A Flock Of Seagulls - Biography
There are some bands that will forever be linked with a particular time and sound in music. A Flock of Seagulls will be eternally anchored to their early ‘80s heyday, just as much for their visual image as for their music. All one has to do is mention a “Flock of Seagulls haircut,” and anyone who lived through that time period will know exactly what you’re talking about.
In the late ’70s, Mike Score and his friend Frank Maudsley were both young hairdressers (aptly enough) in Liverpool, England with a keen interest in music and fashion. Score was fascinated with the synthesizer-based bands that were coming out of the UK at the time and soon bought his own synth so he and Maudsley could work on some musical notions together. With Maudsley on bass and Score’s younger brother Ali on drums, the three gathered after work above the shop where Score and Maudsley worked to jam and write songs together. The trio decided they needed a bigger sound, so they placed an ad in a local paper for a guitarist. Originally, they added guitarist Willie Woo. Shortly after adding Woo, the Score brothers had a falling out and Ali was briefly replaced by drummer Mark Edmondson. When Edmondson became ill, Ali rejoined the band and the group continued writing songs. The other members of the band decided that Woo’s sound wasn’t right for the group, so they went in search again for a different guitarist and soon recruited Paul Reynolds. Reynolds’ echoing, heavily-effected sound was a perfect addition to what the band was trying to capture.
The new group adopted the name A Flock Of Seagulls from a line in the Stranglers’ song “Toiler On The Sea.” They adopted the fashion of the New Romantic movement, though they were late enough on the scene to never really be included as part of that musical trend. As hairdressers enamored with the New Romantic style, all the members of the band had distinctive hairstyles — but none more so than Mike Score, who came up with a “waterfall” style variation on the standard New Wave fringe haircut that swept the sides of his bleached blonde hair up and forward, cascading down across his forehead and face in a long, pointy bang. The group took their synth-based sound to clubs and began to build a following. The group soon came to the attention of former Be Bop Deluxe leader Bill Nelson and his manager Mark Rye, who were starting a small label called Cocteau Records. A Flock of Seagulls recorded and released a 4-song EP on Cocteau in 1981 called Modern Love is Automatic, which included the song “Telecommunication.” Though the EP didn’t sell very well, “Telecommunication” became a sleeper hit in dance clubs and on New Wave-oriented radio. By the end of 1981, A Flock of Seagulls attracted the attention of some of the major labels and signed with Jive Records late in the year.
The group entered the studio and laid down tracks they had been working on, which resulted in their full-length debut album, A Flock of Seagulls (Jive), released in the spring of 1982. The group made a video for the album‘s first single, “I Ran (So Far Away),” and MTV picked up on its otherworldly ambience, putting it into regular rotation. Modern rock stations in the US began playing the single and it grew to be so popular that it crossed over into regular pop format radio. “I Ran” eventually became a surprise Top Ten hit in the US. A Flock of Seagulls also contained the previously released “Telecommunication” and “Space Age Love Song,” which charted at number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Surprisingly, A Flock of Seagulls wasn’t as popular in their native land, but that was to change in 1983 when the group released the single “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You),” the first single off of their new album Listen (1983 Jive). “Wishing” became a Top Ten hit in the UK and climbed into the Top 40 in the US as well. Though Listen exploited the synthesizers and electronics-driven sound of A Flock of Seagulls, it failed to sell as well and set the stage for the band’s relatively quick decline. The group followed up with 1984’s The Story of a Young Heart (Jive) and scaled back the overt use of synthesizers to concentrate on more of a pop sound. The album only managed to produce one single, “The More You Live, The More You Love,” which anemically charted at number 56 on the Billboard Hot 100 before falling back down. After the album was released, guitarist Reynolds left the band, taking with him part of their distinctive sound.
The band had always played to rapturous audiences in the US and done especially well in the city of Philadelphia. Feeling a change of venue could do them some good and help the sagging fortunes of the band, the Score brothers and Maudsley relocated to Philadelphia in 1986 and recruited guitarist Gary Steadnin and keyboardist Chris Chryssaphis to help them record their next album, 1986’s Dream Come True (Jive). The group tried (in vain) to make themselves over as electric funkateers, but the album bombed badly. Soon after the release of Dream Come True, the band broke up. Frank Maudsley moved back to Liverpool and got into the newsstand business and Ali Score moved to Boston, finding work in the computer industry.
Mike Score was the only band member to stay in Philadelphia. He put a new lineup of A Flock of Seagulls together a few years later with himself as the only original member. The new version of the band put out a single, “Magic” (GNP Crescendo), in 1989 and toured across the US, but broke up shortly after returning from the tour. Score put together another version of the band in 1996 and released the album The Light at the End of the World (1996 I.R.S. Records). The record was pretty much ignored and nothing was heard from Score or the band until 2003 when the VH1 show Bands Reunited managed to reunite the original line-up of the Score brothers, Maudsley, and Reynolds. The four reunited again in 2004 for a small US tour but then broke up again immediately afterwards. Mike Score built yet another version of the band in 2005, and toured in the US through 2006. Though it was reported that the new incarnation of A Flock of Seagulls would release an album in 2007, nothing has yet materialized.