Paul Vickers AKA Mr. Twonkey in 2014
|Genres||Indie rock, alternative rock, lo-fi, cabaret, comedy|
|Associated acts||Dawn of the Replicants, The Leg|
Paul Vickers is the vocalist and lyricist with cult rock band Dawn of the Replicants. After the group went on indefinite hiatus in 2007, he continued to release music with various collaborators as well as branching out into comedy and writing. Since 2010 he has performed an annual, award nominated annual cabaret show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as Mr. Twonkey. He has also released three albums with Edinburgh band The Leg. In 2013 he published his first book, Itchy Grumble, and in 2015 his first theatrical play Jennifer's Robot Arm debuted in London. Twonkey's Mumbo Jumbo Hotel won the Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Vickers moved to Galashiels from Marske-by-the-Sea to work on a short-lived Scottish music magazine, Sun Zoom Spark. Several of the contributors formed the band Dawn of the Replicants and landed a major label record deal with eastwest, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group. Despite strong reviews and the backing of DJ John Peel, the group were dropped from eastwest after two albums. They continued releasing new material to critical acclaim on independent labels until Fangs (2006), their last studio album to date. Vickers also released an album of electronica with Replicants band member Roger Simian as Pluto Monkey in 2000.
Vickers, who enjoyed talking to the audience between songs at live shows, had long been encouraged to try his hand at stand-up. In 2008, he released a comedy album Recording The Impossible in collaboration with Andy Currie. The recording featured impersonations by Currie, elaborate sketches and musical backing, inspired by the likes of Ivor Cutler, the Jerky Boys, Chris Morris and Tom Waits. By 2009, Vickers was performing one-off stand-up gigs around Edinburgh as a solo act. That same year he performed at Edinburgh's prestigious The Stand Comedy Club, but was banned after covering the stage in syrup. He was finally allowed back in July 2015.
In 2010, he made his debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, performing Twonkey's Cottage throughout the month of August. He has performed a new "Twonkey" show at each subsequent Fringe Festival (and the Brighton Festival since 2012). Title character "Twonkey" was initially a small on-stage puppet, described as "half dragon, half witch, all accountant" and she featured heavily in the absurdist storytelling. By his fourth show, Twonkey's Blue Cadabra, the puppet was gone, with Vickers himself referred to as Mr. Twonkey. His on-stage persona has been described as "Harpo Marx on heroin," as he tells "tales of such ridiculousness that they make the works of Edward Lear sound like the Six O'Clock News."
The shows have been a critical success, garnering positive reviews from, amongst others, The Scotsman and Time Out, where the show's unique peculiarity allowed it to be described as "a steaming pile of twaddle" in a four star review.
2013's Twonkey's Blue Cadabra "about young Stan Laurel's sexual yearnings, a flying Parisian tailor and a girl who regrettably booked a skiing holiday while on ecstasy," had "a warmth that's often missing from absurdism." It was nominated for a 2013 TO&ST Award for Best Cabaret at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which lead to a 2014 performance at London's Soho Theatre.
Fifth show Twonkey's Private Restaurant opened in 2014, featuring tales of "time travel, puffer fish and dictators," and rated as "oddly entertaining and utterly bizarre," and "mind-boggling from start to finish". Time Out described it as "a dog's dinner of unexpected, absurd, even offensive content. But it's also a classic."
In 2015, Paul performed "Twonkey's Private Restaurant" with a return to The Soho Theatre and at the Prague Fringe Festival. He debuted new show Twonkey's Stinking Bishop, at the Brighton Fringe in May, before returning to the Edinburgh Fringe in August. The run, with shows selling out, was his most successful yet, receiving four star reviews in The Times and The Scotsman. The latter also featured Mr. Twonkey on their front page, with Kate Copstick's review claiming "oddity by oddity, song by song, Twonkey draws them in" and "he creates wonderlands of weird."  Also described as "a genuinely laugh-aloud show, a joyous experience", and "being in his presence for an hour is delightful", it garnered a nomination for the 2015 Malcolm Hardee Award For Comic Originality.
In 2016, Paul's seventh show Twonkey's Mumbo Jumbo Hotel was performed at the Beckenham Comedy Cabaret, Brighton Fringe Festival, Wandsworth Fringe, Prague Fringe and Buxton Fringe before the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2016, where it played in tandem with performances of Paul's play, Twonkeys Drive In: Jennifer's Robot Arm. Described as "bizarre and brilliant" and "the best value, pound-for-pound, of weirdness anywhere on the Fringe", with Vickers as "the master of bizarre asides and surreal set ups". The show would garner critical acclaim before winning The Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality.
