The Others

The Zodiac, Oxford
25th October 2004

The Others are one of these bands that are a cultural, rather than musical, phenomenon.

Only on their second single release, and with their debut album not due until the new year, they have nevertheless managed to amass a loyal fan base – or rather, a huge group of friends – dubbed “The 853 Kamikaze Stage Diving Division” after their antics at gigs. A leading promoter of “guerilla gigging” – they have held impromptu gigs in places like a London tube train and the Radio One reception – they are less of a band than a movement, with the music being almost an afterthought. Lead singer Dominic Masters apparently has over 1600 fans’ phone numbers; part of the band’s manifesto is “celebrity is an empty vessel”, and the barriers – both metaphorical and physical – between the fans and the band are noticeably broken tonight.

Masters sings about very personal subjects, like his marriage break-up, bisexuality, the deaths of close friends, and a drug-dealing mother; all admirable, but The Others’ live sound would be far more compelling if as much emotion and care had been put into the songwriting. Masters’ painful-sounding (though noticeably passionate) shouting is rather off-putting for the casual observer who has been drawn to the band’s live performance by their music rather than their message.

The bass-driven guitar rock of most recent single Stan Bowles – about the legendary QPR player, and apparently dedicated to Masters’ close friend, Pete Doherty – is probably the best indication of The Others’ sound. This Is For The Poor emits palpable anger and frustration; its them-and-us lyrics, like “This is for the poor and not the rich kids”, seem to be aimed at those suffering social injustice, or maybe just those who see it and want to join Masters’ let’s-complain-about-it gang. Whichever it is, it seems to be this, rather than their music, that is making The Others the current flavour of the month.