A successful Wigan indie-rock band is marking three decades since its first single by announcing its first live dates in more than 20 years.
The Railway Children blasted to the top of the British music scene in the 1980s, signing to Virgin Records and releasing three albums while racking up global tours and live dates with the likes of REM and The Smiths.
The group, made up of singer and guitarist Gary Newby, fellow six-stringer Brian Bateman, bassist Stephen Hull and drummer Guy Keegan, became one of Wigan’s best-known musical exports when they signed to Tony Wilson’s legendary Factory Records label and shared a practice venue with The Happy Mondays.
Despite fielding frequent questions from fans the band members assumed they would not set foot on stage together again, but the 30-year anniversary of their debut single A Gentle Sound falling this year put them on the path to a reunion.
And drummer Guy, from Billinge, says it was almost immediately as though they had never split.
He said: “It was Gary’s idea. He had kept our websites up and running and said there was a lot of interest and people were asking as it was 30 years since our first single.
“We met at the Boar’s Head pub in Standish, having not seen each other in 23 years, and we had just clicked back in within 10 or 15 minutes.
“The first rehearsal went pretty well too, I don’t know if it’s a reflex but it all just came flowing back.”
The Railway Children made an instant impact with both their debut single and 1987 full-length album Reunion Wilderness topping the UK indie charts together with second single Brighter.
They released second album Recurrence in 1988 before going in a poppier direction on Native Place and splitting up soon after EMI took over Virgin Records.
Guy played for a while in folk-rockers The Tansads while bassist Stephen and guitarist Brian left music, with the six-stringer picking up his instrument for the first time in two decades for the reunion.
The band will be joined for its new live dates by keyboardist Glenn Hodges and has secured a spectacular first gig back in New York, where Andrew Dickson will be stepping in on guitar duties.
The Railway Children will also play Manchester’s Ruby Lounge and a festival at Butlin’s Minehead and are working on a Wigan date.
Guy said: “We’re really flattered to be asked to play in America. It’s a festival in Brooklyn. We toured the States for months first time round, we were actually more successful over there.
“A Wigan date is still to be confirmed but we would love to play our hometown.”
The band has talked about producing new studio material but currently has no plans to head into the studio.
Guy says the reunion has come at a good time for the band as ’80s influences are quite prominent on the current indie scene.
He said: “The venues have told us there’s a real mix of ages buying tickets. We’re on the melodic, poppy side of indie-rock and that sound has come back again.
“Music always goes in 20-year cycles and I think that has come round again.”
For more information, visit www.facebook.com.groups/therailwaychildren.