The Dear Janes: A Biography
Barbara Marsh is tall, glacial, dark and American. Ginny Clee is hot, red-haired and English. And short. They became The Dear Janes after mutual friend and (now) co-writer Pete Smith suggested that they got together, despite initial reservations Barbara: I had asked her before... Ginny: ...and I said "no fucking way". Barbara: She was almost tactful, at that point. Ginny: Was I? That's a first... From this inauspicious beginning, Barbara and Gin initially became writing partners. It was only after Barbara played a solo gig, that Ginny - who was going puce with envy in the audience at the time - realised that maybe they should give it a go as a band. Ten years and two albums later, sees Barbara & Ginny release SKIRT, their third album and first for their own Sore Thumb label. Recorded on their own gear in a Sunday School in South London (fitting for a pair of women whose most played record has been about girls' wanking), Skirt features contributions from Syd Straw, Billy Bragg & The Blokes, BJ Cole and Ian McLagan, and was produced by Howard Hughes (credits include Peter Murphy, Billy MacKenzie & the Associates among others) and Simon Edwards (whom Ginny had conveniently proposed to on the sleeve notes to their second album, No Skin. He married her.) Their first record, Sometimes I, on Transatlantic Records, featured Phill Brown (engineer), Anthony Thistlethwaite, Roy Dodds and Simon Edwards (whose many credits include Fairground Attraction and Billy Bragg). Since its release in 1994, The Dear Janes have built up a strong following throughout Europe supporting The Proclaimers, The Saw Doctors, Capercailie, Fischer-Z, Mary Black and two high profile dates with The Cranberries at Royal Albert Hall in 1995. By 1996, they'd signed with Geffen in the US and released No Skin, which was recorded in Peter Gabriel's workroom at his Real World Studios in Wiltshire. Guest musicians included major session men John Giblin and Pablo Cook, as well as Dean 'Speedwell' Broderick. Richard Evans produced. The Janes played two UK tours with The Walkabouts and The Mutton Birds. By 1997, The Dear Janes hit America with a 20-date headline tour, plus another 30 gigs with Robyn Hitchcock including a week at New York's Knitting Factory. After that, there were dates with Peter Blegvad, Loudon Wainwright III, Ron Sexsmith and Syd Straw plus a guest appearance on Daisy Bomb on Robyn Hitchcock's A Star for Bram album. Since then, it's been a bit quiet. After hassles with Geffen and an amicable split from their manager, Barbara & Ginny decided to go it alone and start their own label - from Ginny's kitchen table - and after a lengthy gestation due to lack of money, they've emerged with SKIRT. The Janes co-wrote one of the tracks, Ship, with Syd Straw, who performed it with Emmylou Harris at a star-studded benefit in New York earlier this year. Barbara and Ginny financed SKIRT by selling off a kidney each. If you want to know more, email us.