Go Tell Fire

The following was written as the forward to the book WU LYF: The Archives published in July 2022.



Last November, in the Peak District National Park, my 5-year-old daughter and I waited patiently. After hours of anticipation in the crisp, chilly air, we witnessed something magnificent – a murmuration of starlings. Hundreds of birds suddenly appeared from the hedgerows and flew in a synchronized dance, creating intricate patterns and shapes against the backdrop of a beautiful sunset. After a few moments of magic, the birds dispersed and flew back to their habitats, until the next time they wished to dance together.


The story goes that WU LYF split up in 2012 after the release of their debut album Go Tell Fire To The Mountain, but to me, as someone who shared the journey with them from 2009, calling it a split is too obvious, too much of a cliché for a quartet of artists who pushed themselves to think differently from everyone else.

‘But why would we do that, War?’ they’d ask.

And every time, I would think, ‘Yeah, why would we?’

It was apparent in everything they did:

A young Manchester band that had a total lack of interest in Manchester music nostalgia.

A band that ignored the clamour for a London show when the hype hit:

‘Where do you want to play then?’

‘Hyères, France?’

A band that refused interviews with national publications until they were ready to speak.

A band that turned down the safe comforts of a recording studio, with experienced hands on the desk controls, to hire a cold and derelict church to record their first-ever album on their own with a few mates for company.

A band that declined record label advances to form their own crowdfunded collective known as the LYF. [1]

To Evans, Tom, Ellery, and Joe, WU LYF was never something to be programmed – album cycles, release dates, contractual obligations – it wasn’t meant to be forecast or predicted. To them, it had to be more organic than that. They wanted their own ecosystem, one in which they were free to create as they desired.

When they started out, when no one was interested, it was just them, creating for fun.

When the conditions changed, they left the stage.

Joe, Evans, Warren, Ellery and Tom. Album release day. 11th June 2011. Paris, France.


This coming together of the 10th-anniversary reissue of Go Tell Fire and the magical collation of this book has all been done by people who were there at the start, all with a deep affection for each other. We’ve shared memories, photos, and anecdotes; it’s been immensely enjoyable – a shared experience and a whole bunch of positive self-reflection.

Like the time I collected Jon, my good friend and partner in the adventure, from the train station in Manchester, and we strolled over to An Outlet. We walked in, and the band was waiting with a surprise for us. The surprise was Concrete Gold – the first time we heard it, live, in a tiny coffee shop. It sounded holy.

And when Ellery and I walked through the streets of Brussels late one night after a gig – in the rain to add to the cinematic effect – him questioning the world, as great artists do, and us talking about the cooperative roots of the photographer, Robert Capa.

Or the many conversations I had in my office with members of the band – and the truths of youth always. ‘War, you’re just as much an idiot as we are,’ he said. Very true, Tom, WU LYF’s musical craftsman.

Or the late-night dinner with Joe, the quiet soul of the band, the actual soul of the band, who asked me what the genius of WU LYF was. When I said that I was unsure, he stated categorically, ‘Evans Kati.’ To that, I agreed.

And Evans, one evening in London, after the band had fragmented, and he was reflecting on all they had achieved. He said, ‘Don’t worry War, it’s not over yet.’ I have the picture he sent me framed on my desk.

For that moment, though, it was over.

But then WU LYF was never meant to be a permanent feature in the night sky.

Instead, it was nothing more than pure artistic expression from a bunch of lads from the north of England, who had the ability to leave a lasting impression on anyone that saw them, heard them, or experienced them.

WU LYF were magnificent.

And I hope this book reminds them, all four of them, of just how magnificent they truly were.

Enjoy the read.


[1] The LYF would now be known as a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation or a DAO for short.


La Blogotheque presents – Live at La Mécanique Ondulatoire

BBC Culture Show – Manchester International Festival

The Drone, Paris