Sometimes a band comes along that sweeps you off your feet but at my age it doesn’t happen so often. When it does the band has to be out of this world and Contempo are one such band.

In fact I’m angry that it took me so long to find them. They formed back in the summer of 1997 in their hometown of Staines, by their own admission one of the most un-rock n’roll places in southern England. Like a lot of bands they are fronted by brothers,and in this case the Archer brothers. Rich is lead vocalist with Steve on bass. There were three other members originally (Steve Friend on guitar, Steve Cutts drums and Dave Teape on keyboards) but two more have been added since and they are Matt Todd (sax) and Ruth Thomas (trumpet).

Coming from a place like Staines has been the making of them. Away from any scenes in London they have got on with doing their own thing. Contempo actually started off in 1996 by doing their own pirate radio station playing everything from Stevie Wonder to the Bluetones.

They were taken under the wing of the Barfly club in North London who released their debut single, ‘On The Floor’ in November 1998 on their Blue Dog label. This was to change the band for good as they went on to sign for a major and sign off the dole.

They were spotted by chance by London records at a gig at the Falcon, Camden in December of that year when an A&R man, there to see the opening band decided to stay on for the next which happened to be Contempo.

After six months playing live and recording, their London debut was released, ‘U B Naughty’ as a limited edition. This was quickly followed by ‘My One Way Out’, a live favourite, in October 99. A lot of the songs seem to be influenced by their hometown and this is a prime example.

‘Stronger’ is another, as is ‘U B Naughty’, a story of a night out and surely written from experience. ‘Need You Girl’ is classic pop. No verses, just one big chorus that you’ll be singing for a week. ‘Energy’, ‘Just Not Strong Enough’, here is a set full of A1 tunes.

The new Millennium kicked off with two prestigious support slots in London. The first was backing Elastica at the Astoria as part of the ‘NME’ week of gigs there and the second, supporting Coldplay at ULU which is where I first discovered them. I liked them then but wasn’t blown away. I remember saying that I would see them again.

Soon afterwards I did just that at the Monarch, Camden and then again two weeks later as the band did a residency there. By now I was completely in love with the songs and attitude of the band. Rich looks every inch the star that he will soon be, a sort of cross between Gaz Supergrass and Bobby Gillespie.

So what do they sound like? Well, not many bands (especially indie bands) have a brass section and that is what gives Contempo the edge over all other bands I’ve seen this year.

There’s bits of Dexy’s in there, Redskins, Northern Soul, Motown, Mod with a punky edge with the songs’ subject matters. If it was up to me I’d have them on the telly, in the charts and on the radio all day long. That they have yet to break out of the Indie ghetto yet ,despite being signed to London, amazes me but surely the time is ready for them, their time is now.

A stunning new single, ‘It’s Kicking Off’ (their best yet) is out now and this a swell as their forthcoming debut album are both produced by The Clash’s Mick Jones. This should be out later in the year but in the meantime they will be playing some of the festivals to get the message across because Contempo are too much of a secret at the moment. They’ve already done Glastonbury, Reading is next as well as more dates at their ‘home’ venue, the Monarch.

Staines has so far produced only Bobby Davro and one member of the Sweet. Contempo might just end up putting it on rock’s history map.


‘On The Floor’/ ‘Stronger’ (Blue Dog 7”, 1,000 only, Nov 1998, now deleted)
‘U B Naughty’/ ‘Say It Again’ (London 7”, 12” & CD, 2,000 only, July 1999, now deleted)
‘My One Way Out’/’Waiting So Long’/ ‘Big Time Promotion Man’ (London LONCD439, 7”, 12” & CD (CD only still available, October 1999)
‘It’s Kicking Off’/’Twilight Zone’/’Say It Again’ (London LONCD447, CD only, still available, June 2000)

Check out the band’s website at or

Related Links:

Commenting On: Profile - Contempo

ie London, England

tick box before submitting comment

First Previous Next Last