The Scaramanga Six

The Scaramanga Six are a British rock band noted for their aggressive live act, their flamboyant and theatrical songs and their genuinely independent stance (self-managed and self-releasing, they’ve been described as “working entirely outside the indie scene, let alone the actual industry. [ [http://drownedinsound.com/releases/3266 Drowned In Sound review of Strike! Up The Band] by Toby Jarvis, retrieved October 11, 2008] ”).

A significant band on the Leeds rock scene, they are also involved in recordings promotion and distribution via their Wrath Records label and video promotion via the associated Poison Pen Films business. Their business practises and promotion of other artists has seen them hailed as “the closest we'll see to a British answer to Fugazi. [ [http://www.cdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=5137 CD Times review of "Walking Through Houses”] by Theo Graham-Brown, retrieved October 11, 2008] "

The band has historically been based around a core of Paul Morricone, Steven Morricone and Julia Arnez.

ound, influences and lyrical themes

The Scaramanga Six play a tuneful and carefully-arranged mixture of heavy rock, vocal pop, rockabilly, garage and crooner songs described as “intense-yet-aloof rock operas” (Drowned In Sound), “B-movie chic combined with real musical muscle” (Kerrang) [ [http://www.thescaramangasix.co.uk/history.html various reviews of "Cabin Fever"] stored on history page on Scaramanga Six homepage, retrieved October 11th, 2008] and which has seen them compared to “a British Queens Of The Stone Age. [ [http://drownedinsound.com/releases/6586 'Drowned In Sound' review of "Horrible Face"] by Toby Jarvis, retrieved October 11, 2008] " Influences cited by the band themselves include The Stranglers, Cardiacs, The Cramps and Tony Bennett.

Their song lyrics are characterised by themes of dark humour, desperation, tongue-in-cheek self-aggrandisement, criminality, “the drudgery of everyday life, work and office politics [ [http://vpinterviews.blogspot.com/2005/04/scaramanga-six-wrath-records.html 'Vanity Project' interview with Steven Morricone] , retrieved October 11, 2008] ”, and human/animal behaviourism.

Steven Morricone has commented “A lot of the lyrical content is designed to draw the listener in and empathise with the characters mentioned, or sung from the point of view of – whether they be real, exaggerated or fictional (sometimes it’s hard to distinguish). For that reason we might come across (as) misogynistic, cruel or self-obsessed, which of course is all rubbish. Inspiration for lyrics can often come from people we see milling about trying to live their lives amongst severe futility and obstacles (usually self-made). There’s a lot of our frustrations in there too. People like Scott Walker, Elvis Costello, Andy Partridge etc were all good at this approach – and also managed to get enough pop hooks in too. [ [http://vpinterviews.blogspot.com/2005/04/scaramanga-six-wrath-records.html 'Vanity Project' interview with Steven Morricone] , retrieved October 11, 2008] ”

The band has a strong visual sense reflected in their use of video and their onstage presentation (suits, ties, a tendency to stare out audiences and a Mafia-style “confrontational family” manner).

Origins (Scaramanga)

Chief songwriters and fraternal twin brothers Paul Morricone (vocals, guitar, saxophone) and Steven Morricone (vocals, bass, keyboards, saxophone) were born in Weston-super-Mare, UK. They spent their formative years absorbing a mixture of The Stranglers and Tony Bennett, resulting in the discovery that “there was much fun to be had in crooning and shouting in equal measures. [http://www.thescaramangasix.co.uk/ - Scaramanga Six biography on homepage] ”

The brothers went to university in Yorkshire and remained in Huddersfield after graduation. In 1995, they formed the band Scaramanga with guitarist Bill Bailey, also recruiting John Gulliver, alias "Chester Valentino" (keyboards) and Emma Calvert (vocals, percussion and drums). This line-up (bolstered by drummer Jem Bowden) recorded the demo cassette "Tetsura" (two of the songs on the tape, “Choking” and “Ladies And Gentlemen” would later appear on subsequent recordings).

Calvert left in late spring 1996 to be replaced by Julia Arnez (vocals, guitar), with whom the band recorded another demo tape called "Big Themes And Incidental Music" and another recording called "Stereo Car Chase". (Evidence on the Scaramanga Six homepage - an inlay scan - also suggests that another cassette mini-album was produced, called "The Liar The Bitch And Her Wardrobe", although it is not mentioned in the homepage biography. None of the tracks on the inlay match the subsequent album of the same name. [http://www.thescaramangasix.co.uk/history_1996.html 1996 biography page] on Scaramanga Six homepage] )

In late 1997, the band recorded a split single for Double Plus records with Slot Jockey (the Scaramanga contribution being “Vamp”, co-sung/screamed by Arnez and Steven Morricone). Scaramanga gigged in Northern England for another year and a half before renaming themselves The Scaramanga Six.

