Category Archives: Alternative rock

2020 ➤ Bowie on Kraftwerk and his tribute to Florian Schneider

Kraftwerk, Florian Schneider, Ralf Hütter, pop music, 1970s

Kraftwerk at Düsseldorf station, 1977: Florian Schneider at left. (Photo, Frähling)

➢ Extracts from some vintage interviews republished
yesterday at David Bowie’s website…

❏ You’ve no doubt heard the sad news regarding the passing of Kraftwerk founder, Florian Schneider, aged 73. A spokesperson said he “passed away from a short cancer disease just a few days after his 73rd birthday”, his birthday being April 7. Schneider formed Kraftwerk with Ralf Hütter in 1970 and remained a member until his departure in 2008. He is pictured bottom left in our photo at Düsseldorf Hbf station with the rest of the band.

In a Kraftwerk feature for MOJO magazine Ralf Hütter responded to the question “How important was David Bowie’s infatuation with you?” thus:

“That was very important for us, because it linked what we were doing with the rock mainstream. Bowie used to tell everyone that we were his favourite group, and in the mid-Seventies the rock press used to hang on every word from his mouth. We met him when he played Düsseldorf (April 8, 1976) on one of his first European tours. He was travelling by Mercedes, listening to nothing but Autobahn all the time.”

In 1978 Bowie recalled the meeting in an interview: “I like them as people very much, Florian in particular. Very dry. When I go to Düsseldorf they take me to cake shops, and we have huge pastries. They wear their suits. A bit like Gilbert and George… When I came over to Europe – because it was the first tour I ever did of Europe (1976), the last time – I got myself a Mercedes to drive myself around in, because I still wasn’t flying at that time, and Florian saw it. He said, “What a wonderful car” and I said, “Yes, it used to belong to some Iranian prince, and he was assassinated and the car went on the market, and I got it for the tour.” And Florian said, “Ja, car always lasts longer.” With him it all has that edge. His whole cold emotion/warm emotion, I responded to that. Folk music of the factories.”

Kraftwerk immortalised the Düsseldorf meeting on the title track of the band’s 1977 album, Trans-Europe Express, in its lyric:

From station to station, back to Düsseldorf City,
Meet Iggy Pop and David Bowie…

David returned the compliment later the same year on the “Heroes” album, when he paid Florian the ultimate tribute by using his name for the title of V-2 Schneider.

❏ Bowie also spoke in some depth about Kraftwerk in an UNCUT interview several years back…

UNCUT: Many reasons have been suggested for moving to Berlin. Can you remember why the city appealed?

DB: Life in LA had left me with an overwhelming sense of foreboding. For many years Berlin had appealed to me as a sort of sanctuary. It was one of the few cities where I could move around in virtual anonymity… Since my teenage years I had obsessed on the angst-ridden, emotional work of the expressionists, both artists and film makers, and Berlin had been their spiritual home. This was the nub of Die Brücke movement, Max Rheinhardt, Brecht and where Metropolis and Caligari had originated. It was an art form that mirrored life not by event but by mood. This was where I felt my work was going. My attention had been swung back to Europe with the release of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn in 1974. The preponderance of electronic instruments convinced me that this was an area that I had to investigate a little further.

Much has been made of Kraftwerk’s influence on our Berlin albums. Most of it lazy analysis, I believe. Kraftwerk’s approach to music had in itself little place in my scheme. Theirs was a controlled, robotic, extremely measured series of compositions, almost a parody of minimalism. One had the feeling that Florian and Ralf were completely in charge of their environment, and that their compositions were well prepared and honed before entering the studio.

David Bowie, Station to Station, album sleeve , pop music

Bowie’s album Station to Station: it preceded Trans-Europe Express by a year

My work tended to expressionist mood pieces, the protagonist (myself) abandoning himself to the zeitgeist (a popular word at the time), with little or no control over his life. The music was spontaneous for the most part and created in the studio.

In substance too, we were poles apart. Kraftwerk’s percussion sound was produced electronically, rigid in tempo, unmoving. Ours was the mangled treatment of a powerfully emotive drummer, Dennis Davis. The tempo not only “moved” but also was expressed in more than “human” fashion. Kraftwerk supported that unyielding machine-like beat with all synthetic sound-generating sources. We used an R&B band. Since Station to Station the hybridization of R&B and electronics had been a goal of mine. Indeed, according to a Seventies interview with Brian Eno, this is what had drawn him to working with me.

