The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Mark Wynn
More Singles But They're Not Really Singles I Just Sent Them To The Screen And Said They Were Singles Singles JR Moores , July 5th, 2017 16:08

Let's say you've been to see Sleaford Mods within the last three years or so. Let's say you arrived in time to see the support slot instead of sipping real ale in the boozer round the corner from the venue in the hope that the headliners might wander in for a pre-gig beverage and you could get your rare first pressing of Austerity Dogs signed by Jason Williamson and the quiet one with the laptop. In the former case, you might have caught opener Mark Wynn who has supported the 'Mods on several UK and European dates of late. You might have seen him remove most (maybe all) of his clothes and slink his contorted skinny frame around the stage, roll around on the floor, wave a pool cue in your face or place a bar stool on his head like some kind of Iggy Pop franchise scheme. Alternatively, you might have seen him subvert the onstage rock-god striptease by putting on layer after layer of additional clothing. (And then abandon that notion when he got a bit hot.)

You might have caught him actually playing guitar a bit like one of those normal singer-songwriters who are everywhere these days, only in place of crooning about unconditional love or performing a quirkily low-key rendition of some Katy Perry banger for lucrative Live Lounge potential, Wynn would've been yelping phrases he'd overheard while glass collecting in The Nag's Head on Micklegate. Instead of bothering with the intricacies of the guitar, this unhinged maverick might have played one of his backing tracks through the PA and shouted over the top of that. It's likely he'd have then played 'John I'm Only Dancing' over the PA and shouted over the top of David Bowie too. "ANYONE WANNA COME DANCE WITH ME? ANYONE WANNA COME DANCE WITH ME? JOHN, FUCK OFF, I'M ONLY DANCING. JOHN! JOHN! JOHN! BOLLOCKS, BOLLOCKS, BOLLOCKS. TOUCH ME! GO ON, JOHN! TOUCH ME!" That's how you do a proper cover version. You might even have been lucky enough to see Mr Wynn lather up and have a shave in front of an audience of bemused French people. "I'm getting paid for this," he'll have announced proudly, with only the mildest hint of disbelief.

Wynn's live shows are a cross between watching a flamboyant lo-fi musician, fearless performance artist, wry northern poet, and one of those free shows at the Edinburgh Fringe when you're not sure whether what is happening is meant to be happening or whether the surreal comic performer is in the midst of a psychological collapse (admittedly that's always been the best kind of Fringe show). Indeed, one of the songs on this latest compilation is inspired by a man who described Wynn's music as "George Formby on a breakdown" and that's not a bad summary of his ramshackle one-man garage racket. It says something about Mark Wynn's own mental stability that on a fairly regular basis Mark Wynn breaks up and then subsequently reforms Mark Wynn.

Wynn's recorded output is less confrontationally peculiar than the live shows, although it is equally stimulating. Following last year's compilation of singles which weren't really singles comes his second compilation of singles which weren't really singles. This one has almost identical artwork to the first, only with different text and stripes scribbled over top of the photographs of Wynn so it looks like he's wearing a football shirt. I'm told this has already caused confusion at the post-gig merch table where Wynn has struggled to convince returning customers that they don't already own this second anthology of not-singles.

Second instalments often contain inferior material like The Best Of UB40 Volume II or the execrable Babe 2: Pig In The City but that isn't the case here. Titles this time include 'I'm Mint Man Me Man Yeah Yeah', 'Day Trip To Heckmondwicke' and the unsurpassable 'I Once Fingered A Girl Who Had Rejected Rick Witter In Glasgow's Art School Bar'. Lyrically, Wynn covers a comprehensive array of issues which plumb the depths of the modern existential experience including Lauren Laverne's People's Playlist, tooth decay, shop queues, bus routes, William Burroughs ("he looked good in a full-length coat"), purchasing Rizlas, watching Kes on DVD, briefly questioning one's sexuality while looking at pictures of Slash in Total Guitar Magazine and playing along to 'Nightrain', attempts to master punctuation, the perpetual shoes-or-trainers dilemma, wanking into a thermal sock and illicitly remembering the words of books in Waterstones without having to pay for them.

"Who the fuck put the dance tent next to the acoustic stage and why the hell am I on after John Otway at one in the morning?" he asks at one point and with that single line offers more food for thought than anything Rag'n'Bone Man's ever put out. That's just the tip of Wynn's observational iceberg but we can't sit around here just quoting him all day long. Barring that, let's just leave you with one more nugget of the Wynn kid's wisdom, yelped out in the middle of a song called 'Boys Don't Cry (Massive Turn On)' which has few similarities to The Cure: "I wanna go to Filey!" "There's nothing there!" "Exactly!"