Identity, Attitude and Goldmines
Micko and the Mellotronics (left to right) Jon Klein, Vicky Carroll, Micko and Nick MacKay
What a total joy it was to speak to the unsung hero of one of the most underground, cool and stylistic glam rock films ever made, Velvet Goldmine. Micko plays the elusive and aloof, mysterious and maligned, (almost silent) sub hero Jack Fairy. We of course talk about all of this but Micko has so much more to say and give. So without further a do let's get into the world of Micko Westmoreland.
Hi Micko, thanks so much for joining us today. Now with your extensive career in both music and film we have a lot to get to but first let us start at the beginning with your love for music. Can you tell us where and when the music bug first got you and what artists grabbed you the most?
Micko Westmoreland ; I wasn't particularly academically talented, so being brought home an eighteen pound guitar from an auction by my Mum made me wide eyed. Then I spent the next three years drawing pictures of guitars in homework text books along with calculations as how to get the money together to get a better one. Cut a lot of lawns and washed a lot of cars for one pound fifty a time, multiple paper rounds helped too. I loved Black Sabbath and The Who as a kid. The earthy grind of Tony Iommi's guitar and watching the best bits of Ken Russell's "Tommy" on VHS when I got home from school. And Bowie's "Space Oddity" of course, plus lots of Month Python records taped from my cousin' .
So you cut a lot of lawns and spent a lot of time dreaming your dream guitar. Where was this taking place and what age were you?
M . W ; Moortown in Leeds, a place made famous by its ring road and large Sainsbury's. We did have a twenty four hour garage but it was a good twenty minutes walk away, made for Saturday night adventures, Rock n roll!
Leeds, ok not known for being the epicentre of cool be we all got be somewhere. So at the same time as music getting you did the style that comes along with rock n roll appeal to you as much as the music?
M . W ; There's Alan Bennett! Ideally style should mature with age right? I speak from experience as I've learnt the hard way. When you get an outfit together I always thought to myself have I guilder a Lily, do I look like a brass band or an overworked Christmas tree? But then again who cares, ultimately it's all about expression and feeling good.
Agreed Alan Bennett true. Yes as one ages so does one's tastes. So when you started playing with image was where you grew up a hard place to show out? Or did you just go for it?
M .W ; You didn't really have to go for it to receive abuse in the street in the eighties. I remember having to run through the city centre as it was much easier, you'd get shouted at a whole lot less. I remember wanting a denim jacket when I was tiny, the smallest size was way too big for me and having to steal a batman sew on patch from a fancy dress hire place to attach to a jumper (pre the Tim Burton movie). Also, spraying my Doc Martins silver because you couldn't get them in different colours. All this speaks of a time of much greater orthodoxy.
Yes a more simple, but not necessarily better time that now seems a little lost in this "I want it now and have a look at this" era we find ourselves in these days. Though even now looking different can get you in all sorts of trouble still, which is a shame but we must solider on. Ok so it didn't put you off dressing up the place (and time) you were in (as it shouldn't), but I do remember even though Leeds is not London it did have a big very cool gothic vibe what with The Sisters etc.... Did you have a kinship with that scene at all or did you take your cues from just whenever and wherever?
M . W ; I used to work at a nightclub called "The Warehouse", in Leeds, Marc Almond used to work there as a cloakroom attendant before Soft Cell got big. Friday nights was technically "Goth Night", but encompassed glam and all sorts of other stuff, so everything from Cockney Rebel to The Undertones would blast through it's seismic PA. I now play in a band (Micko and the Mellotronics), with Jon Klein formerly of Siouxsie And The Banshees, so I was probably out boogieing to one of his tunes. The eighties was a very tribal time in the UK, I can safely say I definitely fall into the camp of "other" if that makes sense?
Oh wow! You must have seen some sights in that place, it must have been a very influential time and place to be involved in. You mention being in the "other" camp, yes, I think most rock n rollers identify with that, anything but the norm, you know let's shake up the status quo. So you mentioned Black Sabbath and The Who that you dug , what other bands grabbed you at the time?
M . W ; I can't remember much musical stuff before owning a guitar apart from dancing to Elvis after school and buying Wilson Pickett's "Monster Mash". I wrote a song called "Footprints In The Sand" at a young age, it was a seismic leap in the song writing department. The second verse went, 'now the tide is washing out, leaving the cities' grime behind.' There's a heavy sub text there. Next song was about a bird of prey flying through the night but the less said about that the better, Ha!
