When we heard that a group of BIMM Manchester students had formed a choir for a classic post-punk band, we just had to find out more!
It’s a story that involves collaboration with the Membranes, gigs next to radio telescopes, and a nerve-wracking debut appearance on the most legitimate music radio show in the country.
We asked Nicola Tuffy, third-year Vocals and Performance student at BIMM Manchester about the unlikely punk-rock-choral adventure:
“Our vocal tutor Claire Pilling asked me if I would like to be part of a choir with The Membranes, and I automatically agreed!
“John Robb and The Membranes have been absolutely amazing to work with. They wanted us to do some innovative singing: making beautiful harmonic drones and the ‘hum of the universe’! The first performance we did was live on Marc Riley’s BBC 6 Music show — it was an amazing evening!
“The show got such good feedback that the choir was expanded to a 25-piece and we collaborated again at home in Manchester.”
“After that, we played some amazing festivals to huge audiences. The first was Blue Dot Festival at Jodrell Bank, and then Bingley Live Festival, where we played on the same bill as Sigma, Barenaked Ladies (who were great fun to hang backstage with!), Peter Hook, and Tinie Tempah.
“The last gig we performed was Rockaway Beach Festival — it was amazing to be on stage just before bands like Killing Joke and Suede! There’s a great video of us practicing just before the gig.”
The shows keep coming for the Membranes’ choir: supporting legendary punks The Undertones at Manchester Academy on October 29th, and in April next year they’re performing a headline show at Manchester’s O2 Ritz.
For Nicola, it’s been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: “We’ve had some great laughs and experiences at these gigs but you know what they say: ‘what happens on tour stays on tour!’”
John Robb, The Membranes’ singer, is enamoured with his quirky choir and returned Nicola’s praise:
“We are impressed by how fast the choir got the unlikely concept and how hard they worked to do such a great job in an impressive, enthusiastic and fun way. It’s been great working with the BIMM choir!”