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Since their conception at the end of the 2000s, neo-cabaret duo Bourgeois And Maurice have needed little more than a piano and some fabulous costumes to stage a show.
But for the first of their two shows at Fringe pop-up venue The Warren, the London duo is bringing their new band out of the capital for the first time.
“We have done a lot of music festivals as just the two of us, getting drowned out by bands on other stages,” says George Heyworth, better known as singer Bourgeois.
“The Soho Theatre gave us space for three days to trial a band. The four-piece gives a new energy to the show – the loud music pushes us to go a little bit further.”
The pair are currently working on their long-awaited third album, with the band helping them out in the studio.
“We met the band through friends of friends,” reveals Liv Morris, the beehived pianist Maurice. “They are more traditional musicians, they had never been on the cabaret scene before.
“We do a song about the Leveson Inquiry, and when we put it together our drummer nicknamed it ‘The forbidden drums’ – because he’s able to do these cheesy Phil Collins-type drums he wouldn’t normally be allowed to do.”
“When we started doing it,we didn’t want to freak them out too much,” adds George. “We suggested they could wear rock and roll outfits – but they said they would be up for wearing gimp outfits, getting tattoos and everything. We did two shows on New Year’s Eve where the outfits were pretty wild...”
“They can’t do too much,” points out Liv. “They can’t out look us.”
Bourgeois And Maurice is an outfit where the outfit is king – they won an alternative Eurovision competition two years ago with a song about their own outrageous clobber.
Alongside their dark, camp and gothic look are dark, camp and gothic songs, ranging from declaring war on other fashionistas in Out Outfit You to Ritalin-pushing and the vicious punishments inflicted in Satanic Organic.
Some of those originals have been reworked for the band format, but their newer material has taken a slightly more topical tack.
“For the past year we have become more political,” says Liv. “I think because of what is happening with the financial crisis – things are much more politicised generally.
“I think it’s still quite dark, but maybe a bit nicer.”
“Some of the new stuff seems quite shocking, but almost all of that is taken from things from the papers,” adds George. “‘Privacy for paedos’ is something we picked up from the Leveson Inquiry.
“We used to shy away from comedy, there is a distance between cabaret and comedy, but now we are crossing over more with the comedy circuit.”
It’s underlined by their ...And Friends show, which features alt-cabaret star Jonny Woo alongside comedy circuit regular Dr Brown, who was awarded The Times Best Comedy Newcomer award in 2010.
“Cabaret was a reaction against so many guys who turned up on stage wearing a T-shirt. Cabaret is more theatrical,” says Liv. “It’s often very funny, it’s another type of comedy.
“Our natural sense of humour comes from Julia Davis [creator of black comedy Nighty, Night] and the League Of Gentlemen.
“Bourgeois And Maurice came out of us trying to make each other laugh, then we started thinking of the audience slightly more...”
It has clearly worked. The pair were invited to host a Christmas residency at Sadlers Wells last December, after being spotted at the Edinburgh Fringe and Latitude Festivals in 2010.
“We said: ‘You realise we can’t dance at all?’” says Liv.
“We wrote a show about not being able to dance in one of the biggest dance venues in London. We created videos with the Balletboyz teaching us ballet, and a hip-hop choreographer.
“We also did some avant garde dance with David Hoyle,” adds George. “He was less familiar to the audience, you could see the fear rise in the room – it was a fairly scary video!
“With our shows we had to keep overcoming the problem that Maurice was tied to the piano much of the time, whereas I always moved around a lot on stage. It has given me scope to dance everywhere.”
The rest of the year has seen the pair invited to appear at London’s South Bank as part of the Priceless London Wonderground festival, and they are planning a trip to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, sadly sans band, before heading out to Australia.
And there is another exciting new project on the go too.
“We’ve started working on a musical,” reveals George. “It’s not Bourgeois And Maurice, it’s just us working as composers.
“It’s based around an estate agents – I can’t say much more than that right now...”
BOURGEOIS AND MAURICE... STARTED A BAND
The Warren, Wagner Hall, Russell Place, Brighton, Friday, May 25, 10pm, £12/£11
BOURGEOIS AND MAURICE AND FRIENDS
The Warren, Wagner Hall, Russell Place, Brighton, Saturday, May 26, 10pm, £16.50
For more information, call 01273 917272.
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