Yes very dark and at such a young age, was that your way of saying I gotta get out of here (the place you were) or did that come much later? And no I won't mention birds of prey haha
M . W ; I've written a song on the new album called psychedelic shirt about a turning point in adolescence, when at a teenage disco the named shirt wound up on the floor on the toilet after being removed from the cloak room where I left it. I knew who the offenders were and I coolly paraded the dripping article nonchalantly. It made me glad not to be them. Bit of a turning point in identity and attitude.
Getting your sass out there and in everyone's face who needed to be corrected, can't wait to hear the track now that we also know the story behind it and yes leave the losers behind and move on. So move on to where? If not a place it must have made a lasting statement in your head, to say that, you were not going to put up with it anymore and move onward and upward, mentally at least if not physically yet?
M . W ; That kind of abusive behaviour informs you that you won't tolerate bullish behaviour, you'll reach out from the gutter, in search of star filled dreams.
Yes, so you knew what you were going through was bad and you felt like you were left in the gutter for everyone to step on, however you were reaching up from that depth to reach higher points for yourself. Was there a pivotal moment things changed for you?
M . W ; Going to art college, that came much later but I realised I had the potential to be half good at something. I was drawn to ideas based work and had a burning desire to get better at what I'd discovered I could do. The secret is to pick a specialist subject that is exponential, where you can always learn more and lose yourself in the "doing". I still feel very lucky that I stumbled into all this.
So you set about creating a new you in your vision and no one else's, that takes courage. So the move to art college was all that your own doing or did you have outside influences contributing to your decision to take that specific path?
M . W ; I enrolled on a one day photography session, it wasn't at an art college or anything but I was spotted by a tutor and he invited me to meet his friends, so I was able to attend classes from then on for free. There was also a seriously brilliant musician and all round astounding guy called Nigel Brooke (who now lives in New Zealand), who introduced me to "Boho" life, I'll always be eternally grateful to him for his kindness.
After what must have seemed like an eternity in the wilderness, that one day course did indeed change your life. It must have seemed like a message from the gods, to be accepted and not only be accepted but shown a new way of life you knew little to nothing about. Must have been a very heady time. What did you pick up initially from the "Boho" life and in turn how did you use that to further your future, was it just music at this point or was acting and other forms of expressive creativity lurking around too, all waiting to go into your own melting pot?
M . W ; An alternate to orthodoxy I'd already become aware of during my very early teens, not at home but in the houses of artists and musicians I was starting to become friends with. Herbal teas, vegetarianism and slightly other worldly clues that lead into other realms. I guess I picked up things that were absent from my life at my parents' home, not that I was treated badly, just no books or cultural information to learn from. I have always felt I was playing catch up, still do to this day even in adult life, but that is a thing that keeps you going. Also no thought of acting at this point, when you come from aspirational working class backgrounds there's not a whole load of thrills attached.
Yes I hear you, I think we are all catching up to a degree because if you think you know everything I think that's when you could be heading for trouble, mentally and spiritually. Life is a journey and when one stops to learn each and every day, life becomes very dull to say the least. Ok so cool people and a whole host of other things came flying at you from areas at this point, this must have been an eureka moment for you after all the poor behaviour of lesser people you had to endure. Ok so no acting at this point but was music still rearing its head, in as such as you wanting to perform and write it, was it during this period that your musical journey became more serious?
M . W ; Art school was definitely a eureka moment for me, I was spending twelve hours a day at that place and sometimes I went in on the weekend too. It took precedence over music, this was when I was about nineteen I guess. I felt there was a lot to learn about creativity there and knew that music would always be there for me, I did bits, soundtracks to my own movies, installations etc...but it wasn't talking up all my time. I was lucky enough a little later to live in Berlin (early nineties), when the first Burger King opened in the east, tracked down and interviewed Kraftwerk down the Danube (river) too and then on to New York for a stretch, halcyon days, it was a blast.
Wow, so from humble beginnings it seems that art school just ignited that inner spark in you and you took to it like a duck to water and started your own new journey. Ok you said you lived in Berlin and tracked down Kraftwerk, no easy task, you know how does one go about doing that? Can you take us on your journey from the UK, you know the thoughts about going and how it all come about. Was it always a destination you had in mind or were there other forces attracting you there?
