One of North Devon’s top bands back after decades apart

A band who are ‘arguably the biggest unsigned band of the late 80s’ have reformed to sell out venues across North Devon after more than 30 years apart. The band dates back as far as 1984 when locals flocked to Zenaxis in Barnstaple, Marisco in Woolacombe or The Kings Arms in Bideford to see the band then known as Camp Africa.

Ricki James, lead singer, explained: “We were playing all our original material, and then we decided to take our sound to London. The three original members of Camp African went there in 1985 and added two to become a five-piece band known as Love Parade, we quickly established ourselves as a hot act and garnered large followings and the attention of major record labels.

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He said they had performed at some of London’s most prominent venues, including Rock Garden in Covent Garden, in front of 3,000 fans. They have also played at Dingwalls, Camden Palace, Astoria and the Hippodrome. Before the band were offered a contract with EMI, they toured Norway and toured southern England; however, the band were uninterested in signing, wanting to remain independent, and broke up after a final gig at Camden Palace in 1988.

Love Parade the band

Fast forward to 2019 and the band returned to play John Copp, the bassist’s wedding. The response was such that the members decided to go into the studio and record the songs, which attracted so much attention. Consequently, the first album was released on April 8, with two more albums on the way, and a launch party is taking place on April 30 at Center Stage.

Guitarist Peter Heaton added: “I had forgotten how much fun it was to be in a band. We went into the studio and started recording, and compared paying hundreds for three chances to get your recording in the 1980s it was so much easier to do it digitally it’s a light years difference and so much fun and easier we ended up with insane quality recording we got everything perfect in terms of our idea, how far to take it to sound quality is phenomenal, and the end mixes and main mixes are beyond belief.”

He said they started working on the album in 2019, recording it with Pound House Productions outside of Braunton and having it mastered by Pete Maher, who has worked with U2, Oasis and Red Hot. Chilli Peppers. “We sound similar to those,” Peter said. “All the songs on this album were written in 1986, so they have a retro feel to them. We now play them in a more mature way, using the best technology available to us. The album is available for download on Amazon and iTunes, and it’s available on all 150 major streaming platforms.

“Everyone I’ve played snippets of what we’ve done so far said it was along a combination of who we are, the Love Parade, then a bit of Simple Minds, a a bit of U2 and a bit of Duran Duran. That’s the period we come from. The other thing to keep in mind is that it’s all completely independent. We don’t have a management company or promoters who work for us without having marketing teams working for us. It’s all driven by the fact, we love doing it, and we’ve been very lucky with the support we’ve managed to get from that part of the world.”

Ricki added: “For us, after 33 years, just being alive is an achievement after everything we’ve been through. What’s weird is that we all showed up for the first rehearsal and we looked at each other and said, ‘so this is what you look like now.’ The first rehearsal, we all just talked to each other because we hadn’t seen each other in years.”

The band also recently played a gig where they supported Madness. Ricki explained: “We were invited to play at a private gig for a friend who lives on a private estate near Henley-on-Thames. “He asked me who I would play for his birthday, and he wanted someone one suitable for its 350 guests aged between 10 and 80. The obvious choice fell on Madness. We had the biggest stage we had ever played on, which would be adequate for a festival of 100,000 people, but there were only 350 people at this very private reception, and we were the opening act. It was a treat and it was a great experience.”

You can catch Love Parade live at Barnstaple’s new concert venue, Center Stage, 2 Riverview Commercial Centre, Riverside Road, on Saturday April 30 from 8pm. Tickets cost £10. Tickets are available through Black tie and masquerade masks are encouraged.

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