By the end of 2001, I’d perfected a rather strange studio set-up, writing my initial music on the PlayStation2 (by now I had upgraded to the vastly superior MTV Music Generator), then painstakingly transferring each instrument track to a PC via audio cables, adding effects from a program called Sound Forge and remixing them in a film editing program. It was fiddly and time-consuming but, crucially, not as expensive as buying dedicated music software.
The big change I made in 2002 was adding vocals. Gary Le Strange started out as a five-minute segment in a sketch show I did with Simon Farnaby called Peterford Golf Club. It was a 1980s music parody, yes, so not meant to be taken too seriously, but it was still massively important for me because it was the first time I properly married my stage comedy act with my interest in music. And because of that, it was the first time I was able to perform my music in public. This was, as far as I’m concerned, one of the three best decisions I have ever made.
You can read more about Le Strange here and here but the essential story is that the 5-minute segment grew into a more solid act and then into an hour-long show which did very well at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2003. I even made a little album to go with it, a self-released CD called Polaroid Suitcase which featured New Romantic songs like Is My Toaster Sentient? and Grey.
This had a very good effect on my career. Gary was a hot comedy property for at least a year and, for the first time, people were listening to my music. Of course it was all done in a comedy context, but it was always important to me to make sure the music was as good as it could possibly be.
This ended up being the greatest strength of the act and, naturally, the thing that also killed it. Being so busy meant that, while I wanted Gary’s second show to be bigger and better in every way, I had little time to do it in and everything had to be a last-minute compromise. So although I did manage to record and release a second album, Face Academy, it wasn’t as widely loved as the first. And when I tried to take longer over the third, the weight of expectation on my part caused the whole thing to collapse and, over the course of the next few years, Gary Le Strange died a long, slow, painful death until I eventually stopped doing it.
Or at least that’s one way of looking at it. Another way is that I evolved from a hopeful nobody into a professional guy with an interesting career, that my music-making ability improved in range and depth (not least when I ditched the PlayStation and started working with Cubase), and that along the way, I made three albums, won two awards, and was offered the chance to find out what it might have felt like to be a pop star instead of a comedian. Even if he couldn’t play his own instruments.
This page represents a small sample of Gary's work. If you want to see him while he sings, you may want to try these videos.
Of course, after I first created this website, Gary started to make a slow comeback. All his albums are now available to buy as downloads (including a truncated version of the abandoned Glamoronica, which has bizarrely ended up being the most popular of the lot). Even better, Gary started recording new songs, even new videos to go with them. Naturally I still have to earn a living, so the releases are slow. I live in hope that one day there will be more...
Aliens Took My Stereo (demo) 2005 (vocal recorded 2006)
A song from the doomed Glamoronica project, demoed for Avalon's Radio 2 show Out to Lunch, this is a song about a man who is clearly deluded but obviously doesn’t know he is, which describes my own state of mind at the time pretty well.
Oui Monsieur Papillon 2005
The first song I wrote for Gary’s third album Beef Scarecrow. It’s not very funny but it isn’t really aiming to be - the idea was just to record whatever came into my head as soon as possible. It didn’t make the album but, to me, this is the sound of freedom.
Dead Men Don’t Cry (backing track) 2005
A track from the sessions for Gary’s third album, Glamoronica, and one of the first things I made using Cubase. There were lyrics, about a ghost who can’t cry because he doesn’t have eyes, but I hated them. Feel free to invent your own.
The Chinese Ghost of Christmas 2003
One of the few originals I wrote for The Day the Music Died. The idea was that Gary was trying to tap into the “lucrative Chinese Christmas market” and released this single as a result. Didn’t realise how much I liked it till I started singing it live.
What Love Is (original version) 2003
An early version of What Love Is from Face Academy. I thought it was a little sluggish at the time so I sped it up, added a new middle eight and raised it to a key I couldn't sing it in. In retrospect, I think I prefer this doom-laden, synth-heavy mix.
Electric Dance (backing track) 2004
The most intricate of the backing tracks on 2004's Face Academy, this one features a particularly crazy Mick Karn-inspired bassline - quite a programming feat for a piece that was written entirely on a PlayStation2. The lyrics are here.
Limey in the Big Apple (backing track) 2005
Another unused track from the Glamoronica sessions, which starts out as a Duran Duran pastiche but veers off into King Crimsonesque territory in the middle. Never finished the lyrics for this - feel free to make up your own!
Is My Toaster Sentient? (backing track) 2003
Gary Numan-inspired electro-rock anthem. I tried my best to emulate the sound he made on Replicas and The Pleasure Principle but just couldn't do the guitars on a PlayStation2. The lyrics are here if you want to sing along.
From the dark days of yore
Gary Le Strange
The Byronic Lord of Pop
For TV, radio & stage
Experimental & Personal
For my own pleasure
Music to laugh at
A Musical CV