The way they were – Elastica

Justine Frischmann formed Suede with her then boyfriend Brett Anderson in 1989. The two met on the first day of the new term at University College London. Brett was enrolled on a town planning course but Justine convinced him to switch to architecture. Later remarking in an interview, she didn’t know at that first encounter whether the famously androgynous Anderson was a boy or a girl. Frischmann played rhythm guitar in Suede’s earliest incarnation but left in 1991 after becoming sidelined in the band’s songwriting process: “I was the token girl standing at the back strumming a guitar and I felt totally frustrated”, she said.

Elastica were formed soon after via advertisements in the music press. The final lineup was in place by 1993. Though Frischmann knew drummer Justin Welch from their brief spell in Suede together; Welch played drums on Suede’s first (unreleased) single ‘Be My God’.

One of the earliest promo shots; courtesy Tony

1993 saw the release of the band’s first single, ‘Stutter’. ‘Lineup’ followed a few months later. The singles were typical of Elastica’s sound; the band played short sets of around 20 minutes crammed with explosive 2 minute songs. Their media profile remained high due to Frischmann’s well-placed connections. Not only had she dated Anderson but had left him for Blur’s Damon Albarn. The couple were relentlessly pursued by the press with the Sun labelling Frischmann ‘Blur Indoors’.

Their debut record Elastica was released in March 1995 on Steve Lamacq’s Deceptive label. Lamacq had been heavily involved with promoting Elastica and is largely credited with having ‘discovered’ them. Frischmann described years later their first meeting at a pub in London’s Cambridge Circus where she was impressed with Lamacq’s casual “yeah we’ll put out your record if you want” line. Entering the charts at number one, Elastica became the UK’s fastest selling debut, taking that honour away from Oasis’s Definitely Maybe, released seven months earlier. The record was a popular and critical success containing several outstanding singles including ‘Connection’ and ‘Waking Up’.

Promo shot, Juergen Teller

However, from 1996 to 1998 the band fell victim to heroin addiction and a follow-up LP was years away. Relationships in the band deteriorated, perhaps a product of Frischmann’s controlling personality – the rest of the band had dubbed her the ‘Fuehrer’ at some point. Elastica were always Frischmann’s band; she wrote most of the music and performed lead vocals in her cool monotone.

 

The late 90s saw a couple of lineup changes and the sophomore record was finally released in 2000. Entitled The Menace, the main thing people remember about it is the wait. With no obvious single, the record is considered as an entire body of work; where Elastica was in parts a smart and sexy dissection of male sexual ineptitude, The Menace is cerebral and detached and has a preponderance of slower numbers, lacking on the debut. Elastica split a year later, releasing this statement:

 

“Believe it or not elastica have been together for almost ten years which is probably as long as any band should be together. I know it’s hard to believe but then we did spend quite a while in the middle dithering and being perfectionists. The band has broken up on extremely good terms with each other. Any personal problems from years ago have been happily put to bed – and I think we all agree that we had an amazing time.”

Of the original lineup, Frischmann is currently living in Colorado and is studying psychology. She has produced material for MIA and White Rose Movement and fronted a BBC3 architecture series. Donna Matthews is head of the Christian union at Dartlington College of Arts; Justin Welch is married and living in Devon; Annie Holland’s whereabouts are unknown.

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