The Monochrome Set
|The Monochrome Set|
|Genres||Post-punk, new wave|
|Years active||1978–1985, 1990–1998, 2008–present|
|Labels||Rough Trade, DinDisc, Cherry Red, Blanco y Negro, Warner Bros.|
|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 X. The band went through several bassists in the next few years, including Jeremy Harrington, Simon Croft 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 the band had become very popular. The band released several low-key albums for Cherry Red during the 1990s, before going on hiatus in 1998.
Bid recorded a number of albums with his other 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 Chaffer (keyboards) of Scarlet's Well, and performed 13 songs.
2010– present day
In 2010, Bid, Square and Warren reformed the band, with the addition of drummer Jennifer Denitto from Scarlet's Well and keyboard player John Paul Moran. Following Bid's recovery from an aneurysm in late 2010, they played dates the following year 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 10th 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, and Steve Brummell (formerly of the band Luxembourg) replaced Jennifer Denitto on drums. The band completed a short tour of the east coast of the USA in Spring of 2013 and released their 11th studio album, Super Plastic City in the autumn of the same year. In 2014 they signed to the German record label Tapete and their 12th studio album, Spaces Everywhere was released in 2015. Guitarist Lester Square left the band in late 2014, after completing recording of the album, and former member John Paul Moran rejoined. Their thirteenth studio album, Cosmonaut, will be released on the Tapete label in September 2016.
- Ankeny, Jason. "The Monochrome Set – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
- 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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