B-Movie frontman Steve Hovington recounts the whirlwind tale of ‘Remembrance Day’, which took them from their local pub to topping the Some Bizarre festival in London in the space of just two months
“The roots of B-Movie were in a Mansfield punk band called The Aborted. Paul Statham was the guitarist and Graham Boffey played drums. I knew them from school. Stat was the first punk in our school and I remember being impressed by his plastic sandals. Their bass player injured his back and I replaced him. I couldn’t play bass, of course, but I turned up at the church hall and plugged in. Then Paul stuck a microphone stand in front of me and I realised they wanted me to sing as well.
“We gradually moved away from the punk stuff – singing ‘Maureen, you’re so naive’ didn’t sound right coming out of my mouth, I was into more literary lyrics about Salvador Dali and the like – and changed our name to B-Movie. We also decided to add a keyboard player. We put an advert in the local paper and we only had one reply. That was Rick Holliday. He brought along his Fender Rhodes electric piano and I was amazed at the sight of his fingers running up and down the keys. He worked out a deal with our local music store to get a couple of analogue synths and everything changed from that point on.
“The other big turning point for us was meeting Stevo from Some Bizarre. He was running a club night at the Chelsea Drugstore in London, but I met him at the Retford Porterhouse, where he was DJing with Cabaret Voltaire and The The. I thrust a demo tape into his hand and asked him to give it a listen. He called me up the next day and became our manager soon after that. He was only 17, so two or three years younger than us, but he was extremely charismatic and he had a huge amount of self-belief. He could be difficult at times and I witnessed a couple of occasions where he went directly to a physical solution to a problem rather than talk about it, but I have to say that I got on well with him. He was a very dynamic and interesting individual.
“Stevo put us on his seminal ‘Some Bizarre Album’ alongside Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, Blancmange and The The – this was the back end of 1980 – and got us a deal with Phonogram. It was Phonogram who wanted us to do ‘Remembrance Day’ as our first single for them. We’d already put the track out on an EP with a Lincoln indie label called Dead Good, but the original was five-and-a-half minutes long and I couldn’t see how we were going to make it work as a single. In the end, we got it down to under four minutes. A lot of that was down to Mike Thorne, who Phonogram asked to produce us. I was very happy to get Mike on board. He’d produced the first three Wire albums and I was a big fan of those records.
“We recorded the new version of ‘Remembrance Day’ at Scorpio Sound, which was a massive studio underneath Capital Radio in Euston Tower. We pretty much redid the entire track live on the day, rearranging the parts with Mike and improvising everything there and then. I remember sitting in the control room when we played back the final mix and I was totally stunned by how it sounded. I couldn’t speak or move for a few minutes. From there, the record was pretty much pressed up overnight and in the shops within a week or two.
Everything seemed to be happening to us so quickly. In January 1981, we’d played at The Red Lion in Mansfield. By March, we were gigging with Duran Duran and headlining the Some Bizarre Festival at The Lyceum in front of 3,000 people.
“The single got good reviews in the music press and slowly started picking up bits of radio play. John Peel played it a lot and we did a session for Peel too. It didn’t get much attention from the daytime DJs, though. I don’t know why that was. I did wonder at the time if the subject matter was a bit doomy. It was an anti-war song, but I was trying to articulate something that was quite poetic rather than some sort of crude message. The synths were quite plaintive, quite melancholic, and it certainly wasn’t a simplistic pop record. Looking back now, I still think ‘Remembrance Day’ was B-Movie’s finest moment. It’s my proudest achievement as a musician.
“In the end, the single stalled in the charts at number 61. At the time, we were quite happy to have what was quite a cult hit on our hands, but we couldn’t capitalise on that with our next releases. Part of the problem was we didn’t have an album deal, the idea was we were going to build the band with a series of singles, so it wasn’t until 1985 that we finally got an album out, by which point Graham and Rick had both left. Not releasing an album at the time of ‘Remembrance Day’ is my biggest regret because it meant people didn’t get a chance to hear the full extent of our sound.
“That said, the original line-up of the band have been playing together again for several years now. We did a reunion gig in 2004 and it’s snowballed from there. In fact, we’ve done loads of gigs since then and released two albums, ‘The Age Of Illusion’ in 2013 and ‘Climate Of Fear’ in 2016. The four of us were essentially mates from school – we were born within six months of each other and we lived within six miles of each other – so it’s great that we’re still making music together. We have plenty of loyal fans too, especially in Europe. We’ve had some brilliant gigs over the last decade or so and the fact that there’s still a lot of respect out there for the band is really pleasing.”