley House, playing with friends and with an ever changing line up. The first addition to the band was bassist Peter Wilkinson, who Power had seen about town playing with other bands and whom he "knew to say hello to." The next addition was Keith O'Neill, who John Entwistle would later favourably compare with The Who drummer Keith Moon (his nickname in the band was "Moonie"), however this may have been due to his ability to drink large amounts of alcohol and general erratic behaviour rather than his drumming style. The final addition to the band was guitarist Liam 'Skin' Tyson who Wilkinson had recommended to Power. When Power met Tyson and asked him to join the band he initially turned him down as he had sold all of his musical equipment and was teaching at an outdoor centre in Alston in Cumbria or "living up a hill" as Power would later describe it. He soon changed his mind and this completed the band line-up which was to stay the same up until the band's eventual disbandment.
After practising for a while the band were to benefit from the support of Oasis, one of the upcoming bands of the time. Despite not having a ticket to an Oasis gig at a Liverpool venue John Power convinced the club owner to let him in to meet the band. John Power found that Noel Gallagher was a huge fan of The La's (he has in fact stated that Oasis' goal as a band was to complete what the La's had started) and after playing a copy of Cast's demo tape the Gallagher brothers asked him to support the band on a forthcoming tour along with Shed Seven. It was during this tour that Polydor showed their interest in signing the band, which the band duly accepted. Their first single "Finetime", released at the height of the Britpop movement in 1995, proved successful debut. This success was followed up by "Alright" showcasing a distinctive sound very similar to The La's, (the song was written in the La's era by Power and was performed live by the La's; several live recordings of the song exist, and during this time, the song was usually played under the title 'fly on') and was their first Top 15 hit in the UK, peaking at #13 in the singles chart.
The band then released their debut album All Change which showcased a more diverse range of music than the two singles: psychedelic rock ("Promised Land", "Two of a Kind"), guitar-tapping in "History", heavier power-chord based songs ("Back of My Mind", "Reflections" and "Sandstorm") and slow-paced ballad songs ("Walkaway" and "Four Walls"). This album would produce two top ten hits for the band in "Sandstorm" (#8) and "Walkaway" (#9). The band got further recognition in 1996 when "Alright" was featured in the Mission: Impossible soundtrack. The album shot to #7 in the UK, going platinum. At this time, the band was busy touring the UK and Europe. They would tour the United States a couple of times, but they only got as far as attaining cult status.
A stand-alone single was released in 1996 titled "Flying", which filled the void between the band's debut All Change and their follow-up Mother Nature Calls. "Flying" reached #4 on the UK singles chart, giving the band their highest position in the UK.
For their second album, 1997s Mother Nature Calls, the fast paced guitar songs were replaced with a more contemplative sound. The band continued to release radio-friendly material such as the top ten hit "Free Me" (#7). According to Power the title of the album was supposed to be tongue in cheek because Mother Nature is always calling (because of man's mortality), but also because he was on the toilet at the time he came up with the name. The band decided to once again use John Leckie to help record the album and the production was much more well-developed on this album, with the band using much more than the simple guitar-bass-drums mix as they had done on the previous album. John Power has blamed the initial poor reception on the album on the fact that it is a "grower" requiring much more patience than the more pop-based style of All Change and has claimed that a number of critics later told him that they felt they had changed their perceptions of the album. Despite this the album spawned two additional top ten hits with "Live the Dream" (#7) and "Guiding Star" (#9) and one top twenty hit with "I'm So Lonely" (#14). The album peaked at #3, going platinum (according to the BPI).
By the time that the band started to record their third album, Magic Hour, the Britpop movement was faltering and a number of Cast's contemporaries had disbanded (e.g. Kula Shaker, Dodgy, Smaller and The Seahorses.) The band tried to further distance themselves from the Britpop movement by referring to the third album as "21st Century Rock'n'Roll". John Leckie was replaced by Gil Norton who had previously produced The Pixies and the band moved towards a heavier power-chord based sound, with the jangly rhythm sounds of the previous albums being replaced by a more distorted "metallic" sound. The album received average reviews by most music magazines, with the band still criticised for a lack of originality.
The first release was "Beat Mama", with the band using samples and synthesisers on the record to give it a more modern feel, moving away from the 60s sound created by simply using only guitars, bass and drums. The song became the band's last top ten hit, peaking at #9, but not before La's frontman Lee Mavers was reported to have branded the band as "crap." He specifically targeted John Power, calling him a "spoiled brat." The album shot to #6, but quickly fell off the charts and failed to sell even 60,000 copies.
Seeing the sales of Magic Hour as a clear sign that Cast needed to change direction, the band produced the album Beetroot. Using Latin beat sounds for the only single released from this album and largely abandoning the ethos of producing simple yet catchy three minute pop songs the album was not groundbreaking enough either to give the band the critical approval which they were hoping for, or to attract the interest of the general public. The only single release from the album, "Desert Drought," failed to make even the UK Top 40, stalling at #45 on the charts. The sales of the album were even poorer than those for Magic Hour. The album failed to make the Top 75, crawling to #78 on the charts. After the sharp change in musical direction and the subsequent commercial failure of this final studio album in 2001, Cast split in 2002.
After the split
Following the split, John Power released a solo album entitled Happening For Love which featured Paul Maguire formerly of fellow Liverpool band The Stairs.
In October 2006 Power released a second album called Willow She Weeps.
In January 2008 Power Released a third album titled Stormbreaker.
In 2005, John Power played a series of gigs with newly-reformed The La's. The gigs yielded no new material and nothing has been heard from the band since the series of gigs which took place in Ireland, UK and Japan.
Peter Wilkinson has recorded and toured with a number of artists including Ian McCulloch and McCulloch's reformed band, Echo & The Bunnymen.
Wilkinson left Echo & the Bunnymen in mid 2005 and has now rejoined the Liverpool band Shack who are currently signed to Sour Mash, Noel Gallagher's record label.
Skin is currently in Robert Plant's band, "Strange Sensation".
As of now, there are no plans for a Cast reunion.
All Change (31st August 1995) (UK #7)
Mother Nature Calls (14th April 1997) (UK #3)
Magic Hour (8th November 1999) (UK #6)
Beetroot (30th July 2001) (UK #78)
|1995||"Fine Time"||All Change||17||-|
|1997||"Free Me"||Mother Nature Calls||7||-|
|"Live the Dream"||7||-|
|"I'm So Lonely"||14||-|
|1999||"Beat Mama"||Magic Hour||9||-|
- Tell It Like It Is -Fansite
- Video interview with John Power and John Power acoustic session from BBC Liverpool08