English indie pop band East Village was formed in the mid-1980s by brothers Martin and Paul Kelly.
Their music drew heavily on 1960s bands such as The Byrds, The Beatles, and Buffalo Springfield, and though the band only ever troubled the lower reaches of the UK indie charts, they have gone on to earn cult status since their break up in the early 1990s.
Joined by Johnny Wood (guitar/vocals) in 1984 and Spencer Smith (drums) in 1985, they recorded the Strike Up Matches EP released as a 500-only pressing (under the name Episode Four) on the Lenin and McCarthy imprint that year. The EP has gone on to become one of the most sought-after releases of the C86 era.
By 1987, the band had relocated to London, where they recorded two EPs for Jeff Barrett’s Sub Aqua label. They toured extensively, but the collapse of Sub Aqua in 1989 left the band without a deal, and they recorded their debut album using money donated by a friend of the band (Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne).
The record was label-less for some time until the fledgling Heavenly Recordings picked it up and paid for its completion.
The single, Circles, was released in 1991, and the band played a sold-out show at the New Cross Venue in South London but ended the gig by splitting up on stage.
The album Drop Out (1993) was mixed and released posthumously on Heavenly. A collection of all the band’s early singles (along with unreleased demos), Hot Rod Hotel, was released on the Australian label Summershine in 1994, giving the band a radio hit with Silver Train.
Martin Kelly became the Managing director of Heavenly Songs and its sister company Heavenly Films. Paul Kelly and Spencer Smith played in the Saint Etienne touring band during the 1990s before Paul Kelly split to form Birdie with ex-Dolly Mixture member Debsey Wykes.