October 22, 2008

news just in

Filed under: mr solo, art — mrsolo @ 10:31 pm

The self portrait of me myself in the toilets of the bloomsbury bowling lanes before a POp Art gig (sound muted) has been accepted to the dulwich picture gallery open exhibition. I am well chuffed as it means it will hang in the worlds first pupose built gallery come mausoleum ( probably only if you include the mausoleum bit). Private view this Friday- hoorah. That concludes this news flash.

October 20, 2008

SElf Obsession

Filed under: Uncategorized, mr solo — mrsolo @ 8:18 am

Before last nights Bowl An SEbastian event I told myself not to get too carried away with myself during the performance of the song “Judy and the dream of horses”. I have to say after a shaky start ( as they say on X factor) I loved every second of it and all thoughts of restraint were jetisoned from my mind as the love child of Roy Orbison and Tom Jones sprang forth frommy larynx or atleast thats how it felt. Normally how something feels and what people perceive is not something I bother about but the dream of horses was such a blissful personal moment that it must surely have leaked through into the real world? That my friends is fishing for compliments. But onwards- a strange peice of synchronicity took shape yesterday as I found myself entering a self POrtrait into the Friends of Dulwich Picture gallery exhibition. This adventure in Acrylic I called “SElf Portrait in bathroom - sound muted” and was infact an image of me applying my Solo make up in the toilet mirror of the Bloomsbury Bowling lanes before an appearance of last years Bowland sebastian. So there I was last night applying the finishing touches to my Solo make up in the same bathroom with the same handdryer in the reflection and as I went to take the hearing aid from my ear (as i do before every gig) the damned ear piece severed in two leaving me with a pea sized piece of plastic in my outer ear cavity one minute before preforming. With gargantuan will power riding the wave of panic that swept over me I finally managed to remove the offending article and took to the stage with an overwhelming sense of relief. SELF obsession complete.

October 4, 2008

formed a band

Filed under: Uncategorized, editorial, mr solo — mrsolo @ 6:17 pm

I’m not very good at asking for help - hence the name of my latest musical persona Mr Solo. Once there was a time when I called friends for help and imagined them holding the receiver up hand clasped over the mouth piece and turning to their partener/buddy/wife and mouthing its mr Solo whilst casting their eyes skyward. Well not anymore no sirree now I call people and say “do you wanna be in my band?” No that is a lie i would never be so crass. I might say “do you fancy playing drums for a gig?” “we could practice”. And lo so it came to pass that the oxymoronically named Mr Solo trio came to pass. Dom from Pop Art moving swiftly up the pyramid from baritone guitar (the fifth wheel) to Bass guitar and mikey from Art brut playing drums. Recently a strange thing has happened - i’ve started to notice that practicing  or even rehearsing makes a difference.  I think i first noticed this playing with glam chops. paul from guided missile put by back up by insisting that we go through the song i’d written in the barrel room before we took to the stage. By the time we began the set even i new the chords. After last night’s gig at the Brady Arts centre all we could talk about was how practising had really helped. my view is now that practising is bolder than not practising because its being brave enough to find out how something might really sound if its SOMETHING  and not everything.

Giving a band a name is one of the best things about being in a band so after finishing the biography of Charles fort I was keen to pick a name for the three piece that would reflect my new found passion. One of his books was called “The book of the Damned” -  yes that’s it i mused “The Damned”.  I mean my favourite song is even Smash it Up by the Damned. Hold on they are a band already. So how apt that i should pitch up at the sound check and turn to the fellow next to me and say hello I’m mikey to which he replied i’m rat. i did not as the fans of parisien urban geurilla art say “what as in Blek le…” no after a few seconds i turned back and said “what as in scabies?” Later I wowed said gentleman with my tale of how i nearly called the band the Damned and was able to ask him whty the single version of Smash it Up was more scintilating than the Album version?” i didn’t find time to say its my favourite ever song.