1999 to 2001 – early Scaramanga Six

The debut Scaramanga Six album - "The Liar The Bitch And Her Wardrobe" – was released in spring 1999 on the band’s own label, Trinity Records (later to metamorphose into Wrath Records). Mostly recorded as a live-in-the-studio session, the album also included “Vamp” and several songs which would later be improved and re-recorded for later releases ( “Poison Fang”, “The Coward” and “Horrible Face” on the "Cabin Fever" album and “Singer Of Songs” for the "…Continuing Saga…" EP).

At this point, Julia Arnez wrote songs, played guitar and sang almost as many lead vocals as the Morricone brothers. On subsequent records she would concentrate (by choice) on guitar and harmony vocals, and would not participate in the writing.

By summer 1999 James Agnew (a cousin of the Morricone brothers) had replaced Bowden on drums, and Jenny “Jet” Harris (guitar, keyboards, ex-Chest) joined a year later in summer 2000. Bill Bailey left the band during the 2001 sessions for the “Are You One Of The Family?” EP (the debut Wrath Records release in April 2001) which began to gain the band attention in underground publications across Britain (and featured a re-recording of “Ladies And Gentlemen” from the band’s first demo tape).

2002 – progress and change

The band released another strong EP, “The Continuing Saga Of The Scaramanga Six” in January 2002, with the driving "Pressure Cage" as the lead song. The EP featured several inventive video clips directed by Paul Morricone, whose day job was as a film and television director/editor. (He had helped to establish Poison Pen Films - affiliated to Metro Films in Leeds - which would handle all future Scaramanga Six video work). In September 2002, the band released a split single with Les Flames, contributing the song “You Do, You Die”.

The second Scaramanga Six album "Strike! Up The Band" was released in November 2002 and compiled various tracks from the last few EPs and singles as well as new tracks. It was described by Rock Sound as “retro-rock with panache… as raw as scraping your knuckles on a cheese-grater. [ [http://www.thescaramangasix.co.uk/history.html Rock Sound review of "Strike Up The Band"] stored on history page on Scaramanga Six homepage, retrieved October 11th, 2008] ” It would also be the last time (to date) when The Scaramanga Six would match their name and appear as a sextet.

The band’s determination had masked severe line-up problems - the band’s stubborn determination to remain independent and self-financing required working at day jobs, some of which reinforced the band’s work and some of which did not. John Gulliver (who had had to leave and rejoin the band several times over the past two years, becoming something of a “floating member”) finally left for good in 2002, followed by Jenny Harris (who took up a career in arts administration [ [http://www.thehubuk.com/jenny-harris Jenny Harris page] at the Hub homepage] ). Finally, James Agnew left in order to move to Australia.

The remaining band members soldiered on, recruiting Stephen Gilchrist (ex- [http://www.southern.net/southern/band/QUINT/biog.html Quint] , Boney M) on drums.

2003 - consolidation

The band toured in February 2003 to promote "Strike! Up The Band" (with Jenny Harris helping out on keyboards at a couple of gigs). Following the tour the band settled as a four-piece of the Morricone brothers, Arnez and Gilchrist (with Steven Morricone doubling on both bass and keyboard at future live gigs).

At this point, the Scaramanga Six began a fruitful (and ongoing) collaboration with producer Tim Smith (leader of Cardiacs), beginning regular recording sessions at Smith’s Wiltshire studios. Steven Morricone has commented “we really found a real kindred spirit with Tim – he really seemed to instinctively know what we were after. No idea was too ridiculous or too elaborate – he was up for all sorts of bold production ideas. [ [http://vpinterviews.blogspot.com/2005/04/scaramanga-six-wrath-records.html 'Vanity Project' interview with Steven Morricone] , retrieved October 11, 2008] ”

By the end of 2003, the band had recorded most of their next album, but had parted company with Stephen Gilchrist (who left to work with Graham Coxon and to concentrate on his own band Stuffy/The Fuses). He was replaced as drummer by Ant Sargeant, a musician poached from a Queen tribute band (who also added high backing vocals to the band’s live set [ [http://vpinterviews.blogspot.com/2005/04/scaramanga-six-wrath-records.html 'Vanity Project' interview with Steven Morricone] , retrieved October 11, 2008] ).

In December 2003, the band released another split single (with Beachbuggy), contributing “The Poison Pen”.

