You know that famous Marlon Brando line from On The Waterfront? Well this lot really coulda been contenders for the indie-pop crown in the late 80s.

There’s a great story as to how they got their name in that a local journalist in Bristol was interviewing the drummer and asked who else was in the group. The reply of ‘oh it’s just me and my flatmates’ provided the light-bulb apove the head moment for all concerned.

The thing is The Flatmates were, for the most part, literally folk who lived together under the one roof. It was singer/guitarist Martin Whitehead who was the initial mainstay of the band in 1985. He recruited Rocker on drums whose roommate Kath Beach came in on bass. Yet another roommate – Debbie Haynes – then joined to take on vocal duties allowing Whitehead to concentrate on lead guitar.

Whitehead had a finger in many pies in the scene building up in Bristol, including the management of the most revered indie venue in the city, which enabled The Flatmates to offer themselves as support act for any singer or band passing through – and there were many as a result of the C86 movement.

By October 1986 they were able to release their debut single on Subway Organisation Records which had been founded by, yup you guessed it, Martin Whitehead. By now there was a real buzz about the band with much positive press and reviews.  And no wonder, as it was an absolute belter of a 45, described with great accuracy by one critic as a fusion of Buzzcocks with The Shangri-Las :-

mp3 : The Flatmates – I Could Be In Heaven

After ust eight gigs Kate Beach quit the band and and was replaced by Sarah Fletcher – it wasn’t the last time in what was a short history that the Flatmates fell out – the drummer was next to go (although to be fair it was the need to concentrate on her career as a dental surgeon more than anything else which forced the change) ; then the replacement bass player was herself replaced.

In the meantime, a second guitarist – Tim Rippington – was recruited but in less than a year had been sacked after turning up drunk at a gig at the University of London and fightig with the rest of the band as well as members of the audience.  This was not twee pop by any stretch of the imagination.

The band split for good in late 1989 with just five singles to show for their efforts.  But they are still very fondly remembered by many.

It was the debut single which appears on CD 86 and here’s the two tracks that made up its b-side:-

mp3 : The Flatmates – Tell Me Why
mp3 : The Flatmates – So In Love With You



5 thoughts on “NEXT YEAR’S NOSTALGIA FEST (Part 39 of 48)

  1. According to discogs, Whitehead reformed The Flatmates in 2013 and they have released two more singles since then. Pretty soon every band we ever listened to in the 80s will be gigging again! Yay! Except this lot, who’ll no doubt fall out again! I enjoyed today’s trip down memory lane though.

  2. Yep they’ve reformed and done many gigs, and released a couple of singles. Not the same line-up though. A new singer – only Martin Whitehead & Rocker remain from the original line-ups

  3. Thanks JC The Flatmates! Top band! Saw them quite a few times live in Bristol, Sarah worked lunchtimes in a pub on Gloucester Rd I frequented (Prince Of Wales) & Debbie worked in a health food shop just up the road – small town ! Rocker has/had a ‘gig’ with Dandelion radio I believe…..

  4. saw these in bristol a couple of years ago! fantastic with a live wire new singer! who whitehead said, was the best yet! great night!

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