BOUNDER & CAD, the comedy duo who write their own songs on topical matters as well as re-writing the lyrics of standard numbers, are appearing at The Pheasantry in London’s Chelsea on Wednesday 18 January. The funny pair, otherwise known as Guy Hayward and Adam Drew, explain what they get up to in their show called Warning: Implicit Content.
You met at Cambridge in a university choir, but how did you start out as a duo?
We discovered we were both Sinatra fans – and heard that performers got free tickets to the college balls at the end of exam term – so we formed a two-man Rat Pack, backed by a jazz trio, to sing the standards to our bedraggled friends at 4am. Then, at a loose end on a long train journey, Adam wrote a parody of ‘Prince Ali’ (on the theme of Prince Harry) which we started performing – and it all went from there.
Had you taken part in the student shows at Cambridge, in perhaps the Footlights revues?
Yes, we both sang in student opera (including one production that toured to Venice’s Santa Maria dei Miracoli – a church that looks like it’s made of Stilton). Adam also acted in plays, and indeed wrote his first comic song (about a very sultry whale) for a Footlights show.
Where did the idea of writing your own topical songs come from?
Through another opera production (by Shadwell Opera) we met Kit Hesketh-Harvey (formerly of Kit & the Widow – and now Kit & McConnel) who’d written the very witty translation of the Magic Flute libretto that was used. We then went to see him perform his satirical songs at the Pheasantry and enjoyed them so much we thought we’d have a go at our own.
What sort of subjects do you choose to write about – such as Brexit, elections or Donald Trump, for instance – or do you keep them more general and timeless?
Some subjects we just choose if the premise seems fun – our song about midweek drinking, or our ‘cheesy’ song (about cheese)– then others we are commissioned to do – a song about tennis for a party in Wimbledon, another about picnics for a charity gala in a garden, etc.
As for topical themes, we do reference Brexit and Trump in our latest number (our updated ‘Let’s Do It’) but indeed we try to choose more timeless topics, otherwise songs can pass their sell-by date (but a song about cheese hopefully matures…).
Who writes the lyrics and who writes the music?
Adam writes the lyrics – but most of the ideas come out of (often very rambling) conversations with Guy – and he writes the music for the original numbers too, with the patient help of our far more musically competent pianists (Chris McMurran and Ben Comeau).
You have had some fairly high profile venues such as 10 Downing Street and Highclere Castle. Has that been a problem with censorship perhaps, with ‘Me and My Shadow’ for the PM and Disney’s ‘Prince Ali’ for Harry?
Well… our version of ‘Me and My Shadow’ about Cameron and Clegg for the Downing Street Christmas party had to be vetted by the PM’s aides. They said it was ‘too close to the bone’ and ‘not to be performed’ – but after Mr Cameron had left the party, that ruling seemed to change They were calling us ‘The Pussy Riot of Whitehall’.
We were also performing at a rather smart lunch party recently and we were told not to sing our Prince Harry song because his aunt was there. Then we did a pretty risqué number, ‘Downt‘n’ Dirty: 50 Shades of Earl Grey’, for the party at Highclere, but I think we got away with that…
Noel Coward famously parodied Cole Porter’s ‘Let’s Do It’ – have you done any Coward parodies?
It was actually hearing that Coward parody which inspired our version of ‘Let’s Do It’ – so I suppose that was us parodying Coward parodying Porter?! But with lines like “[they bowed] to Mrs. Wentworth-Brewster/Said ‘Scusi’, and abruptly goosed her”, Coward is fearsomely good and hard to touch.
You perform in cabaret, for dance sets and bespoke arrangements for private parties. What sort of audiences do you get? Are they young or old or a mix of all ages?
The private bookings are mostly from people our parents’ age – but we did recently perform at a 30th at the nightclub Maggie’s, which was fun. Then we get more of a mix at our public shows, and we’re hoping to get our work out to a wider audience by doing radio spots, our shows at Zédel, Pheasantry etc.
Are you planning to record any of your songs?
All 17 of our original songs so far are on our YouTube, but mostly as live recordings – so maybe we should think about putting a studio album together…
You seem to have a good few dates for 2017, so is your appointment diary fairly full for the foreseeable future?
After the Pheasantry, we’re performing at Live at Zedel on 29 March and 27 April. We’ve got a few private bookings too, but we’re always open to offers – and we’re really up for doing more public shows in small theatres etc.
How often do you change your material or do you have enough repertoire to fit any occasion?
We usually do have enough material, but we like to keep things fresh (even though it’s pretty labour-intensive). We’ve also been wanting to do an opera spoof, and we’re thinking the ‘Flower Duet’ could be amusing. We’ve vowed to have it finished in time for the Pheasantry – so do come and catch the premiere!
* Bounder & Cad presents Warning: Implicit Content! at The Pheasantry, King’s Road, Chelsea, London SW3 on Wednesday 18 January.