Music History

An Oral History of Shoegaze

Earlier this year, there was an Ongoing History of New Music episode on the history of shoegaze (review it here) that generated a tremendous amount of email. Picking up on that topic, here’s an oral history of that scene from Wondering Sound.

It’s hard to think of a rock subgenre as fondly remembered or as reverentially discussed by its disciples as shoegaze. A short-lived British musical scene that grew out of London and the Home Counties in the late ’80s, the sound — soft vocals submerged in a whirlpool of amorphous, distorted guitars — has been an influence on groups like Deerhunter, the Horrors, Hookworms and M83, and a resurgence of interest in the genre, has led to the reformation of founding groups like Slowdive, who recently enjoyed a successful U.S. tour, and Ride, who will reunite to play live shows and headline festivals later this year.

What is perhaps easily forgotten, in this climate, is that the very term “shoegazing” was originally intended as something close to mockery. The British music press that initially lauded the likes of Ride, Slowdive, Lush, Chapterhouse, Moose and Swervedriver would turn on them when grunge and, later, Britpop hit. The shoegazers were dismissed as insular, self indulgent, middle class,dilettantes. (It wasn’t just journalists taking shots, either: “We will always hate Slowdive more than Hitler,” wrote Richey Edwards of Manic Street Preachers in 1991.)

Continue reading while listening to some Curve.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37439 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “An Oral History of Shoegaze

  • The interesting thing about Toni Halliday from Curve is that she seems so brooding and mysterious in her videos, but if you check-out her interviews (MTV) she’s actually down-to-earth and normal, almost school-girlish

  • Another real ‘sign of the times’ that a shoegaze revival is underway comes in the form of 30 bands from 16 countries (5 of the 6 inhabited continents are covered), who have united together in this EPIC (and free) shoegaze compilation. Plus it’s been endorsed by Creation Records’ founder Joe Foster & a whole slew of first-wave shoegazers from Swervedriver, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Telescopes, Swallow, Slowdive.


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