One other lazy observation I would like to point up is the assumption that Station to Station was homage to Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express. In reality Station to Station preceded Trans-Europe Express by quite some time, ’76 and ’77 respectively. Btw, the title drives from the Stations of the Cross and not the railway system.

What I WAS passionate about in relation to Kraftwerk was their singular determination to stand apart from stereotypical American chord sequences and their wholehearted embrace of a European sensibility displayed through their music. This was their very important influence on me.

UNCUT: V-2 Schneider – a tribute to Florian?
DB: Of course.

So long Florian.


❏ ABOVE: Kraftwerk playing Autobahn in 1975 on the BBC science strand Tomorrow’s World to demonstrate their “Machinemusik”. This was their first UK appearance on British television.


❏ ABOVE: View the long-haired radicals in Kraftwerk reinventing German music from “Stunde null” in the BBC Four documentary Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany.

➢ Florian Schneider: the enigma whose codes broke open pop music – Alexis Petridis in The Guardian – “Schneider had kept such a low profile after leaving Kraftwerk that rumours of his death had circulated before, only to be revealed as erroneous.”

➢ How Florian Schneider and Kraftwerk influenced five decades of music – Mark Savage at BBC News

➢ How Kraftwerk’s synth wizard Florian Schneider rewired the world – Rob Sheffield at Rolling Stone – “It’s all electric energy, anyway,” Schneider said, summing up a sonic philosophy that upended the Seventies rock ideal, and influenced everyone from Depeche Mode to Derrick May.

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2019 ➤ As Rusty Egan likens himself to a baker, others dispute his claims to have ‘created’ the Batcave nightspot

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Olli Wisdom in 1982: frontman for his goth band Specimen and the runaway once-a-week success the Batcave. Photo © Shapersofthe80s

❚ A MIGHTY ROW EXPLODED THIS WEEK at Facebook over who “created” the dress-up club-night called the Batcave in London in 1982. Not for the first time, former Blitz Club deejay Rusty Egan has claimed it was himself, but now the influential Batcave deejay Hamish Macdonald ‪has weighed in with his version of its birth. As a Wednesday club-night at Soho’s legendary Gargoyle club, the Batcave was one chapter in the birth of Goth in the UK which had been brewing since 1978.

Egan has been making surprising claims during the past two years in the process of trying to remember and formalise his own pioneering exploits before his wilderness years. Prime among these claims being put about by his PR team is that he “single-handedly changed the course of music” in the post-punk vacuum, which seems implausible given that the mighty upheaval that reformed the UK’s music and fashion industries as the Eighties dawned was all too conspicuously driven by collaboration among restless young entrepreneurs and style-leaders.

I raised an eyebrow on 25 February when Egan claimed at Facebook that he (using the Royal We) “started the club” – specifically the Batcave night – and again on 26 March when he even claimed “I signed Specimen and started Batcave”. I asked him how he explained that? Egan replied: “I signed Ollie Wisdom (Specimen) and to finance the band I introduced them to a club they added Hamish Macdonald. We recorded the Batcave Album at Trident.” (Any mis-spellings are Egan’s.)

A couple of months later, on 1 July, Egan posted another claim using the Royal We about “creating The Batcave”. So I challenged this by commenting on his post: “That’s not what Hugh Jones told a Goth seminar at the Brighton Fringe Festival recently. He very clearly claimed to have ‘created’ and actively run the Batcave from the day it opened in 1982.‬”

The festival event titled The Gothic in Music on 29 May featured an erudite illustrated lecture by musician Ian Trice on the origins of the words Gothic and of Goth in particular from Screaming Lord Sutch in 1963 via Bauhaus’s Year Zero of Goth in 1979, and Siouxsie Sioux as Queen of Goth from 1980, plus the “Goth-glam” of the Batcave which “gave a focus for the scene” to its end in about 1987 in the face of the emerging “grebo” scene. Events manager Jones spoke in the panel discussion that followed and later made clear that even the presence of Olli Wisdom, the black-lace-clad frontman of the Batcave house-band Specimen, emerged only after his club-night had been running and showcasing new rock bands for about three months.