2004 to present day

The third Scaramanga Six album, "Cabin Fever", was released in April 2004, receiving rave reviews in the underground press. Trakmarx stated "The Scaramanga Six have talent, taste & humour in spades - all they need now is your patronage" while Gigwise commented that "Cabin Fever" makes you laugh, stroke your imaginary goatee, dance like a frog on E and shit your pants in one hearing." [ [http://www.thescaramangasix.co.uk/history.html various reviews of "Cabin Fever"] stored on history page on Scaramanga Six homepage, retrieved October 11th, 2008] The band toured around the UK and released two singles from the album - “We Rode The Storm” (November 2004) and “Horrible Face” (May 2005 - the latter another re-recording of a "…Liar…" song).

At around this time, The Scaramanga Six became a quintet when Chris Catalyst was brought into the band. A well-known multi-instrumentalist and man-of-a-thousand bands (including The Sisters Of Mercy, AntiProduct, The Tanks With Wings and Wildhearts spin-offs The God Damn Whores and Clam Abuse, plus his own Robochrist project) he could cover keyboards, second drum set and backing vocals (plus occasional bass and trombone), greatly expanding the band’s live potential.

In November 2005, the band revealed new material with the release of “I Wear My Heart On My Sleeve”, the Scaramanga Six half of a split single (with Me Against Them).

With Sargeant now replaced on drums by “Maraca” Gareth Champion, the band’s fourth album "The Dance Of Death" was released in January 2007. It was their most accomplished and coherent release to date, and produced the singles “Baggage” (August 2006) and a re-released “I Wear My Heart On My Sleeve” (November 2007).

In May 2008 The Scaramanga Six released a brand new single - “Walking Through Houses” - and announced the title of their upcoming fifth album - "A Pound Of Flesh".

Related Projects

The Morricone brothers have several musical side projects. As well as their occasional acoustic duo The Disclaimers, they have two ongoing collaborative projects with ex-Landspeed Loungers songwriter Dave Cooke - the song-based Being 747 and its alter-ego From Amoeba to Zebra (the latter designed specifically as a schools educational project to teach children about natural history and evolution). Steven Morricone also plays saxophone in Leeds psychedelic band Kava Kava.

Chris Catalyst maintains a solo project, Robochrist, as well as continuing his work with The Sisters Of Mercy, AntiProduct and Napoleon IIIrd. He also writes and plays in Eureka Machines, in which he's joined by Steven Morricone.

Paul Morricone continues to maintain a parallel successful career with Poison Pen Films and has created music video clips for The Young Knives, Graham Coxon, The Holloways, The Pigeon Detectives, Larrikin Love, Marvin, The Whip, The Go Team, Little Man Tate, iLIKETRAiNS, Cold War Kids, Forward Russia, Gallows and Polytechnic as well as viral animations for The Charlatans.

Discography

As The Scaramanga Six:

Albums:

"The Liar The Bitch And Her Wardrobe" (1999, Trinity Records)

"Strike! Up The Band" (2002, Wrath Records)

"Cabin Fever" (2004, Wrath Records)

"The Dance Of Death" (2007, Wrath Records)

"A Pound Of Flesh" (forthcoming, Wrath Records)

ingles and EPs

“Are You One Of The Family?” EP (2001, Wrath Records)

“The Continuing Saga Of The Scaramanga Six” EP (2002, Wrath Records)

“You Do, You Die” (2002, Wrath Records – split single with Les Flames)

“The Poison Pen” (2003, Wrath Records – split single with Beachbuggy)

“We Rode The Storm” (2004, Wrath Records)

“Horrible Face” (2005, Wrath Records)

“I Wear My Heart On My Sleeve” (2005, Wrath Records – split single with Me Against Them)

“Baggage” (2006, Wrath Records)

“I Wear My Heart On My Sleeve” (2007, Wrath Records – re-release of previous release with new B-sides)

“Walking Through Houses” (2008, Wrath Records)

As Scaramanga:

"Tetsuya" (1995, privately released demo tape)

"Big Themes And Incidental Music" (1996, privately released demo tape)

"The Liar, The Bitch And Her Wardrobe" (1996, privately released demo tape, entirely different to later album with same title - not confirmed in biography text)

“Vamp” (1997, Double Plus Records – split single with Slot Jockey)

References

External links

[http://www.thescaramangasix.co.uk/ The Scaramanga Six homepage]

[http://www.myspace.com/thescaramangasix The Scaramanga Six @ MySpace]

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVWHuV0rLsM "I Wear My Heart On My Sleeve" music video] @ YouTube

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CyYRZ5Gy70&feature=related "Pressure Cage" music video] @ YouTube

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0AXSDPFQhs "Walking Through Houses" music video] @ YouTube

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wi-y2qZ0fxQ&feature=related "We Rode The Storm" music video] @ YouTube

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wdAGOTwh2k&feature=user "The Poison Pen" music video] @ YouTube


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