A Short History of Eternal and the Birth of Monster Movie

On my old and now defunct geocities site I had an “Official” Eternal webpage. Eternal was Christian’s band before he was in Slowdive. I also discussed the birth of Monster Movie, which is in some ways the continuation of Eternal. What follows below is a revised and updated version of the core content of that webpage. (Last updated: 9 February 2014)

Eternal were: Christian Savill (b. 6 December 1970) – guitar & vocals, Stuart Wilkinson – bass guitar, and Michael Warner – drums. They had various other members who helped out with live stuff and various other things, those people were: Sean Hewson – guitar, Alan Bryden – cello, and Darren Seymour – guitar and vocals. The band formed in late 1989 in Reading, England.

A picture of the original Eternal lineup Christian sent me in 2000

Sadly, they only released one 7″, entitled Breathe. It was an impressive release, however, with dreamy, fuzzed out guitars gliding over memorable pop melodies. It was ahead of its time, and Slowdive even did a cover of their song “sleep”, although they never released it. The Breathe 7″ was released on Sarah records in June 1990 (Catalog No. Sarah 31), and approximately 2000 copies were pressed. On it were three tracks recorded in February 1990: “breathe”, “sleep”, and “take me down”. Being admittedly inept at recording and low on money, they had to record the single and mix it in about 5 hours. The original demos for those tracks were recorded in December 1989 at White House Studio, Weston-Super-Mare. Oddly enough, the original unreleased demos actually sound like better mixes than the released versions, but again this is most likely due to the hurried nature of the seven inch’s recording session. In addition, the cover got screwed up in the printing process and wasn’t supposed to look like the messy red and yellow collage that it turned out to be.

Cover of the 7″

 

Back of the 7″

Two songs from the 7″ (“sleep” and “breathe”) were also released in CD format on a Sarah records compilation album called Glass Arcade. They did have other songs (one of which they ended their one and only gig with, more on that in a bit) but unfortunately never got it together to actually release an album. The band soon disbanded and everyone went their separate ways.

Cover of the Glass Arcade compilation

Back of the Glass Arcade compilation

They played just one live show. It was some time in 1990 (the exact date seems to escape everyone’s memory), at a now nonexistent little club called Cartoon’s in Reading, England. The capacity for this club was said to be about 50 people, and there were about 30 people at the show. It was a triple bill with Eternal, Slowdive (well, also possibly still The Pumpkin Fairies at this point), and Chapterhouse (Note: or maybe not. According to a facebook post by Christian in August 2011: “I really don’t remember Slowdive and Chapterhouse playing. Nick from Slowdive came to watch but I think that’s it”). Eternal played 4 tunes; all the songs from the 7″ and an unreleased song at the end. There was a lot of tuning up between songs, sometimes lasting several minutes. When they went to play “sleep”, it was so out of tune that after about 45 seconds in they all stopped, the crowd giggled, and Christian went back to his lengthy tuning-up process, whereupon a minute or two later they burst into “sleep” anew and this time it sounded perfect. The songs translated very well live, but one did get the impression they were a bit nervous (understandably) and perhaps not as well rehearsed as possible. The show was recorded on an analog cassette recorder for posterity.

Eternal in 1989 – (from left to right) Michael, Sean, Stuart and Christian.  (Posted on Monster Movie’s facebook page on 30 June 2011)

After Eternal disbanded, Darren soon went on to join the band Seefeel in 1992 as a bassist, and they released a bunch of great albums. He has subsequently worked with the likes of Mark Van Hoen (aka Locust) in an experimental collaborative effort under the name Aurobindo, as well as other Seefeel offshoots such as Disjecta and Scala (also with Van Hoen). He is still active in music today, in various capacities. The whereabouts of Stuart, Michael, and Alan, and what they did after Eternal are unknown to me.

Update: In February 2013 the original Eternal Breathe 7″ was reissued by Graveface records as a 10″ with an extra song (“remember”, which was recorded in 1992). It was made available in three different vinyl colour variations, shown below. Proceeds from the sale of this 10″ went to the CHARGE family support group.

Eternal 10″ issued in 2013 by Graveface records available in three different vinyl colours

Cover of the 10″

Toward Monster Movie

Christian relocated to London in September 2000. Prior to that he spent a few years working as a web designer. Christian and Sean had been doing music on and off during this time, but nothing really serious. Around December 1999 they got the idea to actually make another record, in essence an Eternal revival band. Well, not quite. Originally they wanted to call their group B-Movie, but after finding that to be the name of a pre-Soft Cell band they settled on their second choice, which was Monster Movie. Christian once wrote me about this, saying “Man, one very shitty band called ‘b-movie’ is bad enough, but two very shitty bands called ‘b-movie’ is too much, we’ll change it to ‘Monster Movie’ probably”. Some early ideas for cover art while they were still called B-movie are shown below. Christian sent these to me in 2000.

 

Other band names considered were Venkman and Schroeder. In April 2001, eleven years after the Eternal 7″ came out, Monster Movie released its first EP on Clairecords, an excellent 5 song record with definite traces of the Eternal sound of old. Some pictures of Christian recording early Monster Movie songs can be seen below.

 

Special thanks to Christian Savill and Nick Dyer for their contributions to this article.