Given Lawrence Hayward's frequent disputes with his bandmates during the decade-long run of his first and best-known band Felt, it came as little surprise that for his next project, he was not merely the uncontested leader, but the sole constant member. Denim was not a band in the traditional sense; instead, Hayward worked with a revolving cast of musicians for Denim's various studio projects and live appearances. The band also found Hayward setting aside the lush but wiry guitar-based pop that was Felt's calling card, and instead founded a new sound inspired by glam rock, 70's pop, and distaff offshoots of early new wave, with the eclectic music tied together by Hayward's dryly witty, often bitterly satiric lyrics.
Denim made its debut in 1992 with the album Back in Denim, in which Hayward celebrated the '70s with the song "The Osmonds" and revealed his contempt for what followed on "I'm Against the 1980s." Recorded over the space of two years and released by Bows Own Records, the album fared well with critics but didn't sell especially well, and it wasn't until 1996 that Denim released their second LP, the sprawling and eclectic Denim on Ice, which was issued by The Echo Label, a U.K. imprint affiliated with Japan's Pony Canyon Records. Denim promoted the album with a major tour opening for Pulp (whose lyrical style showed a certain resemblance to Hayward's dry-as-gin tales of British life), but once again, record buyers proved less enthusiastic than critics. In early 1997, Denim shifted labels once again, this time to EMI, and their label debut was a collection of B-sides and unreleased tracks, Novelty Rock.
In the late summer of 1997, Denim were gearing up for the release of their next album, Denim Take Over, and in advance of its release, EMI planned to release "Summer Smash," a track from the album, as a single. Copies were sent to radio and press in anticipation of an early September release date, but while initial reaction suggested Denim might have had a hit on their hands, the single was derailed by the death of Princess Diana in a car crash on August 31, 1997. Following Diana's death, EMI decided releasing a song called "Summer Smash" would be in poor taste, and they not only canceled the release of the single and destroyed all copies still in their hands, they shelved Denim Take Over permanently. Following this frustrating turn of events, Hayward retired Denim, though he re-recorded several songs from the unissued Denim Take Over with his subsequent project, Go-Kart Mozart. ~ Mark Deming