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Department S have a long and interesting history. Most famous for their 1981 UK hit single "Is Vic There?" they achieved further success on mainland Europe with follow up singles "Going Left Right" (an early punk/funk/mutant disco anthem!) and the final single from the original line-up "I Want", on which singer Vaughn Toulouse brilliantly both prophesied and satirised the coming age of greed and rampant capitalism that was the 1980s. 


Unfortunately, although the original band recorded a debut album, they did not last long enough to see it released. Due to problems with the record company and between themselves they split and the album, "Sub-Stance", was shelved. In terms of missed opportunities, this is up there with the best. The album had been produced by Dave Tickle who had previously worked on Blondie's “Parallel Lines" and subsequently went on to great success with such acts as The Police, Prince and U2. 


Department S reformed in 2007. Band members came and went, Department S releases in the noughties seeing guest appearances from a catalogue of UK punk and post-punk alumni such as Marco Pirroni (Adam and the Ants), Glen Matlock (The Sex Pistols), John Keeble (Spandau Ballet), Mark Bedford (Madness) and Pete Jones (Public Image Limited.) 


A studio album of new material was released in 2016- the critically acclaimed “When All Is Said and All Is Done” which was described by Vive Le Rock magazine as being “an album that modern new wave bands such as Franz Ferdinand would kill to have made.”  


Recording of the forthcoming studio album “Burn Down Tomorrow” started in late 2019 before the pandemic stopped the world in its tracks. The record is complete pending release as at March 2023. 


The band are now fronted by long standing member, guitarist and chief songwriter Phil Thompson (this self-styled “hardest working man in post-punk” can also be found playing in The Rezillos and occasionally helping out his old mates The Vapors of “Turning Japanese” fame) and feature Mike Lea on bass and Simon “Basher” Bowley (Eddie and the Hot Rods) on drums. 


They consider “Burn Down Tomorrow” to be their strongest work yet and can’t wait to unleash it to all the Department S Lost Followers. The album illustrates the high regard in which Department S are still held by their peers, featuring guest appearances from Baz Warne (The Stranglers), Leigh Heggarty (Ruts DC) and Stephen Rice (The Chameleons.) 


The title track and first single released from the album is a driving, no-nonsense statement of intent described by the band as “…a modern take on the classic Department S sound and vibe. Just as Vaughn Toulouse took a swipe at the greed-driven 80s with “I Want”, so “Burn Down Tomorrow” puts current apathetic attitudes to modern world issues under the microscope- with explosive results!” 


Keep up to date with the next instalment of the Department S saga by joining the Lost Followers mailing list at  


Is Vic There? Join us to find out! 

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