INTERVIEW: The Monochrome Set | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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There’s nothing worse than listening to bands of your youth trot out some bland echo of their peak offerings, but The Monochrome Set’s new album, Spaces Everywhere, sees the new wave rockers on top form. The band have been going, in various guises, for just under 40 years now; in fact, fans of band genealogy may be interested to hear that lead singer and songwriter Bid was in a band called The B-Sides with Stuart Goddard, who went on to become Adam Ant. As Bid calls it though, there wasn’t ever a moment of epiphany for him as a songwriter, and it – considering the band have more than 25 albums to their name – that writing comes easy to him. “There was no specific moment of inspiration. There were a few people in my school who played this or that instrument, and jammed in various loosely-defined bands. At some point, it became more serious.” He says. After so many years in the rock and roll game, Bid’s approach remains instinctive. “I can’t help it. I don’t feel that my basic approach to songwriting has been any different for a very long time. However it was different in the early Monochrome Set period, in that Lester [Square, guitarist] used to write more music, and [previous percussionist] JD Haney wrote a fair proportion of the lyrics. It was a more collaborative band.”

Spaces Everywhere is a well-balanced record, fusing a contemporary feel with certain 60s elements and enough old school Monochrome Set vibes for the established fans. Fantasy Creatures, with its lovely verse, dreamy guitars and a subtle percussive feel is a particular highlight, while the ethereal Rain Check meanders gradually into your psyche and the quirky wistfulness of When I Get To Hollywood offers a post-modern driving song to ramp up the pace.

“Little things may spark a song – a musical or textual phrase, or something I may have seen in a shop window”

I was interested to know what influences Bid’s writing now. “Little things may spark a song – a musical or textual phrase, or something I may have seen in a shop window. It’s often not until a year or more after the previous album that I feel creative again, and start to write. When the main flow starts, I can write quite a few songs in a short period, but I don’t push that too hard. If you mean to ask, am I influenced by a specific genre or artist – I’m not, I don’t think about that at all when I write.”

Fans attending the band’s upcoming gig at Stockton’s Georgian Theatre on Saturday 11th July can expect tracks old and new to make an appearance, and according to Bid the oldies are still goodies: “Those songs work well, and are fun to play.” Work and life commitments may see the band on tour less these days, but it’s no less fun for the band. “We tour less, due to work commitments by band members. The only change, really, is that we have separate rooms! We’re too old and grand to share a couch.”

The Monochrome Set play Stockton’s Georgian Theatre on Saturday 11th July.

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