Gothic in Music, Brighton Festival,Batcave,

The Gothic in Music debate at Brighton Festival, May 2019, L-R: Simon Price, Rose McDowall, plus Batcavers Hugh Jones, Jon Klein, and Jonny Slut. They discussed the opening night of the Batcave in 1982. (Photo © Shapersofthe80s)

This week, however, the same Facebook post burst into flame when the respected Batcave deejay Hamish Macdonald waded in to demolish Egan’s remarks in great detail. He was applauded by Olli Wisdom and other commenters. All of which suggests that the origins of Goth remain a contested story by those who were among its originators. So if you played a role in the evolution of UK Goth please join the debate at Shapers of the 80s. Here’s what the protagonists have said to each other over the past week. . .

THOSE VERBATIM COMMENTS AT FACEBOOK

❏ Retaining all original wayward spellings and typos

 Rusty Egan , Batcave, goth music, origins,

Deejay Rusty Egan before his trademark quilted bedhead

Rusty Egan
1 JULY 2019
In Blitz Kids page in fb a page that celebrates all things related to the Club. I am reminded by a member of my contribution to music / The Blitz / Visage/ Skids/ Ronny/ Rich Kids/ The Senate / Burundi Black/ Madonna/ Nona Hendryx / Twilight Zone / Club for Heroes/ Camden Palace / loads of bands promoting Depeche Mode Soft Cell / Remixing U2 B-Movie -Space – Signing Johnny Hates Jazz – Specimen and with them creating The Batcave too many musical relationships and many many more up to 1990 when I opened Embargo or was that all not reported ?

David Johnson There you go again, Rusty, claiming to have “created” the Batcave. That’s not what Hugh Jones told a Goth seminar at the Brighton Fringe Festival recently. He very clearly claimed to have “created” and actively run the Batcave from the moment it opened in 1982.‬ 4 JULY

Rusty Egan David Johnson who is Hugh Jones? Did he pay for it? The album ? Sigh Specimen? Fund it through the club ? Promote tbe club with flyers or did he work for the venue? Sorry but We financed it from Trident Studios while i signed the bands.‬ 9 JULY

David Johnson Rusty Egan ‪– He wasn’t talking about an album or a band. But running a new club called the Batcave.‬ 10 JULY

Rusty Egan David Johnson Set up and financed by the record label publishers who gave the club the support they needed. I said it would be packed in 4 weeks and we promoted it from my office.Sorry but my office Ran the Camden Palace bookings and djs and music and PR we did not take out the empty bottles. I was also partners with Kevin Millins He ran Heaven Tuesdays and Thursdays and was the most innovative promoter I knew. We lasted till The Playground at The Lyceum that club said Steve and Rusty but it was in fact Rusty and Kevin, Steve showed up .‬ 14 JULY

David Johnson Rusty Egan ‪– You have become the Boris Johnson of pop, all bluster and blather about everything else but answering the question. You have claimed the word “created” about your role in the Batcave three times in recent months and yet now you bang on instead about “promoting”. What you and Strange initiated with the Blitz was the club-night run on DIY energy as a private party that needed no hoards of cash to promote, only word of mouth, so why was so much dosh from your promotions agency required to launch a Batcave? We all know that someone else “created” the Batcave without a hint of goth as probably the only London club staging indie rock bands, as opposed to dance music. Specimen and gothic black lace only emerged later. 15 JULY

Rusty Egan ‪Then i did a good job. We financed it and the band and the album and the old Compton street flat and let that mouthy bitch Steve Severins GF do wtf she wanted. ‬‪I never wanted any credit and i played the same records at Trash Tuesday’s at Camden Palace. We needed The Specimen on top and it helped financialy as i had Chiefs of Relief as well. The club was not my interest we got the album in Sire with our other bands we punished soft cell b movie six sed red etc. You were all excellent and i have spent my life finding talent and putting them together.‬ 10 JULY

Olli Wisdom Rusty Egan complete bullshit 


 11 JULY

Hamish Macdonald, Goth rock, deejay, nightclubs, Batcave

Throwing down a gauntlet: deejay Hamish Macdonald with evil doll baby, at the Batcave 1983

Hamish Macdonald I’m very confused! I was the DJ at the Batcave, saw it rise, was fired before it sank, but Specimen ran the Batcave. Jon Klein, Sophie Sexbeat, Johnny Jonny Melton Slut created the look and I helped develop the sound of one generation into the sound of the next, creating the alternative dance floor for a new generation.