2017's Twonkey's Christmas in the Jungle was also met with acclaim, described by The Scotsman as "a crazy, wonderful show, by a crazy, wonderful performer". Vickers also tackled previous criticisms regarding the lack of a "narrative thread... this show has one. It’s tied around his waist and, by the end of the show, it almost strangles him."
Since Dawn of the Replicants went on hiatus, Vickers has continued to release music. His collaborators include Replicants bandmates, The Leg, Pierre Chandeze and various local musicians.
Paul Vickers and The Leg
After the last Dawn of the Replicants album, Vickers joined up with Edinburgh band The Leg. Their first release, the "brilliant but frightening" Tropical Favourites, came out in early 2008 as Paul Vickers & The Leg. The "majestic debut" was followed by Itchy Grumble in 2010. Described as "barely-directional noise that careers along like a 50s scientist on a flying bedstead," and a "demented Beefheartian blues punk clatter". Vickers would return to the story behind this "glorious mini rock opera" in 2013 with his debut novel. The band's third album, The Greengrocer, was initially announced in 2012 but not released until 2014. It was met with critical acclaim, described as a "new epic... a sonic map of Vickers and Co's collective psyche in all its warped glory," with The Herald stating "central... is Vickers himself, verbal ideas flying from him like sparks from a Catherine Wheel, voice flipping from abrasive gargle to sneering panto-dame witch."
Paul Vickers and Friends
Vickers has also been "turning out magnificently warped albums on an annual basis" to accompany his Fringe shows. The first in 2010, Fucking Storys, was composed almost entirely of spoken word absurdist comedy. Since Oom-pah! in 2011, the albums have consisted of a roughly even mix of spoken word and songs. Oom-Pah! was from Paul Vickers and The Vicarage, but subsequent albums have been credited to Paul Vickers and Friends, possibly to avoid any confusion that The Vicarage were an actual backing band. 2012's Nest of Knickers included four new songs by Dawn of the Replicants, the first tracks credited to the band since 2007. The album also featured his first collaborations with Parisian musician Pierre Chandeze, credited as "Paul & Pierre". 2015 saw compilation Hooks, Vine and Sinister, with the album Peggy's Raspberry Spaghetti accompanying Twonkey's Mumbo Jumbo Hotel in 2016.
An expansion of the storyline first presented in the 2010 album Itchy Grumble finally appeared in prose form, which Vickers considered a huge achievement given his dyslexia. In 2012 he won the Shortbread Stories: Self Publish or Perish competition and Itchy Grumble (the book) was released in 2013. It also contained 27 short stories taken from the Twonkey shows and albums from 2010 to 2013. He also produced an audiobook of Itchy Grumble, released in 2015.
Vickers, who stated he "always wanted to try every single area of the arts before I die," added the radio play to his repertoire with Pissed as a Postman: The Radio Play, included as the closing track to 2014's Giddy World.
His first full length theatrical play Jennifer's Robot Arm, based on an earlier short story, was performed in London during February and April 2015. It later had a monthlong run at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Fringe Review highly recommended the production 'The daft, crude make-up and the uncomfortable humour instantly bring to mind The Tiger Lillies' Shockheaded Peter going on to say 'The play has a happy ending – or as happy an ending such a twisted piece of insane Gothic could have'. The Show, described as 'weirdly colourful and unsettling' The Stage awarded five stars saying 'You will appreciate writer Vickers’ and director Jay’s skill at getting their actors to play on several levels simultaneously with an impressive totality, creating a dark, demented, possibly absurdist comedy that alternately caresses and slaps you from all sides'. Vickers also confirmed that Itchy Grumble has been adapted for the theatre and may be produced at a later date.
- Twonkey's Cottage (2010)
- Twonkey's Castle (2011)
- Twonkey's Kingdom (2012)
- Twonkey's Blue Cadabra (2013–2014)
- Twonkey's Private Restaurant (2014–2015)
- Twonkey's Stinking Bishop (2015)
- Twonkey's Mumbo Jumbo Hotel (2016)
- Twonkey's Christmas in the Jungle (2017)
- Twonkey's Night Train To Liechtenstein (2018)
Recording The Impossible
- Recording The Impossible (2008)
Paul Vickers (and Friends)
- Fucking Storys (2010)
- Oom-Pah! (2011)
- Nest of Knickers (2012)
- Gasp! (2013)
- Giddy World (2014)
- The Hooks, Vine and Sinister Compilation (2015)
- Peggy's Raspberry Spaghetti (2016)
Paul Vickers and The Leg
- Tropical Favourites (2008)
- Itchy Grumble (2010)
- The Greengrocer (2014)
- Twonkey's Drive In: Jennifer's Robot Arm (2015–2016)
- Itchy Grumble and Collected Miniatures (2013)
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