When The Pastels formed in Glasgow in the early 80s, Postcard Records boss Alan Horne assumed they had been invented by Orange Juice‘s Edwyn Collins “just to annoy him”. A decade later, Kurt Cobain would name them as his favourite band.
Therein was the enigma of The Pastels; loathed by those who misconstrued them as twee anorak-clad waifs, hailed by others who saw them as the archetype of an almost forgotten indie realism.
Consequently, fey frontman Stephen Pastel has acquired a unique cult status at odds with his day-to-day existence behind the counter of the record shop he co-owns in Glasgow.
Born Stephen McRobbie, Pastel admits that his group’s career was “probably the oddest trajectory of any band ever”.
Releasing their first single, Heavens Above, in 1982, they spent the next four years jingle-jangling their way from Rough Trade to Creation, then Glass – by which time they’d been hijacked by NMEs mid-80s indie zeitgeist, C86.
With The Pastels finally gaining new fans and with Stephen helping to launch the 53rd & 3rd label, instead of basking in his fame as ‘The King of Schmindie’, he was studying to become a librarian at Strathclyde University!
After a personnel shake-up in 1991 (the year their single Speeding Motorcycle made NME ‘Single of the Week’) the group became extremely sporadic. The ensuing decade saw just two studio albums, a remix CD and a film soundtrack (featuring a vocal cameo from Jarvis Cocker).
The Pastels celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2006 and Stephen still refuses to give up his day job.
Stephen Pastel (McRobbie)
Brian Superstar (Taylor)
Annabel ‘Aggi’ Wright