This was reinforced by DJing for John Curd’s gigs (Ants, Bow Wow Wow, Cramps, PIL, Killing Joke, Southern Death Cult, UK Decay, Sex Gang Children, Bauhaus, Meteors, Dead Kennedys, Sisters of Mercy, Gun Club, Yellowman, 999, UK Subs, Richard Hell, Johnny Thunders…. etc, etc) and making and selling badges for most of the independent bands and labels. I saw that generation come into being and I don’t remember anyone being the “creator”, other than those who turned up every Wednesday night and ran it like Harvey Birrell and Ross Malyon and Buda Ian Carpenter who helped decorate it with Olly and Jon and various Specimen family and crew – Flynn, Lucy Roachclip, Kevin Mills et al.

Anni Anni Hogan joined to play upstairs in Leicester Square and drivers and crew like Christine, Anna, Jos Grain (Pork Helmets) played their part, Hugh Jones acted as some sort of weird PA but no one created the Batcave other than Jon and Olly; and even that was basically finding the venue, daubing on the decor and publicising the night. I played the music and people came back… again and again… and more.

Check this review from a goth website: Hamish was the DJ at the infamous Batcave Club 1982-1984, birthplace of goth, industrial, fetish and death rock, and formed Sexbeat, almost as a statement of celebration of a new culture, in those halcyon days of the post-punk club scene. The insanity of who would regularly attend this now legendary club is reflected in the song’s lyric, for the Batcave would let anyone in – as a reproof to the snobbery of the chic clubs that had traded off the back of the “new romantic” movement, and who would regularly refuse entry to those deemed unworthy, purely because of what they were wearing or looked like.

The Batcave knew no bounds, even morally, and touched base with psychobilly sensitivities, Cure fetishists, Japanese voyeurs, S and M, electronic sweat, Banshee voodoo, punk sex, suicide, necrophilia and narcotics.

BATCAVE OLDIE: Oh, another thing about the music. It was actually much more diverse than you would expect. It wasn’t all Siouxie, Bauhaus, Alien Sex Fiend and Flesh for Lulu. The night usually started with some dub reggae with a rasta guy toasting over it. Toasting was a precursor to rap if you’re not familiar with it. There would also be some early Prince, Grandmaster Flash, Bowie, and a little old school Glam Rock.‬ 11 JULY

Sophie Chery‪ Hamish Macdonald‪ well done Hamish, I think Rusty has hit early senility…. 11 JULY

Rusty Egan ‪Rusty is not senile Rusty signed and paid for everything. Simple So you are saying IF I did not sign the band , Record Kiss Kiss Bang Bang , Get Sire USA over to see them and set them up in my office , make the BATCAVE ALBUM then they would have done it all themselves? Don’t ****ing insult me over history. I know what i did , I know what i paid for and I know my return was Sweet FA. If Ollie and John had not met me I am sure they would have still made some records on their own label and they might have got the club together. I had 1500 in Camden 3 nights a week , why would i give a **** about Meard Steet , It was the music and the band that I was interested in not The Club. You can’t now claim I had **** all to do with it. Nice guy or what I left the ****ing Blitz Kids Group because of A******s. I know what i did … and David Johnson can say whatever he wants . he writes I do….. still doing it today , helping artists make music . not a crime is it………….‬ 13 JULY

Ross Malyon It’s kinda weird, some people claiming a part in the birth of a popular movement. I can confirm that Hamish Macdonald is the one who can attest to saying it like it is. The fact he gives credit where credit is due and does not claim the whole thing as creation must give everyone here a clue as to credentials.‬ ‪I’m confused, Rusty Egan creating the Batcave? Not in my memory. ‬10 JULY

