Dept s


The night is young. The mood is mellow. And there’s music in my ears. Say, is Vic there?

For those of a certain vintage those lyrics will bring back memories from the early 80’s. With an appearance on Top of The Pops New Wave outfit Department S stormed the Top 40 charts reaching number 22 with the alternative classic ‘Is Vic there?.

Spring forward 42 years later and Department S are back still releasing new material. On June 9th Department S released their 2nd single ‘So Far Away’ from their forthcoming album ‘Burn Down Tomorrow’ There have been a plethora of bands reforming over the years with limited success, but this breaks all the rules by being an absolutely belting tune, tight, lively and dare I say it, catchy, a masterful piece of work. ‘So Far Away’ is a track for today, though with a nod to the Department S’s agitated, hooky post-punk sound of the past. Musicianship at it’s best.

Dept s band

Department S all began in 1980 and took their name from the 1960s TV series Department S. Fronted by Vaughan Toulouse the band released 3 singles ‘Is Vic there?’, ‘Going Left Right’ and ‘I Want’ between 1980 and 1982, the former leaving the greatest mark. Unfortunately, although the original band recorded a debut album, they did not last long enough to see it released. Due to problems with the record company and between themselves they split in 1982. Sadly, Vaughan Toulouse died in 1991, he was only 32.

 In 2007 the band reformed with original keyboardist Eddie Roxy taking over the vocals alongside original guitarist Mike Herbage and drummer Stuart Mizon. In the intervening years there have been a number of personal changes with some notable musicians from the UK Punk and Post punk scene making an appearance such as Marco Pirroni (Adam and the Ants), Glen Matlock (The Sex Pistols), John Keeble (Spandau Ballet), Mark Bedford (Madness) and Pete Jones (Public Image Limited.)

A studio album was released in 2016 ‘When All Is Said and All Is Done’ before work was started on the second album ‘Burn Down Tomorrow’ in late 2019.

The band are now fronted by long standing member, guitarist and chief songwriter Phil Thompson (this self-styled “hardest working man in post-punk” can also be found playing in The Rezillos and occasionally helping out his old mates The Vapors of “Turning Japanese” fame) and feature Mike Lea on bass and Simon “Basher” Bowley (Eddie and the Hot Rods) on drums.

The latest release, also, features guest guitarist Baz Warne of The Stranglers and Wingmen. Phil had a few words about how the track and how Baz’s involvement came about:

When we demoed the track we knew it would be a bit special, and to match the reflective nature of the lyric we wanted to evoke the wistful kinda vibe that The Stranglers achieved on their classic “Relentless”. With that in mind, there was only one man to ask to add some ‘mood’ guitar. After hearing the track, Baz immediately agreed and sent something like 10 different guitar parts over the next couple of days. His playing definitely lifted the track even further.

 In these times we need the knowledge and musical wisdom of these statesmen of post-punk to show the way forward and inspire bands of the future. I look forward to the release of the ‘Burn Down Tomorrow’ album.

If you would like to find out more about the band, live dates and future releases, check out their facebook page.