Cud were formed in Leeds in 1985. They comprised former art students:
- Carl Puttnam (vocals)
- Mike Dunphy (guitar)
- Steve Goodwin (drums)
- William Potter (bass)
Before their ‘retirement’ in 1995, Cud recorded four fully-fledged albums. ‘When in Rome, Kill Me‘ (1989) and ‘Leggy Mambo‘ (1990) were released on Imaginary Records along with ‘Elvis Belt‘, a collection of their early singles. There followed a move to major label A&M and the release of ‘Asquarius‘ (1992) and ‘Showbiz‘ (1994).
The very first seeds of Cud were sown when Wiliam Potter met Carl Puttnam on their first day as Fine Art students at Leeds Polytechnic in the Autumn of 1984 – their names were listed alphabetically next to each other on the course roster. Together with guitarist Dave Read they formed a band. In June 1985 the very first Cud appearance featured Dave Read (a.k.a Elvis Belt) vocals/guitar, Alan Thomas (guitar), Carl Puttnam (bass), William Potter (drums), Nicola Hill (salad spoons) and Susan Johnstone (recorder). The band performed at an alternative club night at Leeds Poly.
After a handful of shambolic performances by an ever-revolving line-up, Cud finally settled as a four-piece. Steve Goodwin, the boyfriend of a fellow Fine Art student joined as drummer and Mike Dunphy, a graphics student and bassist with prog-rock band The Children joined as guitarist – purchasing an insturment from the Kays catalogue in order to do so. Steve was alloweed to join the band as he told them he had a drum kit. The kit in question consisted of bits and pieces that had been thrown in the street when a squat had been evicted. There was no bass drum and no stands – early gigs saw Steve playing drums that were set out on plastic chairs.
After some early amateurish, shambling, storming, live shows attracted a massive cult following in the North of England. Their oddness and reliance on Dunphy’s noisy guitar style attracted the attention of legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel, for whom they recorded a session. Their debut single ‘Mind The Gap‘ was released on Reception Records, the label owned and run by The Wedding Present main man David Gedge.
A move to the Imaginary label allowed Cud to develop a more funky, ‘indie’ sound. Singles ‘Only (A Prawn in Whitby)‘ and ‘Hey!Wire‘ were minor indie hits and became firm favourites with their ever-increasing audience along with the raucous ‘Bibi Couldn’t See‘, ‘Push & Shove‘ and ‘Strange Kind of Love‘.
Odd choices of cover songs (Jethro Tull’s ‘Living In The Past‘, The Everly Brothers ‘Price of Love’ and ‘Day By Day‘ from the Godspell musical among others) along with an esoteric style made Cud hard to define. At a time when most bands came from Manchester and sounded exactly like The Stone Roses or The Charlatans, Cud were at odds with fashion. Carl’s spectacular dress sense and his kitschy, hopelessly romantic lyrics further set the band apart.
The later material was much more polished, and on their final record, ‘Showbiz‘, they wandered into the mainstream, but always retained a quirky edge.
Chart success proved elusive while Cud remained with Imaginary Records. It is likely that ‘Robinson Crusoe‘ and ‘Magic‘ would have charted had the records supply met public demand but Imaginary had no other bankable acts on their roster and were struggling to stay afloat. The only other Imaginary act to register any notable success were Manchester band The Mock Turtles with the massive hit single “Can You Dig It?”.
In 1991 Imaginary folded after Cud’s move to A&M, owing the band a substantial amount in royalties. As settlement, the record label returned CUD the right to their back catalogue.
Minor chart success came belatedly with A&M and a more accessible sound. ‘Rich & Strange‘ and ‘Purple Love Balloon‘ were both top thirty hits, and ‘Neurotica‘ scraped into the top forty. Despite this limited success the band failed to maintain any kind of momentum and album sales were disappointing.
The relationship between the band and A&M was always tenuous but disintegrated when the executive who had been responsible for engineering the deal left the label. The band felt under pressure to deliver an album with “international potential” which they felt they had done with the ‘Showbiz‘ record, but A&M decided not to release the record in the USA.