Hamish Macdonald

 ‪love it!!!!!! 11 JULY

Rusty Egan ‪Hamish Macdonald i SIGNED YOU and recorded Sexbeat and was a dj 5 years before playing Trash Punk Oh and Produced some records. Hamish I am not saying I was the DJ .Ollie & John had me behind them to open the doors and finance it .You can have the creative dj role and the band but I made the albumand signed the bands and got the club to take on the nights. Its called baking the idea mind you I was still DJing Tuesdays at TRASH and booking the bands.‬ 13 JULY

Olli Wisdom Sorry Rusty but you didn’t start finance or run the Batcave. Distorted memory‬

 11 JULY

Rusty Egan ‪I did 100% . Metropolis Music /Trident Studios yes we did .‬ 13 JULY

➢ Click here to verify all of the above
on Rusty Egan’s page at Facebook

WERE YOU A BATCAVER IN 1982?

❏ Please add your comment in the box below this item if
you too helped create the Batcave

HUGH JONES ON OUTGROWING GOTH:

FURTHER READING

➢ All about Olli Wisdom and Specimen

➢ Hamish Macdonald at Facebook

➢ Pete Scathe’s definitive website about Goth, with background to the Batcave

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
My Face cover story about the burgeoning one-nighters at 69 Dean Street – which included the Batcave

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➤ Ross leaps out of the Ballet into the cauldron of grunge

Officialmercutio, Fabio Staffieri , Ross William Wild, Dingwalls, Camden Rocks Fest, reviews, grunge, Rock music,

Moment of bromance for Mercutio: Fabio and Ross nuzzle each other like wild beasts onstage at Dingwalls

TODAY “Ex Lead Singer @spandauballet” Ross William Wild fronted only his second gig with his new band Mercutio whose sound is “Nirvana-esque mixed with Muse – very much metal with melody”. Playing Dingwalls this afternoon, Ross’s emotional vocals seemed wrenched from his soul, drenched with introspection and yet were fierce in their delivery.

The first of six mainly melancholy songs from their new album made a big opener presumably titled by Ross, Where the Pain Lies, with two fingers aimed squarely at the Spandau gang who have recently spurned him. In other numbers such as Shed and Playtime the tall muscled Scot twisted and contorted his body, stamping, pogoing, even throwing himself to the floor, as if being tortured by demons from within. There was also a bromantic moment when Fabio and Ross nuzzled each other’s backs like wild beasts.

Francesco Lucidi, Rock music, Rocketman,

Francesco moonlighting from Mercutio

Ross’s performance was infinitely more physical than his outings last year with Spandau Ballet – the UK’s supergroup from the Swinging 80s – and the tiny Dingwalls stage clearly cramped his style. Just relaxing a bit might help establish rapport with the audience nearest to him instead of reaching for the back of the room.

The Dingwalls sound system did his voice few favours, though at its most romantic his relatively high register succeeded superbly against the essential grunge vibe, as in the song called Alex, and became sorrowfully plaintive in the medium-pace closing number The Ghost.

The support from his new Italian pals is strong: Naz on bass provides a melodic anchor through even the quietest moments, while Fabio on guitar dazzles frequently when the tempo needs raising, as does Francesco who you may recognise playing Elton John’s drummer in the current biopic Rocketman. The band’s first video is expected next week.

Francesco Lucidi, Emanuele Nazzaro, Fabio Staffieri , Ross William Wild, Dingwalls, Camden Rocks Fest, reviews, Officialmercutio, grunge, Rock music,

Mercutio at Dingwalls: Ross centre-stage in his second live gig with the new band

Emanuele Nazzaro, Ross William Wild, Dingwalls, Camden Rocks Fest, reviews, Officialmercutio

Mercutio at Dingwalls: Ross on acoustic guitar, Naz on bass

➢ All about the Italian-Scottish four-piece called Mercutio

6 JUNE UPDATE: ROSS’S FIRST VIDEO POSTED ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF HIS SPANDAU DEBUT!


❏ Double fierce!For a second I thought I’d found my place.” Ouch!!!

