Seven years after acts such as The Beloved and The Shamen pioneered
the indie-dance hybrid, London-based trio Republica demonstrate there are still fresh ways
to merge guitars and beats with their forthcoming single Ready To Go. The song combines
house rhythms with punky chords, an infectious chorus and spiky vocals in what the band
describe as "techno pop punk rock". The combination is enough to persuade the
band's label Deconstruction that the band has enormous sales potential.
"A lot of our stuff comes straight out
of the clubs but Republica offer a big potential for crossover, whether it be dance,
indie, alternative or whatever," says marketing director Del O'Brien.
Built around a songwriting nucleus of Tim
Dorney and erstwhile Flowered Up keyboardist and engineer Andy Todd, the band formed in
1993. Dorney and Todd met originally during recording sessions for Soul Family Sensation
and found the opportunity to pair up when Camden's baggy chancers disintegrated.
"It all fell to pieces," says
Dorney, recalling the drug-fuelled chaos of the times. "We struggled to get people
together and we ran out of money. One day the singer, Liam, just walked out and that was
it. I haven't spoken to any of them since."
Dorney and Todd reconvened with the aim of
doing "something underground and dancey". The result was Out Of This World, an
instrumental friends suggested would benefit from a vocal. Enter Saffron, former singer
with N-Joi, who topped it off perfectly and completed the line-up.
That one track persuaded Pete Hadfield,
joint managing director of Deconstruction, Saffron's former label, to offer them a deal.
The songs they brought back convinced the label to make them a priority act this summer.
"We feel the material they've delivered to us is so outstanding that we have to go
for it," explains O'Brien. "We've had a fantastic reaction internationally to it
as well - in particular RCA in the States who, it should be remembered, passed on M People
and Take That."
Part of the band's appeal lies in the
ability to weld hooklines to sharp lyrics. Their debut single Bloke, released last March,
was a swipe at wide boys driving flash motors - underlining the band's desire to steer
clear of hands-in-the-air dancefloor vacuousness. "Our intention from the start was
to avoid that 'I'll take you higher' bollocks that persists in dance music," agrees
Dorney. "We decided if we were going to have lyrics they might as well say
In Republica's case it's not just what they
say, but the way they say it - in particular Saffron, with her bobbed hair and oriental
looks. M People's Mike Pickering has described her as "Siouxsie meets techno"
and her strident delivery and bouncy attitude make it easy to see what he means.
The band have toured extensively,
supporting The Grid, The Shamen and M People and building a significant grassroots fanbase
- not least in Scotland, with appearances at T In The Park and Coatbridge's club Universe.
"The last time we went up there, we had fans turning up in homemade T-shirts with
pictures of the band and the name stencilled on them," says Dorney.
Now augmented to a six-piece live outfit,
including ex-Bow Wow Wow sticksman Dave Barbarossa on live drums, the band embark on a
month-long Wednesday residency at London tranny club Madame JoJo's, starting on March 27.
They head out to America in the summer to play several gigs, before appearing in June at
the BMG worldwide MDs conference in LA. To give an idea of the faith placed in them, the
other artist selected by the company to appear is ex-Take That mainman Gary Barlow, making
his solo debut.
Republica's debut album is scheduled for
release in May/June. Recorded and self-produced in the band's Hoxton home studio, it lacks
only one thing - a title. "We're terrible at coming up with names," confesses
Dorney. "It took us months to come up with the name Republica, so long in fact that
it held up the contract signing." Suggestions so far include Top Banana, a title
suggested for that abortive second Flowered Up album. "Well it's only a
suggestion," adds Dorney hastily.