Charles fort author of “The Book of The Damned” (did i say?) speculated in book called X that our lives are predestined and controled by an invisible force called X which may or may not be transmitted from Mars.  I recently read that there is a theory that on a quantum level life truely is preordained and that the equations all add up to neutrons et al  moving along a preconfigured route. Love song was a the second single i bought and i recently learnt it for an exhibition party and was pleased to discover mr Scabies had penned the songs most engaging vaudevillian lyrics.

Later I stood talking to a Rock and Roll Friend From Bourmouth and told him how i got over nerves by reminding myself that I didn’t write my own songs really they just appeared out of the ether. This is the sort of thing I tell students in my illustration classes. My RRFFB was seen to momentarily gaze into the middle distance but was kind enough to save me with a “yes I think i know what you mean”.

Rambling now but I think the first outing of the Mr Solo Trio was a triumph. We even became the miste Solo Quintet as Simon Breed and keith TOTP joined us for the rousing finale of ‘It Makes You Wonder’.

I days of yor I was treated to some vocal coaching by Arista records (you know). On the wall of my coach’s shack  were the likes lenny henry and heather Smalls but who else should be nestling there but one dave vanian (you know from the DAMNED). My vocal coach had a very aprticular approach involving keeping your apple down and singing from the diaphram (see heather Smalls  etc). I began to notice that dave vanians later works all had this distinctive style. Mr Scabies seemed almost gratified to discover the source of the change in vocal timbre which had hitherto been a complete mystery.

And yeah Smash it up is my fave song ever.

August 9, 2008

formed a band

Filed under: Uncategorized, music, mr solo — mrsolo @ 7:48 am

So we the mr solo band had our first rehearsal in the snug of the basement somewhere in Stockwell. It’s a brilliant space. I mean if there were a studio practice room program where the sexy in a homely way lady came in and offered advise on how to improve things they would find no fault. None of the band members asked me to shove my cape up my bottom but Bummer (we’ll discuss that later) did produce a very large gold one from the boot (bottom) of his car. For a man that espouses the value of “no more signs” this presents a challenge as it is very hard not to see it as a good omen.

Dom actually got to the rehearsal space before me which threw me but did go along with the idea that I am not the leader of this band which we now know was formed by the spontaneous digital generation of a thread on facebook which we all coincidentally became part of. The band formed us – if we are all honest our lives are just a series of blurred snap shots not real histories. Dom had some lovely equipment not least of which was his wife’s theremin, which was manufactured with her name on. I think my wife might like one of those. Felt bad about making dom play the theremin at the same time as his baritone  guitar but by the end he was able to control it with the headstock (see wiki link – guitar parts).
Next came Rhodri who I have presumptuously started calling Rodders – which may in part be due to listening to live cricket on radio 4. I, may I just add, did not go to public school. Rhodri is playing bass and let it all hang out with a squelching synth bass line on the potential endless jam that is “let it all hang out”. My studio tan must have become paler when Rhodri shared his experience of writing for the guardian about auditioning for bands through adverts in loot. He said he has only ever received one email telling him he’s a bastard, which is a good sign – I have had many without writing about how shit the audience was in a national broadsheet. I digress – so it goes. I promise to learn the rap in let it all hang out by next practice.

Then we heard a voice calling through an open window and all that mobile monitoring was knocked into a cocked hat. I mean at one point Rhodri stopped the rehearsal to tell me my phone had gone onto screen saver. It was Richie and Bummer. Richie is a well-travelled musical veterean who resembles a sixth former so bright is his outlook. Bummer has had a haircut and he too looks pretty fresh faced (and he has a new baby!). Bummer is called bomber. When he first told me his name I was perplexed that a man should have such a down beat name but that I have a very good old friend – who did go to private school - called Bummo which was arrived at from the similarity of his surname to Commo as in Perry (are you getting all this?). So whilst rehearsing I can’t decide weather or not to continue with Bummer or Bomber and this results in calling him both at once. Bummer is a great drummer.

