Lightyear (band)

Lightyear (band)

Infobox musical artist
Name = Lightyear

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Origin = Derby, Derbyshire
Genre = Ska punk
Years_active = 1997–2003, 2006 and 2007
Label = Household Name Records
Associated_acts =
Current_members = Chas Palmer-Williams Neil Draycott Neil ‘Nelb’ Cowie Mark Wood Ben Ashton Jim Harrison Richard ‘Bars’ Barling
Past_members =
Notable_instruments =

Lightyear were a popular UK 7-piece ska punk band. They formed in 1997 in Derby, England.

They signed to Household Name Records in 2001, and the band released two full-length albums via the label. During their career, Lightyear also released a split EP with friends Evil Macaroni, a 'demo' (which in reality was probably better-produced than their debut album) and contributed to several international punk compilation CDs.


Lightyear mixed punk, hardcore and pop influences into their songs and rapidly became one of the most dynamic and unpredictable UK bands. The Lightyear live experience was described as "a bouncing, energy driven orgy of jumping brass, diving vocalists, more than frequent nakedness, underpinned by infectious tunes that leave every foot tapping", although it wasn't always that way according to vocalist Chas Palmer-Williams:

"Our first gig was at the Victoria Inn in 1998. We were atrocious. I can't believe they even allowed us to play."

Lightyear released their debut album 'Call of the Weasel Clan' in October 2001.

Although Lightyear were committed to the independent ethos of punk rock, they also gained fans and a reputation in the underground scene for their riotous antics. Since their first gig in their hometown of Derby in 1998, the band have been on tour with Capdown, Mad Caddies, Goldfinger, Slow Gherkin, 311, Mustard Plug, Save Ferris, Nerf Herder, The Peacocks, Link 80 and Suicide Machines. They also played at the infamous 'Holidays in the Sun' for two years running (alongside The Business, The Exploited and more). If this wasn't enough, Lightyear's summer of 2002 finished with appearances at the Carling Weekend Festivals with such modern punk luminaries as Sick Of It All and Alkaline Trio; one of the career highlights for the band:

"At Reading and Leeds there were banners and all these people singing along - that has to be up there,"

In contrast, Lightyear have also played with one hit wonders OPM, and in February 2003 they were invited to support Steve-O from MTV's Jackass show on a sell out UK tour. They were later kicked off this tour by a promoter whom vocalist Chas described as 'the absolute bonehead' in an interview with [ Punktastic] .

econd album and 2003 split

Tiring of the 'rock biz', and with extensive touring taking its toll on inter-band friendships, Lightyear made the decision to split in early 2003. They decided that the split would take place after recording a second album of original material and touring twice more; once in support of the album, and a farewell tour in August / September of the year. All of the members maintained that they had no regrets about the band, and simply wished to end the experience remaining as friends with one another.

Chas Palmer-Williams stated in an interview with The Week Out, an entertainment column in the Derby Evening Telegraph:

"We have spent most of the last three years touring - 180 shows last year, 150 the year before. We have been almost constantly away from family and friends. We also felt that we had hit a glass ceiling. It seems that you have to be American and have a big label plugging you to go any further. It's hard to make headway on an independent label above the level we have reached.

"It's important to us that we finish as friends and look back on it all as good times. When you sit in a van with the same group of people day in, day out, there are bound to be tensions. We could have done another year and made a bit more money but if that's all we were doing it for, would we have still been friends?"

Lightyear entered the studio in April 2003 to begin work on the highly anticipated second album - oddly entitled "Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser and Railway Book Shop" (named after the establishment in Derby where band member Neil Draycott in particular - who is bald - supposedly has his hair cut) - with top UK producer Dave Chang (Capdown, 4ft Fingers, Consumed, earthtone9).

Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser and Railway Book Shop was released in July 2003 to [ critical acclaim] and accompanied by a seventeen-date tour with long-time friends Captain Everything! and Jerry-built (whom bassist Bars joined following Lightyear's split), running from 14th July to 2nd August.

Last 'Ever' Gig!