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Spandau vocalist Ross rocks fans by announcing his own new band Mercutio

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2019 ➤ Spandau vocalist Ross rocks fans by announcing his own new band Mercutio

Ross William Wild, Mercutio, Camden Festival, Diverge Records, alt rock,

Heading to Camden Rockfest: Ross Wild in white shirt with members of Mercutio. (Photo by Giorgio Lattanzi)

HERE IS A PICTURE OF ROSS WILLIAM WILD amid musicians of Mercutio, a seven-year-old “alternative and experimental” rock and grunge band, only four months after he was showcased in concert as the stunning youthful replacement for Tony Hadley in Spandau Ballet, the 80s New Romantic pioneers. After Hadley had walked out a year earlier, Spandau hoped Ross would be their key to being signed for this year’s landmark rock events from Glastonbury down, but so far no plans have emerged. Suddenly out of the blue, yesterday Ross announced at Facebook: “My new band! Come rock out with us on April the 13th in Camden!” He features prominently in the band’s new photographs.

Ross William Wild, Mercutio, Camden Festival, Diverge Records, alt rock, Facebook

Ross Wild’s Facebook announcement yesterday

Coincidentally Spandau songwriter Gary Kemp is currently in North America channeling the guitar of David Gilmour with Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets tour, while Martin Kemp and Steve Norman are also boasting busy diaries. Otherwise, both Ross and Spandau have been zip-lipped silent, which raises the suggestion that what gossips tend call “creative differences” might perhaps be simmering away under the lock-down of signed contracts.

Mercutio were offering no further clues, except in their publicity. This all-Italian band who work in London are advertising future live dates starting in April at The Monarch in Camden followed in June by the CamdenRocksFestival. Ross’s Instagram photos show he has been in rehearsal on a #secretproject #itallianscottish with the band since January. He is also pictured rehearsing at home in what he tags as #singersongwriter #makeshiftstudio #homestudio.

Ross William Wild, Mercutio, Camden Festival, Diverge Records, , alt rock, instagram,

“Secret project”: Ross pictured on his Instagram page last January

Ross William Wild, Mercutio, Camden Festival, Diverge Records, alt rock,

Ross Wild photographed with Mercutio for their website by Giorgio Lattanzi

ROSS TALKS EXCLUSIVELY TO SHAPERSOFTHE80S

❏ A couple of days have now passed, and it’s been good to reach Ross by phone, at the suggestion of the founder of his new band, Gianluca Cucchiara. I told Ross that his sudden announcement was all the more surprising because only last month I’d bumped into Gary Kemp and when asked about Spandau’s plans, he would say only “There is no news”. Nothing more.

Ross replied: “I know. It’s all so shrouded in mystery at the moment. The main thing is Spandau don’t want to just go out and do a bunch of shows for the sake of it. The next step must be something great. It must break the mould. So we’re throwing ideas around for new music. Unfortunately Gary has commitments, so we’re waiting for him to finish until we crack on. Same for Martin and Steve.”

Ross William Wild, Mercutio, Camden Festival, Diverge Records, alt rock,

Mercutio publicity: poster for the Camden festival includes Ross in the lineup

Surely, though, it’s a bit strange to join another band when his Instagram still describes Ross as “Lead Singer @SpandauBallet”? He said: “I can’t wait around for Spandau! I’ve been a songwriter all my life – it’s a natural thing for me to do. I met Gianluca at a workshop a year ago and we gelled so well. But I said I’d got another band and couldn’t really talk about it before Spandau announced my role. I’ve been into rock music and metal all my life, and always wanted to pursue it, then the right musicians came along.”

So how does his new sound square with Spandau’s very different music? Ross said: “I’m into absolutely everything. I’m not a one-genre guy by any means and this new band Mercutio reflects that. It’s not death metal and it’s not thrash but very much metal with melody at its heart, plus a heavy focus on lyrics and story-telling. It’s a different flavour but it’s the same heart really.”

“I’m not a one-genre guy by any means”
– Ross William Wild

Mercutio are working on a full album. The first single will be recorded soon and it’s called Where the Pain Lives. Of his own role, Ross said: “I’ve written lyrics for it along with Gianluca and Fabio the guitarist. Then we picked up one of my own songs called Alex – more melodic and melancholy, a funky feel with a big emotive chorus. We’re chuffed that we’re going to debut these tunes in Camden for an album that is very Nirvana-esque mixed with Muse.”

