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Turin Brakes is a modern English duo, comprising Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian, hailing from Balham, London. They had a UK top 5 hit with their song "Painkiller (Summer Rain)" and are joined on stage by their live band, consisting of Rob Allum and Eddy Myer. Since starting out in 1999, the band have sold around 1 million records internationally. They are currently signed to Cooking Vinyl.
1999–2001: Formation and The Optimist LP
The band was started by longtime friends Knights and Paridjanian. The two met at a young age and spent much of their childhood together. Although they split after Knights went to film school and Paridjian attempted to form a band in Toronto, Canada, they soon reunited and collaborated on what would later become their first EP, The Door, which was eventually released through Anvil Records in 1999 as a limited vinyl release. This led to the band attracting the attention of larger record labels. Source Records would eventually release two more EPs, The State of Things EP and Fight or Flight, prompting NME to proclaim "Turin Brakes inhabit a space which is entirely their own, fully formed and brutally emotive... give them the devotion they deserve."
Source reissued the song "The Door" before releasing their first album, The Optimist LP, in 2001. The album, which was released in the United States by Astralwerks, was greeted with critical praise, spawned several modestly successful UK singles, "Underdog (Save Me)" (reaching no. 39 in the UK Singles Charts ), Mind Over Money (reaching no. 31 ) and "Emergency 72", and received a nomination for the Mercury Music Prize. In August 2001, the album was certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry. A planned tour of the United States opening for the Stereophonics and Matthew Jay, was canceled due to the 11 September terrorist attacks. Still, the band played at over 80 venues in Europe and the United States that year .
2002–2004: Ether Song and mainstream success
Early 2002, the band started work on their second album. After demo sessions in Rye, United Kingdom, the band flew to Los Angeles, California to record with producer Tony Hoffer in the Summer of 2002. In October 2002, this resulted in single Long Distance (reaching no. 31 ) and an arena tour supporting David Gray.
In February 2002, the band embarked on their biggest headline tour to date, covering 24 UK venues in a month, including two sold-out shows at Brixton Academy, a venue they frequently visited when growing up. On 1 March 2003, their single Painkiller became their biggest hit to date, reaching the top 5 of the singles chart.
Turin Brakes' second album, Ether Song, was released on 3 March 2003. The album was a departure from the acoustic sound that had brought them success with their first album. The album was popular enough to reach number 4 in the UK Albums Chart upon its release and to be certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry four days after the release, on 7 March 2003.
After the successful release, the record company sought to replicate the commercial success by releasing a third single from the album, Average Man. However, UK radio channels didn't embrace the single like they had done with previous releases and the chart performance (no. 35) was seen as disappointment by fans and the record label.
The album commercial performance created some tension between the band and their label. In fact, between tours in the United States (their own headline tour and supporting David Gray) in the Summer of 2003, the band recorded a new single for a re-release of Ether Song with Tony Hoffer. The first re-release of Ether Song, featuring an orange version of the cover and single 5 Mile was released on 6 October 2003. 5 Mile charted higher than Average Man (no. 31 ) but was largely overlooked by UK radio stations. Overall, the album was re-released four times during its lifespan, and received various bonus discs between regions and versions. The band was on record as being unhappy with the way the record company was treating them and the fans regarding the release.
Following the success and stress of Ether Song, the band took a short break, but not before touring Australia and New Zealand and releasing a DJ mix album for Azuli Records' Late Night Tales series in February 2004. The mix album (2004) was a collection of some of their favorite songs and main influences, and also contained The Rolling Stones song "Moonlight Mile" as a cover. The band have done some DJ sets in the London area over the years.
The band spent the first half of 2004 writing and recording new material in their own studio, which they built in Brixton, London. In the Summer of 2004, the band played a successful set at Somerset House, playing a selection of old and new material, including future singles Fishing For A Dream and Over And Over. Later that year, they found themselves part of the Band Aid 20 cast for the revamped Noughties take on Do They Know It's Christmas, alongside Paul McCartney, Radiohead and Robbie Williams.
2005: JackInABox and Live at the Palladium
Their third album, Jackinabox, was released to critical acclaim in early June 2005. Preceded by the single "Fishing for a Dream," which did not do as well as the band hoped (charting at 35). Despite the lack of airplay or a hit single JackInABox still sold quite well, entering the Top 10 of the UK Albums Chart in its first week and certified Silver by the BPI on 10 June 2005. The album was supported by the group's first full-band tour of the United States, as well as the single "Over and Over," which was serviced to U.S. radio.
