Embrace are an English post-Britpop band from Bailiff Bridge, Brighouse, West Yorkshire. To date they have released five studio albums, one singles album and one B-sides compilation. The band consists of brothers singer Danny McNamara and guitarist Richard McNamara, bassist Steve Firth, keyboardist Mickey Dale, and drummer Mike Heaton. The group have released five studio albums - The Good Will Out (1998), Drawn from Memory (2000), If You've Never Been (2001), Out of Nothing (2004) and This New Day (2006) - with a sixth in the works, expected to be released sometime in 2012, six years since their last studio release.
Origins and formation: 1990-1997:
The band was begun in a small outbuilding at the bottom of a garden in Bailiff Bridge in 1990. A bass player joined the McNamara brothers, Richard playing guitar and Danny singing (into an upturned broomstick at the early stages). The three of them started creating songs, with the aid of a cassette recorder, and soon a drum machine was added.An initial set of songs was written, then dropped and a second set of songs written. A cassette fourtrack was used to make an initial demo in a house in the hyde park area of Leeds.
After various auditions, the drummer Mike Heaton joined the band. A period of consolidation of existing songs and writing of new ones followed. It proved hard to settle on a name, so gigs were initially performed from 1992 onwards under one off names; curious orange, christianne f, shimmer and mesmerise . Eventually playing at concerts began under the settled on name of Embrace. Richard was familiar with the American band, and thought it a good name, despite it having been used already. The bass player wrote a letter to seek approval from Ian Mackaye who replied that it was alright for the English band to use the same name, though he said that it could possibly cause some confusion. Fortunately his reply was kept, as it was later used to prevent litigation.
The band then recorded a three track demo in a 16 track recording studio in Huddersfield which was sold at concerts in cassette form. Also a video was recorded of a concert performed at the Duchess of York in Leeds, copies of which were similarly offered for sale. A second spell in a Manchester recording studio yielded some rough mixes, one of which was seen as good enough to be released on a cassette attached to a Leeds fanzine. With a following in Yorkshire, Embrace then found a manager who made efforts to develop record company interest in the band, with some success, resulting in initial meetings and discussions. Things were progressing nicely towards a record contract, but there was an interruption when a live review of the band performing at Roundhay Park in Leeds at the Heineken festival in the summer of 1993 appeared in the Melody Maker, which suggested they were playing a distillation of The Chameleons, James and U2's live aid performance. Danny in particular was displeased by this and decided to stop performing live until a new set of songs was written. An intense period followed during which all 4 members developed their song and music writing abilities.
In 1995, Steve Firth replaced the outgoing bassist.
A single, "All You Good Good People" was released in February 1997 on Fierce Panda Records.
Early years: 1998-2002:
After building a following through their EP releases (including "Fireworks EP" and "One Big Family EP"), their debut album The Good Will Out was released on 8 June 1998 and went to number 1 in the UK Albums Chart.
In 27 March 2000 the band released Drawn from Memory, which reached number 8 in the UK Albums Chart. However sales of their second album were stagnant, although the album was supported by an acclaimed tour, during which they were supported by then-fledgling Coldplay. Afterwards they recorded their third studio album If You've Never Been, which was released on 3 September 2001. The album reached number 9 in the UK chart and was once again supported by an international tour, covering Europe, US and Australia.
Although the two albums were critically acclaimed their sales however were disappointing by comparison to the first album. Thus the band were dropped by EMI Virgin's Hut Records in 2002.
They were signed by Andy McDonald to his Independiente Records label and produced a successful comeback album Out of Nothing, which reached number one in the UK in 2004. The 'comeback' single that preceded this album was "Gravity", which had been written by Coldplay's Chris Martin. Danny McNamara and Martin had become friends after Coldplay had supported Embrace in 2000 in Blackpool. The single was a hit, charting at number seven in the UK Singles Chart. Coldplay have since re-recorded "Gravity" as a B-side for their single "Talk".
In October 2005, the band released their first b-side compilation, called Dry Kids: B-Sides 1997-2005, featuring b-sides from their previous album and including many fan-favourites such as "Blind" and a live rendition of D12's "How Come".
The band's fifth studio album, This New Day was released on 27 March 2006, with the single "Nature's Law" being released the week before. The album has been seen as a 'fresh start' by the band, with a new songwriting process in place, seeing the whole band contributing to the songs, after the writing partnership the McNamara brothers had previously enjoyed. This new technique saw the band at its most productive, recording twenty four songs in nine days. The first single entered the charts at number two, providing them with their biggest hit. This New Day went straight into the charts at number one and became their third chart topping album in the UK.
The band played a new song live, "Heart and Soul", which was expected to appear on their sixth album. A live version of "Heart and Soul" is a B-side to "I Can't Come Down". Danny McNamara claimed the band was not to split at the Hammersmith Apollo two days later, and then during each gig of their national tour, he repeated the statement.
However, contrary to Danny's statements the band was on break through much of 2007 to 2010, abandoning any studio work and instead bandmembers focused on solo projects.
Mickey Dale's side project Talk To Angels played CMJ in New York City in October 2008 and an Obama election night show in Austin, Texas. They appeared in 2009 at SXSW Austin, Texas for the first 'Yorkshire Showcase', at the British Music Embassy, and at Latitude.
Mike Heaton opened several years ago his own drum school, based in Squirrel Studios, offering private drum lessons to aspiring drummers and he also mentors a number of young bands in the North Yorkshire area.
New album: 2011-present:
In an interview with Danny McNamara the band is recording their sixth album. "We're about three quarters of the way through the writing process," said McNamara. "We've got eight really killer songs. I want to get to 12 or 15 before we start recording. Musically it's more inventive than what we've done before. We're champing at the bit to get back."
In other media
In March 2006, Embrace were chosen to record England's official football World Cup 2006 song, "World At Your Feet," which received its first radio airplay on 21 April 2006 on BBC Radio 1. It was released on 5 June 2006, and entered the UK Singles Chart at number 3, despite selling more copies than "Nature's Law".
On Radio 1's Live Lounge, Embrace recorded a slower more melodic version of the D12 rap song "How Come". Notably Embrace also covered Bob Dorough's Three Is a Magic Number on the b-side of I Wouldn't Wanna Happen to You. The band have also made available two other 'Christmas' cover versions of the traditional song 'Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire' and I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake both of which were available from the bands website.