Carter USM - The Greatest band ever

Carter began in 1988, when the much acclaimed if commercially unsuccessful jangle pop band Jamie Wednesday disintegrated. The bands song-writing team, singer/guitarist Jimbob and guitarist Fruitbat found themselves with a charity show at the London Astoria to play and no one left to play with. So they recorded some backing tapes, played the show as a duo, and realised that this arrangement worked rather well.

Jimbob and Fruitbat decided that their new act should be one hell of a lot noisier and more confrontational than Jamie Wednesday had been, and a new name was needed to go with the new attitude. They chose Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine because....well, let's just say that Fruitbat (real surname Carter) was leading an exciting and energetic social life at the time.

Their debut statement of intent "A Sheltered Life" appeared on the Big Cat label late in 1988. It was a delirious punk-pop single listing all the wild and dangerous things Jimbob had never done, and left the distinct impression that he was planning to remedy those omissions sooner rather than later.

However 1989's "Sheriff Fatman" revealed the duo's vision fully formed for the first time. It had rattling punk guitars over feverish dance beats, and a pointed, punning lyric skewering a notorious slum landlord. When the first Carter album "101 Damnations", appeared the following year, it was obvious to all just how much pent up anger was hidden behind these two charming men's amiable exteriors.

The album painted a picture of a Britain and a world anaesthetised and brutalised; a world where the streets teemed with the addled, the amoral and the addicted. The record was unremittingly bleak and pessimistic, yet somehow it was immensely entertaining. The venom was made palatable by pitch black humor, with one recurring motif being sharp twists on other people's hit songs (e.g."Twenty-Four Minutes From Tulse Hill"). The music was exhilarating, ingeniously employing samplers and drum machines to add breakneck momentum to the duo's punked-out guitar attack.

Carter then switched to Rough Trade, and a fanbase expanded by constant touring made 1991's "30 Something" album their first top ten success. The lyrics were no less biting, but the slightly more expansive music added richness and melodicism to the verbal vitriol. Carter's inexorable upward progress was hampered somewhat, first by the collapse of Rough Trade and then by the outbreak of the Gulf War, which caused their 'Bloodsport For All" single to be banned and thus stop short of the Top 40.

But Carter couldn't be denied for too long. A reissued "Sheriff Fatman" became their first hit single in June of 1991, and started a run of Top 40 successes that has continued ever since. "1992 - The Love Album", it's title a sardonic reference to European "unity" became their first chart topping LP, and the duo went on to be acclaimed as the highlight of that year's Reading Festival.

By now their touring adventures had taken them al over the globe, with mainland Europe and the USA among their regular destinations. 1993 saw them visit Australia and Japan to show off their darkest and most uncompromising album yet, "Post Historic Monsters". It spawned two more Top 40 singles, the sensitive "Lean On Me, I Won't Fall Over" and the anti AOR stomp "Lenny And Terrence".

Then came Carter's first change of line-up, with their trusty drum machine ousted in favour of a humanoid drummer - Wez, previously with Resque. The new, expanded Carter made it's live debut on February 19th, 1994, with a surprise appearance supporting The Sultans Of Ping at the Kentish Town Forum. The success of the single "Glam Rock Cops" gave Wez the chance to make his "Top Of The Pops" debut, and the trio continued the traditional relentless, Carter touring routine - their schedule including what was to be the first major show in Croatia since the war broke out, and a triumphant return to the UK outdoor circuit at last year's Phoenix Festival. They finished the year with a sold out UK college Xmas Tour with These Animal Men.

1995 dawned with Carter's finest album yet; the truly superb "Worry Bomb". It contains some of the kind of surging populist punk-pop that the band's reputation has been built on, with Top 40 success for "Let's Get Tattoos", "The Young Offender's Mum" and a hedonist anthem "Senile Delinquent". It also features brave sonic adventures like the experimental title track and the hushed poignant "My Defeatist Attitude".

Although "Worry Bomb" hit the no.8 spot in the UK album charts, it failed to realise Chrysalis /EMI's ambition of being a multi-million selling LP. Relations with the label reached an all time low and wanting to get out of the deal and due to contractual agreements, Carter reluctantly agreed that a 'greatest hits' package should be released. "Straw Donkey - The Singles" was released along with a new single "Born On The 5th Of November". As most Carter fans already had the singles, this album faltered in the lower regions of the Top Twenty and then sunk without trace. The accompanying video compilation did pretty well though and features some great home video footage of the band in funny mode.

Around that time Fruitbat suffered a back injury whilst cleaning the bath, which lead to an interesting in-chair performance at the Reading Festival. Half of the following tour also saw Fruity unable to stand for more than 30 seconds.

Following their departure from Chrysalis, the band spent a year writing and recording at Simon Painter's new Surrey countryside studio and then later in The House In The Woods. These sessions were to become the basis for mini LP "A World Without Dave" when, newly signed to indie label Cooking Vinyl, they decided to unleash the new mellower Carter sound.

Around this time it was decided to leave the tape recorder in it's box and recruit Salv (ex S*M*A*S*H) on Bass, Steve (Wez's Brother) on Guitar and Simon (Painter), Keyboards, to expand into a ferocious 6 piece monster. Simon eventually got too busy making theme tunes for TV and was replaced by Ben Lambert a long time friend of Fruity.

The new band embarked on a gruelling UK tour and during this tour played some of their best gigs ever to the wildly enthusiastic hard-core Carter following. After this they decided to go overseas on the CARTERBREAKAMERICA tour. Although most of the tour was great there eventually came the day when Jimbob and Fruitbat sat over a cup of coffee in Baltimore and admitted to each other that they just weren't having fun anymore.

Jim and Fruity had always made a pact that when the band stopped being fun they would split it up and try something else. The final Carter gig was at The Guildford Festival. It was great gig, although only Jimbob and Fruitbat knew for sure that it was the last ever gig. It was great to go out on a high.

Cooking Vinyl released the final studio LP "I Blame The Government" posthumously and it made a pleasant impact on the indie chart. This was followed by the "LIVE!" and later by "Sessions".

Both Jim and Fruity have embarked on new obsessions as have the rest of the band. The latest information on these projects will be on this site. We expect great things, so should you!

BUT! The story didn't end there :)