Following the success of Jackinabox and its subsequent tour, a download-only album, Live at the Palladium, recorded in London was released in November 2005. Released one day after the concert took place in London, it was available on the band's website. Later it also got a release on iTunes and did well in the download charts. In the October / November 2005 tour, the band also sold the Red Moon EP. This acoustic EP featured a new (acoustic) version of "Red Moon", two new songs (live favorite Jet Trail and Love Is All You Deserve) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers-cover "Breaking The Girl" (recorded at KCRW).
2006–2008: Dark on Fire
The band spent the first half of 2006 writing new songs, occasionally performing both new and old work at small gigs across the UK. The band did an intimate tour in November 2006 to try out new material. In January 2007 the band entered a recording studio in London to record their fourth album with producer Ethan Johns. After three weeks the band took a break (on 29 January Paridjanian's wife gave birth to a daughter), but the sessions were resumed several weeks later in a bigger studio (also in London). On the last day of March 2007 the band announced that they had finished the recording sessions, and recorded 17 songs.
The new album, Dark on Fire, was released in the UK in September 2007, preceded by a download-only single. "Stalker". On 14 January 2008 another download-only single was released: "Something In My Eye". The b-side was a cover version of Cat Stevens' "Here Comes My Baby". Both singles failed to make an impact on the singles charts, but Dark on Fire did chart at no. 36 in the top 40.
2008–2009: Bottled At Source and work with other artists
In Spring 2008, the band were special guests on the Hotel Cafe Tour hosted by Tom McRae. Also, the band did an acoustic tour in Germany. During the Summer of 2008 the band played various summer festivals. As of November 2008, the band are back in the studio recording new material. Also, the band have been working with and writing for Take That, resulting in the bonus-track "Here" on 2008's The Circus. They also worked with Pete Lawrie, Andy Steele, Dido and Lisa Mitchell.
In March 2009, the band announced they would make their live return later in the year with two acoustic shows at Folk in the Barn in Canterbury in May. In June 2009, it was announced that the band would be releasing a Best Of album, to mark the 10th anniversary of their debut single "The Door", along with a festival slot at Latitude in late-July and a headline performance at London Theatre Royal, Drury Lane the following September. This album, Bottled At Source - The Best Of The Source Years, was also their last album for the Source record label.
During the performance at Theatre Royal on 13 September, the band played brand new songs off the untitled forthcoming album which they hinted at coming out in February 2010.
Their fifth album Outbursts was eventually released on 1 March 2010 on their new label, Cooking Vinyl. Its release was followed by a European tour and a US and Canada tour. The download single released from this album was Sea Change. Throughout the Summer of 2010 the band played several festivals in the United Kingdom and Italy, including Glastonbury 2010 and Summer Sundae.
In November 2011, the band toured the United Kingdom to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their debut album The Optimist LP. The band played the complete debut album in the correct order, apart from hidden track Three Days Old and a second set of more recent work, including new song Rescue Squad and their re-working of Mary Poppins-song Chim Chim Cher-ee, which they released as a digital single to raise money for homeless charities. A live recording of their show at Koko in London on 11 November 2011 was released a live album.
Throughout 2012, the band wrote new material and played intimate venues in the United Kingdom. In October 2012, Olly Knights released a solo album If Not Now When on Turin Brakes' own record label, The Complete ATOMIC.
In November 2012, the band returned to their studio to record material for their sixth studio album. The band premiered a new song called Sleeper in Naples, Italy. Their 6th album, "We Were Here", is scheduled for a September 2013 release on the Cooking Vinyl label. Recording started on Monday 11 March 2013 at Rockfield Studios.
Turin Brakes have often been compared to many of the new acoustic movement bands spawned in the late 1990s such as Elbow, Starsailor, and the Norwegian band Kings of Convenience, whose 2001 album entitled Quiet Is the New Loud is a helpful indicator of the band's first album. Each record, Turin Brakes try to change their sound. While the first album features a lot of acoustic guitar, Ether Song featured more electric guitar and was, in total, a lot darker. The third album Jackinabox can be seen as a combination of the first two albums, with some funk influences.. While Dark on Fire featured a bigger sound produced by Ethan Johns, 2010s Outbursts can be seen as a return to the sound of The Optimist LP. Turin Brakes formerly performed live as a 5-piece to achieve a full band sound, and were joined on stage (and often also in studio) by Rob Allum (drums), Phil Marten (keyboards) and Eddie Myer (bass). This has now been reduced to a 4-piece following Marten's departure, with Gale's guitar playing now being more prominent and more richly contributing to the live sound.
On 6 September 2012 all four Turin Brakes members played at a "Spirit of Talk Talk" evening at 229 Great Portland Street where they joined some former members of Talk Talk to play a few hits including It's My Life, with the band then playing a set of their own afterwards. Before playing the song Painkiller Gale announced to the audience that although it wouldn't be obvious to most people the song was heavily influenced by Talk Talk and by the work they did with producer Phill Brown in the Kent countryside some years ago.