I1 — Inspiral Carpets
When band members take it upon themselves to design their own logos, nine times out of ten it’s a graphic disaster. But just once in a while, a home-grown doodle hits the spot — perfectly. Take a bow, Inspiral Carpets.
The band’s trademark cow logo was sketched by Farfisa organist Clint Boon who, according to his less-than-discreet band mates, had something of a fetish for these farmyard favourites.
Part of the floppy haired, baggy trousered, 1980s ‘Madchester’ scene, the Inspirals formed an unholy trinity with the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Perhaps less commercially successful than their counterparts, they had arguably the most distinctive sound, an infectious take on 1960s pop psychedelia, driven by Boon’s swirling organ playing. They were perennial John Peel favourites, troubling the Top 20 with several singles, including ‘This Is How It Feels’ (1990) and ‘Saturn 5’ (1994).
At their height, Inspiral Carpets certainly became associated with all things bovine. They used projections of cows during their live shows, and their die-hard fans literally used to ‘moo’ them on stage every night. “I assure you it was mooing and not booing,” said bassist Martyn Walsh in a 2003 interview for ‘Drowned in Sound’*.
“[The cow association] comes from the fact some of the guys came from oop in t’hills getting on towards Oldham, and it wasn’t exactly rare to see cows in the fucking field. I think people maybe looked way too deep into it. The slides of cows showed up more than anything because it’s not really what you expect to see in a band playing music.”
More than just a logo, the cow proved a financial lifeline for the band, who sold truckloads of T-shirts, featuring a cig-smoking, sunglasses-wearing cow, along with the candid slogan ‘cool as fuck’. Every so often some poor, unfortunate student would get arrested for contravening the British obscenity laws, and low and behold, Inspiral Carpets would be in the local news once again.
The band used their T-shirt money to pay for studio time and even set up their own record label called, suitably enough, Cow Records. Apocryphally, one of their exasperated managers noted that the band made more money from T-shirt sales than record sales.
Another widely circulated fact about Inspiral Carpets was that a certain Noel Gallagher was, at one time, their roadie. “Well he wasn’t really a roadie,” says Walsh. “He was just one of those people who hangs around with you at gigs and tries to drink any beer that you’ve got. He auditioned yeah but, he failed because he couldn’t sing!”
*You can read the full ‘Drowned in Sound’ interview here.
We were shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic and untimely death of Inspiral Carpets’ drummer Craig Gill.