The Scotsman Sessions #380: The Filthy Tongues and Maria Rud
“The concept of The Revelations of Rab McVie show is that it’s a car crash between spoken theatre, physical theatre, underground music and live visual art, which isn’t something that's very common,” says Martin Metcalfe, lead singer with Edinburgh band the Filthy Tongues, about the multi-media performance piece he’s helped bring to the stage twice this year, with more performances hopefully in the pipeline.
An excerpt of the piece, in which the Filthy Tongues play while artist Maria Rud live-paints her work, is the group’s Scotsman Session, although the staged work also features actor Tam Dean Burn’s performance as an “Everyman” character “waking up to the darkness in humanity. It’s like a dreamscape, in which he’s trying to figure out why human beings are so cruel to each other. There’s a desperation throughout the show, but then a realisation of a way through at the end.”
Metcalfe first met Edinburgh-based Rud, who is originally from Russia, several years ago, when they collaborated on a project named Shamanic at the city’s Surgeons’ Hall. He was brought onboard by fellow musician Fay Fife of the Rezillos, and the pair performed with Kid Congo Powers of the Cramps and the Gun Club, while Rud projected her work onto the walls of the building and actor Rula Lenska provided a narration written by Rud.
“Maria likes to paint live, on a large scale,” says Metcalfe. “She’s done it on Belfast Civic Hall, and various other monumental pieces of architecture. At Surgeons’ Hall, she did it on this beautiful piece of Georgian architecture, it was outdoors and really spectacular. She’s been affected by the war in Ukraine, as she’s Russian but her mother is Ukrainian, so she wanted to express more than we had with Shamanic. She's an amazing writer in English, with a great capacity to communicate.
“Rab McVie is a convergence of art forms that’s spectacular to see. Salvador Dali worked with flamenco guitarists, he would be inspired to paint by the music, and another of our reference points is Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable, which toured America with a live band, art projections and dancers. We all love the Velvet Underground and appreciate what Warhol was doing, so we’ve taken inspiration from these moments in art history.”
Metcalfe is a painter himself, who turned down the opportunity to go to Edinburgh College of Art in part because he didn’t want to have too prescriptive an art education, instead staying true to his roots in punk. The Filthy Tongues evolved out of their original group, Goodbye Mr Mackenzie (also featuring Shirley Manson, before she became a star with Garbage), and lately he’s written songs on the Skids’ last two albums for his friend Richard Jobson.
The pair also tour together with a show of music and storytelling, while the Filthy Tongues will be on the road later this year to promote their forthcoming compilation record, and more Rab McVie shows are being discussed for next year. “If I say I try to keep myself busy, people think I'm insane, because of the amount of work I do,” says Metcalfe. “It’s just making hay while the sun shines, I've got to do what I can, when I'm offered. On it goes.”
The Filthy Tongues compilation album Black Valentine will be released by Last Night From Glasgow in November, www.filthytongues.com