The Monochrome Set were an English post-punk band originally formed in 1978 from the remnants of a college group called The B-Sides (whose members had included Stuart Goddard, a.k.a. Adam Ant ). The band is notable for its witty lyrics, the laconic delivery of lead singer Bid, and the idiosyncratically retrogressive playing style of original lead guitarist Lester Square.
The original line-up consisted of Indian born lead singer and principal songwriter Bid (real name Ganesh Seshadri), Canadian guitarist Lester Square (real name Thomas W.B. Hardy), drummer John D. Haney, and bassist Charlie Harper. The band went through several bassists in the next few years, including Jeremy Harrington, and Andy Warren of the Ants, a childhood friend of Bid.
Experimental filmmaker Tony Potts began collaborating with the band in 1979, designing lighting and stage sets with film projections for their live appearances. The band's early persona was defined by the shadowy, uncertain stage images created by the films to such an extent he is often described as being the band's "fifth member."
They released several singles for the Rough Trade label before recording their debut album, "Strange Boutique", produced by Bob Sargeant, for Virgin Records' imprint DinDisc in 1980, as well as their follow-up effort, Love Zombies, produced by Alvin Clark and the band later that same year. John Haney left the band in 1981 and was replaced by Lexington Crane.
In 1982, the band switched labels to Cherry Red to release their third full-length album, Eligible Bachelors, produced by Tim Hart. Lester Square and Lexington Crane left soon afterwards, and were replaced by keyboardist Carrie Booth and drummer Nicholas Weslowski. This line-up recorded 1982 single Cast a Long Shadow, for Cherry Red before Booth was in turn replaced by new lead guitarist James 'Foz' Foster.
In 1983, Cherry Red released Volume, Contrast, Brilliance... sessions & singles vol. 1, a retrospective of the band's early Rough Trade singles, BBC and Capital Radio sessions, and other unreleased early sessions.
In 1985, with the same line-up as on Cast a Long Shadow, The Monochrome Set recorded the relatively mainstream album The Lost Weekend for major label Warner Bros. Records. The Lost Weekend failed commercially, and after a few singles, the band officially broke up, though they served as Jessica Griffin's backing band on the first album by the Would-Be-Goods, The Camera Loves Me.
In early 1990, Bid, Lester Square and Andy Warren reformed the band, with the addition of keyboardist Orson Presence and drummer Mike Slocombe (who was quickly replaced by Trevor Ready). The new band toured extensively--especially in Japan, where Bid had become a major star.
The band released several low-key albums for Cherry Red Records during the 1990s, and has been on hiatus since 1998, though Bid has since recorded a number of albums with his new band, Scarlet's Well.
Anniversary Edition The band reformed on 8th October 2008 for a one-off performance at the Cherry Red 30th Anniversary party at Dingwalls, London. This also marked 30 years of The Monochrome Set. Bid, Andy Warren and Lester Square were joined by Jennifer Denitto (drums) and Sian Dada (keyboards) of Scarlet's Well, and performed 13 songs.