v Spy v Spy - Band Info
This is the true History of the Band Spy V Spy
Craig met Mike at Nelson Bay High School in the mid 1970's. They immediately became friends once they discovered music was their common interest.
At an impressionable 20 years of age, they met Cliff Grigg who lived in a squat in inner-Sydney Glebe. They decided to move in with him and form a band.
Living in a squat had it's own ups and downs.
The squat was the perfect location for endless daily rehearsals. The band became very tight and professional during this time.
A phone call came one day - it was their first paying gig, then there was no looking back.
Before long, Spy V Spy were touring many big name bands. The boys became friends with INXS while on the New South Wales Tour. Craig sends a tribute to his friend Michael Hutchence.
1982 - Spy V Spy scores a recording contract with Green Records in Sydney. Roger Greirson and Stuart Coupe recognised the raw Australian sound immediately.
The recording was "4 Fresh Lemons". The original pressing was a limited release of 1000 copies. They sold out in 5 days. Subsequently, the New Zealand release of "Six Fresh Lemons" included the single "Do what you say" and Spy V Spy cross the threshold to become international recording artists.
1984 - Regular weekly gigs attracted an ever-growing mass of local Spyfans. Midnight Oil were huge on the Australian Rock scene at this time and Peter Garrett became a devoted attendee of many live Spy gigs. Peter became friends with Spy V Spy and suggested they acquire some form of management.
"Meet us inside" became the next release. It was a different direction for the band. This was an educational adventure as the band now had to become serious about exploring various new recording and studio techniques.
1986 - "Harry's Reasons" was released to coincide with the first major national tour of over 300 live gigs that year.
1987 - A.O. Mod TV Vers was released and the band started to show a real maturity in their art by this time. Recording and touring was no longer a learning experience for Spy V Spy but more of a lifestyle change.
1987 - "Xenophobia" was released under some of the most difficult circumstances. After such an exhaustive year of nightly touring, the boys were wandering around in a daze. The record company called the band's then manager (Gary Morris) and demanded another album immediately.
The guys had literally 6 short weeks to write, arrange, rehearse and present a complete album of new works before recording began.
Not only did they achieve the goal, on time and to the satisfaction of the contracts, but it became one of their finest and most successful recorded works.
The release of "Xenophobia" triggered the need for touring on a grander scale than ever before. A completely new international market opened up in 1988 with great reviews in countries like Canada, France, Germany and England.
1989 - "You're as brown as the lawn" said the English when Spies arrived in the middle of a London heat wave for the recording of the album "Trash the Planet" at Richard Branson's own "Manor Studios". Playing London had an interesting twist.
Branson kept Irish Wolfhounds as pets at the Manor, one of which savagely attacked Craig.
1990 - A tour of Germany, England and surrounding European countries and festivals saw Spy V Spy as supporting act to David Bowie. 35,000 people would attend a single concert. None of them knew a single Spy V Spy song but went ballistic anyway.
1991 - Spy V Spy had it's first release of a compilation album. "Spy File" contained all of the singles that had etched the sound of tough Aussie Pub Rock into the minds of the local culture.
1992 - After the departure of Cliff Grigg in 1991, the band went through a period of search and trial of new drummers. Now was the time to settle on a permanent drummer before work began on the next album.
Mark Cuffe, a keen Spyfan himself at the time, was officially named as the drummer for Spy V Spy and Shane Loadsman, a long time friend of the band, was named as official "tour manager".
1993 - Amidst much touring with Mark in the drummers seat, work began on the next album release "Fossil", part of which was actually written in the studio.
Any keen Spyfan would easily see the influence of Mark in many areas of the album. Mark, a keen songwriter, contributed written works to the band and they subsequently found their way onto Fossil.
1994 - "Fossil" is released to mixed reviews although enjoyed some success with 3 singles. Touring was a must as always. Another exhaustive few months doing gigs was inevitable.
This year also sees the release of "Bootlegger", an EP with Mark also drumming.
A suggestion was made at this time that they adopt a 4 piece line up and rehearse for the purpose of appealing to different overseas markets. This would also serve to attract an additional vocalist. Although this concept does not manifest, Mark and Craig begin a new sideline project that eventually becomes a band called "Shock Poets". The line up becoming Mark Cuffe, Craig Bloxom and Paul Wheeler.
Although Shock Poets release an album and 2 singles, Craig and Mark remain with Spy V Spy, as their primary concern, and begin touring Brazil.
1995 - Spy V Spy became popular with the Brazilian people (surfers) and began touring the country regularly. The market in Brazil was extremely enthusiastic about the Spies and many other Australian cultural icons. Spy songs became known as "Australian Surf Music" and, as such, were always very well received by Brazilian audiences.
Mark Cuffe relays to us his own words about the first tours of Brazil....
"All I remember was it was so strange we had no idea how big we were at that time. We were getting pushed into cars and aircrafts, taken to shopping centres for autograph signings and did a huge tour. We played basket ball stadiums. I remember the day before we left OZ, we played to a small venue crowd in A.C.T....next thing we are like the Beatles, playing to huge crowds. It was a great time and a shot in the arm for the band
at the time. I remember it with fond memories. A great experience for me."
Following the success of the Brazilian tours, Shane Loadsman took over all management duties for Spy V Spy from Gary Morris.
1996 - Spy V Spy go back for third tour of Brazil. Mark writes his account.....
"This was the highlight for me as we were very relaxed and by this time familiar with the folk and food. We had made some friends it was now starting to be home away from home."
As with all overseas tours, it includes further touring of Australia before and after.
1997 - Mark leaves Spy V Spy to dedicate further attention to Shock Poets. Craig, alternately, leaves Shock Poets to concentrate more on Spy V Spy.
1999 - Paul Wheeler is named as Spy V Spy's new drummer. Paul had exchanged pleasantries with Spy V Spy when they attended the same rehearsal studios in earlier years.
Paul was already well known for his work with another Australian success story "Icehouse". Having been officially introduced to Craig by Mark Cuffe just prior to their time together in Shock Poets, he was a familiar and welcome addition to Spy V Spy.
Like some of the previous drummers to sit with the band, Paul was already well acquainted with the Spy V Spy tracks. He'd listened to and enjoyed them during earlier years.
The mark of a great drummer is his ability to simply start playing without the need for extensive training. Paul Wheeler was a great example of this kind of talent.
Paul brought a new sound to the band by adding the influences he drew from his favorite drummers into what he already knew of Spy V Spy songs.
Spy V Spy continue touring both locally and in Brazil. Paul is included in the 2 tours in 1999.
Brazil was quite a surprise for Paul. He enjoyed the thrill of playing to huge audiences.
Paul Wheeler left the band in January 2003, unlikely to return.
The enthusiasm of Brazilian Spyfans facilitates the release of 3 new compilation albums. "The Early Cases" is released in Brazil as a compilation of very early recordings, most of which had never been heard before.
The second Brazilian release, "Mugshots", is the first "double album" released by Spy V Spy. The Australian Release of "Mugshot" (through Festival Records) contains many of the same tracks.
The 2003 release of "Meet Us Alive" is the first live album release of their master works with the introduction of one new song.
Read some more on the band here...