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History : 1980

You can never pin down The Monochrome Set. They're so difficult in many ways, yet easy to appreciate.
They've been together now for three years, since the dying days of punk, developing a music which oscillates between furtive seriousness and high enjoyment and tries to connect fantasy with the world. Label them and their music at your peril.
Because of the Rough Trade alliance, brief enigmatic press coverage, shadowy pictures, the casualness of the group, their seemingly aloof airs and faces, and the apparent strictness of their live performances, the wrong impression of the group is being communicated. I'm not sure they are doing all they can to change this.

John, Lester, Tony (cross), Bid, Andy

This week their first LP is released: "Strange Boutique". An LP of melodrama and melody, irregular instrumentals and silly titles, bitter tenderness and new twists to the old ways. It's a wry work, but in no way daunting. So what do the group think about when they make up their music?
"Cheap thrills", says Lester.
"We don't think about anything," whines Andy. "We just do it. If it sounds good don't do it. If it sounds stupid do it."
Andy has such a nice way of putting things.

Lester, Andy, Tony (background), John

John, Lester
"Has he gone?"

A white room on the fourth floor of a building in Covent Garden. The room belongs to the representatives of such groups as Wire, D.A.F. and The Monochrome Set. For my midday meeting with the latter I arrive early and wait for the musicians to drift in.
When they arrive they are not only tired but a little...introverted. They arrive in ones and twos and the atmosphere in the little office as they collect gradually fogs up. Tension. They are not impressed by much, it seems. Everything seems an effort for them- except arguing- and they loathe politeness.
They have no propaganda to sell, just a few odd shapes to throw your way. They play at being moody but really they're quite matey. The whole effect is curiously appealing.

Tony, Lester, Andy (above), John, Bid

John, Bid, Andy, Lester

Bid, John