Brussel Spaceship – Hall of Fame
Brussel Spaceship were an indie/rock band active between 1986 and 1993, formed in Oxford, but famous for being from Chichester/Bognor Regis in West Sussex on the south coast of the UK.
Formation and Early Years
Brussel Spaceship formed at Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University) in February 1986 and had a career that spanned eight years with eight releases. Their first billing was under the longer name Brussel Spaceship and the Turquoise Cyclops, which was explained to Oxford Radio’s Kate Halling during an early interview:
We wanted the stupidest name we could think of!
Over the course of the next two years, the band built a dedicated following, releasing And Esau Was a Hairy Man (1986) and Music to Iron By (1988) before they officially went full-time in July 1988.
Originally a five-piece with two guitars, bass, drums, and keyboard, the band became a power trio in 1989, with Ian Stewart, Mike Randon, and Pete ‘Prod’ Pritchard in the lineup. The band remained a three-piece for most of their career (original guitarist James Sharp returned briefly in 1990), with bass duties passed to Andy Hunt and then Les Driscoll.
Power Trio and Norman’s Big Surprise
In their final lineup of Ian Stewart, Mike Randon, and Les Driscoll, the band forged an unforgettable sound, often composed of guitars with delay and phased effects, bass runs and chords, and a sixteen-beat flurry of creative drumming.
The band toured extensively, playing music venues and making festival appearances at Kingston, Yes, Greenbelt, and Glastonbury. They were mainstage headliners for Kingston Festival and were used extensively in promotional videos for the event. Tracks from Norman’s Big Surprise were used as cut-scene backing music, and the video featured a live performance and interviews with the band.
Brussel and Slowdown
The band officially broke up in 1993, but their final album, Slowdown, recorded during a live studio session and released under the abbreviated Brussel name, has left an impression that has lasted three decades.
Ian Stewart subsequently released an EP under the band name Grin and continues to write a perform as a solo artist.
Mike Randon continued to play drums as a session drummer. He now runs a successful drum tutoring business and tours with Bruce Foxton’s band From the Jam.
Les Driscoll played bass for The Cutting Edge alongside Martin Smith, Stuart Garrard, Timothy Jupp, and Stewart Smith, who later had success under the name Delirious?.
Phonotonal Hall of Fame
Brussel Spaceship were inducted into the Phonotonal hall of fame in 2022, thirty years after their last album, Slowdown, which was released in 1992.
Brussel Spaceship Discography
The Messenger, featuring Ian Stewart, recorded Live in Concert in 1985 and released Paradise Regained in 1988. Some of the songs from The Messenger appear on later releases from Brussel Spaceship.
And Esau Was a Hairy Man
- More Than a Dream
- A Step Away
Music to Iron By
- Saving All Your Love For Me Tomorrow
- Coming Home
- Talking Like Strangers
- The Hairy Man on Tour
The Truth About Llamas
- Security Under Love
- A Step Away
- City Streets
- Christmas Song
- New Beginning
- Loves Desire
- I’ve Lost My Glasses
- Paradise Regained
- The Promised Land
- Songs of Fina
- Living 4 The 1
- New Beginning
- I’ve Lost My Glasses
Out of the Bath, Into the Desert
- Coloured Eyes
- Hidden Warfare
- It’s So Easy
- Sometimes I Really Miss My Mum
- Living 4 the 1
- More More More
- Desert Sun
- I Stand Alone
- In Love With a Pinhead
- Murder of the Nations Greatest Men
- Barabus Calling
Norman’s Big Surprise
- In This World
- All Adds Up
- Mighty Blue
Humns and Pslams
- He Is King
- Almighty God is Here
- Praise My Soul
- Heaven is in My Heart
- Like Clay
- I Give You All the Honour
- We Belong to an Army
- Lord You Are Calling
- Fluorescent Hat
- Here I Stand
- Going Home
- Healing Hands
- Bognor (Unreleased)
The below timeline shows the band members as listed in the recording credits. Click to see a larger version. Additional touring musicians include Paul, Mary, Jem Atrai, and Andy Skipsey.
- Ian Stewart, guitar and lead vocals 1986-1993.
- Mark ‘Deano’ Dean, bass and backing vocals 1986-1988.
- Pete ‘Prod’ Pritchard, keyboard and backing vocals 1986-1987 and bass, 1989.
- Dave Lusher, keyboards 1988.
- Andy Hunt, bass 1989-1990.
- Les Driscoll, bass 1991-1993.
- Mark ‘Styx’ Lawrence, drums 1986-1988.
- Mike Randon, drums 1987-1993.
- James Sharp, guitar 1986-1987 and 1990.
The lineup when the band officially split was Ian Stewart, Mike Randon, and Les Driscoll.
You can view all our Brussel Spaceship content in our Attic Finds series. We are working with the band to make their recordings available on all popular streaming services and have some archive videos on the Phonotonal YouTube channel.
Brussel Spaceship Photos
The photographs below chart the progress of the band over their career.
Here are some stills from their appearances at YES 1991 and Kingston Festival near Wimbourne, Dorset. UK.
Ian Stewart performed in The Messenger before attending Oxford Poly, where Brussel Spaceship formed. The Messenger released Paradise Regained in 1988. Ian has also released music as Grin and under his own name. Ian also featured on Jenny Muir’s Conversations LP (also featuring Stewart Smith on drums and Martin Smith on guitar). He also appeared on several Christian Worship records, including two children’s compilations.
Brussel Spaceship worked with Tim Jupp on several of their studio recordings. Tim played keyboards for Delirious? and was also the band manager from 2005. Tim is also the founder of Big Church Festival.
Les Driscoll performed with The Cutting Edge, playing bass on some of their EPs. The Cutting Edge later became Delirious? and recorded nine studio albums, two of which made the UK top 40.
Mike Randon currently plays in From The Jam, Bruce Foxton’s band. The band, with Russel Hastings on guitar and vocals, keeps the music of The Jam alive through incredible live performances and a live album. Mike is a successful drum tutor and has provided session drumming for many artists, including Thom Ashworth, Martin Cooper, Sue Rinaldi, Matt Redman, and Eoghan Heaslip.
Future professor, Christopher Dent, was at Oxford Polytechnic at the same time as the band (1985-1988). He was a steadfast Spaceship Roadie. He shared this story about a car chase and a run-in with the law…
One time, Spaceship were heading to play at a small festival in Wiltshire or Somerset. We used to goof around a lot during these gig road trips. We brought some water pistols and decided to re-enact a car chase (within the speed limit), firing water pistols at each other and also at occasional passers-by going through small villages.
The only problem was that my water pistol looked like a replica Colt 45. Also, Ian’s car was stacked with equipment for the gig, and he couldn’t see through his rear window. These two factors combined persuaded the local law enforcement to pull both our cars over for a stern chat regarding the public’s safety.
We apologised for terrorising this particular part of the West Country and continued on our way.
We were fun-loving students on the road. What can I say, officer?