Formed in Stourbridge, West Midlands, in 1986, The Wonder Stuff amassed a sizeable local following and released an EP, It’s A Wonderful Day, in 1987.
Along with other Midlands hopefuls Pop Will Eat Itself, Crazyhead and Gaye Bykers On Acid, The Wonder Stuff were lumped in under the banner of ‘grebo rock’ by the music press. But the Wonder Stuff’s strength lay in their melodic pop songs, against an urgent power pop backdrop.
A second single, Unbearable, was strong enough to secure a deal with Polydor at the end of 1987.
Give Give Give Me More More More (1988) proved a minor hit, followed by perhaps the group’s finest moment to date, A Wish Away, full of soaring harmonies.
When the band released their first album, The Eight Legged Groove Machine, in 1988, the British press wrote scores of articles about the band, mainly because of the arrogant self-confidence of their leader, vocalist/guitarist Miles Hunt.
Hunt’s brash public image was The Wonder Stuff personified – mean, self-satisfied, self-serving and scathingly witty. Accordingly, their colourful mixture of pop melodies, loud guitars, sneering lyrics, and touches of dance music was sometimes brilliant and sometimes banal.
Between 1988 and 1993, the West Midlands band kept incorporating more stylistic flourishes to their basic punk and new wave-inspired pop/rock. The band were instant stars in England but America never warmed to their music.
Rob Jones left the band in December 1989 and moved to the US. He passed away in 1993.
At the start of the 90s, The Size Of A Cow got them Top 5 recognition, but after trying to gain a worldwide audience – and duetting with comedian Vic Reeves on a version of Tommy Roe‘s Dizzy which reached #1 in 1991 – the band broke up in July 1994.
A newly-shorn Miles formed a group called Vent (who had to become Vent 414 after legal problems).
The Wonder Stuff reformed again in 2000 and a line-up of some kind (always with Hunt) has existed almost permanently since. He also performs with his side-band, The Miles Hunt Club.
Drummer Martin Gilks was killed in a motorcycle accident in London in April 2006.