As for the lack of news from the Spandau camp, Ross said: “We’re talking all the time about what to do at the end of the year. It all depends on 4-5 guys juggling their schedules. Nothing is yet set in stone. Put it this way: we’re not finished.” So the message is optimistic? “Absolutely, without a shadow of doubt. I’ve met a bunch of new best friends doing Spandau Ballet. . . I have my own ideas about marketing strategy but at the end of the day Steve Dagger’s the boss, so you’ve got to roll with it.”

Ross William Wild, Mercutio, Camden Festival, Diverge Records, alt rock,

Mercutio website: Ross pictured as vocalist

A BAND WITH A LONG PAST BUT FEW TRACES

MERCUTIO’S FOUNDER GIANLUCA CUCCHIARA also multi-tasks. He got in touch this week to say: “I’m currently producing with Giovanna Romagnoli a new musical called Vanara, with my own music and orchestrations. Giovanna has an Academy Award for Cinema Paradiso and is also producing Mercutio with Diverge Records. Ross was one of the leads in a workshop we did last May in London” [only days before Spandau announced Ross as their new singer] “and the cast included also the Tony nominee Eva Noblezada. I simply asked Ross if he was interested in collaborating with me on a rock project as he loves pop and musical theatre, but he also is a big fan of grunge and hard rock. We share an incredible passion for bands like Tool, Nirvana, Muse (to name a few).

“A few months after the tour with Spandau, Ross and I started writing some songs together with my friend and guitar player Fabio Staffieri. In the band we have also bass player and producer Emanuele Nazzaro and drummer Francesco Lucidi. Francesco will be Elton John’s drummer in the biographical movie Rocketman coming out at the end of May.”

It is still a curious fact that Mercutio seem to have no public profile at the major reference websites Discogs, AllMusic or Wikipedia. Evidence of their existence comes from their own website which lists their first tour details starting 21 Sep 2011 at Nambucca in London to their last tour ending on 18 June 2016 at the Tram and Social. This year new dates have been announced for six gigs in April and June.

Other slim details about Mercutio online include three gigs in Rome and London between 2014 and 2016 which are documented at ReverbNation, where we can hear the breathy vocalist covering a rocky Karma Police after it opens with a lush string orchestration. We can however view videos there for No Compromise, a pained romantic ballad, and a grungy tease-trailer for the band inviting us to “Smell bass, hear speed and taste rock”. Reverb comments: “Taking influence from Radiohead, Muse and Porcupine Tree, the guys wrote, recorded and toured together for several years in various bands before forming Mercutio.”

Though Mercutio haven’t been active for a couple of years, it doesn’t faze 30-year-old Ross. He said: “I don’t care. I’m making them work and they’re making me work. Right now, I’m looking forward to a summer tour with Mercutio in the UK and Italy, maybe some festivals. The team behind it is phenomenal. Gianluca is an amazing composer and orchestrates our music brilliantly. It feels brand new to me and will feel brand new to the audience.”

Ross William Wild, Mercutio, Camden Festival, Diverge Records, alt rock

New boy at centre: Ross Wild photographed for Mercutio’s website by Giorgio Lattanzi

❏ UPDATE FROM ROSS: He has now posted the Mercutio publicity poster at Instagram and adds the words every fan wants to hear: “Yes, I’m still happily with @spandauballet but until our next tour I’m staying creative with this bunch of amazing musicians.”

➢ Ross confirms his news at Instagram
➢ Mercutio pictures Ross as vocalist on their website
➢ Mercutio make their debut with Ross at The Monarch in Camden at 8pm on April 13
➢ At Spandau Ballet’s website no news since 21 Jan 2019

Ross William Wild, Mercutio, Camden Festival, Diverge Records, alt rock,

Update April 12: @mercutioofficial calls itself “Ross’s happy place” and that Ross, Fabio, Naz & Francesco are currently working on the new album!

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s: Whither Spandau? Expect a bombshell today! – The first hint on 28 May 2018
➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
2018, Dad band Spandau preen with pride for Ross their newly adopted son

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