A Flock of Seagulls (also known as Flock of Seagulls) are an English new wave and synthpop band originally formed in Liverpool by brothers Michael "Mike" Score (keyboards, vocals) and Alister "Ali" James Score (drums), along with Francis Lee "Frank" Maudsley (bass) and Paul Reynolds (guitar).
The group had a string of international hit singles including "I Ran (So Far Away)" (1982), "Space Age Love Song" (1982), "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)" (1982), and "The More You Live, the More You Love" (1984). They became notable in the 1980s for their video for "I Ran (So Far Away)". The band has also won a Grammy Award.
Formation and success:
A Flock of Seagulls was started by Mike Score and his brother Ali in 1979 in Liverpool (The name was taken from The Stranglers song "Toiler on the Sea", according to Mike Score). Mike, who was previously a hairdresser, played keyboards, guitar, and vocals and Ali played drums. Also, their friend Francis Maudsley played bass. The band's original guitarist, Willie Woo, left and was replaced with Paul Reynolds from the band Cindysbeentrippin. After practising above Score's hair salon, the band started playing clubs and eventually got a recording contract.
Eventually, under the management of Tommy Crossan and Mick Rossi (Checkmount Limited), they began to release singles through Jive Records. The group released their debut single 'Talking' (produced by Nelson), on Bill Nelson's Cocteau label. They were then signed to major label Jive, distributed through CBS records, where they released their second single 'Telecommunication'. The single was also produced by Nelson and became a club hit. Their third release was the EP 'Modern Love is Automatic'. Originally released as a 4 track EP on both 7" and 12", the 12" edition was soon reissued adding 'Telecommunication'. This 5 track EP was also their first release in the U.S. In 1982, the group's fourth single 'I Ran (So Far Away)', produced by Mike Howlett, the former bass player of the band Gong, became a worldwide hit, reaching number 1 in Australia and the Top 10 in both the US and New Zealand. Their debut album and another single, 'Space Age Love Song', were both also successful. In late 1982, the band finally found major success in their home country with 'Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)', the first single from their next album Listen, which reached the Top 10. Later, the band was praised for having broken the ground for other musical acts during the advent of the video music area, but as it turned out, 1982 was the peak year of their commercial and critical success.
1983 and after:
Three more singles were released from Listen in 1983, including a re-recorded version of their debut single '(It's Not Me) Talking', but they were only minor successes in the UK and abroad. Faced with disappointment, the group changed direction from their Science Fiction themes and produced a more conceptual emotion based third album in 1984 called The Story of a Young Heart, with 'The More You Live, the More You Love' as the lead single. Despite heavy rotation on MTV and other music video shows at that time, the single was only moderately successful, but the album's other two singles - 'Never Again (The Dancer)' and 'Remember David' (released only in a few European counties) - did not make any headway. Faced with sliding sales and a loss of direction, with the departure of Paul Reynolds, the band waited and toured. Brothers Mike and Ali Score wanted to base the band out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With past success in the USA, both brothers thought leaving the UK and a new life in America was a perfect solution. With the popularity of the first two albums and the name "A Flock of Seagulls" still having some equity, they had 4 straight sell-out shows in Philadelphia. Mike, Ali and Maudsley all applied for and were conditionally awarded green cards based on celebrity status under the O-1 work visa. The conditional approval was granted to all three, who settled in Philadelphia.
Maudsley became disillusioned with living in a strange city; he had no family in the USA. Missing the UK, he returned to England. Mike and Ali stayed in Philadelphia and satisfied the terms of the visa. With Frank in Britain and the brothers in the USA it would appear the band was split into two camps. In fact, it was Frank Maudsley who kept the band communicating. Unfortunately, the brothers had a falling out that resulted in Mike becoming the sole remaining original member of the touring band and Ali moving to Boston. Ali played in a hard rock band and then worked for a computer company in Cambridge once his work visa turned into a permanent residency. In 1986, the band released a new album, Dream Come True. With Reynolds gone, the music focused more on a Mike Score's keyboards and a dance beat. The change failed and the album was panned by the critics and flopped commercially. To promote Dream Come True, two videos (for "Who's That Girl" and "Heartbeat Like a Drum") were filmed in quick succession, the last time the three remaining members were together in a recording or performance capacity until 2003.
For the next eighteen years, Mike Score worked with various musicians under the A Flock of Seagulls banner, playing live gigs and occasionally issuing new recordings. In 1989, the group released a single called "Magic" which didn't chart. The follow-up album The Light at the End of the World, which included the single, did not appear until 1996, and similarly did not chart as well.
In 1999, the band re-recorded the Madonna song "This Used to Be My Playground" for the 2000 Madonna tribute album The World's Greatest 80s Tribute to Madonna. In November 2003, the original line-up--Mike and Ali Score, Paul Reynolds and Frank Maudsley--reunited for a one-off performance on the VH1 series, Bands Reunited. In September 2004, they reformed again and did a brief tour in the United States. Though the tour continued to be advertised as the "original lineup", later shows no longer included the reunited band but was Mike Score with his previous backing band. Mike Score continues to tour with Joe Rodriguez (1999), Pando (2003), & Michael Brahm (2003) as A Flock of Seagulls.
On 4 February 2013, Score indicated via his YouTube account that he was pursuing his solo career. He released the singles "All I Wanna Do" in February 2013, and "Somebody Like You" in January 2014. On 1 March 2014, Score released a solo album, Zeebratta.
Due to their memorable and unusual style and appearance, A Flock of Seagulls are sometimes referred to with ironic appreciation. The New Musical Express wrote: "Of course, everyone remembers this group now for singer Mike Score's ridiculous back-combed haircut and the fact that they are mentioned in Pulp Fiction. So now they're kind of cool, but in the early '80s it was a different story." In a 2007 article for The Guardian, Alfred Hickling described the group as "dreadful", and unfavourably compared them to Liverpool new wave peers OMD and other acts of the time.
Their dramatic style has drawn much criticism and parody, but the band has also been recognized as a pioneering act, capturing the zeitgeist of their time, particularly with the guitar work of Paul Reynolds and sonically multi-layered hits such as "Space Age Love Song," "Telecommunication," and "Modern Love Is Automatic." The band also is noted for creating a successful concept album, their debut, which alludes to an alien invasion of earth. Billboard writer Robert Christgau applauded their "mechanical lyrics, about a mechanical end of the world," while noting the "aural pleasure" of both the band's debut album and the follow-up.
The band's lyrics have been noted to have allusions to both dystopian environments as well as dragons.
The video for "I Ran" was low budget (even for the time) but enjoyed enormous success, and is well remembered in part due to its heavy rotation on MTV. The group has the record for actual number of video plays, both due to the lack of other music videos available during the music channel's early years, and the demand for the futuristic look.