From left to right: MC Lord Magrão, Greig Stewart, Fyfe Dangerfield and Aristazabal Hawkes
MC Lord Magrão
Guillemots (sometimes written gUiLLeMoTs) are a BRIT Award nominated indie rock band formed in November 2004 by Fyfe Dangerfield. The band consists of 4 members: Fyfe Dangerfield, MC Lord Magrão, Aristazabal Hawkes, Greig Stewart. Their first album, Through the Windowpane, was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize. The band has experienced some chart success, with their single "Get Over It" reaching number 20 in the UK Singles Chart in March 2008. Their second album, Red, reached number 9 in the UK Albums Chart in the same month.
Fyfe Dangerfield began writing songs in his native Birmingham and then in Bromsgrove. His early band, Senseless Prayer, recorded a session for John Peel's Radio 1 show in 1999. Dangerfield then began song writing under the name "Fyfe Dangerfield and the Accident", and in 2004 he featured alongside Misty's Big Adventure, Mike in Mono, Dreams of Tall Buildings, and X Is Greater Than Y on a promotional CD that was offered free with The Birmingham Post, called Broader Than Broad Street. He then joined old school friend, Paul "Booby" Tooby, on his "Ragamuffin Blues but Holes in my Shoes" tour.
Dangerfield had moved to Bromsgrove, attending Bromsgrove School in 1988; he moved to London in 2002, where he recruited the current line up (although Alex Ward was also at Bromsgrove School). He also became a maverick music teacher for Cranbrook College.
The name of the band is the plural of the name of a group of seabirds (but most often meaning the Common Guillemot Uria aalge) and should be pronounced 'gillimott' (and not with a French accent). The 4-piece have often been joined by two saxophone and woodwind players, Alex Ward and Chris Cundy, who are known as the "Bridled Guillemots" (a real-life variation of the band's namesake). Guillemots often use quirky musical instruments, such as the sound of a typewriter in the song "Who Left The Lights Off, Baby?", and MC Lord Magrao has used industrial power tools to create new sounds on their records.
Dangerfield, Ward and Cundy are also founding members of the jazz ensemble Gannets.
Birds are the source of inspiration for the band not just in name. For example, their 2006 EP From the Cliffs continues the Guillemot theme, the bird's natural habitat being steep sea cliffs. In their MySpace entry their influences are given as 'BIRDSONG first and foremost', although the only artist that all the band members have publicly stated as being an influence is Björk. Their first album features recordings of Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata and European Robin Erithacus rubecula, as well as the line 'flitting like a flycatcher', a reference to the mercurial movements of these birds, and the song "Redwings", after the thrush species of the same name. In June 2007, the band appeared on the BBC Four documentary, Why Birds Sing, contributing their musical talents to a Birdsong-inspired collaboration called "The Twitch".
The band were initially signed to Fantastic Plastic, who released their debut album in 2006, but after offers from several majors they eventually moved to Polydor.
The band ended a very successful 2005 opening for Rufus Wainwright's sold-out UK tour and began 2006 by being awarded fifth place in the BBC Sound of 2006 survey. The single "We're Here" was named "Single of the Week" on the Jungalist website on 27 March 2006, and on 19 June 2006 they played their first Top of the Pops performance to promote their third single "Made-Up Lovesong #43". It was a memorable show: guitarist MC Lord Magrao played his guitar to a set of mirrors, reflecting his performance back to the crowd.
Guillemots' debut album, Through The Windowpane was released on July 10 and reached number 17 in the album charts. It was nominated for the 2006 Mercury Music Prize, and was second favourite to win from the outset, but lost out to Arctic Monkeys debut Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. It received a good deal of critical acclaim on its release, scoring an average of 81% on metacritic.com's overview of the critical response . During Paul McCartney's "Radio 1 Legends" show, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the station, he played some of his favorite songs. One of those was the song "Little Bear", "a very brave way to open an album" he said. He stated his admiration for the track's "beautiful orchestration".
