The Xdreamysts hailed from the north coast area of N. Ireland and started treading the boards under the name Flying Squad. The band were Brian 'Moffy' Moffatt (drums), Roe Butcher (bass), Uel Walls (rhythm guitar & vocals) and John ‘Doc’ Doherty (lead guitar).
Flying Squad formed their version of covers of material by artists such as Spirit, Amazin Rhytmn Aces, The Byrds etc. They played local pub gigs which had Country & Western audiences and for such shows they played a Country set. These gigs were a means to an end as they paid well and were guaranteed money which they invested in a PA system. Flying Squad also secured a gig at Spuds every Thursday night. Brian Moffatt recalls how those came about “Those gigs were on door money only. We maybe got about 30 people on a good night! We had a tab behind the bar and if we were lucky the door money sometimes covered that! The Thursday nights allowed us to play the material we wanted to play and we steadily built up our own following on the back of those gigs.”
These Thursday night gigs at Spuds encouraged the band to start concentrating more on writing their own material and many of the early cover versions such as Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers “Born To Lose” and The Ramones “Suzi Is A Headbanger” were kicked into touch, although their cover of Mystery Dance remained and they still play it on the occasions they get back together for shows. Their debut original composition was City Girl and it wasn't long before they had composed a full set of classy original tunes. As a result of this change in material, in the summer of 1977 they also changed their name to the Xdreamysts, and continued to amass their local following with a residency in Spuds (Portstewart), as well as playing regularly at Chesters in Portrush.
An early fan of the band was a guy called Willie Richardson who knew Terri Hooley and it was he who suggested to Terri that he put them on his Good Vibrations record label. The Xdreamysts, who all sported long hair and flared denims, were never a punk band, but they gained a certain amount of credibility among the New Wave fraternity locally when they signed to the Good Vibrations record label who released their debut 45rpm Right Way Home in 1978. Roe Butcher recalls "Our first single 'Right Way Home', was knocked out in a few hours and on a few grams of you-know-what. That's why the songs were so fast in those days!” Drummer Brian 'Moffy' Moffatt also has fond memories of their debut experience in a studio ““We went to Wizard Studios in Belfast to record “Right Way Home” which was among one of the first songs we had written. We were met by Davy Wizard (as he became known to us) who owned the studio and he engineered the session. I suppose we produced it ourselves. It was a quick session as I remember. We played the songs live. Recorded the bass and drums and lay guitars and vocals on top. To be brutally honest, we wouldn’t have known the difference between a good studio and a bad one at that point. As long as it sounded all right on the playback monitors, we were happy. In fact if you listen on “Right Way Home” just at the start of Doc’s guitar solo, there is a wee bit of squiggly tape noise. We picked up on it when we heard it on the mix and liked it and decided to keep it in. The whole thing was done in a day but it took ages before it appeared as a single on the label, probably around a year!”
With this new found “credibility” the band began to gig in punk venues including that bastion of punk itself, the Harp Bar. Roe Butcher again “The big difference between us and most of the other bands on Good Vibes is that we'd all left school. And whereas their influences would've been bands like the Clash and the Buzzcocks, we were big into the Beatles and the Stones and '60s psychedelia."
Their appearance and mix of power-poppin' catchy rock tunes also enabled them to gain support slots with the likes of Thin Lizzy. They came to the attention of Polydor Records, who signed them along with Protex, after watching both bands perform live in Chesters. Says Roe, "Even though we were from the country and had long hair most of the Belfast punks accepted us, and when Polydor came looking for their token Northern Irish band, the Xdreamysts got signed along with Protex" and went on to play the London gig circuit, strutting their stuff at venues such as the Rock Garden and The Marquee. By this time the Xdreamysts had acquired the services of Carl Leyton-Pope as manager and they went on to release three singles and an album on Polydor. Brian Moffatt recounts the difference between recording with Polydor and Good Vibrations ““Our later studio experiences with Polydor all took place at Olympic Studios in London in Studio 2. At the time we were there The London Philharmonic Orchestra were in studio 1, a place the size of a dancehall. We put doc in there with his amp to get a more live guitar sound! The album was recorded very quickly too. All bass and drums went down in one day and I think about a week for everything else. The Xdreamysts never really got enough time in a studio to become comfortable with recording. We were never afforded the luxury of being given the time to relax with the process. I feel if we had we could have produced something really good. First and foremost, we were a live band, that’s where we were most comfortable”. The album, incidentally, was only ever given a Dutch release, although Good Vibrations did distribute import copies throughout Ireland. Prior to the album’s release, the band had recorded an excellent session for the John Peel show on Radio One. Brian Moffatt again” Doing a session for the John Peel show was a massive thing for us. It just didn’t get much better than that. Sadly the reality was a big let down. We turned up at Maida Vale Studios on 5th December 1979. There the designated Producer Ted De Bono and Engineer Nick Gomm read a newspaper the whole time as we were laying down the session. The resulting session was crap and to be honest, we were crap. It was a very disappointing day for us”. The session was broadcast on the 10th January 1980.
The Xdreamysts split up in 1981 after Polydor dropped them when their records failed to sell in sufficient quantities. As all of the singles were of top-notch quality and more than worthy of a place in the UK charts, the lack of success may have been due to a lack of promotion on the part of the record-label. In fact, the band’s last single Stay The Way You Are was later covered by Paul Young's band Q Tips, who went on to have a huge European hit with it, when Q Tips released it themselves as a single.
Roe Butcher had already quit the band in 1980 and went on to form The Mighty Shamrocks with Mickey Stevens, Davie Gough and Paddy McNicholl. They released one single on the Strong Records label and even recorded an album for Terri Hooley's Good Vibrations label. The album was recorded at Mudd Wallace's Homestead Studios but unfortunately Terri couldn't afford to release it at the time. The Mighty Shamrocks subsequently broke up in 1983 and their original album recordings are still gathering dust in Mudd's studio.
The Xdreamysts are all still involved in music individually and collectively. The original line-up get together now and again for sporadic shows which are always well received. In 2007 they played a number of tracks live on an outside broadcast of BBC Radio Ulster’s Alan Simpson popular daytime show. Sadly there are no current plans for any further shows