Marion are an English rock band, formed originally in 1993, in Macclesfield, Cheshire.
They became unfairly synonymous with the Britpop music scene, releasing two acclaimed albums ‘This World And Body’ and ‘The Program,’ alongside appearing on the Britpop Now BBC television special.
Through extensively worldwide touring they became the band to see and beat live, picking up a hugely loyal fan base.
Influenced by local stars like Joy Division and Buzzcocks and they were even hailed as possible successors to The Smiths.
Gigging relentlessly soon paid off as the band signed initially to Rough Trade releasing their debut single ‘Violent Men’. They then went on to sign to London Records in October 1994 and released a succession of singles; ‘Sleep’ , ‘Toys For Boys’ and ‘Let’s All Go Together’. They continued to tour and built a fan base, via the NME Brats Tour and support slots with Radiohead and Morrissey in 1995. They also gained notoriety around this time when Sleep’ was used in an advert for Citroen cars, and this led to an appearance on Channel 4′s ‘The Word’ programme and an appearance on the cover of Melody Maker in April of the same year.
Early 1995, saw the band start recording their first album, ‘This World and Body’ with producer Al Clay. They recorded the album through May and June, before playing the Glastonbury Festival. It was released in early 1996 and promoted with singles ‘Sleep’ (re-recorded and reissued) and ‘Time’. The album went top 10 and touring continued, including trips to Europe, Japan and America.
The band largely disappeared from sight in 1997 to record their second album ‘The Program’, with former guitarist of The Smiths, Johnny Marr. Around this time, cracks began to appear in the band, in part due to the excesses of the rock and roll lifestyle taking hold. However, amid the delicate chaos, a single, ‘Miyako Hideaway’ was released in early 1998, and the band played gigs and festivals in support, even once again travelling to Japan. The album wasn’t released until September that year when it almost apologetically crept onto the shelves of shops with little or no promotion. Another single, ‘Sparkle’, was released, but only in Japan.
In May 1999 following an American tour, the band disbanded and went their separate ways.
Harding went on to work with friend Wayne Ward, writing and demoing tracks, with a view to releasing an E.P. (tentatively titled Sisters) under the name Marion. While numerous tracks were produced from this collaboration, running from 1999-2005 in various sessions, involving both Johnny Marr and Joe Moss. Nothing has so far ultimately come of it. From the result of these sessions, the following tracks were recorded: ‘Can’t Help You’, ‘Loaded All This To Say’ and ‘Anyway’. Harding went on to take time away from the music business, heading off to Eastern Europe for a prolonged break.
Phil Cunningham continued to play guitar, joining as a touring guitarist for Electronic and working with bands Run Run Run and Label. (Harding even joined Label on stage at one point to run through a couple of Marion tracks – ‘Sleep’ and ‘The Only Way’). He then went on to join New Order when Gillian Gilbert left the band for personal reasons. Tony Grantham has also continued in the music business, initially in Chalk then RYNA and most recently The Switch.
Murad left the music business, while bass player Julian Phillips joined a number of bands including Echo & The Bunnymen, Elextrafixion and Vinny Peculiar.
At the beginning of 2006, Harding and Cunningham started working together again, writing new songs, and planning to put together a band for a gig in Bath in early April. Bringing in local musicians Jake Evans on guitar and Che Hargreaves on bass, and recruiting Jack Mitchell from Haven on drums, they duly played a show comprising both old and brand new songs. Initially, this was meant to be a one-off show under the name Marion, with a new name to be chosen at a later date, but it was ultimately decided to keep performing under the same name. Further sold out shows were played in Manchester and London in September and then again in December of the same year to even bigger crowds, with new songs debuted both times. Cunningham continued to divide his time between Marion and New Order.
On 24th August Carl who at the time was managing the the band, via The Marion Archives, announced that the band were still together but had suffered some major setbacks. The open letter stated that the response to the reformation was far greater than they expected but that since both Che had broken his neck and Harding had been admitted to hospital, with a blood condition that required open-heart surgery. He was described as being ‘unwell’ but that he was making a slow and steady recovery.
Fast forward to September 2011 and after several nights out in Macclesfield and London, Marion came together again in the form of original members: Jaime Harding, Phil Cunningham, Anthony Grantham, Julian Phillips alongside drummer Jack Mitchell.