Thee MVPs, Fruit Tones, Former Champ

Pop Mutations & Freakender present:
Thee MVPs (last ever show)
+ Fruit Tones (album launch)
+ Former Champ (first ever show)
Well here we are ten years on, the UKs best ‘teenies’ garage band aka the UKs best support band aka the world’s thirstiest rider spiders aka Thee MVPs are rocking and rolling around the country one last time to play their favourite towns and give the band a victory lap after ten whole years of playing the dorkiest/rowdiest/danciest garage punk all our country’s basements ever saw.
As you may know they had the opportunity to world tour their only album ‘Science Fiction’ snatched away from during pandemic, which also effectively stopped the band cold in their tracks, and although that ending was a drag, these shows aren’t a drag. It’s to celebrate everything we ever did (which turned out to be quite alot actually for some scrappers) and do it under some roofs which hold all our friends we made over the last decade. It’ll be the original three of Charlie, Dan and Alex plus mighty mighty Georgey ‘Four Legs’ Coleman keeping the beat behind us while we play the lairyest tunes off the main album and some of the old faves like ‘Edgar’ and ‘Slimelord’ and probably a lashed up Ace of Spades cover too.
So come down, get a drink and have a good wiggle with everyone and party with your boys. We’re excited to see you for one last boogie.
Former Champ. I’d heard the name, out and about, mentioned at other gigs, in a gaff after a night out. A Glasgow supergroup, someone would say. Aye? What other bands are they in? Martha Ffion, Catholic Action, Savage Mansion, Secret Motorbikes, they’d say. Never heard of any of them, I’d say. But that name, man, Former Champ, I kept hearing it, kept hearing folk say they’d seen them play a show in a social club in Renfrew, or in someone’s flat, and they’d be singing these bits from songs that they’d had stuck in their head. So I was curious. But I couldn’t find anything, anywhere.
Then Former Champ did release a song, ‘Grenade’, on August 2, 2022, in the dying embers of that second, or third, summer of love. ‘A hand grenade to throw when the time is right.’ I played it again, then I played it again after that. Maybe these five pretenders to the throne had never made it in other bands, but what was clear was that, together, they knew how to do classic power pop and garage rock and do it well. They’d been listening to The Replacements, Guided By Voices, The Strokes. They knew that the serotonin rush you get from a guitar band, on form, writing raw, fast paced, melody-laden music is unique, and they tapped right into that specific kind of ecstasy, that specific kind of love.
‘Grenade’ was a great song with an irresistible chorus, dueling guitar lines – what’s not to love – and Former Champ quickly became my favourite band, but in the end it wasn’t even my favourite tune of theirs, nowhere near it. And for a long time you had to go and watch them play to hear anything else.
I got to know the members of the band and their ways. They had a great singer from the North of Ireland (not Northern Ireland, I would learn) who effortlessly wound her way round these earworm melodies. She was the soft counterpoint to the guitar players, one a virtuoso in the mold of Stinson, Verlaine and Lloyd, the other not technically a good player at all, but who knew a hook – and was apparently married to the singer. The rhythm section were tight, propelling everything forwards at all times, all systems go. They effortlessly looked like a band too. I mean, they didn’t exactly look dressed for Paris Fashion Week – but no one wants to watch a band devoid oif a sense of style, playing in their fucking pants – what’s the world fucking coming to?
That was the summer I first heard Former Champ. They invented nothing. But I wanted more – and as much of it as I could get.