We finally depart at around half eleven which is good going and we all are now vaguely acquainted with at least half the album. Hoorah. I dropped the keys to the basement round at Helen’s and came home. Woke up having dreamt of an article in today’s guardian.

August 2, 2008

Formed A Band

Filed under: mr solo — mrsolo @ 7:47 am

As I pressed delete on the lovely (it wasn’t see?) message from an 18 year old unsatisfied customer I ponder the idea of this blog being a record of my plight to form a band around Mister Solo. it is not unusual to hear that I wear a cape and make up as a safety blanket (possibly and I’m willing to go with that) but a stronger view is that I should shove it up my bottom and get a proper job - the youth of today such a touching sense of humour. In fact there were so many refernces to backside functions in the last love/hatemail that I have formed a response in my mind advising the writer that his bile is not aimed at me but his fear and loathing of his own desires. I’m sure this will set him straight and we will become best mates any time soon and he will laugh at how he initially overlooked the obvious allusion of my ‘little DRacula outfit” to the unique and inspiring reciprocal altruism of the vampire bat. happy days.

See in a band its like a gang and it won’t matter if anyone threatens to kill me because they want to smother me in brie but can’t. But the truth is I have never experienced that exact level of loathing when looking out from a group only as a solo Mister Solo. This blog is indanger of sliding into self analysis but hey here goes you never know it could be part of a survival guide for my future band mates. I have never really formed a band - its always just happened. This is how i like to treat pictures and songs too - don’t get in the way of what’s gonna come out. My favourite art is when all those egos finally get out of the way but then unfortunately some artists spend the rest of their career believing it was their ego that created it. I digress.
So lets look at the idea of approaching the forming of a band sideways. A friend of mine called Harry Pye managed to form a band recently and at the same time turned the Sun and Doves into a work of art. It was amazing. Harry had painted a triptych based on a lesser know Lloyd Cole song “Forest Fire” and invited various musicians to come and perform a version of this tune infront of it one evening in May this year. There were some beautiful and diverse renditions and at the end we all got together and went through the entire genre menu on itunes and Forest fire lay panting in a pool of sweat somewhere near the front of the stage. It was marvelous to look around at Harry’s painting midway through the song and in the blink of an eye choose between using it as an aid memoire for the lyrics or lose myself in its colours and general sumptuousness. Amazingly the audience were able to be part of a real process of discovery very much like forming a band without forming angry vengeful thought about what a rip off the whole thing was. This was because it was a JOY! yes forming a band is a joy. This particular band never even had a name and strictly speaking was made up not just of various musicians but an artist, an audience and an urban pub building - bricks and mortar and everything. This is quite some feat of transubstantiation and we gaze on with slack jaws at Harry Pye’s conjuring.
This sideways band forming stance is informed by a suspision on my part of taking the band framework and just sticking to that. Case in point Primal Scream are the mirror (geddit?) of the velvet underground who were cool and nihilistic in a cool and nihilistic way not in a hey lets copy that idea cos its what cool is all about kind of way. Somewhere along the line for some being a band began to mean being mean and moody and generally a bit snotty because there is a propensity among the vaguely untalented to simply skim the surface and unwittingly become a simulacra. I found this on a Flikr site by way of explanantion. Simulacrum (plural: simulacra), from the Latin simulare, “to make like, to put on an appearance of”, originally meaning a material object representing something (such as an idol representing a deity, or a painted still-life of a bowl of fruit).

A sense of a “mere” image, an empty form devoid of spirit, and descended to connote a specious or fallow representation.

A copy of a copy which has been so dissipated in its relation to the original that it can no longer be said to be a copy. The simulacrum, therefore, stands on its own as a copy without a model.For the rationalists out there what are the chances of a singer’s impersonation of Sir Mick jagger and Bernard Sumner actually turning him into an uber love child of both of these (now old and grumpy) gentlemen of rock. What you actually get is Tim burgess. Looked at like this bands are a rubbish shallow form of expression but we all know that bands are brilliant! A JOY in fact.