M . W ; Journeying to Berlin came through the "Erasmus" scheme. Whilst at college, you could swap where you lived with another student, like for like living in their digs. East Berlin was very Avant Garde in those days, I used to frequent a make-shift cafe called "The Glowing Pickle" ( a pickle glows if you pass an electric current through it). They would do a raffle and as prizes they would give bits of east block military hardware away, which always seem to be knocking around. So lots of all night happenings, with not much health or safety. My Kraftwerk odyssey came from lots of letter writing and planning which all came to no avail, but then through a complete piece of luck, the college was running a trip to an electronic arts festival in Linz, Austria a day before I was due to return home. Got handed an electronic controller for the encore of "Pocket Calculator" by Florian Schneider, blagged my way backstage, chatted and then arranged to meet with Florian the next evening. So yes, it really was a dream come true.
So you lucked out just by the happenings of the time, in fact the whole time sounds like great fun and then on the last day lady luck grasping you firmly by the hand and you running with it, a great end to your time there. Ok so after Berlin was it New York or was there a pit stop in between and also even with all the distractions going on around you was music and acting still burning inside of you?
M . W ; I spent one year living in four different cities New York, Brighton, London and Berlin, in that order. There was always a strong feeling to get to music full time but I was preoccupied in being at Art School which lead to a specialism in film. My graduation piece was a twenty five minute sixteen millimetre movie called "14 flavours of the same ice cream", make of that what you will...I did all the music for that one. No plans to act at this point, not sure if I ever will act again either, "Velvet Goldmine" was a complete one off in every sense.
Velvet Goldmine, much more of that later. So you liked to cram it all in and in one year, must have been hectic but oh, so much fun. So "14 flavours of the same ice cream", let's go into this if we may, I get from the title it had quite a lot of Warhol influence in there, please tell us about the piece and the music that went along with it and is it out in the public realm at all?
M . W ; "14 flavours of the same ice cream" was about gender interpretation, orthodox and surrealism I guess. The story was of a woman who worked as an ice cream seller, old school style in a four screen multiplex; a tray around her neck as she walked to her position below the big screen. We made all the films that were being projected in each theatre and shot those in colour, the real life one was in black and white. We got to film a synchronised swimming team to feature in one, which I think was the highlight. I must get it transferred and up on You Tube, at the moment it's just on VHS in the cupboard.
It does sound very interesting and we would all love to see it one day, sounds like a great piece of work. Ok you mentioned "Velvet Goldmine", a cult classic if there ever was one. So let's get into that now if we may. So take us on the journey that got you involved in the project. The planting of the first embryonic seeds if you will...
M . W ; My brother and partner Richard Glatzer had been friends with Todd Haynes for a good while before news of the "Velvet Goldmine" film project hit home. Todd had stayed at Richard's house while shooting " Safe" with Julianne Moore in LA in 92/93 as his parents house had been used as a location as I recall. I was fresh out of film school and interested to meet Todd, of course. I had longish hennaed hair and was wearing paired down vintage seventies gear which was "alternative vogue" in the mid nineties. Todd and I got on very well, we talked a lot about Kenneth Anger, the Avant Garde film maker who spoke of the medium as "high art manipulation in league with the devil". There's transvestite tea parties aplenty in his work and a brilliant use of ritualistic imagery. So time skipped by as we hung out. Initially it was suggested that I play the group's stylist, which eventually fell through and was played excellently by David Hoyle, so I did an audition with Todd and Suzie Figgis (casting director) in North London. It all seemed to have a great "can do" vibe about the whole thing.
From that I was asked to try out for the mysterious Jack Fairy. This was done by submitting a lip synched performance on VHS of "All The Young Dudes". This was going to be the final number which was or course replaced by "2HB", when Bowie wouldn't allow rights to use his music. Word filtered through that I had the part, so the work began. I had little to no acting experience, so I decided to read as much as I could about the era, borrowed a ton of biographies and inadvertently started "method" acting the part. I moved to staying out late suspending all other aspects of modern life, i.e. music played only from the glam era, and lots of other stuff I picked up from the books. Not eating in front of others, (certainly not in public) or using the bathroom whilst in company. Subtle things that gave my new persona a slightly other worldly, alien quality. A lot of my scenes were with a principal lead or by myself.
As "Jack" starts and ends the movie, he's never too far from the audience's mind. The only bit of conventional acting that I feel that I really did was in the bathroom seduction scene with "Johnny". I saw it a couple of years ago and was quietly pleased.
(Brian) Eno wouldn't have it that I was only in the entrances and exits, he was very kind to me at the premiere in Cannes, insisting "he never knew I had an ability to act". I'd known him for a few years before when I was involved in an art show called "Self-Storage" he curated. A phenomenally creative guy who I'm very grateful to, for giving me tutorials whilst working on the show and kind words about the attitude "Jack" purveyed through out the movie. I feel the part was very well depicted and written by Todd, he's such an excellent craftsperson, I felt the role was much more about emanating a presence.
People have often asked who "Jack" is based on, Eno/Bolan/little Richard/Dietrich. Let's leave the jury out on that hey....Jack's magic is in his elusive quality, he escapes with little to no egg on his face, a kind of patron saint of Glam Rock.
A deal was done over the costumes so I wasn't able to walk off the set with a few bits, ala Bowie in "Man Who Fell To Earth". I did however get the leather coat worn over the opening credits, it was originally designed for Britt Ekland. I have it moth balled in a cupboard, my alter ego hermetically sealed.
As for the opening credit decree..."Histories like ancient ruins, are fictions of empires, while everything forgotten hangs in dark dreams of the past, ever threatening to return!"
So eloquently put Micko and as such there is no more to add and yes to keep the mystique about the character and the film is the key to its present and future appeal. Also in years to come, it is a great piece of work that will find audiences in the strangest places and bring joy time and time again for different generations and that's all one can hope for any work one does, once again beautifully put. Ok before we leave Velvet Goldmine a couple of other things. The film was very decadent, did that decadence spread into any off screen moments at all? And you said you probably won't act again, was that because this was the best you thought you could do on screen or was it that the acting bug was out of your system and you wanted to move onto new things?
M . W ; There were a few decadent moments, you were being manicured by the finest. I remember two women beeping their car horn at me whilst I was walking down the street, that's never happened before or since. Also people would give you their card whilst around town, well, it wasn't hard to get anyone's number let's put it that way. I can't lift the lid on others' activities, they wouldn't approve but, the odd love bite wasn't an unusual sight! In terms of work I would have taken more roles at the time, but Jack was a very particular part. If you remember "Velvet Goldmine" got a mixed response when released, it's only over the seas of time that it's gained momentum. I could act again as I'm sure I could wangle a part if I put the work in. But really, the patron saint of Glam Rock is one hell of a part, you wouldn't want to top it with a "Daz" commercial, no pun intended Darren.
HAHAHA! Nicely put M. Yes the film had mixed reviews but really who cares and as you say the seas of time wash away negativity and as such just leaves the art there for anyone who is free thinking enough to search it out. Ok so after "Velvet Goldmine" what came next for you, I guess music was rearing it's head again at this point. Also were you on cloud nine after the "Velvet Goldmine" thing or were you just searching for the next thing?
M . W ; It took such a long time for "Velvet Goldmine" to come out after shooting. We filmed in the Spring of ninety seven and it wasn't released until Autumn ninety eight. It was a big year for me as my first album "One Pound Note" under the name of "The Bowling Green" came out in June ninety eight. I did get straight back into music as soon as the film wrapped. It's funny because the last Jack Fairy shot was the bathroom seduction scene with Johnny, everyone bustled off after the final take but I knew it was my last scene and that I had to say goodbye to the character. Actors often speak of the "Goodbye", but there was something magical about Jack and it did feel like the end of the most fun part, the "making".
The nineties were a very positive time for me, Trent Reznor got wind of the music I was making, so by 2000 I had a deal with his Nothing records label which was part of Interscope. I was signed along with a load of warp artists, Squarepusher and the like. it was a bit of an experiment to see if America was ready for electronic music. Surprise,surprise..it wasn't!
So it really was a rebirth, the film, for you and it seems Jack really was part of you and as such he will never totally leave you, much like Bowie and Ziggy Stardust, that never fully left him (or was it just him from the start)? That again is great insight into the process of the filming and not just what we see on screen. So music was there and so was Trent Reznor, must have seemed like a true whirl-wind. So your first record as "One Pound Note" that was on his label yes? Did you tour that record? Also America much like the rest of the world has cool pockets but the majority always get the voice, sad but it is ALWAYS the case.
M . W ; Yes I was signed to Trent's label. At the time no one really knew how to do electronic music "live" and there are few that make sense of it even today. So nobody (including me) toured with the US deal.
