The Diesel Kings were a Falkirk folk / rock crossover who were formed as Shotgun Religion in late 1987 by Ross Cunningham (bass / vocals), Emma Hunter (violin / vocals), Eddie McKenzie (vocals / guitar), David Rourke (drums / vocals). Changing their name to The Diesel Kings in April 1989, the band played extensively throughout that year, building up a strong local following. This was helped by a tape recorded by Cocteau Twins / Prefab Sprout producer Jon Turner at Edinburgh's Palladium Studios in June. With Hunter suffering a serious shoulder complaint, forcing her to give up violin, the band were helped out by ex-Run Riot frontman Chris McCarron (keyboards / guitar) in early 1990. Cunningham left in March, and was briefly replaced by ex-Influx bass player Kenny McColl for a Soup Dragons support, however when the date fell through the band fell apart.
Whilst McColl moved to Hamburg and McCarron formed his own act, Outspoken, McKenzie and Rourke started looking for a new line-up. A brief return by Cunningham later in the year (after which he formed his own act Someone's Daughter) and a brief spell with Glaswegian violinist Julie Boyle in 1991 did not bear any fruit, and the duo relocated to Glasgow.
December 1991 saw them finally recruit a band, with Kenny McColl (bass, and back from Hamburg), Maria Elena Mateo (keyboards / vocals) & Becky Wood (violin / vocals) joining. Six months rehearsal led to a nine track home made cassette album, "Special", in the summer (named after McColl's habit of calling wrong notes "special" notes). The band played some dates at the end of summer, after which McColl moved to London, and then New York, where he worked under the name Subverse and continues as one of the people behind The Tartan Specials. His replacement on bass was former We Free Kings drummer Greg Drysdale, who helped out until the end of the year. A heavy live schedule was rounded off with a tour as backing musicians for an acoustic version of Goodbye Mr MacKenzie in December 1992.
Drysdale left at the end of the year, to return to drums with The Cole Porters, and was replaced by Andy Wood, bass player with Glasgow band, Auntie Rose, and future husband of Diesel Kings violinist Brooks. The band played constantly over the next six months with acts like The McClusky Brothers, Travis, The Lost Soul Band, The Humpff Family & The Skoubhie Dubh Orchestra, culminating in a successful London Mean Fiddler date in June 1993.
After this a permanent bass player was found in the shape of ex-Missing Link member Grant Paterson, whilst Andy Wood later joined Zuba. This allowed the band to continue touring for the next year with Martin Stephenson and the Daintees & The Kevin McDermott Orchestra, and again with The Lost Soul Band & The Humpff Family. As well as these supports, and a constant string of headline dates, the band also played constantly with a stripped down acoustic line-up in bars and pubs around the country.
1994 began in the same busy way, playing with The Pearlfishers, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, and Ian Acher (of Snow Patrol), whilst recording sessions and live concerts for Northsound & BBC Radio Scotland. September 1994 saw the band release of debut self-financed single, "Matadors & Scavengers", on their own Seminal Records label, which was promoted with more radio (and TV) work and a string of dates across Scotland (some with The Supernaturals & Thrum). Exposure on Radio 1 (the Steve Wright show!) led to a Europe-wide deal with Polygram offshoot, Music Of Life, and the release of "Purple Rain etc." in 1995. In May 1995 the band played a final couple of sold out dates on the one night in Glasgow (at King Tuts & Mayfest) before retreating into full time rehearsals over the summer. This was a particularly fruitful time for the band creatively, with over 100 songs written in the next four months, however a shift in musical direction led to the band changing their name to The Sublimes in October 1995, minus violinist Wood.
In 2002 Seminal Records released a belated album of Diesel Kings tracks, recorded live in rehearsal. McKenzie & Paterson later played with The International Pop Assassins.
"Special" (cassette album, 1992)
"Matadors & Scavengers" (CD EP, Seminal Records, 1994)
"Purple Rain etc" (CD single, Music Of Life, 1995)
"Songs Of The Open Road" (CD album, Seminal Records, 2002)
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