In tribute to Doves celebrating their third UK number one album, this blog evidences the background to my minuscule involvement with them in the 1990s and how they became to be one of my favourite bands. In 1997 I was working for a distributor handling international licensing and distribution deals on behalf of their independent labels. During one of my meetings, one of the label managers put forward the new Sub Sub single recorded with Bernard Sumner (New Order) called ‘This Time I’m Not Wrong’. I played the track and immediately loved it. I hadn’t really been too aware of what Sub Sub had been up to since their 1993 hit ‘Ain’t No Love (Ain’t No Use)’. I started to work with the label manager and the band’s manager Dave Rofe to see if there was any interest in any licencing deals outside of the UK. We had a couple of bites from labels in Portugal and Australia and I worked with Dave and the band to put a compilation album together around the single called ‘Delta Tapes’. I didn’t realise it at the time, and with the power of hindsight, this compilation would be a really important document of the transition of Sub Sub into Doves. The ‘Delta Tapes’ was a perfect compilation that highlighted how the band’s sound had developed and was continuing to evolve into what Doves were all about. I remember having conversations with Dave about how the band were struggling to find a vocalist for the new setup but eventually settled on Jimi taking up most of the vocal duties alongside Jez and Andy.
To coincide with this I changed jobs and started working for Grand Royal and the Beastie Boys and carried forward my fascination with the band. This involved a few trips up to Manchester to meet the band, management and Rob Gretton (Rob’s Records) who were the interim record label. After these meetings, I put a strategy and marketing proposal together to licence Dove’s singles and debut album in conjunction with the Grand Royal family (this was our pet name for ourselves). This proposal was sent to both the band/management and Grand Royal, specifically to Mike D, and my immediate boss Mark Kates who had just joined the company after leaving DGC/Geffen Records (A&R for Nirvana). There was a lot of interest and I was pushing it as much as I could, but at the last minute, Mike decided to pull out as he wasn’t feeling it. I respected his decision through gritted teeth as it was his label BUT I continued to remind him on a regular basis every time the band got an NME front cover or a number one album (or both).
This mild involvement then turned into pure fandom and since then Doves have been one of my favourite bands. I’ve seen the band play many times (The Falcon, Camden being the first) and I adore all their albums. Last year the band played Victorious Festival and I was delighted to be able to introduce two of my daughters to Dave and Jimi.
I seem to be in the minority but I strongly believe that ‘Kingdom of Rust’ is, by far, their strongest album and the one that I go back to play the most. The goodwill that I’ve witnessed over these past few weeks, mainly on social media, celebrating the band’s new album ‘The Universal Want’ and its success in becoming their third UK number one album has been fully justified. As the final chart position rolled in last week I congratulated Dave on their success. I also reached out to Mark Kates, who is now their US manager (you’re welcome) to also congratulate him and to remind him that my A&R skills from 1999 had a legacy that remains to this day. This was dutifully acknowledged by Mark.
Mark also sent me a link to a recent The Line of Best Fit interview where the band stated that there was interest from Grand Royal which has a really nice touch because it’s never been printed before.
On a musical basis, Doves are the band that really do it for me. From the atmospherics to the way that the music is driven these are albums that just haven’t aged. I honestly don’t think there are any other bands who deserve this current success after their 10-year hiatus. Long live Doves.
- The photos for ‘Delta Tapes’ were taken by Jon Shard who has turned into one of the great Manchester (and lovely) photographers: https://www.jonshard.com/
- I tried to manage Black Rivers (Jez & Andy) about 6 years ago but didn’t get the gig!
- I have forgiven Mike D as Heavenly Records did an exceptional job.
Thanks to: Dave ‘Rofey’ Rofe for always responding to my texts and Mark Kates for just being a wonderful and musically driven human being.