So our first rehearsal is booked in for next Friday and I still can’t decide if we have a name or if it continues as Mister Solo which when its a band is terrifyingly close to mr mister. Also the Voluntary Butler who produced the latest album is required on guitar so if you see him bang a gong.

July 19, 2008

its been An Adventure II

Filed under: mr solo — mrsolo @ 10:37 am

well last night I dusted off my cat suit which had been moth balled for atleast a week and I took to the stage as the solo Mr solo at a small venue in Covent garden called the Arts Theatre. I was one of many burlesque freaks and my cape removal was very much part of the whole clothing taking off vibe. I did< however,  change in the toilet as I have been out of the burlesque loop and on the road with cissy boys in bands for a bit recently. I have to say they look after you far more in theatre darling. It is usually an extended part of my act to try and be a less glam version  of myself (hard I know) as I line check and generally struggle not to topple the tower of dvd players and projectors I have hoarded on one side of the stage. No at SideShow they did all that for me! Amazing and I got to go in the posh dressing room “Pigeon 2″ at the end. the not so posh one “pigeon 1″ was still like a gated community to the leper colony that usually makes do for a place to don make up on the toilet tour. So I think that really was the last solo Mr Solo. And now this blog will be about the trials and tribulations of forming the Mr solo band. My idea right now is to not touch an instrument myself or a projector so please hold me to that Rhodry Dom Rob Richy Bummer (ne Bomber) and Chris et al… The good thing about blogging this process is that we don’t actually have to do much (unlike in a fly on the wall doco.. .er well wrong analergy perhaps)) I will quite happily share my own paranoias joys triumphs all generated from within my head. That is the joy of a band - solo or otherwise - you can think something up and then do it. An when it happens its amazing…Sorry ed - one more line (you’ve had two of mine) - look at us we’ve formed a band.

