The Morris Quinlan Experience (the MQE to its friends) was born in 1997 out of a chance meeting at an Edinburgh Festival poetry event.
Dave Maughan and Alan Morton matched a tense, film noir soundtrack to Simon Macken's downbeat, confessional lyrics to create a milestone British rock album, The Morris Quinlan Experience, where the singer spoke instead of singing...
... Critics and DJs rather liked it:
- “an exhausting, mesmerising experience” The Times
- “a quite amazing album” Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2
- “I cannot extoll the virtues of this enough, it is just a perfect, perfect LP” Bob Lawrence, Radio Caroline
- “Brilliant! I've never heard anything like it - by track four I had pulled the bedclothes over my head and was reciting the Lord's Prayer...” Rob Leighton, Radio Caroline
The Morris Quinlan Experience received radio plays on BBC Radio 2, XFM, Radio Caroline, and BBC and independent local radio nationwide. Regular overseas radio plays (particularly on US college radio) continue to this day.
In the summer of 2001, the MQE were back at at the Edinburgh Festival, performing live on BBC Radio 4's Loose Ends. Sadly, the day that their performance was repeated as part of Loose Ends' Pick Of The Year show was the very day that Simon Macken chose to announce his decision to leave the group.
Jenny brought Dave along to a show and, within days, James had joined the MQE. Within a few more, work had begun in earnest on creating a second album, which would eventually come to be called Follow On.
As the MQE's new poet, James contributes fewer words but wider horizons, and brings with him a style of writing and delivery based more on the rhythms of natural speech and breath: Dave and Alan, MQE's musical core, were faced with reconciling lyrics that refused to fit into traditional song structures with their own refusal to create anything that is in any way stereotypical.