Band of the Week – Altered States

By on 28 September 2010

“There is no drug, there is no cure, for this life that I have found.”



Formed in London in 1986, Altered States released their debut “Low Life” ep the following year. The trio, comprising of vocalist/guitarist Yig Hughes, bassist Rob Ryan, and Martin Winbury on drums, soon found acceptance amongst the goth audiences on the live scene. Their raw, angst ridden sound soon became described as ‘smashed up music’ by the band, and despite people regularly shouting for them to do Joy Division songs (due to Yig’s deep northern accent), their energy and passion soared above comparisons and gained them a loyal following not only in the UK but also mainland Europe.

In 1988 the debut album “Is Anyone Out There?” was released, accompanied by a tour of their homeland, which is where I first came across them. Little did I realise that, when we were asked to support Altered States at the Flag in North Wembley, I would actually witness a band that would help to shape my musical future. The rasping, commanding vocals of Hughes and the over-flanged bass of Ryan immediately struck a chord (sic) with me, and stay with me to this day. As a three-piece band, I can only compare the sheer power of Altered States to acts such as the Jam or Blind Testament, who needed no extra personnel to boost the sound.

But, like with a lot of ascending bands, the sparkle didn’t last forever. Their label Red Rhino went up the wall, and after extensive touring through 1988 the band bowed out in 1989 after breaking gigs at the Hammersmith Palais and the Marquee.

Five years passed before Yig and a new lineup emerged, spawned on by continued interest in their debut album, which was re-released with additional bonus tracks from the original sessions. With Steve Williams on bass, and Des Connelly on drums, Yig took forth his new States and once again shook up the live goth scene with his smashed up music. The brilliant single “Designer Reality” was released on the Primary label in 1995, which included a reworking of an old live favourite “The Party’s Over”. Ironically, the party was soon over again. By the end of the year, Williams had left the band, and once again their record label hit financial troubles and faded away.

Fast forward to 2003, with Yig and Des back in the studio accompanied by bassist No3 Andrew Procter, and keyboards/guitarist Hunter Barr, to record the long awaited follow up album to “Is Anyone Out There?” entitled “Designer Gene Pool”. All the trappings of the Altered States style remain, but somehow a new intensity evolved, and Yig’s voice seemed to have matured with wisened emotion. This line-up played some shows, but somehow appeared less committed than the previous incarnations. And thus faded away again, but leaving a trail of loyal fans clutching whatever product they could lay their hands on or afford (the debut album still sells for around £50-£80 on ebay!!).

for info on the early line-ups, see

or try the official myspace

I’d like to dedicate this article to the memory of Dave Morrison, who worked very closely with Altered States from the beginning, and sadly passed away on 17th March 2009.  R.I.P Dave, sleep easy.



About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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