Seahorses Biography

By Paul Stevens

After leaving the 'Roses in 1996 due to musical differences (of course) and after Reni left the previous year, Squire went into hiding for a short while making few appearances. One such appearance, however, was at the huge Oasis gig at Knebworth, where John joined the uni-brow brothers onstage and performed a few tracks. One being the magnificent 8-minute wonder that is 'Champagne Supernova' (available on a ltd edn CD that came with the "…There and then" video) a great track to listen to, John Squire outplays Noel effortlessly. Brilliant.

With The 'Roses finally put to sleep. Squire could finally move on and concerntrate on his next project, without having to worry about what Ian Brown was doing to the name of the band that he had built up so well (after they threatened to release new material by debuting two new tracks. 'High Time' and 'Ice Cold Cube' (eventually adopted by Brown and re-arranged for his debut solo album 'Unfinished Monkey Business'). In a statement released in October 1996, Ian Brown says, "…it's a pleasure to announce the end of The Stone Roses… peace upon you."

It was the 27th November 1996 that John Squire first 'trotted' out with his new project THE SEAHORSES at Buckley Tivoli, a secret gig. Signed to the Geffen label that made The Stone Roses' 'Second Coming' album possible. The Seahorses comprising of Squire and three unknown misfits. Stuart Fletcher (the first to join Squire) who turned out to be a mean little bassist in fact. Chris Helme, the singer, who up to the moment that Squire signed him up had been busking outside 'Woollies' in York. Andy Watts, the drummer and backing vocalist (Squire had admitingly liked the idea of a Reni-style drummer).

The Seahorses debut single 'Love Is The Law', released on 28th April 1997, which had received a lot of airplay prior to release, entered the charts at the number 3 position, an outstanding result for both John and the band. Their debut album 'Do It Yourself' was released the following month (with the track listing: - 'I Want You To Know', 'Blinded By The Sun', 'Suicide Drive', 'The Boy In The Picture', 'Love Is The Law', 'Happiness Is Eggshaped', 'Love Me And Leave Me', 'Round The Universe', '1999', 'Standing On Your Head', 'Hello'. The next single from the album was the terrific track 'Blinded By The Sun', originally written by Chris Helme and guitar adopted and arranged by Squire. The video for this was by far the best and was filmed in an Apollo 13-esque style with the band floating around in space. This, unfortunately, failed to make the top ten, as did their third single 'Love Me And Leave Me' which was written by Squire and contributed to by a certain Liam Gallagher, you may recognise the Oasis-style melody in the verses.

After the release of 'Love Me And Leave Me' founding drummer and backing vocalist Andy Watts was dropped from the band for allegedly not fitting in with the band's image. Watts would go on to front/write and play guitar in his own band, 'Mozer'.

The festival season crept up with the Seahorses appearing at Glastonbury and T In The Park, then a series of gigs and almost a different drummer at each as they tried to find a suitable replacement for Andy Watts. Whoever the drummer was, the band were just as good and it was equally exciting to watch Squire rocking back on his heels and running his fingers up and down the fret board faster than you could see him do it.

Another tour followed then a quiet spell; they retreat to the studio for a few months, apparently working on a follow up album to their 1997 debut. Later in November 1997 they release 'You Can Talk To Me' on the Geffen, it was unique as it was the first collaboration between Squire and singer Helme, as a jolly little number it was alleged to be the first single from the second album. The single was backed by a track called '3 Wide' which was a new sound for the Seahorses. It was a sampled, upbeat, weighty and choppy guitar number, which ended up as the band's opening track for their live performances. The band make appearances on TFI Friday and the song sounds even better live, with Squire already adding new licks to the studio version, a tour followed in December but it was a long time until any details were revealed about a second studio album. The single sadly landed in the charts just out of the top ten at number 15, a little disappointing for the release of new material. After a long search and several temps, a permanent drummer was signed as Andy Watts' replacement. He was 27-year-old Mark Heaney from Peterborough; previously he had been in the army playing rock and jazz.

Squire is interviewed by Select magazine, confirming some details of a follow up album and a potential release of summer 1999. The album with the working title as either Minus Blue or Motorcade was, as he describes it a meatier venture which would be less pop-py than their first with the band spending a lot more time on it (than the 30 days it took to record 'Do It Yourself'). Some new material was then aired at gigs, with tracks like 'City In The Sky', 'Tomb Raid' and 'Moth' and it all sounded pretty promising.