I think you're right about the past never escaping you. At the time Jack Fairy seemed like a miracle, when I first saw the film in New York, I remember thinking "wow, it seems to really hang together", it was quite a shock to me on first viewing. From the outside it looks like creative things emerge fully formed, but that's rare I would say. I guess it's one of those things where the subconscious pours into the frontal lobe and the "behind the scenes" work then materializes, it's only over time that we realize this process is worth trusting, it never seems to fail.
Yes I hear ya about Jack and the film as a whole, it must have been a trip seeing it on the big screen but also quite daunting and alluring at the same time, once again great work and as I have said before it is there in all its glory for anyone and everyone to enjoy or get upset about haha! Ok so no tour with the first record, just as an aside what made you go into electronic / dance music as opposed to the more conventional rock n roll side of things? You had some great reviews for the first record was it a disappointment the project didn't go any further?
M . W ; I was into electronic music because the technology was expanding so dramatically at the time, the possibilities seemed endless. I feel the variety that I made had a very psychedelic, almost kitsch feel to it; celebrating British Horror and Sci-Fi at the same time. It wasn't about songs, I didn't care whether a track changed key or chord for that matter. I'll always strive to make music that still sounds good in years to come and I was aware that aspects of the sounds used might date, that and progressively with more film sound track work led me away from zippy beats and more into narrative structure, those crazy song titles began to unfold into whole songs.
Here's an example of a song I made that had been twisted to such a degree whilst making it, that I couldn't drop a previous element back into the track later in the song, the pitched had morphed slightly making such a move with the tech at the time impossible.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW "Think What You're Doing" on YouTube
Now having heard "Think What You're Doing". I can see very clearly all the influences in there, of the time and of a past time also. So we have the almost Jungle backbeat (very "Outside" and "Earthling" era Bowie, to my ears anyway), some slightly sixties flourishes that wouldn't sound out of place in "The Italian Job" (also, not so much but also could have popped up in "Performance" too) and then toward the end of the track some old school computer bleep sound runs in there too. Nothing left out and as you say were you drawn to the endless possibilities of the electronic genres as apposed to the rock n roll vibe you had been listening to on a loop whilst filming "Velvet Goldmine". So before we get onto your next record let's go into the influences shown above a little more, the sixties film scenescapes and also British Horror movies. I am a sucker for the old Hammer Horror films, such atmosphere. So give us some insight into what stuck in your mind from those genres and how in turn they manifested themselves into your work at the time.
M . W ; In the nineties, the bedroom musician was all the rage and I was one of them. Armed with Atari, Akai S1000 and a few analogue synths I set about making music which was most immediate to me. The influences were imported from wherever I could find them, old cassettes, VHS tapes, car boot finds, all of which were invariably low quality which I set about dressing up the best way I could. Perhaps, sourcing "retro" material gives benefit of hindsight. I don't know, but it's what I've always felt best at home with.
Ok so now we have scratched the surface of your electro / dance side (anyone wanting to explore that further go here) let's get into your next period of creation. Song writing and more and more so lyrics were becoming more important to you, so take us into what sparked your mind into moving away from the electro/dance/soundscape musician in you and into a more "live" rock n roll type artist. Was it just what came naturally on your musical journey or was it a conscious decision to move away from past genres and on to a fresh musical possibilities?
M . W ; The music I was making was becoming increasing filmic, so I moved into movie soundtracks for a while and did two film scores and a few documentaries with my brother acclaimed director Wash Westmoreland ("Still Alice", "Colette"), one of them "Echo Park L.A" won best drama at Sundance in 2006! I was becoming more attuned to a literary narrative and was listening to Dylan's "Time Out Of Time" and Beck's "Sea Change" at the time and couple that with improvements in technology that weren't reliant on sampler and keyboard.
As such I started playing much more guitar again, my first love and now my primary instrument for writing.
So it sounds like you had done what you could in the field of electronic music and then soundtrack music, with, it must be said a great degree of success too! Now it seems we are back to that first guitar bought in an auction by your mother and the love of the time and the instrument that instilled in you. So now right up to date with your new project Micko and The Mellotronics, this is a much more guitar driven vehicle in both sound and song writing. Tell us how the line up got together and was the sound and look of the band there from the start or did it evolve as time went on?
