Brit dopers: Are Half Man Half Biscuit a pretty famous band?

I’m an annoying American indie boy (really more an indie man now, alas) and I have a lot of annoying indie friends. We all play in bands and argue about things like whether Mudhoney was a ripoff of Blue Cheer, essentially competing to see who can name-drop the most obscure band.

What I’m trying to say is, my scene is full of people who know a lot about rock music. But as far as I can tell, I’m the only person I know who’s heard of Half Man Half Biscuit. (I think they’re brilliant, by the way.)

I guess I would be surprised to learn that a band could be very famous at all in the UK without being known to my Pitchfork-magazine-reading, vinyl-45-collecting, bootleg-recording-cataloguing rock geek friends. But maybe we don’t know as much about UK rock as we think.

So, are HMHB a reasonably big deal? Would a well-informed British rock fan know about them?

I’m not British but I remember hearing about Half Man Half Biscuit back in the mid 80s. I don’t know if the group is still around.

Pop Will Eat Itself was another British band from that same period. Have you ever heard them?

Aren’t they the ones with the bizarrely named songs, like “99 Percent of Newscasters Look Like Nerys Hughes?”

Hey! I’m an American who knows who they are - though I don’t like 'em. I guess that means I know more about music than your friends do :smiley:

They were definitely a band who’s fame was based on something other than anyone actually buying their records. I know John Peel was a big fan, so they could often be heard late night on Radio 1

I checked their website. You’re conflating “99% Of Gargoyles Look Like Bob Todd” and “I Hate Nerys Hughes (From The Heart)”. The only song that I remember is “Trumpton Riots”

I love HMHB! I think here in the UK to know of them you’d either have to be local to the Birkenhead area, read the NME or have listened to the late John Peel. Other than that, they have quite a low profile. Although I was deeply thrilled when BBC Radio 4’s flagship news Programme ‘Today’ played *Even Men With Steel Hearts *last year on one of their Christmas shows in honour of their guest editor Tony Adams (formerly of Arsenal FC). I love that song - it’s so true! Even men with steel hearts do love to see a dog on the pitch! :slight_smile:

Well, none of those things is true of me, but I certainly know the name Half Man Half Biscuit (of course, that’s all I do know about them – I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly heard any of their music or anything). I couldn’t tell you how I’ve heard of them, either: I have practically zero interest in popular music, and haven’t had for … um… decades, actually.

I think they actually have pretty high name recognition for a band no-one listens to.

No, they’re not a big deal in terms of sales and popularity, but yes - a well-informed UK rock fan would know of them. Specifically through Peel championing them (but that was 20-odd years ago) and more recently because of their obvious influence in the writing of the Arctic Monkeys. They are still together and working.

My personal favourite is ‘All I Want For Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit’ - could have been written about my childhood.


Now what kind of name is that supposed to be? :dubious:

Well, when I said ‘to know of them’, I meant a bit more than simply having heard the name of the band somewhere. I was thinking more along the lines of “I have heard one or more of their songs/read any interviews”. However, I agree that if the quiz question is ‘have you ever heard of this band?’ a lot of people in the UK are going to say yes.

They were always small but well loved. I still have huge affection for them, but truthfully probably only play them once or twice a year. Here in Ireland I think I was first exposed to them through Dave Fanning, who at the time was the nearest we had to a John Peel. Dickie Davis Eyes is the song that can still make me laugh 20+ years after hearing it for the first time.

I’ve a few bits and pieces from years ago. They’re one of the very few bands whose lyrics can be genuinely funny. They still record and play, but even in the UK the fanbase is small, if dedicated. Possibly the appeal outside the UK/Ireland is limited by the highly Brit-centric nature of the references in the songs. For instance, what does “Unemployment’s rising in the Chigley end of town” as an opening line mean to you?

Mr Bells farming tecniques finally put paid to the luddite existence of Windy Miller?

Any band that can write a song called The Trumpton Riots deserve to be worldwide legends.

Heh, yes!

“Careful with that spliff, Eugene. It causes condensation!”

“Mention the Lord of the Rings just once more, I swear I’ll likely kill you, More cock more cock Michael Moorcock you fervently cry”

Ah, you probably had to be there.

If a reasonable translation of that is “anyone who listened to John Peel” then yes. I preferred the Diagram Brothers.

Yup. And Andy’s work with The Pale Fountains was very much appreciated.