The Banks Forest story began in 1975, when at the age of ten, band co-founders Christopher Penman and Graham Whiting sat next to each other in Mrs. Hammel’s class at the Swiftfields Primary School in Stourbridge, England. On the first day of school, Graham threw a spitball at the back of Mrs. Hammel’s head and blamed it on Christopher. The boys fought in the schoolyard after lunch that day and each received five days of detention. They were best friends by the end of that week.
In 1979, Graham and Christopher befriended Nigel Silsbury, who had recently moved to Stourbridge from nearby West Bromwich. Graham and Christopher had been talking about forming a band and they’d heard that Nigel owned a drum kit, which was enough to qualify him for the position as drummer. Bass player Terence Hughes joined the band a month later. Terence was a guitar player, but Christopher was unwilling to give up that role in the band, so Terence taught himself to play bass.
The band went through dozens of names before arriving at the name Banks Forest in 1983, right before they recorded their first demos. The origin of the name is still a closely held secret, although it’s believed that Christopher and Graham came up with the name after having a discussion about the banking industry in Great Britain while drinking peppermint Schnaaps. The band’s first demos were for the songs “Last Complaint”, which later became “Less Compliant” and “Boo Boo Five”, which the band never played again after recording.
MTV played a crucial role in the band’s early success and took credit for their meteoric rise in the US. The channel, which played music videos at the time, kept the handsome lads of Banks Forest on the screen as much as possible. The band’s first world tour was in 1986 opening for Mr. Mister; a disaster musically, but it was the beginning of Banks Forest’s claim as the ultimate 80s band.
Over more than twenty-five years, with more than 50 million records sold and nearly as many posters, Banks Forest still have the same line-up today as they did in the early days. The band is currently writing material for a reunion album, release date TBA.