It’s become a common fact, particularly amongst social historians that following a big economic downturn, a fresh boom of creativity sparks some sort of cultural revolution. Born in 1972 to lower middle class parents, singer/songwriter Matt Everitt grew up hating the political establishment of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government and like most young people, craved the possibility of change. Like many people of his generation, Everitt was motivated to restore a sense of positivity back into the lower working classes who had been suppressed under Thatcherism. Suddenly, throughout Britain, instead of picking up doll cards or road sweeps, teenagers found guitars. A social liberation for the communist, Marxist movement but this social revolution was about to shake up the whole of the musical landscape forever.
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The emergence of Grunge from America during the late eighties and early nineties had shaken the very foundations of popular culture both in Britain and throughout the world. Watershed moments like Nirvana’s appearance on Channel Four’s The Word had helped to cement Grunge as a movement in the UK but it never became something that was ours. Teenagers in Britain were crying out for music that represented their lives, hopes and dreams and the new guitar sound seemed to fit the mould. Following the popularity of Suede’s 1993 self titled debut album, Oasis and Blur quickly followed suit and by the time Stuart Maconie coined the term Britpop, there was a whole roll call of bands who were unexpectedly part of this increasingly high profile revolution.
Matt Everitt joined the indie band Menswear in 1995 as replacement for the former drummer Todd Parmenter who left the band prior to their commercial success. As a young musician, Everitt never thought it would be possible to become famous. Growing up in a middle class family, the concept of fame and how to attain it seemed a million miles from his reality. A keen drummer who idolised Ringo Starr, that was the extent of Everitt’s relationship with a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. Yet in just a matter of months, he went from jamming in his bedroom to being the drummer in one of the definitive bands of the Britpop phenomenon.
Menswear’s 1995 album Nuisance would unknowingly help to form the early foundations of the Britpop sound with its experimental guitar music and direct lyrics which complimented fellow musicians of the time. Like with nearly all musical genres and movements, Britpop had no definite agenda, nor was it a predetermined concept. It merely arose out of a collective desire for social change through music of a generation who weren’t being represented in society. The Menswear hit Daydreamer deals with issues of psychologically drowning into a mental abyss and dreaming of better things. Swept up in the melee of the nineties’ version of rock ‘n’ roll, Everitt suddenly found himself appearing on Top Of The Pops which was still the landmark on which musical careers were still judged.
Growing up in a middle class family with parents who were the first generation to go to university, from a very early age, Matt developed an awareness of having high expectations. Studying Visual Communication Design at Middlesex University in the early nineties offered Everitt the opportunity to spread his wings and moving to London became a significant rite of passage. No longer was university regarded as something for the educational elite but just a phase of life. This arguably is what separates the Britpop generation from both its predecessors and the artists who followed because they found themselves in a societal bubble which had never been created before. This wasn’t just music, it was a cultural awakening!
Yet such a cultural awakening had to have the physical means on which to exist and for any band to function, they are required to have a beat in which everything else happens. Matt rightfully feels that the role of the drummer is somewhat taken for granted by the rest of the band but remains absolutely vital to the desired sound. His hero Ringo Starr is frequently the subject of criticism over his musical abilities as a drummer to the extent where people don’t even credit him for being the best drummer in The Beatles. To Matt, this is just insane as the drummer is able to set the tone for the rest of the song and without it, there would be no music. A drummer and a beat is absolutely integral to establishing a sound that remains throughout a song and without it, the song would cease to exist. This is why Ringo Starr remains his absolute idol and meeting him was one of the highlights in a career which has spawned so many.
Following the break up of Menswear in 1996, Everitt joined the soft rock group Montrose Avenue and enjoyed success just as the Britpop phenomenon was coming to an end. Ironically his experience in Montrose Avenue was an all together positive one and despite arguably not enjoying as much commercial success as Menswear, he felt more akin with the style of MA. The concept of Britpop remains a difficult one to define and to pinpoint when and where it ended is even harder. Being in Montrose Avenue, Matt didn’t have to live up to the expectations of someone else as everyone in the band had started from the same place. This gave them the required incentive and drive to make their own success in a booming period for the British music industry. Yet just as Montrose Avenue were hitting their stride, the flame of Britpop began to fade.
By 1998 the live music circuit was changing. It felt like with New Labour’s landslide victory a year previously had been the ultimate climax of modern socialism and the middle classes no longer had to be the underclass. Times were definitely changing and the catalyst which influenced the Britpop generation was no longer in existence. By 1998 teenagers and students had found Girl Power or American punk to relate with their own place they were in and didn’t want melancholic soft rock which their parents now liked. In May 1998 The Verve took to Haigh Hall in Wigan for what would become a significant night in the story of Britpop. Playing to an underweight crowd proved the ultimate symbol that the Britpop era was over and while bands like Oasis remained in the spotlight, the party was over.
In later years, Matt Everitt would turn the musical tables and become a successful broadcaster first for XFM and later 6Music. Today Everitt runs his own production company Cup and Nuzzle where he assists in the development and production of podcast formats, something that he knows a great deal about from his later career as a radio host and broadcaster. No stranger to the art of the podcast, Everitt has presented the popular BBC series The First Time where he offers music legends the opportunity to relive significant landmarks in their life and career. From Dave Grohl to his hero Ringo Starr, the cream of musical excellence continue to lineup to be interviewed by the man who is passionate about his own art. Yet despite broadcasting success, Matt Everitt shall forever be associated with the musical era which changed the world and that’s very exciting. A Britpop season wouldn’t be complete without a really in depth analysis of the social impact of the movement and thankfully Everitt is more than qualified to do just that.