Early history – 1984 – 1988 - The Claytown Troupe were formed in 1984 in Bristol by lead singer Christian Riou, who claimed in an NME interview that a local clairvoyant advised
him to form a band called "the Clayton Troop" who would have success
internationally & spend time in America which is exactly what
happened to the band.
By late '87, after various line-up changes,
Riou & keyboardist Richard Williams spent just a month writing 10
songs influenced by a wide range of bands from The Cult to the Hothouse
Flowers, combining the dark edge of goth rock but with a melodic &
lyrical style that would not appear until a few years later with grunge.
with a self-financed video of this demo version of the song 'Prayer'
& directed by Nathan Richards (who later directed the Emmy nominated
EMF 'Unbelievable video), the band started to attract major record
label interest and bigger audiences.
Island Records – 1988 – 1991 - In September 1988, Riou & Williams spent a month meeting various A & R departments with the novelty of a pro-video rather than the standard demo tape. This generated interest & offers from various labels including Beggars Banquet, EMI, Chrysalis etc... but on meeting A & R man James Dowdall, the band were signed to Island Records (their fastest ever signing) by Ron Fair, who also produced the debut album, Through the Veil with extra mixes by Ralph Jezzard.
With a major record deal behind them but no manager, they met small label owner Steve 'Abbo' Abbott (ex.UK Decay vocalist) & decided a sixth member rather an established team would help build the band, so asked him to switch to management for them.
The album was released to critical acclaim internationally in October 1989, reaching No. 72 on the UK Albums Chart
'Through the veil' spawned three top 100 UK singles – 'Prayer' UK 79, 'Hey Lord' UK 86 & 'Real Life' UK 85 (Christian chose a young artist Will Simpson (comics) to design the sleeve & fold-out poster bag artwork, Will drew Judge Dredd & Rogue Trooper but later went on to eminence with his work on Batman, Aliens & film storyboard & concept art, notably 'Game of Thrones').
EMI US/EMI UK – 1991 – 1992 - After Island Records sold to Polygram a new head of A & R came on board who on first meeting, told Christian Riou that he didn't like rock music & would find it hard working with the band, on Ron Fairs advice, the band switched record labels to EMI Records USA, where the second album Out There (1991), was produced by David Bianco at New York's The Hit Factory. 'Out There' spawned two top 75 UK singles – 'Ways of love' UK No. 57, 'Wanted it all' UK No. 74.
In 1992 as guests of Pearl Jam on their Ten Tour (the only UK act to have toured with Pearl Jam) the CTT were transferred to EMI UK after the US label was taken over by Zomba and the majority of non-US bands were dropped.
This move back to the UK in 1992 proved to be difficult, even after a successful UK headline tour which culminated with a sold out Marquee, rave music & the Madchester scenes had taken away a huge swath of the older audience, leaving the band in no-mans land between the old goth rock scene and the emerging grunge movement.
The track 'Skybound' although hugely pre-ordered, was stopped a week before its release due to the fallout with the label & is now valued at £60 in record collector. The sleeve again being drawn & designed by artist William Simpson. With perhaps another year's touring off the back of grunge, the CTT would perhaps have had the success that was picked up by Bush in '94, but the lack of support from EMI UK was not there to promote the album so sadly the Troupe ground to a stop commercially.
Legacy - Still remembered as a great 'nearly made it big' lost act from the UK alternative rock music scene they helped launch many music careers including manager Stephen 'Abbo' Abbott (Big Cat & V2 Records) & ex. CTT follower Jacqui Rice (Domino Records) amongst others.
The Claytown Troupe were very active in championing new bands & directly requesting them as support. Including The Almighty, The Beyond, Terrorvision & Christian Riou initially invited the fledgling Pearl Jam over to the UK as support which was reversed when the latter shot to international success in late 1991.
2004 -The CTT performed as a headline act at the Whitby Gothic Weekend, this creating a renewed interest in the band, they then played a handful of gigs in late 2004 with interim members Clive Murray (guitar), Chris Sharp (bass) and Dan Roth (drums).