Friday, August 1, 2008

The Real Tale Behind Fiction Factory

Scottish band Fiction Factory formed in 1984 at the height of the Brit synth-pop driven new wave movement. The origins of the group’s founders couldn’t have been further removed though. Vocalist Kevin Patterson and guitarist Chic Medley had been playing in a skinhead ska band called The RB’s, a popular live drawcard in and around their home town of Perth. Wanting to break into a more commercial sound Patterson and Medley started writing songs, one of the first being ‘(Feels Like) Heaven’. With keyboardist Eddie Jordan on board they started to accrue a catalogue of material.

The next logical step was to come up with a band to play the music they were writing, but logic took a back step initially and instead choosing a name for the act was deemed a more pressing matter. Fiction Factory was the chosen name, a thinly veiled reference to the lads view of the music scene as being superficial in nature. The trio envisaged that they would record their songs in the studio and would come up with a group of attractive but fake people to front the group (not the first or last to explore this option - Rupert Hine did the same thing as the 'fictional' group Thinkman in the mid 80s - see earlier post).

After recording a number of demos Fiction Factory were eventually signed
by CBS, but with the condition that they prove that they could play live. The trio of Patterson, Medley and Jordan added bassist Graham McGregor and drummer Mike Ogle tree (ex-Simple Minds) to the line-up.

They recorded their debut album ‘Throw The Warped Wheel
Out’ which was released in early 1984. The album didn’t do huge business but did yield the song for which Fiction Factory would be remembered long after the factory gates had shut. ‘(Feels Like) Heaven’, which reputedly had been written in half a day, reached #6 in the U.K. and #1in Switzerland, and was Fiction Factory’s only Australian hit (#51). The minor hit ‘Ghost Of Love’ (UK#64) was the second and last time Fiction Factory would encroach on the singles charts. CBS promptly dropped them from the label after one album, perhaps sensing that one more sharp dressed new wave act was unlikely to be sustainable in an already saturated market.

The label’s concerns proved founded. Although Fiction Factory recorded one more album in 1985, ‘Another Story’, for the independent label Foundry Records, the singles ‘Not The Only One’ and ‘No Time’ failed to attract an audience. Eddie Jordan had already departed the band prior to the second album (replaced by Paul Wishart) and founding members Patterson and Medley largely recorded the album as a duo. Reality hit the Fiction Factory soon after and ‘Another Story’ would prove the final chapter in a new wave vignette long since lost in the mists of pop music history.

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