The history of Libitina. Part I: 1994-1996.
Libitina, the UK gothic darkwave band, were formed in November 1994 when the band members were students at the University Of Sheffield. The band takes its name from an ancient Roman goddess. Libitina was associated predominantly with darkness and the shades. In common with many early Roman divinities, however, she came to be confused with other goddesses; these were Proserpina (presiding over funeral rites) and Venus (the goddess of love and marriage). The lyrical themes of Libitina have been influenced strongly by this trinity of love, darkness, and death.
Libation to Libitina (their name for the first two shows they did) started out as a four piece outfit, being Danny (vocals), Darren (guitar), Jamie (bass), and Peter (guitar, programming). The band made its live debut at the student band band competition at the University of Sheffield on February 1st 1995. With some great support, they came close to going through to the next round. After the second gig as Libation to Libitina, the band shortened the name to 'Libitina' as people were struggling to remember the longer name.
The band's first demo cassette, "Goddess Of The Shades", was released in 1995. The band marked the occasion with support slots with Sheffield's Nightmoves in Leeds and Sheffield, their first 'formal' goth events. The gig at The Fenton in Leeds was cut short by the band's excessive use of a smoke machine. The audience and bands had to wait outside on a chilly November night for about twenty minutes until the fire brigade gave the all-clear and we could re-enter the pub.
At the time, the band's own material was complemented live by several cover versions. These were Samantha Foxís "Touch Me (I Want To Feel Your Body)", The Stooge's "I Wanna Be Your Dog", and Bob Dylanís "All Along The Watchtower". A cover of Madonna's "Material Girl" made a one-off appearance at the University of Sheffield Union of Students band competition in 1996, but the less said about that the better really (although Libitina did make the front cover of the Union's newspaper, Darts... it would appear the reviewer wasn't too keen on the band's make-up, engendering the photo legend "Ugly students looking stupid.").
After their sixth live show, early in 1996, they parted company with their original singer, Danny, due to musical differences. This departure was in some ways responsible for the sharing of singing responsibilities between Jamie and Peter on early recordings, since there was not enough time for one person to learn the lyrics to all the songs before their next gig!
The band's second demo tape,"The Last Rites Of Spring", was released in March 1996 to coincide with gigs with The Second Coming of Sins of The Flesh (a Sheffield industrial band) and The Tortured (a band from Edinburgh, later to become Nervosa). Many of the tracks from the demo would end up on Libitina's first CD, "A Closer Communion", as well as a new audience favourite, a take-off of Pulpís "Common People", entitled "Gothic People" introduced to the band's live set at the same time.
How did "Gothic People" come about? The story is that Darren and Pete (both of whom are Pulp fans) accepted a dare from a friend to do "Common People" when they were drunk after a gig in Leeds. Unfortunately they can't verify this story(!), but the song was added to the band's live set thereafter. Darren ad libbed the "Gothic People" lyrics on the third occasion we played the song live, in Sheffield supporting Midnight Configuration. Recorded for "A Closer Communion" with the permission of Jarvis Cocker and Island Records (many thanks to both!), this song has gained cult status in Goth clubs the world over.
Next Page: The Band's First Album
This website is written and maintained by Jamie Libitina.