The Monochrome Set formed in early 1978 but the roots of the band can be traced back to 1976 and a group called the B-Sides.
Adam Ant and Lester Square formed the The B-Sides with Andy Warren joining after seeing an ad in Melody Maker inviting would be bassists to “beat on a bass with the B-Sides”. The line up fluctuated, Adam left, Bid joined, Adam came back before the band eventually split altogether in 1977.
Adam, Lester and Andy formed the very first line up of Adam and The Ants. Working songs such as Plastic Surgery, Deutscher Girls and others which would make the Ants one of the most popular cult bands around.
Lester didn’t last long before leaving to team up again with Bid and drummer JD Haney to form the very first line up of the Monochrome Set. Bass players came and went before Andy joined in 1979 to form what many believe to be the definitive line up of the band which also featured film maker Tony Potts who added a visual element to the proceedings.
The band released a number of fine singles on the Rough Trade label before signing with Virgin off shoot Din Disc and releasing debut album “Strange Boutique” quickly followed by the follow up “Love Zombies”.
The band built up a bit of a cult following without ever finding main stream success. The line up fluctuated (Bid and Andy remained the constants), record labels were changed and eventually the band split up in 1985.
Over the following years the band reformed and split a number of times. Cherry Red released a number of albums in this period and the band gigged periodically often in Japan where they where they had been very popular.
In 2010 the band reformed again featuring Bid, Andy Warren, Lester Square and Jennifer Denitto (from Bid’s “other” band Scarlett’s Well) on drums. Plans were made for a tour of Japan but fate was to deal a heavy hand as Bid was struck down with a Subarachnoid hemorrhage, a bleeding on the brain and inevitably all plans were put on hold.
Bid thankfully made a full recovery and the band toured extensively with John Paul Moran added on keyboards. They released their first new album in over a decade, “Platinum Coils”, in 2012 to much critical acclaim and the rebirth of The Monochrome Set was now in full flow.
The band have been prolific over the last few years touring extensively and releasing a further 4 new albums, the latest being 2018’s “Maisieworld”. The inevitable line up changes have taken place with Lester leaving in 2015 and the line up has now settled down with Bid on vocals/guitar, Andy Warren on bass, John Paul Moran on keyboards and Mike Urban on drums.
The latest albums have been released on the German label Tapete which has also just put out an excellent box set featuring the first 4 albums released from 1980 through 1985 along with 2 singles compilations and a mighty fine booklet. The box set was a limited edition run and CD versions are hard to find but copies of the vinyl version are currently available here.
You could also pop along to a gig and see what’s available at the merch store!
2018 sees 40 years since their formation, the band are still going strong and to celebrate have toured extensively throughout Europe and also played shows in America.
As the year draws to a close the band make a welcome return visit to Stockton’s Georgian Theatre on November 30th. Tickets are available here: SEE Tickets
Links to The Monochrome Set: