Updated: Feb 5, 2020
Following the success of The Gritterman in 2017 at Union Chapel in London, the show made a much welcome return in December 2018, with not just two shows in London, but also a very special appearance at the iconic Albert Hall in Manchester.
For those who are not familiar, The Gritterman is the creation of the extremely talented Orlando Weeks. Better known for his time as frontman in the phenomenal band The Maccabees, The Gritterman, his debut book, saw Orlando combine his three main passions – writing, illustration and music.
With only a few weeks to go for the shows, we caught up with Orlando himself more about the world of The Gritterman.
A pleasure to speak to you Orlando - tell us how the weeks leading up to The Gritterman shows this December have been so far?
Pleasure to speak to you too... it’s been a mixture of Gritterman rehearsals and time in the studio working on and finishing a new album.
This November sees the book released on paperback - that must feel pretty special right?
It does. In some ways I think I prefer the size and shape of the paperback. I like that it’s now the same size as my copy of Ethel And Earnest which is a book that’s very close to my heart. That and it has the very special Briggs quote on the cover which tickles me every time I see it.
Most people will know you for your time in the Maccabees, but you also have a passion for art. What is it about art that truly inspires you?
I like ‘making’ in general. I get very twitchy if I haven’t had time to work on something or other and if I can’t be at the piano or an equivalent then finding somewhere to write bits or draw gives me equal satisfaction. I figure all art feeds into all art. I’m as likely to find something to trigger a good idea for a lyric in a book of photography or a film as I am in other songs.
How do you feel that inspiration influenced you as an illustrator?
Occasionally it’d come along and give me an alternative idea when I’d gotten fed up trying to draw something that I couldn’t get to work. So I suppose it gives me hope. A way out of a dead end.
A piece of art is equally as powerful as telling a story as well as lyrics to a song. Would you agree?
I think that perhaps because of the use of music in TV and film, I feel more conditioned to become tearful as a result of certain songs or song lyrics. I know certain bits of music make me cry but I can’t think of a piece of visual art (excluding film and TV) that has that effect on me. But triggers for laughter, anger, joy etc ... or any of the other emotional responses, I’m as likely to get from any of the various mediums.
Was there anything in particular you wanted to put across about who the Gritterman was as a person?
I wanted his love and commitment for a seemingly unlovable job to be admirable and for his stoicism and good natured-ness to be charming. I wanted him to feel like a genuine character so that the songs, which I see as his internal monologue, could be more surreal and romantic in their outlook.
What was it like taking the concept of the Gritterman and bringing it to life as a live show?
I was working with wonderful people so surprisingly easy. I wrote it all with a vague idea of it being something that might be performable or adapted into other forms.
You will also have comedian Paul Whitehouse on board to play the leading role of The Gritterman. What are you looking most forward to about working with Paul?
Paul is the voice of the Gritterman. He does it beautifully on the album and equally brilliantly live. He stole the show last year as you’d expect. He’s a fantastic actor and very generous as a collaborator. I’m so lucky to have him as part of this project.
The shows this December will take place in both London and also Manchester. What was it about those cities in particular that made you feel that they were great locations to showcase these special shows?
I’m hoping in the future we’ll be able to bring the live show to more cities but I felt like last year’s show at the Union Chapel in London was special enough that I wanted to do that again and I think Manchester Albert Hall as a venue has that certain magic too. So for our first foray out of my home town it felt like an ideal venue. I’m really looking forward to it.
Article By Thushara
Answers By Orland Weeks