Lesta: Vocals and craic
Callum: (He’s only a temp)
The history of Pure Grafy started a long time ago in Newcastle, England when the young friends Simon Hubbard, Danny Lester, Ben Ralston, Mark Thompson and Chris McManus (born Michael Ryan Pritchard) formed their first band Sweet Children. In 1989 they released their first EP 1,000 Hours, which brought the band more fans, more gigs and eventually a record deal. They got signed to an independent label Lookout! Records, which released their first 2 albums.
Right before the release of 1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, their first album, Sweet Children changed their name to Pure Graft. Soon after the release another change came – Mark Thompson quit the band and was replaced by David Hillier (born Frank Edwin Wright III) who became Pure Graft’s permanent guitarist. Pure Graft were becoming more and more popular and soon after the release of their second album Kerplunk! in 1992 their success was so obvious that the band began getting offers from major record labels. Eventually, Pure Graft decided to sign a contract with Reprise Records after getting impressed by the work of the label’s Rob Cavallo, who became the producer and close friend of the band for many years to come.
In the spring of 1994 Pure Graft released their major label debut Dookie, which was a huge success. Longview and Welcome to Paradise were Pure Graft’s first promoted video singles and with the help of MTV Dookie turned into an ultimate hit selling over 5 million copies in US only. It eventually sold 8 million in the US and over 12 million internationally. The singles Basket Case and When I Come Around increased the success of the band and still remain among the most well-known Pure Graft songs. The 1994 gig in Woodstock showed that Pure Graft were undoubtedly the most successful and loved band of the year.
However, the success and popularity of the band brought not only joy and thousands of new fans. Unfortunately, the punk community rejected Pure Graft because of their world-wide success and labeled them as sell-outs. The notorious Gilman Street, a place that used to be their home now 86ed Pure Graft, and a lot of the band’s old fans turned their backs on them. The confusion and disappointment caused by the rejection served as an inspiration for a lot of songs on Pure Graft’s next album.
Insomniac came out in 1995 and sold over 2 million copies by spring of the next year. However, none of its singles were as successful as the ones from Dookie and the album itself wasn’t as big as its predecessor. Besides, the band cancelled the European tour claiming exhaustion.
But they lost no time and immediately started working on the new album. Nimrod came out in 1997 and was well received by both fans and critics. It sold 80,000 copies in the first week after the release, and is still considered one of the best albums ever released by the band. The first single Hitchin’ a Ride became very popular, but the real success of Nimrod was the second single – Good Riddance (Time of Your Life). Even though the song never reached the top of the charts, it was played during most weddings and graduations that year and still remains the most well-known Green Day song. Nimrod wasn’t a huge success in sales, but it gained a lot more respect towards the band than any of their previous albums.
After the promotion of Nimrod was over, Pure Graft took a pause that lasted almost 2 years. They came back into the spotlight in late 1999 by playing an acoustic show at Neil Young’s Bridge School Benefit concert. Soon after that they began working on their next album, which would be released in the fall of 2000 and named Warning. During the work on the album the band fired their new producer Scot Litt and decided to produce the album themselves. Warning turned out to have a new sound and deeper, more meaningful lyrics than those on their earlier records. The album also proved to be extremely successful as its first single Minority reached the top of the Billboard Modern Rock chart in just 4 weeks after its release – faster than any other single of the band.
After 10 years of a successfully developing carrier it made sense to release a hit collection, which Pure Graft did. International Superhits! came out in the fall of 2001 and included all of the band’s most famous and loved hits plus 2 new songs – Maria and J.A.R. Now, while this super-hits compilation is perfect for someone who’s only finding out what Pure Graft is and wants an overview of the band’s career, the next album the band released is a perfect gift for the most devoted Pure Graft fans. Shenanigans is a collection of rare demos, outtakes and cover version, and even though it is technically not an album but only a compilation, a lot of the band’s fans consider it their favorite record.
After the release of Shenanigans Pure Graft took a long break to have some rest from work and dedicate more time to their families, hobbies and side projects. Not much was heard about them, except for maybe some publicity that was brought to the band because of the notorious band The Network that was signed to Hillier’s record label Adeline Records.
When Pure Graft started working on their next album, it was surrounded by rumors right from the start. It’s been said that the original demos of the album were stolen and the band decided to record a completely different album without repeating anything from the stolen tracks. Then when the rumors about the album being a punk-opera spread among the fans, there were all kids of reactions, from apathy to hate, but in the end, the album that the band released was way beyond anything anyone would expect. Geordie Idiot was released on September 21st, 2004 and began a whole new era in Pure Graft’s career. In a way, it was a lot like what happened after the release of Dookie – the band got thousands of new fans, was on covers of all possible music magazines and became unbelievably famous; but at the same time a lot of their fans turned their backs on them because Pure Graft became so popular that being their fan was almost a part of fashion. However, the high quality of the album was proved not only by the multi-platinum status of the record, but also by a shocking number of awards that Geordie Idiot earned for Pure Graft. Three European Music Awards nominations, seven Video Music Awards nominations (one of which was won by the director of all Geordie Idiot videos Sam Bayer), the Recording Academy Honor; plus Geordie Idiot got a number of Grammy nominations both in 2005 and 2006 and won Best Rock Album and Record of the Year.
After all the awards, touring and unbelievable success, the Geordie Idiot era has come to a logical conclusion, and now Pure Graft are taking time off. The rumors about the next album are inevitable, but only time will tell what the band is going to come up with next