M .W ; I was very much used to working on my own and it took some time before the band came around. I made a couple of solo albums, one which Terry Edwards (P.J. Harvey/Holy Holy) released on his Satorial label called "Wax & Wayne", which nobody seemed to like but it will always hold a place for me and "Yours Etc Abc" on my own label, Landline Records, which I believe was the main unconscious projection into putting a live act together. The person doing the PR for it asked "Who's in the band?". When I realised I didn't have one, it made sense to look for folk to start pushing sounds around. A year later I shared the bill with Ex-Banshee Jon Klein, what a guy and what a guitar player, after a chat and a lend of my amp he agreed to a session. I'm hoping the rest will be history.
So small steps to a future goal and here we are with you and now your band, The Mellotronics. Where did the name come from? Had you had it in mind for a while or was it just a flash of light for you or indeed was it when you started to get more songs together, the name came from the direction you were going with your writing?
M . W ; I've always loved the Mellotron, the first sampling keyboard. I'd just released a "Remixes" album in 2016 I think, so I was reflecting on an electronic history in part. Micko & The Mellotronics seemed to encompass all that stuff and had a good ring to it.
Yes it does have a classic band name feel to it indeed. Ok so the first single you and the band released was "The Finger", great song with a very "Lust For Life" vibe to it and also that classic cockney glam accent. It also came out on your own label, Landline Records . So can you tell us a little about how the label came about and then in turn about your first single?
M . W ; The label came about as a result of wanting to get on and do my own thing on my own terms. I've had a deal with Interscope so I don't need external validation. If you can do a job yourself with something you love, you'll do it with exceptional care. I just had to find distribution which I did for the first album "Yours, Etc..." and have remained with the same team.
We released "The Finger", as it was the first mix that seemed to shout out, "release me" also, it had a performance by Horace Panter out of The Specials, so it seemed like a no brainer. When I'd go hitch hiking as a teen, I'd always think to myself how long will I be in the car before a racist remark comes, it was usually less then five minutes. Often the remark had the precursor.. "I'm not a racist.. but…", so that's how I put the chorus together. "It's not like I don't care, I don't give a shit".. It was great to get Horace and Jon (Klein) on the same record, Jon did some great work with The Banshees, so it was great to bring them together on the release. I also invited him (Jon) to play on our Visconti session the end of last year. I play in another band that records for charity called "The Spammed". It comprises of, Kevin Eldon (Actor/Comedian), Rat Scabies (Ex-The Damned), Horace Panter (The Specials) and Neil Innes ( The Rutles / Bonzo / Monty Python). We did a cover of Bolan's "Get It On" for the Teenage Cancer Trust release with Tony producing. It was such a dream day with Mr. Visconti, he was so very nice. Sad though that this was to be Neil Innes' last session. He died of a heart attack before the new year 2019. Neil was like an uncle to me.
Tony Visconti, Marc Bolan covers and Neal Innes, a day in the life of Micko, grab a ticket everyone!!! Ok, so "The Finger" had a great video and also the new single "Noisy Neighbours" has a killer video too. Can you tell us about the making of those videos and the thoughts behind them both?
Click HERE to see "The Finger" video on You Tube
M W ; We have worked quite a bit with the film maker Ashley Jones and have been lucky to feature British comedy actors (Kevin Eldon, Paul Punter and Susie Kane) in the videos. With "The finger", we wanted to demonstrate a clash of cultures so we put an Estate Agent / Brexiteer type in a Gay bar. I wanted the audience to come round in some way to this dislikeable character though, not because I agree with his politics but so the feel wasn't angry, judgemental or condemning. I sometimes wonder whether I have the right to judge anyone at all, but, that's by the by. In the end he did loosen up and go with the flow which is something to openly encourage.
Click HERE to see the "Noisy Neighbours" video on You Tube
With "Noisy Neighbours", we were looking for a "ship in a bottle" type feel. Neurotic, paranoid, part imagined, part not. To lead the viewer into a private world of preoccupation. There's actually no noisy neighbours in the video to watch!. Again we weren't looking to terrorise the lead but as the end of the video reveals she is not a single woman on her own, it's worse, she's living with someone who's indifferent to her moods, unfortunately real life can sometimes play out that way.
I think my fave track of yours (at present) is the second track on the "Noisy Neighbours" release, "You Killed My Father". I love the light and shade of this track, but I am hearing quite a bit of vitriol in the lyrics. Is it drawn from your own life experiences or is it another narrative piece?
