Jasbinder with his dominant personality could see things were not progressing. There were too many ideas and suggestions of which not many coincided with his; the only way to move on was to get out. With the backing of his close friends and business associates this is what was to happen and hence Babylon Zoo was created. 1995 was also to be the year that Spaceman was conceived, for the mainstream market anyway, along with the album ‘The Boy With The X-Ray Eye’s. At this time Babylon Zoo was signed to W.E.A. (Warner Bros.), the single had been recorded, the video’s had been filmed, everything was ready to go but suddenly things halted. There were developments, the Managing Director of Warners, Clive Black, was signed over to EMI Records as there MD. Clive was so confident of Jas Mann that when the contract was drawn, it was made a condition that Jas be signed to EMI as well. All the Warner Bros. Spaceman CD’s and video’s had to be trashed, all the work of Babylon Zoo had also changed hands.
The CD’s and video’s had to be re-recorded under the new label, in the meantime Spaceman was aired on local radio in Manchester, it had not, at this stage been released as a single. One of the listeners of the radio station were the people who were making the next Levi’s advert – they chose this as their soundtrack for their campaign. The Levi’s Jeans ad was shown on UK television towards the latter end of 1995.
George Michael, after a five-year absence, had released his first record ‘Jesus to a Child’ which topped the charts. Spaceman the single was officially released onto the British market a week later, on 15th January 1996. The single overwhelmed the UK market, over 500,000 copies were sold in the first week of sales. It broke records by becoming the fastest selling debut single in British pop history, toppling George from the number 1 spot.
The Manager at Virgin Megastore in Birmingham said Babylon Zoo was selling 9 copies to every 1 of George Michael’s; George therefore sold approximately 56,000. Sales for Spaceman started on the Monday and by first thing Thursday it was a fact that Babylon Zoo was Numero Uno. The single stayed firm in the top slot for an incredible 5 weeks’ (in the UK charts), more copies had to be cut due to enormous demand.
Spaceman, the track expressed the need to keep true to oneself despite outside peer pressure, in the same way that a visitor from another planet would be free from earthly influences. It is about recognising that we all have our ‘spaceman’ – a projection of our inner soul. of how we feel about ourselves. Our outer personalities are so easily affected by our social environments, but we must stay true to ourselves and not compromise our ‘spaceman’. “I write about what it would feel like to be a person from another planet, rather than romanticising science fiction “explains Jas. Babylon Zoo has a vision of personal liberation that encourages the asking of questions without preaching a set of proscribed answers.
Jas says, “You don’t have to listen to me, turn it off, rip up the paper, break my record; I’m not here to patronise the individual and say – you have to like me”. The music, artwork and visual ideas were all generated from a studio in Wolverhampton – New Atlantis Productions.
Jean Francois CecilIon, President and C.E.O. of EMI Records Group U.K. and Ireland stated “Babylon Zoo’s phenomenal success proves that British music is red hot. Our companies around the world are gearing up for a No 1 hit”.
Clive Black, EMI UK’s Managing Director at the time and the man responsible for signing the act to EMI commented, “The success of Spaceman has been literally out of this world! It looks like being EMI’s biggest selling single since The Beatles in the 60’s and our factories are working day and night to keep up with the huge demand. This is just the start …. ”
On 5th February 1996 Babylon Zoo released their debut album on EMI U.K. which went in at number 6 in the album charts. The title ‘The Boy With The X-Ray Eyes’ comes from a nickname Jas was given when young. The album was recorded for the most part in Jas’ own studio, The New Atlantis, in his hometown of Wolverhampton. In addition to writing and producing the album he also played all the instruments on the record, often using surprisingly lo-fi techniques to achieve the overall sophisticated and thoroughly modern result.
The super-charged guitar sound that runs through the album is produced by plugging a cheap second-hand guitar and amp straight into the mixing desk. The distorted vocals of Jas Mann’s alter-egos, the different voices of his multiple personalities on the album are enhanced by a toy megaphone and objects to hand in his bedroom, rather than exorbitant production tools. But these unstudied simple effects fuse to create a high quality, powerful sound.
“Like an actor, the album is a platform for my personal feelings about my surroundings and the people around me”, Jas Mann’s personal catharsis is interpreted on ‘The Boy With The X-Ray Eye’s through expressing his various inner voices and with the rest of the band musically facilitating the analysis.
The album is a soundtrack without a film, a modern opera without a script and the band are actors playing games with the roll’n’roll dinosaur. Welcome to part one; this is the genesis of the world according to Babylon Zoo.
On 15th April Jas Mann and Babylon Zoo unlocked the chains and cages and unleashed a new single called ‘Animal Army’. Replete with an elephant wake-up call, lion and leopards roaring, the song describes the private jungle that lives in Jas’ imagination.
Animal Army taken from the album was the follow up to the fastest selling debut single of all time. Both Spaceman and the album charted all around Europe – Spaceman hitting the No 1 slot in 20 countries, totting up sales of over 1 million in this country. The Boy With The X-Ray Eye’s reached the Top 20 in 17 countries including Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Babylon Zoo released the title track of their debut album, The Boy With The X-Rays as a single on 16th September 1996. The video to this track was filmed with the band playing on the roof of Canary Wharf in London. During the month of September the band toured Europe playing in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland and finally finishing off in the UK in London’s Astoria on Thursday 26th September 1996.