The Seahorses then announce, surprisingly, that they are disbanding; the NME is the first to report this on the 27th February 1999. Squire was interview on radio after recording his 2nd solo album, suggesting that the breakdown of the band was due to singer/acoustic guitarist Chris Helme wanting to run a solo career alongside the Seahorses, which was understandingly something that Squire was uncomfortable with. So Helme went his own way, thinking he could make it on his own, but after five minutes of gigging, he was told otherwise. He would later hook back up with Seahorses bassist, Stu Fletecher and along with Ex-Shed Seven Paul Banks they formed The Yards.

So, alas, we were left without hearing what the Seahorses were capable of via a second album and Squire's record for most albums written with a band was left unbroken.

Quiet from the Squire camp had hit again. Nothing except a strange advert appeared in one week's issue NME in the classified section - looking for a singer and a drummer for 'John Squire's Skunk Works Project'. This was followed by rumours of other artists joining him, the ex-Verve's Simon Jones and Simon Tong and singer Duncan Baxter. However they later went on to form The Shining and no material featuring John Squire was ever released. As a point of interest the drummer of The Shining was none other than Mark Heaney, the Seahorses' final drummer before their demise. The Shining released their debut single 'Quicksilver' on the 15th April 2002.

It was a while after that any new material from the Squire was heard. After the '2nd' (Seahorses) album tracks that were debuted at live gigs, a bootleg appears, simply titled '2nd Album Recordings' consisting of ten studio-recorded tracks, namely: - 'Night Train', 'Anamorphosis', '700 Horses', 'Dolphin', 'Something Tells Me', 'What Can You See?', 'Cocksucker Blue', 'I Want You', 'Tomb Raid' and 'Reach Out', none of them in their finished form but all sounding potentially great. All Seahorses fan that they were never officially released.

Seahorses 2nd Album Recording FAQs

The Seahorses 2nd studio album was never official released. It was scheduled for Summer 1999 release. The songs were apparently all written but the band split before the album was mastered and the tracklisting decided. The most common reason for the band splitting was that Chris Helme wanted to run a solo project alongside The Seahorses, as he has done with his current project, The Yards.

It was never fully mastered.

The album had a working title of either 'Minus Blue' or 'Motorcade'

John Squire had completed the artwork for the album and singles. But as far as I'm aware it has never been seen, I don't believe it was at the recent ICA exhibition.

The tracklisting of the bootleg release - 2nd Album Records was as follows:
01 - Night Train
02 - Anamorphosis
03 - 700 Horses
04 - Dolphin
05 - Something Tells Me
06 - What Can You See?
07 - Cocksucker Blue
08 - I Want You
09 - Tomb Raid
10 - Reach Out

It is highly unlikely that this would've been the final tracklisting. For one reason it includes both 'Night Train' and 'Tomb Raid'. 'Night Train' is a re-working of 'Tomb Raid' which the Seahorses played in the summer of 1998 at various live venues.

The actual track names for 'Something Tells Me' and 'What Can You See?' are actually 'Pi' and 'Into The Light' respectively. John Squire name-checked the tracks in an interview with Select from 1999.

'Moth' is not the same track as 'Anamorphosis', it sounds entirely different.

Other possible songs for the 2nd studio album are 'Feel Like A God', 'Moth', 'Petroleum', 'Pacific Blue', 'City In The Sky', 'Won't Let You Fall'.

After the Seahorses split, John Squire started work on his new project, putting an advert in the NME, listed as John Squire's Skunk Works Project. He later worked with and helped form The Shining before deciding to go solo and take the mic for the first time.

Chris Helme went off and did a bit of solo work soon after the split, while Stuart Fletcher took some time out before putting together The Rising with ex-Shed Seven Paul Banks, Audioweb's Maxi (now with Ian Brown) and new boy David McKellar, they performed a fair few gigs and produced a couple of promo-only EPs but finally split, singer David McKellar went on to form The 88s. Stuart Fletcher and Paul Banks met back up with Chris Helme and they went on to form The Yards. Paul Banks has now parted company, replaced by guitarist Chris Farrell and the band have finished their debut album 'The Yards', which is due for release April '05.

Andy Watts (who left the Seahorses around the time of the release of 'Love Me And Leave Me') went on to form Mozer and even after two very well-produced promo EPs the band split before they had a proper release. Andy Watts made his return to the music scene in 2004 in the form of a solo project and is currently playing gigs around London and putting the finishing touches to his debut LP, 'The World Of Hearts Right Here'.