July 12, 2008

Its been an adventure

Filed under: editorial, mr solo — mrsolo @ 8:20 am

“we won’t know where we’re going until we get there….” and so sang a vaudevillian character in the film Overlord, a film I saw the night after I effectively killed off the solo version of Mr Solo at a venue in Camden called the Undersolo. A good place to bury that particular incarnation of the solo franchise. Will, I ask myself, Light Speed Champion find a suitable venue to bury the hat (yet)? I had meant to write stuff here more often but things have become frenetic and I have found myself swapping hats at a more frequent rate than the afore mentioned festival main stay. In one particular week I seemed to perform everynight in a different guise ; singer in a david devant tribute band, humble show stealing broken ankled guitarist in keith TOTP’s minor indie celebrity all star band, guitarist and erstwhile side kick to Mr Argos in the last orthodox Glam band on earth (although we are more a cooperative than a group), co lead singer with Ed in the Green, Singer in David devant and his Spirit wife and then rounding the week off with a performance in a gallery as mister Solo the clinically sane painter of men with monkey faces in floating boxes surrounded by celestial fire www.sartorialart.com. Its a list and not a story but some how I had intended it to appear more riveting written down than having to stoically take in the miriad oddities of some on else’s dream. I read somewhere that there is snothing more boring than listening to someone else’s dream - unless you are a paid freudian analyst in which case you will pass the time looking at the clock nodding going “ah ha I see” and stroking your chin. i believe in the power of dreams but I Am an accidental anarchist so refuse every dogma known to man. This preamble is growing into a mountain trek so time to tell you how my blogging leviathan was roused from slumber by the events of yesterday. Glam Chops (the last orthodox glam collective in the solar system) were booked to hit the sheep dip stage of Lounge on the Farm at 7 pm last night. Being the anarchist that I am I duely arrived as advised by the appropriate authorities at 5 pm (the specified 2 hours in advance). Fearing I was behind the pack (school cross country trauma incident) I was swift to telephone the lead singer ed Argos who clearly described his location as near Heathrow. Oh gosh I thought. Come seven twenty I was advising our democratically elected accidental leader, Paul GUided Missile, that we should dig in and wait for Ed at least until they tell us in no uncertain terms to go on. So … I annouce us as two thirds of glam chops and we begin the set with a song I sing about my personal struggle to coralate the optimism of Glam from my childhood with a certain hunted man (ne gad). This is not quite what the festival goers had expected from the last orthodox glam cooperative in the universe… but come the final layered series of rounds combining various glitter band choruses a feeling that the uncomplicated euphoria of child like creative reverie can once agian be restored has descended on atleast two members of the crowd assembled to see the last orthodox glam union in England. Or perhaps they just liked the chance to sing ‘dya wnna be in my gang my gang’ in a safe unreconstructed environment. That song done we now have to play a number ed would normally co-sing but I feel pretty confident taking the lead. People often say to me how extrovert I am on stage but they are mistaking a big wig for showing out - I’m just trying to remember al the chords. To do justice to what happened next I would really have to contact the artist who rendered “tough of the track” in Scorcher comic and ask them to show it in a series of sublimely inked panels. As we approach the second chorus Ed bounds onto the stage and nearly takes out Paul guided missile. It is with explosive elation that we become a fully restored co-op as we flank the front of the stage, arms aloft, for the drum break down “don’t be glum - be glam - be glam - i am”. This moment , as i said to Paul afterwards was an all time classic - its the last panel in the comic strip which was proceeded by intercut pen and ink images of ed hanging out of a movin splitter bus with security stewards diving out the way shaking fists from the hedgerow intercut with close ups of my sweating brow with sideways glances. And then ed bounds on to the stage. During the next song “european festivals” make up is applied to his face! i’ve done a few shows in my time but never one that combines comic book adventure with orthodox glam rock!
people stared at the make up on his face…. I unwittingly killed off the solo mr solo on the eve of the 35 anniversary of the death of Ziggy Star dust. The serendipity of this would be harder to explain in a comic strip. celebrating life’s introverted moments and bringing them out into the open is why I am clinically sane but not content with one persona or hat. did i ever mention how i was once paid with a hat shaped from felt into tatlin’s tower?

March 21, 2008

my magic life

Filed under: mr solo, art — mrsolo @ 11:14 am

I’ve left it a long time to post anything coherant. i hd meant to post something after my magical journey into the world of batik. I first used the power of the wonder web to connect with a zen master of the wax fluid resist technique. then i boarded a train to london by the sea where I was met by a man in a trilby on an old wooden platform i had never noticed before. i too was wearing a trilby and when we stopped at the texaco to get some cash to pay for the lesson i stood behind a man in a leather bomber jacket and trilby (which as you may have guessed is what i was wearing). Clearly this means i was meant to go on and discover the mysteries of batik. batik and me are on a collision course albeit one much less destructive than the result of the earth hitting a giant planet outside of the solar system. batik is the new rock and roll.

February 4, 2008

Aciiiid! (you had to have been there)

