Back in 2002, when The Crimea – singer, guitarist Davey Macmanus, bass player Joe Udwin, keyboard player Andrew Stafford and drummer Owen Hopkin – began piecing together their debut album Tragedy Rocks in an East London bedroom, they began a journey that would see them quietly trailblaze their way around the world and into the history books.
Legendary DJ John Peel was the first to pick up on the debut album’s narco-folk genius when he played all eleven of the band’s demos in one night. They became a staple of his annual Festive Fifty, ensuring a major label bunfight after scraping together return flights to 2003’s South By Southwest. Admiration from Billy Corgan, Jimmy Eat World, Ash, Snow Patrol and the nascent Kings Of Leon materialized into world-tours, with chart success following the release of the single, Lottery Winners On Acid.
With the music industry being radically reshaped by the internet, The Crimea were among the first to see the potential and opportunities afforded by this fresh new landscape. Six months before Radiohead and Prince, the band decided to release their second album, Secrets Of The Witching Hour, as a free download in 2007. This move resulted in a huge worldwide news story that included interviews on Channel 4 News, The Wall Street Journal and The Hindu Times. At the end of the year, Q Magazine labeled the move as one of the top 5 moments that changed music history.
Their newly forged global profile allowed the band to become one of the first Western acts to successfully tour China, including two headline slots at the country’s biggest rock festivals. And then? It all went a little quiet…
Work on third album Square Moon began in fits and starts in 2008 with progress mired by brushes with a few well-worn rock’n’roll clichés. It was a slow and painful gestation period by anyone’s standards, but redemption and a fresh perspective arrived following Davey’s eighteen-month stint in the orphanages of Eastern Kenya. Motivated and re-invigorated by the experience, the album finally came together. For a band used to taking the road less travelled, Square Moon emerged as a double album, brimming with The Crimea’s characteristic musical inventiveness and Davey’s lyrical genius.