Friday, 13 September 2019

Introducing Micko and The Mellotronics

Left to Right; Nick Mackay (Drums), Micko Westmoreland (Lead vocals, guitar) Vicky Carroll (Bass) and Jon Klein (Lead guitar). The band were put together by Mr Westmoreland in 2017 with the intention of turning his songwriting skills into a dynamic live prospect. Their influences include; Kraftwerk, Dylan, Eno/Roxy, John Barry, Syd Barrett, Can, Beck, The Fall, The Rutles, Magazine, The Big O, Grand Master Flash, Kate Bush, Nick Drake, and Marc Bolan. I was lucky enough to recently catch them play live at the legendary Hope & Anchor pub, where bands like Madness, The Blockheads and The Specials played in the late 1970s just before making it big. Interestingly Micko has collaborated with members of all the bands I've just mentioned. He's also made videos for his songs which feature cameos from some of Britain's best comedy actors. Have a watch of his latest effort, "The Finger" which features Paul Putner (last seen in Little Britain and Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle) Click: Here And then have a read of the recent Q & A I did with Micko below...
I was a big fan of the legendary comedy shows, Fist of Fun and This Morning with Richard Not Judy, so it's great to see ex cast members Paul Putner (a.k.a The Curious Orange) and Kevin Eldon (a.k.a "The real Rod Hull") appear in your promos. The video for both 'Schmescos' and 'The Finger' are a delight to watch from start to finish. Were they fun to make? "Absolutely, we have made them both with good will and marvellous things have come as a result. Working with Ashley & Sue ("The Chaos Engineers") has always been very straight forward and highly creative, we are very grateful to them both. Kevin Eldon too, who is just ace, he introduced me to Paul Putner."
How did you come to write The Finger? "There’s a fair amount of observation about whingeing in my songs, it’s not that I’m not guilty too, but I do find it gives insight into character when you look at what people like to complain about. With ‘The Finger’ there's also a subtext about manipulation, a massaging of discontent if you like, which can be seen exerted by the powers that be."
What was the inspiration for the lyrics? "There was a guy I used to see all the time when I got off the bus in the local pub. His face hardly ever changed, he had a kind of glazed expression of bemusement but not in a good way. I kept thinking about that expression and how it got there, what were his thoughts, opinions etc. At the same time I didn’t wish to condemn. The disdain within the piece however lies with him, with my projection of his attitudes I guess. But there’s also a degree of empathy there too. I’m a great believer that our emotional complexion can offer up highly distorted views and opinions about things which some actually seem to cherish, it’s quite bizarre. In the video we made with The Chaos Engineers (Ashley Jones / Sue Wright Uppington), we exaggerated & developed the idea, made it more about a clash of cultures, but we came across a resolution in the film so it had a more positive energy. We were very grateful to the actor Paul Putner for appearing as he gave a very unique performance which makes his character ultimately more likeable."
You're performing with The Monochrome Set at the end of the month at one of my favourite venues in London (The Lexington). Are you a Monochrome Set fan? It feels to me like they were ahead of their time. "We are delighted to be playing with a band of cult status and such longevity, in actual fact we have now played with a number of acts I used to listen to as a teenager, The Television Personalities, The Blue Orchids and our good friends, David Devant & His Spirit Wife."
What's it like working with ex Banshee Jon Klein? "I’m a huge fan of Jon's and I make it no secret. He’s a brilliant player and I sometimes pinch myself that we work together regularly. He has a vast array of styles at his command & he really knows when to dazzle and when to drop out in equal measure. He brings serious fire power to the table which seems to work well with the sometimes cerebral nature of the lyrics . We are both guitarists and producers so as you can imagine there’s lots to talk about. Lovely bloke too."
And Horace Panter? "I’ve known Horace for about 4 or 5 years now, he's a very supportive and generous musician, we met as a result of a Teenage Cancer trust project called Specialized and we get together with Rat Scabies, Neil Innes, Kevin Eldon to record a track once a year, we're called, 'The Spammed’. He came to record on two songs for the next album, he’s always has a good idea worked out. The funny thing with 'The Finger’, is he said that he wasn’t 100% on what he had down for the verse, but within moments he created this really amazing part very spontaneously, which can only be described as 'the killer bass line’, which drives the track. That’s the thing with stellar players they can make your eyes and ears pop out!"
Is there a new Micko album being released soon. What image will be on the cover? "There’s a first Micko & The Mellotronics album in the pipeline, and another single before this. I’ve written the songs but we have all worked together as a band on how to arrange the material so there’s investment all round.. Nick and Vicky build a rhythm section from the ground up, it’s an intuitive process where we are all allowed to critique and sometimes take the piss out of each other. We are keeping a lid on the album title for now, but all the artwork will feature birds painted by the wondrous Twinkle Troughton, she somehow manages to capture exquisite beauty coupled with wit all at the same time."
How do you feel about Boris being your P.M.? "Certain individuals you come across should be pickled, sealed and placed on the top shelf out of harms way but not quite out of sight, so they serve as a reminder of how not to be, behave or act. If only it were that simple eh?"
Where would you like to be 5 years from now? "Slightly happier and slightly richer." For more info about Micko and co visit: here

Sunday, 1 September 2019

30 years of collaborations between Harry Pye and Rowland Smith

Above: 'You Know More Than I Know' painted by Harry Pye and Rowland Smith (2019)
Above: Rowland Smith, Summer, 2019
Above: Harry Pye, Summer, 2019
Above: Harry and Rowland doing their first painting together in the Summer of 1989
The most recent painting made by Harry and Rowland is inspired by Saraswati (The Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning. She is a part of the trinity (Tridevi) of Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Parvati.) Pye and Smith have been collaborating on paintings for three decades. Here are 5 favourites...
1) Let's Get It On
2) Whose Go Is It?
3) Weird Nightmare
4) The Angel of Death
5) Dial P for Pablo
A plethora of Pye/Smith paintings appear in a group show called, 'You Know More Than I Know'.
The opening party for, 'You Know More Than I Know' is on Wednesday the 11th Sept from 6pm till 9pm. On Thursday the 12th and Friday the 13th the gallery is open from 10:30am till 6:30pm. On Sat the 15th and Sunday the 16th the gallery is open from 11am till 5pm. The Art Academy used to be Newington Library The address is: 155 Walworth Road S.E 17 1RS It's 5 minutes from Elephant & Castle tube.