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Taken from MetalTalk (Jan 12, 2024)

It Bites FD Return With New Album And Tour

by MetalTalk

Francis Dunner - It Bites
Francis Dunner - It Bites | Return To Natural 2024 Tour

At the forefront of British Prog Rock in the '80s were Cumbrian quartet It Bites. Fast forward to the now, there is a newfound demand for the band who launched prog into the pop charts. And now, in 2024, It Bites Mark II are back with a brand new album and tour.

Following last year's sell-out UK tour performing the It Bites back catalogue, founder and frontman Francis Dunnery is thrilled to be airing their anthems once again due to huge popular demand, proving their music has stood the test of time. And excitingly, on this tour, we get to hear the new, highly anticipated upcoming tracks from the new album Return To Natural, too.

Return To Natural coverart
It Bites FD - Return To Natural coverart

"We've just recorded a brand new It Bites album,' Francis Dunnery told MetalTalk's Sara Harding. "We are really excited. But this time, I am doing things differently. When we recorded our first album, The Big Lad In The Windmill, back in 1986, we [keyboard player John Beck, bassist Bob Dalton and drummer Dick Nolan] were living in a squat.

"Suddenly, we found ourselves signed to Virgin, performing on nationwide TV and recording in a fancy recording studio. It was nuts.'

Anyone buying It Bites' debut LP, due to the chart success of their 'poppier' first single, Calling All The Heroes, soon discovered it was far from pop. It was a fully polished heavy prog-rock album.

Standout tracks Screaming On The Beaches and All In Red featured the band's trademark guitar/keyboard duals, complex time changes and four-part harmonies. These were all wrapped up with Dunnery's off-the-wall lyrics, vocal style and guitar chops.

"We were so excited to be in a studio for the first time,' Dunnery says. "What we did was literally translate our live show into an album. It was so weird to hear it all mastered. Initially, the management and label were nervous that we wanted to record Big Lad live. We lived those songs, so we knew we could do it. When the execs came to listen to the mix, they were like wow.'

Once Around The World, the band's second album released in 1988, was much more proper. "Our influences were Soft Machine, Jethro Tull, Yes and Genesis,' Francis says. "Those bands were our heroes. They were writing 10-minute songs and weren't thinking about churning out hit singles. This is what we did with this album. We wanted to be honest to ourselves.'

Steve Hillage co-produced a lot of Once Around The World. The title track features 14 minutes of bonkers, swirling prog with lyrical and instrumental workouts. It even includes '20s-style jazz that takes the listener on an aural journey. Old Man And The Angel is another standout song and was once described by Mark Lammar as "Like Marillion with sex.'

And the third album, Eat Me In St. Louis? Produced by Reinhold Mack, who worked with Queen, this album was a slight direction change away from the heavy key/guitar duets. It was skewed for the American market, too. But certainly, there were anthems spawned, such as Ice Melts Into Water.

"In It Bites, I always sang about really personal emotions,' Dunnery says. "Prog is technique and thought. I feel fulfilled we kept our musical integrity, which was admirable for young 20-year-olds from the North, where we just drank beer and didn't have a clue about the music business.'

When the original It Bites lineup decided to call it a day, Dunnery was handpicked by Robert Plant to tour the world and record.

But now, fans are celebrating as It Bites Mark II are back. "The new album is a whole new mindset,' Francis says. "Now I have to jump back in. It Bites songs are complex emotionally and technically. But I'm ready. It feels fulfilling as I'm bringing this new version of the band back like that.'

As for John Mitchell, who successfully took over the It Bites legacy, Francis says, "I loved their stuff too. It was like being in class with someone, and they went on to do their own thing. But you wish them all the luck in the world.'

It Bites FD starts this week, and tour tickets are on sale now. I'll be in the front row singing along. This really is the hottest ticket in town.

Francis Dunnery It Bites Tickets are available from here.




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