M . W ; "You Killed My Father" does relate to personal experience, not literal though of course. I think the key is that it is a redemptive tale, the last two lines read; "Dig in the trench of forgiveness, forgo warfare to remain sane". The only way out of a problem is to accept it, however hard. That doesn't mean that there are no options available to you, but you can't change something that has already happened. it's past tense. What you are able to do is look at your attitude towards it, choose what is available to you and take action on that choice. I think it's very important to look into shades of grey and fallibility that everyone exhibits. There are a few exceptions but invariably we don't live in a binary world of Heroes and Villains. People have very complex reasons for things they do and it's always very important to bear this in mind.
Very wise words that many others should take heed of, then I think the world would be a better place and everyone would have space to blossom however they choose, whenever and wherever. We are all complex and in that lies what could be possible, whether that is fulling dreams or sitting watching TV, the choice is yours and yours alone.
Ok so that is the tracks that have been release, so far discussed, what else can you tell us about the album? Is it going to be a full album release or are you going to drop singles and EPs, which seems to be a popular thing at the moment, or are you, as I suspect, wanting this to be a complete album and project?
M . W ; The album will be a full release and Vinyl and Digital Download around November time with another single a month or so before. The songs were written by myself and produced together with Jon (Klein).
It's the first time I have worked with someone so closely, but Jon is a staggeringly good guitarist and an expert with the mouse. We are currently developing the video for the next single as we speak with the film maker Ashley Jones (www.thechoasengineers.com), it's a track called "Psychedelic Shirt" about venturing out to an out of hours school disco at age thirteen.
We are also looking at an audio drop in August; a taster stream on SoundCloud (that's not open up to other providers to sell) about the infamous dictators wife Imelda Marcos. It's a lot of fun!
That's great to hear that it is to be a full release, there is still a lot to be said for a full release, singles are good 'n all but with a full length record you get a much fuller picture of the artist, so we can’t wait for that. And the next video will be “Psychedelic Shirt” that brings us almost back to the start of the interview, again looking forward to that also. Busy times in this crazy period we find ourselves in at the moment, talking of which has that hampered your efforts at all or are you just doing what you can when you can?
M . W ; Everyone seemed quite distracted when lock down commenced, it took ten days for things to normalise. I’m not front line staff so I can quietly get on with things in a fashion.
Though I think everyone seemed a little phased. I have managed to get a few things finished as the weeks have progressed. So really it’s not been bad for me at all. I do very much feel for elderly & vulnerable people though.
Yes, it's a crazy time but we must keep keeping on. Ok Micko this has been a total joy chatting with you and it seems we see eye to eye on a lot of the subjects that we have covered, so many thanks for your time. So do you have any parting words for your fans of old and any new ones you have been picking up along the way?
M . W ; I'm always drawn to the keyboard player from Spinal Tap when asked such a question. "Have a good time all of the time" he dribbles over the closing credits! Amen.
Thanks Micko onward and upward for you and all that you do!
STOP PRESS...STOP PRESS...STOP PRESS...STOP PRESS...STOP PRESS..STOP PRESS..STOP PRESS..STOP PRESS...STOP PRESS....
Micko and the Mellotronics have just released a new track "The Fear" and we chatted to him briefly about it
So "Noisy Neighbours" is out there (don't forget people there is still a competition to win a signed copy below!) and next up and out there is "The Fear". A laid back almost ragga vibe to it but coupled with a really uplifting lyric, so take us in to the world of "The Fear" if you will?
M . W ; I wanted to song to have a perilous feel, to try and capture a superstitious dread but to temper that with the defiant optimism of the message. Lyrically, the song deals with phobia and philosophical ideas of free will. I was looking to both affirm the positive and compound the idea that unknowns are negative.
Go search out this new track, you will be glad you did!
Photographs courtesy of Micko Westmoreland, Ashley Jones, Paul London, Landline Records and suits and the platform boots vaults
Micko has very kindly let you, the suits audience have a chance to win a SIGNED copy of the "Noisy Neighbours" single, plus some suits and the platform boots goodies too!
Just answer the question below;
Which two Roxy Music albums did Eno play on?
Email your answer HERE and we shall do the rest, good luck!
This is an open ended competition, the end date will be posted on social media in the suits Facebook group (click HERE to visit). Entries welcome from all over the world. Answer as many times as you like a winner will be chosen at random after the closing date, good luck!
Interview conducted Spring 2020.