Scouse Pop - Paul Skillen

Scouse Pop - Paul Skillen

To be Somebody: Ambition and the Desire to be Different

Scouse Pop - Paul Skillen

Paul Skillen [+-]
University of Chester
Paul Skillen works as Programme Leader in Education Studies at University of Chester. He has recently published a chapter in Social Theory and Educational Research (Routledge, April 2013). Alongside working in Education, Paul has also maintained a passion for Liverpool music. In the late seventies and early eighties Paul wrote articles for the fanzine Merseysound edited by Radio Merseyside’s Roger Hill. He reviewed and interviewed many local bands. Paul developed an in-depth knowledge of the local music scene during this time and saw the rise of many of the local bands to national and international success. The knowledge came to good use when in 1985 he travelled to Frankfurt to help Klaus Schwartze compile the legendary two-volume ‘Scouse Phenomenon’ a book of family trees which outlined the incestuous web of musicians who were the Liverpool music scene of the time and archived their reviews and releases. Paul was also involved in his own recording career with his band This Final Frame, releasing records in UK and Europe as well as achieving great popularity in the Philippines where This Final Frame still release albums on Universal Records. This Final Frame receives national and international radio play and have made television appearances.


The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate how the individuals who dominated the music scene in Liverpool were determined to bring something new and innovative to pop music. The desire to be different would separate the individuals from the bland derivative groups of the day who dominated the charts. The stories of how the bands became auteurs and established themselves as ‘Somebody’ took several routes. Colin Vearncombe of Black comments that We were all in our late teens and thought that we knew what to do despite the fact that we were all foot-shooters. When you are young you can only see the thing that you are aiming for and the road that you are on. It didn’t matter about our circumstances we were going for it. Ian McNabb of The Icicle works comments that People just laughed at anyone considering a career in music at the time. After The Bunnymen the ground became more fertile. Everyone in our band had their own style and we did what we wanted to do. Liverpool at the time had so many bands and the competition to stand out became the main focus for many. Strong personalities were being formed to stand out and attract attention in whatever ways they could. The likes of Pete Burns, Paul Simpson and a Flock of Seagulls developed their music along with a distinctive look which would distinguish them from all others. Ali Score from A Flock of Seagulls recalls the efforts they made to stand out from the crowd: Liverpool was a hotbed of music and all the bands were different. It was an exciting time. If you wanted to do anything or be anybody you had to be in music. Mike had a hairdressers and Frank worked for him. Music and weird hairstyles was on way of being different. The hair was a big part. People need something to focus on. Our fashion was a factor. Other individuals such as Julian Cope and Henry Priestman arrived in Liverpool from outside the city to discover their own personality and be part of a scene. In a city of many bands with fierce competition for success, doing something different was a necessity and being different was essential. As Henry Priestman explains about his early days at Art School in Liverpool “I had no idea what to do with my life. I couldn’t write, so what type of band was I going to be in. I wanted to do something new and different.”

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Skillen, Paul. To be Somebody: Ambition and the Desire to be Different. Scouse Pop. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 29-94 Oct 2018. ISBN 9781781798935. Date accessed: 22 Jul 2024 doi: 10.1558/equinox.24084. Oct 2018

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