History[edit source | edit]
Fronted by Robert King and featuring Paul Research on lead guitar, John Mackie on bass, and Calumn Mackay on drums, the band's original sound was angular and offset with a dance-based rhythm section, as evidenced by their 1979 single for Fast Product "Horrorshow"/"Adult/ery". The band's popular set-closing song "Your Attention Please" appeared as a free gold flexi-disc in the first issue of the influential London-based style magazine i-D. This aforementioned song would later be included in the band's 1981 (and sole) album Author! Author!, but in the meantime the group maintained an ever-mounting momentum and attention via singles releases and constant touring, and soon they were noticed by John Peel. Peel invited the band to record two of his legendary Sessions, once in February 1980 and another in May 1981.
By the time the band started recording Author! Author!, their sound had matured from being rough and aggressive to something more melodic. From that album sprang perhaps the most recognizable Scars song out there, "All About You", which was the only single launched directly from that album. Calumn Mackay left Scars the year prior to the album's release, so Steve McLaughlin took over drumming duties for the band at around this time. The band continued to receive positive attention and increase their fan base as they were first able to co-headline gigs with the Comsat Angels, then headline gigs with Josef K as their supporting act. Scars even managed to land a full-page spread in Smash Hits. By that time, the band was headquartered in London
In the summer of 1982, Scars landed a supporting slot with Australia's The Church as the headliners. This was to be the beginning of the end for the band. Having been together—and constantly playing live gigs—since they were all teenagers in 1977, the glue that held the band together started to weaken. Robert King left the band and the rest of the band members, in turn, tried to keep the band going as a cohesive unit with Paul Research taking over lead vocal duties. The band recorded a song called "Bone Orchard" for a planned second album that never materialized; at year's end, the Scars were no more. King would soon go on to modest but temporary success as a solo artist (the synthpop-ish "Paper Heart" being the most notable of his recordings), but by the mid '80s the various Scars bandmates have been content to continue being musicians and pursuing other interests beyond the glare of the limelight.
Post break-up[edit source | edit]
There has been a recent resurgence of interest and attention on the Scars ever since electronica artists Lemon Jelly elected to use samples of "Horrorshow" at the urging of band member Fred Deakin, who was a huge Scars fan in his youth. The samples were utilized in their song "'79 aka The Shouty Track" (or "The Shouty Track" for short), for inclusion in the album '64 - '95. The song was also the second single released from that album. When it came time for Lemon Jelly to tour in support of '64 - '95, they invited a partially reformed version of Scars (that included original drummer Calumn Mackay) along to play live the sampled parts of "79 - The Shouty Track" in selected dates, including in the Scars' former home base of Edinburgh.
Guitarist Paul Research is the most visible former member of Scars and maintains a de facto official Scars site.
2010 Reformation Show[edit source | edit]
In November 2010, Scars announced a one-off reunion gig in Edinburgh for 29 December, their first live appearance in 25 years.
Author! Author! on CD[edit source | edit]
The Author! Author! LP, produced by punk band Penetration's Robert Blamire, is now available on CD. Due to a history of stalled negotiations with reissue companies and the difficulties involved in "disentangl[ing] The Scars copyright spaghetti", the complications involved in releasing an official CD version of that album have historically been far too much for even the former band members to overcome. Nevertheless, now that they have been overcome, a new generation of fans is enjoying Scars music again.
In October 2006, small events that had been put into motion thanks to the Lemon Jelly-driven Scars renaissance began to coalesce. It was announced at that time that Author! Author! would be remastered and finally released on CD format with additional tracks added in. In December 2006, the tapes were fully restored to playable mode at Abbey Road Studios by EMI, the record company that currently has ownership of the album masters, with an anticipated release date of sometime before the end of 2006. However, the remastering and CD transfer processes were put on hold pending an ISRC issuance.
The tapes were remastered by Steve McLaughlin and transferred to CD format, and the original artwork was also remastered by John Mackie. The CD became available for purchase on Paul Research's Scars Moments site in early 2007. Eventually it was also released for sale on Amazon UK. All versions include bonus album tracks and remastered versions of the band's various PRE/Charisma Records singles releases.
Scars appeared on BBC2's TOTP2 on 3 March 2007, which aired a live version of "All About You" from a 1981 episode of the "Old Grey Whistle Test" that featured the Scars as special guests. Along with a special music blog entry from February 2007 by a music editor at the respected Guardian UK newspaper entitled "Chasing Scars" and subtitled with, "Is the post-punk group Scars the Last Great Lost Band?", this has helped keep the band's name in the forefront of people's consciousness. Scars performed a live session on Marc Riley's programme on BBC Radio 6Music on 10 February 2011.
Discography[edit source | edit]
- "Horrorshow"/"Adult/ery" (7", Fast 1979)
- "They Came and Took Her"/"Romance By Mail" (7", Charisma 1980)
- "Love Song"/"Psychomodo" (7", Charisma 1980)
- "All About You"/"Author! Author!" (7", Charisma 1981)
- Author! Author! (LP, Charisma 1981)
- Author! Author! (EP, Stiff 1981)
- Author! Author! (CD, PreVS 2007)
Miscellaneous information[edit source | edit]
- Steve McLaughlin, the band's second drummer, was previously in Edinburgh punk band, The Cubs, where he was known as Chic. He is currently working as a wildly successful producer and film scorer. He won a Grammy for engineering a Tom Petty album (1994's Wildflowers) and has worked with such artists as Sting and Badly Drawn Boy, the latter as a co-producer for the About A Boy soundtrack.
- John Mackie, who currently owns a design company in the London area, is the younger brother of Paul Research (né Paul Mackie). John's stage name was originally John Doctor, because his and Paul's mother was a GP.
- Robert King went to University, and is now a professor of ancient languages whose specialty is the languages of the ancient Near East. He is also a member of the experimental outfit Groucho Handjob, providing vocals and keyboards, as well as production duties.
- Calumn Mackay, the band's original drummer, presently lives in Grenoble, France and drums in various musical groups, including a rock group called XLFive  and a blues group called the Pinetop's Boogiemen.  He has been a member of the latter group since 1986. He is also an engineer and a member of the international engineering organization IEEE.
- Mark E. Smith, leader of The Fall, once stated that the Scars were his favorite group as they were "the complete opposite of The Fall".
- According to a comment Paul Haig of Josef K left on Paul Research's now-defunct MySpace profile on 10 March 2006, TV Art, the group that became Josef K, "were inspired by Scars". The two groups coexisted as part of the same literary art-punk scene that centered around a pub called the "Tap o' Lauriston" at 80 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh (near Edinburgh College of Art), along with The Fire Enginesand The Cubs.
- The Scotsman ranked Author! Author! number 75 in the list of the top 100 Scottish rock and pop albums of all time. In the blurb, the newspaper states that the Scars were "one of the youngest punk bands active in Edinburgh in 1977".
- In 2008, Horrorshow was used in the soundtrack of a student theatre production of A Clockwork Orange. This took place at St Stephens Church, Edinburgh, and was directed by Scott Johnston for 3rd year HND students at Telford College, Edinburgh. The production featured an all female gang of Droogs. Horrorshow was used as it was written in Nadsat, an argot invented for Clockwork. A new piece was also recorded by Robert King, who watched the opening night of the production on 15 May 2008. An article on the production appeared in The Herald, 15 May 2008.