The Mothmen emerged from the ashes of two legendary Manchester groups – comedy/satire band Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoias, and the first line-up of Factory Records band The Durutti Column. They also contributed to the beginnings of longrunning dub collective Suns Of Arqa. Band members Chris Joyce and Tony Bowers went onto become the rhythm section of Simply Red (during their 80s hit-making pomp), whilst multi-instrumentalist Bob Harding ran lauded reggae reissue label Blood & Fire. Tragically, guitarist Dave Rowbotham was murdered in 1991, but was immortalised in the Happy Mondays song “Cowboy Dave”.
Their debut album Pay Attention! was originally slated for release on pre-On-U Sound label 4D Rhythms, but the collapse of that imprint led to the tapes being impounded by Berry Street Studios, before Adrian could finally pay the bills to get them released and the album a release on his freshly minted new imprint, On-U Sound. The second ever long-player released on the label (after the New Age Steppers debut), Pay Attention! suffered from the delayed release (the band had already moved onto a new line-up and a new sound by the time it came out), a music press confused by its eclectic and wild blend of disparate influences.
In 2015 the original tapes were found, dusted down, baked and lovingly transferred, revealing a great and unfairly overlooked example of early-80s UK DIY post-punk music. At times exhibiting psych-tinged tunefulness on tracks such as “Not Moving” and “Change Direction” (or their unreleased cover of Syd Barrett’s “Vegetable Man”). Other tracks are heavier, such as the trance-inducing repetitive rhythms of “Mothman” which recalls 70s German groups such as Can or Amon Düül II. On-U Sound are proud to release the album on CD and digital formats for the first time, alongside a vinyl re-press. All formats contain 6 bonus tracks (including 3 that have never been hard) and sleeevenotes from band members Bob Harding and Chris Joyce.
Praise for the Pay Attention! reissue:
“Intergalactically chill dub reggae turns on a dime into anxiety-riddled Kraftwerk impressions. Even at their stoner goofiest the band had a knack for channeling a particular kind of electric discordant charge that gave their work an unpredictable but potent vibrancy—the same kind of crackle that you get from acts like Thee Oh Sees and Liars” – Pitchfork
“On the stand-out “Mothman”, it’s as if Space Ritual-era Hawkwind have been taken to a mountain in Morocco and forced to jam with local percussionists. The track is this good. Elsewhere, the Public Image Ltd. of “Careering” are given a similar north-African makeover. This loopy album has to be heard.” – The Arts Desk
“Pay Attention! is an angular, jittery pop record, with just enough weirdness to wander into the realm of psychedelia. Everybody from Liars to Battles to Deerhoof and the Dirty Projectors owe a great debt to the Mothmen’s interlocking riffs and rhythms, whether they know it or not.” – Vice