The writers and performers of The Lost Disc, at London's Soho Theatre now, tell us about their musical comedy/gig/play hybrid
You’ve written a play about a “discredited NME journalist”, Stu Morecambe. What do you think it would take to get discredited around here?
Will Adamsdale, writer/performer: “I imagine there are all kinds of secret rules. Like in a guitar shop. If you play ‘Stairway To Heaven’ more than once you’re on caution. If you pronounce Bowie wrong – straight red. Whatever Stu did must’ve been bad: he locked Dexy’s Midnight Runners in a room over night after an interview or something.”
Chris Branch, writer: “I’d say there are secret codes within music journalism we’ll never know about from the outside. You must never say a bad word about Foals or Battles?… I don’t know …”
Nah, you just have to be able to survive on roll-up fags and cheap tea. Tell us a bit about the play?
Will – It’s about this guy whose obsessive search for a record destroys him but also redeems him. And it introduces him to three artists who have inexplicably been erased from the history of 20th century music.
Tell us why readers should come and see the show!
Will: “Because it’s a show by people who really like music!”
Chris: “It’s funny and hopefully actually has some pretty good music in it! Although some of the characters are absurd we enjoy taking the music really seriously. We want it to be proper!”
Why the name Stu Morecambe? Did you base him on any real-life NME journos past? Stuart Maconie springs to mind…
Will: “Stu Morecambe is sort of a composite, yes, but he’s become very real. I got a call from him recently but I didn’t pick up. He can really go on.”
Chris: “Yeah, like so many things in the show it’s a hybrid of real things and some completely made up stuff, and hopefully you can’t spot which is which.”
Did any of you ever try your hand at music journalism?
Will: “Nope. I wouldn’t be good at moving with the times, I’d want to make it all about my cd collection which stops in about 2001. Actually I wouldn’t last a day – I’m still on CDs!”
The three musicians: ’60s folk-rock dandy Roger Lefevre, forgotten Crooner royal Tony Noel and the impossibly durable country legend A.P Williams. Are they based on any artists in particular?
Will: “Roger was inspired by Donovan first, but he’s also a bit Mark Bolan, Mick Jagger and lots of ’60s characters who tried to create a mystique around themselves when really they’d just changed their accents a bit and read the beginning of a book about Buddhism. Even Bob Dylan, early on, was constantly claiming he’d grown up in a circus and his first guitar was made with a sardine can, when really his dad ran a furniture shop or something and they were very comfortable.”
“Tony is probably Tony Bennett first but then all those great big band singers everyone knows. But he’s not as good as any of them. AP Williams probably has the clearest ancestors – AP Carter, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers.”
What music have you used in the production? Is it all original?
Chris: It’s original. But borrows from all kinds of things!
A parallel is drawn with Searching For Sugarman in the press release. What do you think it is about those strange tales of lost musical projects that remains so alluring?
Will: “Maybe it’s because we all secretly imagine there’s a record out there that will give us the feeling we had when we first heard the music we love, which is sort of the same as trying to recapture the time when you heard it and all the things that went with it; first gigs, first kisses…”
“[Comedian and playwrite] Tom Parry said a nice thing that this show is in a way a love letter to a time when things could be lost, before everything was recorded on social media. Well, the ’90s basically.”
Is there a ‘lost recording’ you’d like to hear?
Chris: “I misplaced the demo tape of my first ever band, The Rocking Hard Mini Nuns, somewhere down the years. We made it when we were 7. I’d quite like to hear that. It’s probably my best work.”
What musical mystery would you tackle next? Brown Note: The Musical?
Will: “Searching For Sugar Woman.”
The Lost Disc is at Soho Theatre until Saturday Oct27, 2018 at 9.30pm. Grab your tickets here