Overall, the album version of Tequila was a summer-tinged blast of tropic-flavoured euphoria over which Tony sang of how the Mexican tipple “makes me happy”. From the exotic sound of crickets at dusk to occasional flashes of Spanish guitar, it’s a vibrant track only made more infectious by the giggly schoolchildren singing backing vocals. “We were determined to get a load of kids in to sing the chorus for Tequila,” Leigh says, “and it just so happened that Edwyn and Grace’s son, William, dragged a gang of girls in from his school.” When the song became a hit, the band even went on to invite the kids to join them on stage for live performances on TFI Friday and CD:UK.
“It was a total riot,” Leigh remembers of the album sessions. “After a few hours of decent, sober work each day, the red wine came out and things descended into anarchy.” With the likes of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and Aztec Camera songwriter Roddy Frame popping in for a visit, it’s hardly surprising the song had such a party atmosphere. Tequila might not have seemed an obvious choice for a single, but that would soon all change once Mint Royale DJs Neil Claxton and Chris Baker put their own spin on it.
“It was the first remix of ours that sounded like a great song.”
Slap-bang in the middle of the big-beat era spearheaded by Fatboy Slim, Manchester duo Mint Royale were tasked with remixing Terrorvision’s song as an arms-aloft club banger. Initially issued on white label, the DJs’ work was so impressive that it would soon bring the band’s celebration of barroom hedonism into nightclubs the world over under the guise of Tequila (Mint Royale Shot). “It was the first remix of ours we had heard that sounded like a great song,” Marklew says. “They just turned the pop factor up to 11.”
After the song was championed by BBC Radio 1 DJ Zoe Ball on her breakfast show, the single was released, on 18 January 1999, and went on to peak at No.2 in the UK, beaten by a whisker by The Offspring’s Pretty Fly (For A White Guy). Though Terrorvision had been on Top Of The Pops before, they performed the song alongside Mint Royale for the Beeb’s flagship music show, with Tony shaking maracas alongside makeshift desert props. “Somebody had moved my keyboard, so all you can see of me is I’m stuck behind a plastic cactus,” former Terrorvision keyboardist Josephine Ellul recalls. “I had a camera guy basically on my arse the entire time, and it was really off-putting!”
Inevitably, Terrorvision’s newfound association with tequila had its perks, particularly when the band headed back out on the road. “Jose Cuervo sent them these awesome tequila bottles in beautiful wooden caskets,” Ellul says – though the booze got stolen from the band’s dressing room, along with bags of her clothes. “I basically had to go on stage with gaffer tape instead of a bra, and barefoot because they got my stage shoes.” The next day, the group found all the empty tequila bottles and everything else in a nearby woods, with Ellul’s underwear “draped on all the trees and everything”.
“Everybody wanted to drink tequila with us”
With Tequila becoming Terrorvision’s biggest hit, the late 90s sped by like a never-ending party for the band. “The whole promotional whirl around the single was so massively drenched in alcohol,” Marklew says. “Everybody who met us wanted to drink Tequila with us, no matter if it was 10am or 10pm.” Tony Wright even remembers how the band’s influence started to seep into the late-night club culture: “It triggered a whole industry, with everything from bar signs to T-shirts that say ‘Tequila, it makes me happy’.”
Despite the song becoming such a big success, Terrorvision were reaching the end of their time as a studio band, with only two more albums, 2001’s Good To Go and 2011’s Super Delux, following amid a slew of live recordings. Between 2001 and 2005, the group went on hiatus. “It was the beginning of the end for that period of the band,” Marklew reflects. “It was the last hurrah.”
Luckily for the band, the song attracted a live following which continues to support them to this day. “We played the festival circuit that year as an unsigned act and absolutely smashed it,” Marklew says. “Tequila went down a storm with everyone in the crowd.”
The bassist remains understandably proud of Tequila’s success. “It’s a fun song from a fun time,” he concludes. “We’ll take the attention it got us.” Doubtless it will continue to fund Terrorvision’s rounds for years to come.