The The is an alternative/new wave band formed in 1979 in London, England. Matt Johnson (vocals, multiple instruments) is the only constant band member. Releases are fairly few and far between but over the years The The has managed to sell several million albums internationally.
Johnson formed the first version of the band in 1979, with synth player Keith Laws. The group, after opening for Scritti Politti, issued its first single "Controversial Subject" on the 4AD label in 1980. One year later, it contributed a track to the Some Bizzare Records compilation album, Some Bizarre Album. In 1981 Johnson released Burning Blue Soul, which, despite the fact that it is technically a Matt Johnson solo album (and was released under his name) is often considered to be the first The The album. The album featured Johnson and various musicians from the British post-punk underground, including various members of Wire.
By 1982, The The had become Johnson's solo project, with a revolving lineup of musicians. That year, the album The Pornography of Despair was recorded, but not released. In 1983, the band released its first real album Soul Mining, which featured the single "This Is the Day," recorded with Orange Juice's Zeke Manyika, pianist Jools Holland and cult legend Thomas Leer. The band's next album, Infected, was a commentary on the state of modern urban life in Great Britain. The album was released in 1986, with Johnson joined by musicians like Neneh Cherry, Art of Noise's Anne Dudley, Marillion's Steve Hogarth, and Swans' Roli Mosimann, among others. It was accompanied by an album-length video and spawned The The's first UK hit single, "Heartland".
The The had a steady lineup again by the time its next album Mind Bomb was released in 1989, with Johnson joined by Irish singer-songwriter Sinead O'Connor and former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist James Eller and former ABC drummer Dave Palmer. It spawned the moderate UK hit single, "The Beat(en) Generation". The same lineup remained for the next album Dusk released in 1993, which brought about three UK hit singles, "Love Is Stronger Than Death," "Slow Emotion Replay," and "Dogs of Lust," but changed for the 1995 album Hanky Panky, which was a covers collection honoring the music of country musician Hank Williams; it resulted in another UK hit single, "I Saw the Light". The band then consisted of Johnson, guitarist Eric Schermerhorn, keyboardist D.C. Collard, harmonica player Jim Fitting, and drummer Brian MacLeod. After Collard left, the album NakedSelf was released in 2000.