Strange Devotion Bio:

Strange Devotion came into being at the end of 1981 when Dominic Butler was offered a gig at the Folk and Blues Festival which was to take place the following March in Harrogate. He wasn't in a band at the time, but he did have a synth and a drum machine and a liking for the Human League, and other electronic bands of the time, so he decided to do the gig solo with a backing track on tape. The name Strange Devotion was taken from a song that he was writing at that time called "Love is the one you should hate". The song never actually got completed.

Dominic took two of the songs he had already written, wrote two new songs and worked out how to play two Human League songs and recorded drum machine parts and two synth parts onto a cassette to use as the backing track. The intention was to play an additional synth line on top of this live during the parts with no singing, however during the first song Dominic found that the synths he had on stage had gone out of tune at some point between the sound check and starting the set (one of the many wonders of analogue synths). He made a few attempts at trying to retune them during the set, but despite this issue the gig went well and Dominic decided to record two of the tracks in a local studio the following month. Dominic later decided to make a video and asked Heather Jolly (who had played tambourine at the original Strange Devotion gig) to bring her synth and Jeremy Black to bring his drums along to the shoot to add to the numbers and make it a bit more interesting. Heather went on to run a chocolate shop (amongst other things) and Jeremy went on to play drums with Scottish band Mouth Music before taking on the role of drummer with Mike Flowers Pops.


Dominic Butler Bio:

Dominic's first band was formed in the late 1970s by a group of 3 school friends friends who shared an inteest in music and skateboarding. This 3 piece punk band became known as Cloud Nine and comprised of:

Mark Jarvis: Vocals and Bass
Mike Sutcliffe: Drums
Dominic Butler: Guitar

The band played many gigs in the Harrogate area (including the Folk and Blues, where they played with Fragile). Dominic had bought his amp and cab from Magna carta's Chris Simpson who took some interest in the band. After attending a few rehersals he took the band to Ric Rac Studio in Leeds to record a 3 track demo tape.

Unfortunately the whereabouts of any surviving copies of this demo are unknown.

When Cloud Nine split up Mark and Dominic, who had both developed a liking for synth and industrial music decided to get together again for a slightly different style of music and formed Voice Patrol.

Mark Jarvis: Volcals, Bass and Synths
Dominic Butler: Backing Vocals, Guitar and Synth

They recorded a cassette only release entitled The Underground Sound of Baader Meinhoff which only sold a couple of copies (probably just to friends) and their only gig (at a private party) was cut short due to complaints about the noise by the neighbours. Fortunately a copy of the tape survived and has been preserved by transferring it to mp3 format (although the age of the tape had impacted it's quality somewhat).

Around this time Dominic got to know Richard Turner who was forming a new band and looking for a synth player. Dominic ended up taking this role and the band Nova Grace came into being. The line up was

Richard 'Dickie' Turner: Vocals, Guitar and Songwriting
Nicholas Timms: Bass,
Guy Butler: Drums
Tina Featherstone: Sax
Dominic Butler: Synth.

Guy and Dominic are not related. They played many gigs in and around Harrogate and even got as far a field as Ripon where Dominic travelled to the gig in the back on a mini estate with his synth and 7 other people. Dominic recorded all the gigs and many of their rehearsals but unfortunately all of the tapes have since been lost. The band eventually drifted apart. Dick Turner went on to found numerous other bands and can still be found playing at the Blues Bar in Harrogate from time to time. He also runs the record label Real Emotion Records, a studio and also does live sound work for a number of bands.Tina was a band mamber for a short time and played at only 1 gig. She now has her own Jazz Band, The Tina Featherstone Trio.

While playing in Nova Grace Dominic met Dave and Liam from Neural Circus at a gig in the Royal Baths at Harrogate. They spotted the TG patch he was wearing and soon realised they had a common interest in music. Dominic lent them his Korg synth for a number of gigs and Nova Grace and Neural Circus ended up playing a few gigs together. After Nova Grace split Dominic recorded a few improvisation tracks with Liam which somehow managed to survive and turn up in his garage in a pile of old tapes. A sample from this can be found on the audio page (once that page had been populated). This takes us up to late 1981 when Strange Devotion came into being.

Strange Devotion lasted until Dominic went to Manchester Polytechnic to study Computer Science. For some, long forgotten, reason he sold all his music equipment before leaving for Manchester. He didn't last long without means of making music and ended up blowing one of his early grant cheques on a Korg KPR77 Drum machine (which had just come out) and an Echo Ranger 12 string acoustic guitar. However, he soon ran out of money and ended up selling them without getting much use from them. The guy who bought the drum machine was trying to get a band together and was short of a bass player and a drummer. Dominic hadn't played bass before but decided he might be able to help out while they were looking if they taught him the lines to play. After some time of rehearsing with the band Dominic became the bass player, which saved Andy and Steve from spending so much time auditioning Bass players. The band were called the Tall Americans and they worked with the drum machine for a while until eventually finding a drummer.

Dominic then left The Tall Americans at this point and got married and got a job. He finally seemed to out of the music scene, but it didn't last for long. After a year of working in York Dominic spotted a synth in a local music shop window. It was a Casio cz-101. It only had small keys on it, but it also had a relatively small (compared to other synths) price tag and after much scrimping and scraping he bought it. Once he got it home and discovered it had midi the GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) took over and he spent the following years buying more equpment when he was able to.

Dominis became an avid reader of Paul White's Home and Studio Recording magazine and worked on building up a home studio based around a Commadore Amiga computer (running sequencer one) and a Fostex 4 track portastudio tape deck. He wrote and recorded a demo containing 4 tracks and sent them off to the Demo Doctor section of Home and Studio Recoring magazine. It was about a year later, after Paul White had moved on to found Sound on Sound magazine thet the review of the tape was finally published. The review was pretty favourable and Dominic was quite pleased with it being described as "It's a sombre collection really, but what the hell, it sure beats train-spotting".

to be continued........

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