The initial run of the Cedar EP sleeves were done in pink

Its been 20 years since Doves released their debut record the Cedar EP. Doves manager Dave Rofe kindly agreed to answer some questions about the EP and beyond. Dave has worked with the band going back to the early Sub Sub days. You may also know Dave from other bands such as Cherry Ghost. He is currently busy preparing the debut release from Liverpool based band The Fernweh.

How did you become to be involved with Sub Sub?

A friend of mine was playing alongside Jimi doing session work for a local singer when Jimi mentioned to him that he and a couple of mates had started a band called Sub Sub who just released a track called Space Face and that they were looking for a manager. So he hooked us up and we started working together.

I took them to meet Rob Gretton in Dry on Oldham Street, who liked what they were about and signed them to his Rob’s Records label and off we went…

Did you ever consider walking away from Sub Sub in 96? What made you stick with them? 

Not at all, admittedly the band weren’t releasing a lot of music around then but they were really busy times.
Between ‘Ain’t No Love’s success in ’93 and The Cedar Room’s release in ’98 we set up base in several different rehearsal rooms/studios, so there was always something going on. Van’s to hire, fire’s to put out etc
They were working pretty regular hours, 5 days a week, week in week out and sonically the band were changing too so it was a good productive time to be around.

What support did you receive early on that helped get the Cedar EP out there? 
The best support we received was arguably from our label boss and friend Rob Gretton, he had contacts that proved useful in getting on the bill at places like Glastonbury / supporting New Order at Manchester Apollo etc.
We also had local radio pluggers Red Alert working on the Casino EP so the whole thing had a strong Manchester flavour to it, which helped give the band some kind of identity at that point I guess.

What is your recollection of how the Cedar EP helped move the band forward?

I’d be lying if I said I could give a blow by blow account of how it all came together, it’s 20 years ago and things start to blur over time, but yes a combination of getting out doing gigs, getting played on Radio 1’s Evening Session and getting good reviews in the NME all helped to get live agents etc to get in touch and get the ball rolling

How much input did you have on how the record was released?

It was very much a collaborative affair, we worked closely with Rob and Pete Robinson at Rob’s Records on it.
As Sub Sub we’d released songs on Rob’s Records, so the idea of changing the bands name to Doves but also having our own Casino Records imprint was a good way of starting with a clean slate to fit the bands new approach to writing and performing.

Any anecdotes from 98 that stick in the memory?

Probably meeting Tony Wilson on the street outside Rob’s office one night and him being very complimentary about the record. Growing up in Manchester with Factory Records being omnipresent it was a pinch yourself moment that he’d actually heard and liked it.

What for you was Doves first big break that got the band going?

I remember seeing Steve Lamacq watching the band on the New Bands Stage at Glastonbury in ’98 and going up to him to say “go on Steve get them in for a session” etc, bit embarrassing looking back on it now, but we ended up getting booked for a Maida Vale session soon after.
That support from the Evening Session for the early EP’s really helped move things on.

The Delta Tapes was released in early 98. Any plans to put this album online as you have with Full Fathom Five?

Yes, I’ve been meaning to do it for a while now, I’ll get it up soon…

The #1 question I’m constantly asked: Is there any desire from yourselves or the label to reissue Doves albums on vinyl?

Watch this space…

What are you currently up to?

Working with a great band based mainly in Liverpool called The Fernweh, they’re like a Scouse version of The Wrecking Crew having played on records and live with people like The Stairs / Candie Payne / The Zutons / James Skelly / Edgar Jones etc … they decided to record some of their own songs. Took them about 4 years, but their eponymous debut album is out late Nov and is well worth a listen !

Further recommended reading: 

1 Top Class Manager – Memories of Rob Gretton  

Manchester Digital Music Archive

Caught By The River – Remembering Rob Gretton

BBC Article – Rob Gretton: What makes a good band manager?