London band originally active between 1979 and 1982, best remembered for moody hit single Is Vic There?
Taking their name from the 60s television series, Department S evolved from the punk/ska combo Guns For Hire. Although it featured several members during its lifetime, Guns For Hire was essentially occasional Face writer Vaughan Toulouse (b. Vaughan Cotillard, 30 July 1959, St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands, d. August 1991; vocals), Mike Herbage (guitar), Tony Lordan (bass), Eddie Roxy (b. Edward Lloyd Barnes; keyboards - replaced by Mark Taylor in 1981), and Stuart Mizan (drums; replaced by Mike Hasler). Hasler, who drummed for Madness in their Invaders days and also managed the Nips, wrote Guns For Hire’s only single - ‘I’m Gonna Rough My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Up Tonight’ - which emerged on Korova Records. The group became Department S with the addition of Mark Taylor and Stuart Mizan. They made their live debut at the Rock Garden, London, in July 1980. Demon Records released their debut single, ‘Is Vic There?’, in 1981. It was produced by former Mott The Hoople members Buffin and Overend Watts, but its success led to the better-equipped RCA Records picking it up. The b-side, ‘Solid Gold Easy Action’, featured Bananarama on backing vocals.Two further singles followed on Stiff Records but a planned album was aborted when neither single charted. Toulouse returned to work as a disc jockey, before re-emerging with Main T on Paul Weller’s Respond label. When two further singles flopped it proved to be the end of his performing career, with the exception of contributions to Weller’s Council Collective offshoot on ‘Soul Deep’, a miners’ strike benefit. He was also linked with the Style Council as one of the personalities behind the ‘Cappacino Kid’, whose writing graced the band’s sleeves. Toulouse died in August 1991 after a long illness brought on by AIDS. Of the remainder of the band, Lordan and Taylor were most recently accounted for as being a postman and cab driver, respectively.