The Irish quartet Zerra 1 had enough soaring harmonies and ringing guitars to follow in the footsteps of compatriots U2. And while commercial success never happened, Zerra 1 possessed too much talent to be written off as failed U2 impersonators.
Formed in the early ’80s by Paul Bell (vocals, keyboards), Andreas Grimminger (guitar), Adrian Wyatt (bass), and Korda Marshall (drums), Zerra 1 had the spiky haircuts and dour vocals common to British new wave artists from that period; their cool looks and stylish sound should’ve gotten them played on MTV, but America remained indifferent. Zerra 1 didn’t catch on in the U.K. either, although the band’s 1983 single “The Banner of Love” hit number 33 on the English indie charts.
Drummer Mike Mesbur replaced Marshall in 1984. Their self-titled debut LP was released on Mercury Records that year. Owing much to U2 and Simple Minds, Zerra 1 featured dark, epic rock that may have been too moody or weird for commercial radio. However, Zerra 1’s second album, 1986’s Domino Effect, had the pop hooks needed to catapult the group into stardom. The band opened for acts such as U2 (of course) and the Cure, but zero sales meant extinction for Zerra 1. Marshall later became the head of Infectious Records.
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