"Trains To Brazil" was promoted in September, 2006 and was given out as "Single of the Week" on iTunes., as their fourth (second chart-eligible) single; a new version of "Annie, Let's Not Wait" was released as their next single, on 15 January 2007.
The latest album, Red was released on 24 March 2008., preceded by the single "Get Over It" on March 17. "Get Over It" became Guillemots' highest placed single, reaching number 20 in the UK Singles Chart, while Red reached number 9 in the UK Album Chart.
On 18 June 2009, a post appeared on the Guillemots' official website stating that work had commenced on their third album.
Guillemots have made numerous live performances since they first appeared in the music world in 2004. Their first full scale UK tour began in April 2006 and ended towards the end of May that year. After a brief period putting the finishing touches to their debut album (and performing a set for Gideon Coe's BBC 6 Music show in June) they began the second leg of dates in October, which ran until early November. They are known for their live performances, which are varied every night. They often perform songs differently live to how they are performed on their recordings. The Autumn 2006 tour saw the live "premiere" of many of their songs, including "By the Water" (which features double-bassist Aristazabal Hawkes on vocals), "She's Evil" (which features MC Lord Magrão on vocals) and the rarely performed "Cats' Eyes" from their debut EP.
One of their most notable live performances to date came in October 2006 at the first BBC Electric Proms when the band performed 7 tracks (including four from their Of the Night EP) with a full orchestra, with songs transcribed and arranged for such a performance by Dangerfield himself. This included a rare (and somewhat unusual) performance of the song "Bad Boyfriend" where the entire band donned animal masks.
Support on Guillemots' tours is often varied, usually with two support acts for each show - one main support who stay with them for the majority of the tours' dates (Misty's Big Adventure in early 2006 and The Last Town Chorus for their Autumn tour), as well as a first support act, specific to the location (examples include Beerjacket, The Courtesy Group, The Bellagios, Richard Burke and Grace and Delete). Another common support/friend of the band is Joan as Police Woman, who the band met while performing as support for Rufus Wainwright. In 2006 they did a Take-Away Show video session shot by Vincent Moon.
Guillemots have also performed live with political songwriter Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly and supported Snow Patrol at Wembley Arena in December 2006, in a performance culminating in a lightsaber duel between the band's tour manager, and MC's guitar tech, on stage as Dangerfield played percussion on a tray .
The band appeared at the V Festival both in 2007 and in 2008. They played Marlay Park on 25 August 2007 as one of the support acts to Damien Rice.
Guillemots, along with Sons and Daughters supported KT Tunstall at the 2008 Eden Sessions, held at the Eden Project, in Cornwall. The band played a free concert in Huddersfield on 29 June 2008, along with Elliot Minor and The Script. They also played a set on the O2 Wireless Main Stage in London's Hyde Park on 4 July 2008, supporting acts such as The Wombats, Dirty Pretty Things, Beck and Morrissey.
They performed the Uncut Arena at the 2008 Latitude Festival on Saturday 19 July; in addition to this, they also played a live set to a screening of David Lynch's film Eraserhead at the Music & Film Arena on the preceding Friday. The band performed as the first warm-up act, followed by Editors, for R.E.M. on the 27 August 2008 at the Southampton Rose Bowl.
In June 2008, Guillemots had their Kentish Town Forum gig filmed and later broadcast on Channelbee.
In December 2008, they played an exclusive impromptu Super Busking gig in London's Covent Garden as part of Covent Garden's Christmas Delight celebrations. The performance took place in-sync with a visual light display by United Visual Artists in aid of homeless charity Crisis. The live performance can be seen exclusively on the Covent Garden website.
In February 2009, they played themselves and performed one of their songs in the episode "Last Night a DJ Saved My Life" of the TV series FM.
Their music has also appeared on the soundtrack of several British television shows such as Hollyoaks, The Inbetweeners, Waterloo Road and EastEnders. iTunes added rare demo "Sea Out" to its music library, following its airing in the background in an episode of Gossip Girl. "Made-up Lovesong #43" is used as background music on Sky Sports Champions League games