The band begun working on material for their sixth album. Around 80 songs written and demoed. A&M repeatedly rejecting the demos, urging the band to write “mid-paced, lyrically simple pop”. These demoes later surfaced on the “Donkey With A Fez On” CD which Carl Puttnam made available via mail order.
In the absence of any new material that the A&M was happy to release and promote, the label forged plans for a ‘best of’ compilation. The band recorded a new version of ‘Strange Kind Of Love‘ for the release and two songs for b-sides. The artwork was to be based on a William Potter t-shirt design – the CUD ‘U’ or udder in the style of pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein. Before the ‘best of’ project was fully realised the band were dropped, executives citing an ‘attitude problem’.
Bassist William Potter quit and moved to the Smoke to pursue a career in children’s publishing. His replacement was Mickey Dale one-time bassist with The Poppy Factory and later keyboardist for Cleckheaton-based rock-outfit Embrace. The new four piece continued to work on new material but the writing was on the wall and the band sought other options.
William Potter turned to his career as a comic artist. During his time in the band he had produced the long-running cartoon strip ‘Nommo’ which appeared in a publication called Deadline starting in 1990 and concluding the following year. Deadline was also the home to Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin’s “Tank Girl” which went on to become a major Hollywood feature film starring Malcolm McDowell and Ice-T – Hewlett would later create Gorillaz with Blur’s Damon Albarn. William has since moved into editorial, working on such household names as Ninja Turtles, Captain Scarlet, Winnie the Pooh, editing the DC Comics Graphic Novel Collection and writing a series of non-fiction and activitry books for children.
For a long time after Cud Mike Dunphy had a publishing deal to write songs, he also managed a band, Cube, who were signed to the Polydor record label. Mike still lives near Leeds and works as a deputy headmaster.
Carl Puttnam returned to Leeds after the Cud split. He DJed in local clubs and on local radio and hosted a pop quiz in Leeds Rocket bar. He also appeared in ITV soap Emmerdale as an extra in the swanky bar, attempted to write a novel and got himself an allotment in Chapeltown, Leeds. He continued writing and performing – recording a demo for Polydor Records which failed to secure a deal and his band splintered when keyboardist and songwriting partner Mickey Dale’s other job (as a member of Embrace) forced him to quit. Carl also collaborated with Leeds-based duo Dope Smugglaz co-writing and singing “88-99”, the b-side of the band’s top 20 hit single “Double Double Dutch”. He also performed with the band at the 1999 Homelands festival. Carl went on to work for booze empire Oddbins (at one-time managing the branch in Harrogate) and to study web design in the evenings. He still lives in Leeds.
Steve Goodwin, the infamous ‘Drummer from Cud’ (an NME in-joke), joined a new band named Lazerboy as well as contributing to Carl Puttnam’s aborted solo career. He also competed in World Masters pursuit cycling races. He is now works regularly with a Leeds theatre group.
The Return of CUD
Carl Puttnam played a solo show at the 12Bar in London in November 2001 which was recorded and released (via mail order only) as ‘Chateau de Carles. A year later he performed a similar show, this time with Steve Goodwin providing percussion. In 2006 the band, with Felix Frey standing in for Mike Dunphy, reformed for 10 shows to support the release of ‘Rich & Strange: The Anthology‘.
In 2007, Universal reissued CUD albums, remastered with extra tracks: When in Rome, Kill Me and Asquarius with all three remaining albums – Leggy Mambo, Showbiz and Elvis Belt due for reissue in March 2008. A farewell tour was booked to coincide with the releases. The ‘Last CUD gig’ proved not to be the case.
In 2012, when Steve and Felix chose not to continue playing with CUD, Carl and William asked original guitarist and songwriter Mike Dunphy to rejoin the band, with Gogs Byrn on drums. A string of shows and festival appearances followed, and continue to this day. The band have since recorded and released new material, including the singles ‘Louise’ and ‘Victoria’.
In 2017, Will and Carl were invited to collaborate on a regular CUD comic book, ‘Rich and Strange: The Return of the CUD Band’ which will be published every three months in Black Crown Quarterly.