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interview: Monochrome Set

The MONOCHROME SET is a post-punk band that began its great
career in 1978. Several big bands like the SMITHS and
R.E.M. are influenced by them.

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The MONOCHROME SET is a post-punk band that started its long career in 1978. Several major bands such as SMITHS and REM are influenced by them.

Dimitris Antonopoulos talked to the singer Bid, or otherwise Ganesh Seshadri (his real name), who for the past 11 years (after dismantling MONOCHROME SET) is in "SCARLET'S WELL".

Just to get a grip of how big a band  MONOCHROME SET is, it is worth mentioning the award from Mojo in 2008. For more, please read the following interview of Bid to Mix Grill:

About your latest album "Society of figurines", how can you still compose amazing tracks like "supernatural services"?
Bid: I do think this latest album is very good. I think a lot of this was down to the amount of time I (and the rest of the band) had to write and prepare the album. Alice gave birth last year, and Jen got married, so for a period of 4 months I couldn't do anything at all except write! Writing songs is quick, but I have to be relaxed and not under pressure- in previous years, I've had to deal with everything, so I've always been distracted by other stuff. Black Tulip Wings was the first album I ever made where I didn't write the majority of the songs. This time, not only was I able to write more songs, but also write some instrumental and vocal parts. The band also had much more time to rehearse the album.

DA: Tell us about the "psychedelic" side of the new album & about your love for "13th floor elevators";

Bid: I always thought that Monochrome Set were a slightly psychedelic band, so it's always been with me. I love late 60s garage psychedelia-experimental/fusion, but melodic (I had all the Elevators' albums).

DA: Five of your all time Best albums ever:

Lou Reed - Rock'n'Roll Animal
Any album of the Hot Club De France
Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies
Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
Yes - Close To The Edge

. .. you didn't expect that, hahaha!

DA: Memories from Athens' gig in 1982 and Athens gig a year before with Scarlet's:

Scarlet'sWell Bid:  I really enjoyed both...I mean, I like playin live anyway, but I like playing Athens 'cos the people are so nice.

DA: Is there a chance of MONOCHROME SET reunion?

Bid: Hmm, well. JD Haney has just moved back to London from New York. And this year is the 30th anniversary of " Strange Boutique ". But nobody's asked us. We are so lazy!

DA: About LESTER back in the beginning, your relationship with him etc.

Bid: Lester influenced me a lot with his writing- about arranging songs and making them more interesting. He lived on a houseboat on the Thames, but it wasn't big enough to rehearse on. But, we'd meet there, you know. This was later on - in the early days, the B-sides rehearsed at Andy's parents house. The houseboat made me a bit sick, though- it was always rocking from side to side. An Lester told me that the ducks used to peck on the bottom and keep him awake at night.


DA : How do you feel about the award from  MOJO two years ago?

Bid: Well, the award wasn't for me or for the MSet, but it was nice to be there, go up on stage,etc. But it wasn't for me. It's part-fantasy of who is and who isn't important to music, or who's good and who's not. It's showbiz, all bullshit. I left before the "party", and when I was walking down the red carpet outside, all the photographers look straight through me, hahaha.

About about L I F E in general, as a cosmic "game", is there a god or something out there or we're living in a holographic universe?

Bid: Everything lives, even things that are inanimate have a kind of life. If  you look down and not up, you see everything is there, looking up at you, thinking "what an idiot!", hahaha. You see birds changing the length of their beaks after only 10 years- they're making themselves, right now. Every year your body changes- parts are added to you, parts disgarded. In 10 years, you're a different person. A memory of yourself. I could go on, haha...

DA: What do you think of London today, as a city, as a music scene?

Bid: It's very, very bad in the United Kingdom. Bands are still very good, but there is no money, people do not go out, etc. It's a real  shame. We sell well in the UK but we don't play here much.

DA : What about HES FRANK cover by IGGY ?

Bid: Well, it really suits his voice; it was very good. Strange for me, because Iggy and Lou Reed were probably the most influencial figures in New Wave and Punk.

DA: If you could choose a cover for a BEATLES tribute album, what would you choose?

Bid: Mmm ...maybe an early one, because there'd be more I could do with it. Maybe "All my loving".

DA : A good rock n roll history, on the ROUGH TRADE ?

Bid: But most of my stories involve girls, drugs, death, sex, Satan, Mr. Foley (!) and there was never anything like that at Rough Trade. I didn't go to Rough Trade much, anyway- it was just dusty, chaotic offices full of people running around.

DA: What do you mean in the ' VAMPIRES SONG ';

Bid: The song is about a vampire ...you know what he does. Most vampires nowadays are vegetarians, anyway. But, they still smoke!

DA: A new English band that you really like.

Bid : Umm ...you know, I don't really pay attention...when I'm at home, I want a break from music...! A lot of times, I go to a band's MySpace, and I think what they do is very good, but I just wanna sleep!

DA : Being the producer of KARELIA (former band of Alex Kapranos)tell us how it feels seeing ALEX making music and playing a lot of Monochrome Set?

Bid : Well there's been a lot of bands influenced by us that made it...like R.E.M., for example. I like Alex, though a lot of people think he's a Scottish bastard that smells of a dead goat. I don't mind that at all. Actually, I like the smell.

DA : EINE SYMPHONIE .. a classic song. What are you saying about this?

Bid : It's another Vampire song, hahaha! I've only ever written two...! It's one of those songs that I don't know what it means...people have been asking me that for 30 years, but I still don't know. It was my unconscious do what it wants.

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