Ricky Gervais is the mastermind behind The Office, Extras, Netflix sensation After Life as well as being a pioneer of podcasting and one of the highest-selling stand-up comedians of the 21st century but there is one thing that Gervais isn’t exactly the master of — as his ill-fated ’80s pop career is a testament of.
While a student at University College London, Ricky Gervais along with his friend Bill Macrae, formed new-wave duo Seona Dancing in 1982. However, the band wasn’t dealt the same rich successes that acts like the Pet Shop Boys would go on to receive following Gervais and Macrae paving the way for the genre.
The dynamics of the duo saw Macrae compose the music and playing keyboards whilst Gervais was a “lyrics man, mainly”. Following the recording of a sixteen-song demo tape, the duo was signed by London Records who released two singles by the band, ‘More to Lose’ and ‘Bitter Heart’ — which were both deemed as commercial failures which meant that Seona Dancing were no more by 1984.
“My first mistake back then was wanting to be a pop star,” Gervais said to Classic Rock about his Seona Dancing days in 2016. “I should have wanted to be a musician. That taught me a lot because in later life I didn’t want to be a celebrity, I wanted to be a writer/director. People only know I was in a band because I’m famous for something else now, and the video pops up on Graham Norton and we laugh at how thin I was.”
“It was all over very quick. I was signed from a demo, we released a single, didn’t make it, released a second single, didn’t make it, and we were dropped, and that was the end of it. The post-signed years were a bigger influence than the signed years because we played every gig we could get and I invited A&R men to every single one. I remember going to one gig with our equipment in a shopping trolley and the guitarist said, ‘This is my lowest point ever’. He had a point,” Gervais glamourously recalled.
Despite the two singles not making Gervais a star in Britain, in the Philippines, it was a completely different story following the bizarre success they had following their break-up in South East Asia. In 1985, Manila-based radio station DWRT-FM played a track which they named ‘Medium’ by a band called Fade — they decided to keep the true identity of ‘More to Lose’ under wraps in an effort to prevent other stations hopping aboard the Seona Dancing train.
A year later, rival station DWXB-102 discovered the true identity of the song and by this time the Philippines had fallen head over heels for Seona Dancing. Esquire Philippines later noted on the cult classic: “Here in the Philippines, where the ’80s never ended, Ricky Gervais’ high-waisted pants era lives on in Manila’s old taxis and ancient department stores where ‘More to Lose’ continues to play—incessantly—for the oldies who remember the good old days.”
The story of Seona Dancing’s success in the Philippines sounds like a farfetched plot for a sequel to David Brent: Life On The Road — which sees the Slough based rep head to the country in a desperate bid to capitalise on an underground hit he had with the Foregone Conclusion in the ’80s which he has only just discovered about.