As GBVG (their initials) Bennie and Giarrusso released their first single "Blast" in 1988, establishing the Underground Lovers' basic characteristics: Bennie's striking hypnotic guitar atmospheres balanced against Giarrusso's acute pop sense. By forming a group the following year, they were able to extend their imaginations. The serene vocals of Philippa Nihill offered yet another color, compared to Giarrusso's rhythmic leanings. On-stage, Nihill and Giarrusso swapped both vocals and keyboard duties, supported by bass and drums, and encased by Bennie's unique guitar approach. The Underground Lovers played their first gig in Melbourne in May 1990. Two gigs later they recorded their independently distributed debut album.
Their second album Leaves Me Blind was released in England even before Australia, after the head of England's cult label 4AD happened to be Australia, heard the finished record and offered the group a one-album deal on 4AD's sister label Guernica. 4AD's spotlight led to strong import sales in the U.S. Americans assumed the band was British. The British thought the Underground Lovers were in tune with the burgeoning Manchester scene. The Underground Lovers knew they'd developed what they were based on: British influences like Joy Division
and New Order
and local Australian inspirations. The band's third album Dream It Down became their mainstream label debut, a lush record which almost gave the band a hit record with "Las Vegas."
The Underground Lovers didn't enjoy their tenure under a major record company and chose to leave rather than be told what they had to do in order to achieve that hit single. The next album, Rushall Station, was released on the group's own ironically-named Mainstream label. Phillipa Nihill had left for a solo career, but still appeared on a couple of the tracks. It just meant that Bennie and Giarrusso could please themselves where they pushed the Underground Lovers next. On record and on stage, the Underground Lovers could be whatever they needed to be to suit the occasion. While Bennie and Giarrusso are in charge it's always unmistakably Underground Lovers. Under the same methodology they have created two more albums, Ways T'Burn and Cold Feeling. In between they have released another single and performed as GBVB; Bennie produced Phillipa Nihill's debut solo album and Giarrusso wrote and directed the movie Mallboy. ~ Ed Nimmervoll, Rovi