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Top 10 Bands You Thought Were British But Aren't

VO: Richard Bush
You mean great bands can also not be British? Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Bands You Thought Were British but Aren’t. For this list, we’re taking a look at bands that, because of their musical style and/or image, are often thought to be British, when they in fact come from different parts of the world. Special thanks to our user ashjbow for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Bands You Thought Were British but Aren’t


You mean great bands can also not be British? Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Bands You Thought Were British but Aren’t.

For this list, we’re taking a look at bands that, because of their musical style and/or image, are often thought to be British, when they in fact come from different parts of the world.

#10: The Bravery
USA


Somewhat briefly storming the charts in the mid-2000s, The Bravery saw most of their early success play out in the UK - where the New York band generated a much bigger buzz than they managed across the pond. Racking up many a festival appearance, they spearheaded everything with that one single that everyone knew. With a style shaped by the likes of the Cure, and a synthy sound similar to Depeche Mode and others - it’s easy to see why some believed them to be British. It really was ‘an honest mistake’.

#9: Talking Heads
USA


David Byrne, founder, leader, main songwriter and frontman of the band, may have been born in Britain (Scotland, to be precise) but moved to the States with his family at a very young age (after living in Canada, do we sense a trend?) Byrne does hold British as well as American citizenship, but the Talking Heads are, for all intents and purposes, an American band. Pioneers of new wave music, with their eclectic mix of styles and influences they became one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the late ‘70s and ‘80s.

#8: INXS
Australia


This famed rock band, whose style was initially rooted in the new wave of pop and later evolved to include dance and funk in its arsenal, does indeed sound like something out of the Madchester era of British music. And their following in the United Kingdom only grew through the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. But they were actually formed in Sydney, New South Wales, and are considered one of the most influential bands to ever come from Australia.

#7: R.E.M.
USA


The pioneers of alternative rock are often mentioned in the same breath as other contemporary, equally pioneering British acts such as The Smiths or Radiohead. But R.E.M. actually formed back in 1980 in the college town of Athens, Georgia, which means they helped spearhead the revolution of indie music in the ‘80s, influencing bands as popular and diverse as Nirvana, Coldplay and Pearl Jam. The band disbanded amicably in 2011, but their 31 years on the stage are sure to be remembered.

#6: The Monkees
USA


Created in 1965 by filmmaker Bob Rafelson (one of the founders of the New Hollywood movement) and Bert Schneider for their sitcom of the same name, the pop-rock band The Monkees was formed in Los Angeles. And even though one of the members was British actor and musician Davy Jones, and one of the main influences over the show was The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night”, the band, which became famous outside of TV, as a bona fide musical act, cannot but be considered a wholly American affair.

#5: The Cranberries
Ireland


What a voice, what a presence. Like the band she joined in 1990 that became a symbol of the new wave of Irish rock, peers with the legendary U2, O’Riordan came from County Limerick, Ireland. The singer sadly tragically passed away in 2018 at only 46, but her work with The Cranberries gained her and her bandmates popular recognition and critical acclaim, making the Irish alternative rockers one of the best musical acts of the early ‘90s.

#4: Interpol
USA


Part of the post-punk revival of the early 2000s, and at the forefront of the New York indie music scene, Interpol are nonetheless very much indebted to the Manchester scene of the late '70s and early '80s, especially to seminal bands like Joy Division and The Chameleons. The similarities run so deep that the casual listener would be forgiven if mistaking them for an English band: Paul Banks’ baritone tends at times to remind us of Ian Curtis, too.

#3: Harvey Danger
USA


Famous in Britain for being the band responsible for “Flagpole Sitta”, the theme song to cult classic TV series “Peep Show”, Harvey Danger do not actually come from fair Albion, but from across the pond. More precisely from Seattle, Washington. The band was formed by journalism students at the University of Washington in 1993, and started to gain momentum in the local music circles, until a record deal was struck a few years later, resulting in the release of their first album in 1997.

#2: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Australia


Perhaps Down Under’s finest export, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are one of the greatest, most original bands of the post-punk era. Cave has now for many years lived in Brighton, England, and before that, when still the frontman of the Birthday Party, he spent a long time in London, making a name for himself in the punk scene. But, like many present and past members of the Bad Seeds, Nick Cave hails from Australia, even though his personal and working life has often brought him back to Britain.

#1: The Killers
USA


What with Brandon Flowers’ faux-British vocals, and an early sound partly inspired by the Britpop bands of yesteryear, the Killers have long been falsely flagged as a UK thing. Yes, their later records are kinda crammed with US references, but the British misconception mostly boils down to the iconic debut album, “Hot Fuss” – with “Mr Brightside” still standing as one of the great British (but non-British) indie anthems of its time. The Las Vegas band even had the good grace to famously cover Oasis and Joy Division when they headlined V Festival in 2012 - classily confirming their status as adopted Brits forever more.
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