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Inspired by the tongue-in-cheek confessionalism of the Smiths and solo Morrissey and the scrappy D.I.Y. aesthetic of the C-86 school, the Wave Pictures began in 1998 in the tiny rural village of Wymeswold in northern Leicestershire, in Great Britain's East Midlands. Heavily influenced by their parents' classic rock record collections and John Peel's indie-centric radio show, lead singer and guitarist David Tattersall, bassist Franic Rozycki, and drummer Hugh J. Noble were first called Blind Summit, then changed to the Wave Pictures when Noble left the band for university.
With the addition of drummer Jonny "Huddersfield" Helm, the Wave Pictures took their final form. While the three members attended different universities for the first eight years of their career, the band was a part-time affair that stuck to the D.I.Y. circuit, recording albums that were self-released in tiny CD-R pressings sold at gigs and traded with like-minded artists like Herman Düne, the Mountain Goats, Jeffrey Lewis, and Darren Hayman, all of whom the Wave Pictures collaborated with live and on record. In 2006, with Tattersall, Rozycki, and Helm all out of school, the Wave Pictures moved to London and signed with the indie label Moshi Moshi Records, which released the trio's first proper album, Sophie, the same year. The Wave Pictures' second album, Instant Coffee Baby, arrived in 2008 and began the band's remarkably prolific release schedule. The following year marked the arrival of If You Leave It Alone, while 2010 saw the release of the Europe-only album Susan Rode the Cyclone and the Sweetheart EP, as well as solo EPs from Helm and Tattersall. For 2011's Beer in the Breakers, the Wave Pictures recruited old friend Hayman as producer and recorded the album in one day. That year, the band also issued the Little Surprise, In Her Kitchen and Blue Harbour EPs, while Tattersall and Rozycki released the album How to Draw Sandwiches as the Last Swimmers. The Wave Pictures returned in 2012 with the Salt EP and the Tattersall-produced full-length Long Black Cars, and kept up the pace in 2013 with no less than three releases: The Songs of Jason Molina, a tribute album benefiting the late singer-songwriter's family, arrived that March, followed by September's Lisbon EP and the full-length City Forgiveness — which the band wrote while on tour with Allo Darlin' in the US — that October. In 2014, the group paid homage to one of their heroes, Daniel Johnston, by covering his album Artistic Vice; in 2015, they collaborated with another hero, Billy Childish, on Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon, a set of original songs borrowing some of Childish's snarling garage-rock as well as his vintage amps, drums and guitars.