Filed under: editorial, mr solo — mrsolo @ 10:27 pm


Okay so here goes. The more observant and analytically minded of you will have noticed how the momentum of my first post was the result of having read John Moore’s column in the Guardian weekend. You didn’t notice? His voice was practically dictating the words in my shell like. So today a mild wave of panic crashed over my recumbent mass as I realised I might have to write in my own voice today. My first foray into poetry was inspired by having seen Jerry Dammers deliver a speech about John Peel in rhyming form and so for a while I always imagined him dictating my poems. This is all going somewhere really.
They say singers find their voice by singing like someone else – David Bowie/Tony Newley, Neil Hannon/Scott walker, Pete Doherty/Tommy Steel etc and I say who wrote that? I believe that great art comes from lack of ego, which is a bit rich coming from a shameless self-promotionalist, but the point is whose voice is it anyway.
So as quantum mechanics would have it on Saturday I was performing a short set at a karaoke poetry night in Manor Park. This event called “Bingo Master’s Breakout” is organised by the legend that is Kevin Reinhardt as part of the Vintage Poison cooperative manifestations. I met a girl called Stephanie from a band called Futurism versus Passeism (is that right youngsters?) who was able to report as a blond red head that the song “Ginger” had had a positive affect on her school experience. She also talked about passing on the torch as if it (the power of pop to heal and unite?) was this thing outside of us all. The next day at church (!) folks were passing around a flame to light candles we each held. To be honest this silent ritual was the only part of going that spoke to me. All part of the reciprocal altruism vibe that’s currently flaoting my boat.
So the theme for today (snore) is holding and passing a flame that’s outside of us all each time we make art/love/sweet music. All three at once if you’re Jeff Koons.
Here are the edited highlights!

Bother you’ll have to copy and paste the link below…


January 27, 2008

Again and Again

Filed under: editorial, mr solo — mrsolo @ 11:03 pm

Moving some air is a phrase I use to describe those actions I don’t see the point of and generally don’t want to take but usually lead to some kind of minor transcendental revelation.  My default is probably to sit in front of a murder mystery having devoured the antiques road show - it’s a kind of mogadon I suppose. So moving some air is a pain in the arse akin to a parent saying oh you’ll be glad when you get there as you slouch in the front seat on the way to scouts. Whilst we’re on the subject I actually managed to create my own subculture within scouts, which made it like a rather jolly pretend form of real life. Skip was an academic who took exception to the words “academics kill” on my butty bag and I was at a loss to explain it as I believe my sister wrote it under the influence of the cult of mike (my dad - more of that another day). Still I was called “Punk” at scouts, which still makes me smile because I’ve always been a very polite boy. It was related I know to not having a single badge and liking punk music. Before we move on from scouting (I feel sure we will return to it again at a later date) I should like to reveal that my penchant for double identities and performing was first revealed at our scouts review when I became Superscout in a road safety sketch.

So there I was last night at the Amersham in new Cross moving some air and watching Art Brut. They are a band I knew instinctively were connected to me and my various musical incarnations the first time I heard their song “Formed a band”. This effect is what great pop has on the listener. No sod it great Art speaks directly to the listener or viewer alone. In this case my good friend and fictional manager Steve major talent fishman rang me the next day to say he had got us a gig with a band called Art Brut at the Tate Britain (subject of our first single “Pimlico”) thus amplifying me euphoric feeling that the record had indeed spoken directly to me. Now, however I find myself becoming drawn further and further into the web of art brut and their music. There’s sex metaphysical yearning, hope, defiance, magic, absurdity and did I say Defiance already? Art brut aren’t about destroying consensus reality rather building your own from the ruins of contemporary culture - the rubble that surrounds us. Yeah so where was I? Ah well Eddie’s voice is getting louder and his command more hypnotic but still he remains adorable. It is adoration that became my point of transcendence. After the show I loitered near the dressing room not knowing how big it was and knowing how a band needs space after the gig (oh yeah did I say I’ve played a few shows -we had the ub40 guys backstage and everything - actually it was… well never mind). Eventually I had a great chat with Eddie and after I told him how much I liked their Roman toga video he described how on another shoot the director had paid an audience to behave at a close to psychotic level of ecstatic adoration. This, Eddie revealed felt very therapeutic and really boosted his self-esteem. As we all know because books tell us lots of times, the human brain cannot distinguish between fact and dream. Its almost like the brain is an appendage to our true state (more of that another day). So watch out for a new Crowd Based Therapy at your local GP soon. Failing that I will try my best to make it part of an art installation by the end of the year.

I thank you

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