The Monochrome Set
|The Monochrome Set|
|Genres||Post-punk, new wave, indie pop|
|Years active||1978–1985, 1990–1998, 2008–present|
Blanco y Negro Records
|Associated acts||Adam and the Ants, Would-Be-Goods, Scarlet's Well|
|Past members||J.D. Haney
James 'Foz' Foster
Original band: 1978-1985
The Monochrome Set was formed in Hornsey, London in 1978 from the remnants of a college group called The B-Sides (whose members had included Stuart Goddard, later known as Adam Ant). The original line-up consisted of Indian-born lead singer and principal songwriter Bid (real name Ganesh Seshadri), Canadian guitarist Lester Square (real name Thomas W.B. Hardy), drummer John D. Haney and bass guitarist Charlie Harper. The band went through several bassists in the next few years, including Jeremy Harrington and Andy Warren of the Ants, a childhood friend of Bid.
Experimental filmmaker Tony Potts began collaborating with the band in 1979, designing lighting and stage sets with film projections for their live appearances. The band's early persona was defined by the shadowy, uncertain stage images created by the films to such an extent he is often described as being the band's "fifth member".
They released several singles for the Rough Trade label before recording their debut studio album, Strange Boutique, produced by Bob Sargeant for Virgin Records' imprint DinDisc in 1980. It peaked at No. 62 in the UK Albums Chart in 1980. Their follow-up effort, Love Zombies, was produced by Alvin Clark and the band later that same year. Haney left the band in 1981, and was replaced by Lexington Crane.
In 1982, the band switched labels to Cherry Red to release their third album, Eligible Bachelors, produced by Tim Hart. Square and Crane left soon afterwards, and were replaced by keyboardist Carrie Booth and drummer Nicholas Weslowski. This line-up recorded a 1982 single, "Cast a Long Shadow", for Cherry Red, before Booth was in turn replaced by new lead guitarist James 'Foz' Foster (later of David Devant & His Spirit Wife).
In 1983, Cherry Red released Volume, Contrast, Brilliance..., a retrospective of the band's early Rough Trade singles, BBC and Capital Radio sessions, and other unreleased early sessions.
In 1985, with the same line-up as on Cast a Long Shadow, The Monochrome Set recorded The Lost Weekend for Warner Bros. Records. The Lost Weekend failed commercially, and after a few singles, the band officially broke up, though they served as Jessica Griffin's backing band on the first album by the Would-Be-Goods, The Camera Loves Me.
In early 1990, Bid, Square and Warren reformed the band, with the addition of keyboardist Orson Presence and drummer Mike Slocombe (who was quickly replaced by Trevor Ready). The new band toured extensively, especially in Japan, where Bid had become a star. The band released several low-key albums for Cherry Red during the 1990s, before going on hiatus in 1998.
Bid has since recorded a number of albums with his new band, Scarlet's Well. The song, "He's Frank", appeared on the TV series Heroes. The recording used was a cover version of the original recorded by the Brighton Port Authority (aka. Fatboy Slim) featuring Iggy Pop.
The band reunited on 8 October 2008 for a one-off performance at Cherry Red's 30th anniversary party at Dingwalls, London. It also marked the 30th anniversary of The Monochrome Set. Bid, Warren and Square were joined by Jennifer Denitto (drums) and Sian Dada (keyboards) of Scarlet's Well, and performed thirteen songs.
2011–2013 and reformation
In 2011, Bid, Square and Warren reformed the band, with the addition of drummer Jennifer Denitto from Scarlet's Well and keyboard player John Paul Moran. The band played dates in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Japan and The Netherlands. The band continued to tour in the UK, Europe and Japan throughout 2012, playing material from their 2012 studio album Platinum Coils (their first album since 1995's Trinity Road) as well as selections from their extensive back catalogue. In 2011 the band were joined by Helena Johansson from Scarlet's Well on violin and mandolin, replacing John Paul Moran. Helena left the band (to have a baby) in July 2013 and the band are currently a four piece with Steve Brummell (formerly of the band Luxembourg) on drums. The band scheduled a short tour of the American east coast, their first in over 30 years, in the Spring of 2013 and toured the UK in Autumn 2013 to promote their eleventh studio album, 'Super Plastic City', which was released in October 2013.
- Robb, John (9 January 2009). "Blog: The Monochrome Set – Remembering the Band That History Forgot | Music | guardian.co.uk". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, England: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 375. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
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