Lightyear played what was supposed to be their last show on Friday 26th September 2003 at the Assembly Rooms in Derby, UK. They were supported by Evil Macaroni, Captain Everything! (who appeared onstage with a polystyrene gravestone that read "R.I.P. Lightyear", lightheartedly stating that it was their intention to "dance on Lightyear's grave") and Adequate Seven. The set for this gig ran as follows:

*Nuff Cuts
*Three Basics
*A Twat Out of Hell
*Life Jacket, Water Wings
*Old Acquaintance
*Data's Double Chin
*Ooh No, Not Me Arteries!
**"On this occasion, the vocals on this song were in fact performed by three friends of the band hailing from Darlington."
*That's the Way it Goes, Big Nose
**"Shortly after performing this song, Neil Draycott treated the audience to an abridged rendition of Lisa Loeb's 1994 hit, "Stay (I Missed You)"."
*Positive Outlook
*Pre-teen Propaganda
*Spot Check
*Whispering Ron Vs. Maz
*Kid Dynamite


*Uri Geller Bent My Heart
**"During the performance of the notoriously long bridge of this song, some friends of the band and members of the support bands took place in an onstage game of "Naked Kabaddi"."
*A Pack of Dogs

Lightyear ...Would Like to Apologise in Advance

On May 9th 2006, DJ Mike Davies announced on the Radio 1 Lock Up Show that Lightyear would be reforming for a fortnight long tour around the United Kingdom, finishing in their hometown of Derby. Originally dubbed the “Twelve Days of Chaos” tour, it was renamed the “Lightyear ...Would Like to Apologise in Advance” tour as more promoters took interest. Davies, a personal fan of the band, went so far as to invite them to play a set on his Radio 1 Lock Up stage at the Carling Weekend Festivals at Reading and Leeds.

During their Reading set, Chas spent the majority of the set naked and Mark Wood surfed across the crowd during "Kid Dynamite", eventually scaling the centre pillar of the circus tent and about 50 feet above the crowd where he played his trumpet. Chas later recounted his delight in making friends with rapper Ice-T.

Lightyear split up on stage for the second time on Saturday 26th August 2006 at the CarlingWeekend Festival at Bramham Park, Leeds. During the set, bassist Bars approached the microphone and addressed the crowd:

"We're splitting up today. We were really emotional the first time... but this time we don't give a shit!"

Lightyear ended their Leeds set and career with a threat of onstage urination from vocalist Chas (which was very firmly objected to by manager Ian Armstrong of [ Hidden Talent Booking] , watching from stage left, and thus avoided) and a final performance of "Data's Double Chin". Later on that day two members walked into the middle of Ice T's set in a panto horse costume.

Neil Draycott and Chas Palmer-Williams were seen at the Leeds Festival the day following their 'retirement', watching friends Captain Everything! and Adequate Seven.

Shortly after their Carling Weekend performances, Lightyear performed a final 'friends & family only' gig at [ The Vic Inn] , Derby.

On the 19th of July 2007, Chas announced via bulletins on both his personal and Lightyear's official MySpace pages that Lightyear would be playing another 'one-off' show, with proceeds going to help former member Kraig's mother. The venue was the Darwin Suite of the Derby Assembly Rooms, and the benefit show took place on Friday the 2nd of November 2007.


* Ben Ashton – Tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, additional vocals
* Richard ‘Bars’ Barling – Bass and backing vocals
* Neil ‘Nelb’ Cowie – Guitar, additional vocals
* Neil Draycott – Acoustic guitar, trumpet and vocals- "See also": Cotton Weary
* Jim Harrison – drums
* Chas Palmer-Williams - vocals - "See also": Cotton Weary
* Mark Wood - Trumpet , additional vocals

Guest Musicians

* Dan Sanfey - Vocals - "See also:" [ Five Knuckle]
* Kassim Basma - Vocals - "See also:" Adequate Seven
* Tom Pinder – Trombone - "See also:" Adequate Seven
* Joey Malibu & Coke - Scratching
* Lewis Froy – Vocals - "See also:" Captain Everything!
* Jon Whitehouse – Vocals - "See also:" Captain Everything!



*"Call of the Weasel Clan" (Household Name Records, 2001)
*"Chris Gentlemens Hairdresser and Railway Book Shop" (Household Name Records, 2003)


*"Lightyear Vs. Evil Macaroni" (Positive Outlook, 2000)


*"Just Another Demonstration" (Self-released, 2000)

External links

* [ Lightyear Forums]
* [ Lightyear Official Website, no longer updated]
* [ Household Name Records Website]

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