The Monochrome Set are an English new wave band, originally formed in Hornsey, London in 1978. The most recent lineup consists of Bid, Lester Square and Andy Warren and Steve Brummell.
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 Harper. The band went through several bassists in the next few years, including Jeremy Harrington 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.
Reformed: 1990-1998 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 Bid had become a star. The band released several low-key albums for Cherry Red during the 1990s, before going on hiatus in 1998.
Bid has since recorded a number of albums with his new 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.
2008 reunion 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 Dada (keyboards) of Scarlet's Well, and performed thirteen songs.
2011–2013 and reformation In 2011, Bid, Square and Warren reformed the band, with the addition of drummer Jennifer Denitto from Scarlet's Well and keyboard player John Paul Moran. The band played dates 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 2012 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. Helena left the band (to have a baby) in July 2013 and the band are currently a four piece with Steve Brummell (formerly of the band Luxembourg) on drums. The band scheduled a short tour of the American east coast, their first in over 30 years, in the Spring of 2013 and toured the UK in Autumn 2013 to promote their eleventh studio album, 'Super Plastic City', which was released in October 2013.
Discography Studio albums Strange Boutique (1980, Dindisc) Love Zombies (1980, Dindisc) Eligible Bachelors (1982, Cherry Red) The Lost Weekend (1985, Blanco Y Negro) Dante's Casino (1990, Vinyl Japan) Jack (1991, Honeymoon) Charade (1993, Cherry Red) Misère (1994, Cherry Red) Trinity Road (1995, Cherry Red) Platinum Coils (2012, Disquo Bleu) Super Plastic City (2013, Disquo Bleu) Spaces Everywhere (2015, Tapete Records) Extended plays I Love Lambeth (1995, Cherry Red) Compilation albums Volume, Contrast, Brilliance... (Sessions & Singles Vol. 1) (1983, Cherry Red) Westminster Affair (Bande Originale Du Film) (1988, Él) Colour Transmission (1988, Virgin) What a Whopper! (1992, Richmond Records) Tomorrow Will Be Too Long – The Best of The Monochrome Set (1995, Caroline Records) Black & White Minstrels 1975–1979 (1995, Cherry Red) Compendium 75–95 (1996, Cherry Red) Chaps (1997, Recall 2cd) The Best of The Monochrome Set (2000, Cherry Red) The Independent Singles Collection (2008, Cherry Red) Early Recordings: 1975–1977 "White Noise" (2010, Captured Tracks) Live albums Live (1993, Code 90) M-80 (2013, Wienerworld) Video albums The Monochrome Set (2002, Classic Rock Productions) Destiny Always Calls Twice (2006, Cherry Red Films) M-80 (2013, Winerworld) Singles "He's Frank"/"Alphaville" (1979, Rough Trade) "He's Frank (Slight Return)"/"Silicon Carne"/"Fallout" (1979, Rough Trade, Disquo Bleu) "The Monochrome Set"/"Mr. Bizarro" (1979, Rough Trade) "Eine Symphonie Des Grauens"/"Lester Leaps In" (1979, Rough Trade) "405 Lines"/"Goodbye Joe" (1980, Dindisc) "The Strange Boutique"/"Surfing S.W.12" (1980, Dindisc) "Apocalypso"/"Fiasco Bongo" (1980, Dindisc) "Ten Don'ts for Honeymooners"/"Straits of Malacca (1981, PRE Records) "The Mating Game"/"J.D.H.A.N.E.Y" (1982, Cherry Red) "Cast a Long Shadow"/"The Bridge" (1982, Cherry Red) "The Jet Set Junta"/"Love Goes Down the Drain"/"Noise (Eine Kleine Symphonie)" (1983, Cherry Red) "Jacob's Ladder"/"Andiamo" (1984, Blanco Y Negro) "Wallflower"/"Big Ben Bongo" (1985, Blanco Y Negro) "Killing Dave"/"House of God (live)" (1991, Honeymoon) "Forever Young"/"Hurting You"/"Little Noises" (1993, Cherry Red) "Iceman" (2015, Tapete - download only)