Will Sergeant songwriter and guitarist with Echo & The Bunnymen has recorded music and performed world-wide for over thirty years. He has produced solo and collaborative works since the 1980’s including both national and international artistic projects.
Sergeant recently held his first solo art exhibition “My Own Worst Enemy” at The Penny Lane Gallery in Liverpool, UK. Next month the artist will be making his U.S. debut of “My Own Worst Enemy” in Los Angeles at Substrate Fine Art Gallery. FAULT had the pleasure of speaking with Sergeant about his creative process, inspirations and what viewers can look forward at his L.A. art opening this May 2012.
FAULT: Hi Will how are you?
Will: Hi Fault I’m very well and excited to be showing in LA.
FAULT: What are some of the inspirations behind your work?
Will: I have been a fan of art all my life. As a kid, a trip to the Walker Art Gallery was essential. I was in Liverpool centre, I loved the atmosphere, the stillness and smell. It grips you forever.
I always liked the modern art rooms so much better than the rooms with huge paintings of The Duke of Wellington or some old King. I can appreciate the skill behind the work.I can see the time and the patience that goes into such a masterpiece, but I’m afraid they generally leave me cold and unmoved. In the same way that say a classical guitarist can play amazingly technically well, that’s great but not for me. I need something a bit less.
I have always been into the more abstract elemental works as this allows your imagination to build its own meaning from what you can see. In art, I like pieces that ask a question or leave you wondering what was going on in the mind of the artist.
What you are drawn to, tends to seep into your psyche and in time gets to filter through into your own work. It is the same with music. I always go for things that are not that palatable. More extreme, the jagged and the downright weird. I don’t know why it just is, that’s the way I am.
FAULT: How would you describe your aesthetic and painting methods, and is there any relation to methods of creating music?
Will: I make music mostly in an experimental way. I like to create new sounds by using effects and hitting the strings with different things. Pieces of metal, pens, etc. I will use whatever is necessary to achieve my desired goal. I am always on the hunt for a new tone.
I start to play my guitar without the faintest idea of where it will lead. I very seldom pick up an instrument and think I will try and sound like such and such today, I never learn how to play other people’s songs, I have no interest in this.
I just start and see what appears. I generally am able to find something that interests me. I can then develop and expand the idea. And then when it has some sort of form, it can sometimes remind me of something that I like and that will add to the mix and lead me another way. It’s kind of an organic, organised chaos.
When I paint, it’s a similar process and the experimentations continue. Just like guitar sounds I like to see what the paint will do if treat it in different ways.
This is not a hard fast rule. The only rule is no rules really, and I will start sometimes with an idea of what I am after. I will have a sort of plan.
As with ’21st Century Fallen,’ I wanted to comment on the fact that we are now in the 21st century. All my life the 21st century was a sci-fi dreamworld and now it’s here, it’s the same old shit. The world is governed by people wielding a big stick, stealing from someone else with a smaller stick who is in-turn stealing from someone with an even smaller stick. The whole thing is a bit pathetic at this stage in the game. ’21st Century Fallen’ depicts a fallen distorted cross representing for want of a better word ‘civilisation’. We (mankind) could have got it right but I’m afraid humanity has no chance. I was going to make a sequel ’21st Century Risen’ as a glimmer of hope, then realised it was not going to happen, and changed the title to ‘Dream On’. It’s bright and garish and a little bit over the top.
FAULT: You’ve received much critical acclaim for your artwork over the years, what made you ready at this point in your career to have your first major art show?
Will: I have performed at a few sound art events over the years and been involved with the performing side of art with my friend and collaborator Prof Colin Fallows from the John Moores University in Liverpool.
I created a sound art Cassette tape in 1978 before I even knew there was such a thing as sound art.
I have always been into making stuff just for my own entertainment but never thought it would be considered any good so kept it to myself, until now. I usually say “no” to things and I just thought “yes” for a change.
FAULT: You recently had your first one-man art exhibit at the Penny Lane Gallery in Liverpool, can you tell us how that came about?
Will: A friend of mine in Liverpool ‘Howard be thy Name’ had a friend that was opening a new gallery on Penny Lane on the outskirts of Liverpool. He told me that the gallery Owner ‘Christine’ loved my work, she had seen it online and would like me to be the opening show. The great thing about it for me was she’s not a Bunnymen fan. She just liked the art.
I know I will never get away from the Bunnymen Tag but it’s nice to have something that is mine alone.
I said “yes” and have opened up a new chapter in my life that I am enjoying equally as much as when I started to make music.
FAULT: Why did you choose “My Own Worst Enemy” as the theme for this exhibition?
Will: My mind seems to have a mind of its own, beyond my control. I seem to be great at having people perceive me the wrong way. We have made so many bad moves over the years. I decided to call the show ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ because I am.
FAULT: You’ll be debuting “My Own Worst Enemy” at Substrate Fine Art Studio in Los Angeles this spring 2012, how did you come into contact with the Gallery?
Will: A collector of my work and friend of my art cause knew I was looking to find somewhere in the States to do a show. They got to hear about Substrate via Sean from the Flies who knew Ramses had put on a show of Natty Brooker’s work and thought I may fit in. Natty was responsible for the Spacemen 3’s art. I love the Spacemen 3 and all that drone/space rock stuff. In fact, I have just moved into a new studio over the weekend. I was painting this morning and had my iTunes on shuffle and it hit me with a ton of Spacemen and Spectrum tunes as I worked. Back to your question. They checked it out and put me in touch with Ramses and we chatted via email and the phone. We came up with a plan we both liked and that was that. I cannot wait.
FAULT: What can viewers and supporters of both your music and artwork look forward to at the exhibit?
Will: I just hope they enjoy the art and take something away with them to remember. I will be in LA for a few days prior to the show and hope to get to a few galleries myself.
FAULT: What is your FAULT?
Will: It’s my Fault that I never had the confidence to pursue my visual artistic leanings earlier. But it’s OK I’m over it.
Will Sergeant’s debute”My Own Worst Enemy”will be on exhibition from May 18th until June 16th at Substrate Fine Art Gallery in Los Angeles. For more information please see below: