THE Monochrome Set emerged from the same London post-punk scene as Adam Ant and, like their dandy old mucker and other peers, have enjoyed a fresh lease of life since reforming in recent years.
Unexpectedly, frontman Bid puts this down to an aneurysm he suffered in 2011, just as he was re-activating the group.
“It’s like a fuse going, but my brain has rewired itself and, bizarrely, it’s become easier to write songs,” he says. “Apart from giving me subject matter for the whole of the last album [Platinum Coils, released in 2012], the part of me that writes is no longer quite as suppressed by the consciousness, so I can rattle off a whole load of songs much easier.”
Sure enough, the band already have another album good to go. Super Plastic City is apparently “about neuroplasticity and disassociation with surroundings, a sense of helplessness which I think everyone feels anyway, with the way the world is going at the moment.”
The Monochrome Set have always had a knack for packing a lyrical punch or a satirical twist in their bright, upbeat songs – such as their biggest hit, Jet Set Junta, which stuck the boot into South American warmongering – but over time have remained a strictly cult concern.
Bassist Andy Warren continues to work in “old-fashioned IT” and guitarist Lester Square is head of the art department at an independent girls’ school in Harrow. However, apart from a period in the late 1980s when he briefly retired from music to design chainmail outfits for films, theatre and artists such as The Bangles and Tina Turner, Bid has remained involved in music, including producing other acts such as Alex Kapranos’s pre-Franz Ferdinand outfit, The Karelia. “Alex has always been incredibly talented as a songwriter,” says Bid. “He’s still got an interesting quirk about the way he writes.”
Kapranos was quick to cite The Monochrome Set as an influence; The Smiths were also big fans, and their reputation prevails. “I think we’ve just ended up being one of those bands that people cite as an influence so young musicians come along to see us,” says Bid. “I mean, Penetration are a really good band but young people don’t necessarily go along to see them…”
• The Monochrome Set play the Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh, 19 October and Mono, Glasgow, 21 October