One Man Band and Classic Rock disciple Mike Weston is Adult Cinema. A craftsman in both music and life.
Mike’s quest to regenerate this maligned genre has taken this artisan from the workshop to the studio. The attention of Hollywood and the TV industry and the first green shoots of support from a core of determined fans who sought him out one by one, convinced him to down tools and return to the studio.
Likened to the titans of Classic and Prog Rock, the Southend-on-Sea native shunned such comparisons, preferring to reinterpret the genre by incorporating influences from trad jazz, through folk to modern rock and electronica. But his songs also carry the mark of a craftsman – for he is that too. Both in music and as a result of his eclectic upbringing and life experience that taught him to craft songs with the same attention to detail as he did when earning a living with his skilled hands.
In short, Adult Cinema is the sound of a master craftsman decoding and rebuilding Classic Rock.
Imagine that you grew up in a house that contained every conceivable musical instrument and a rebellious jazz sodden guitar making father who could play them all with flair.
If there was also a treasure trove of vintage recording equipment and a bohemian approach to parenting, how do you think you’d turn out?
Probably a lot like Mike Weston.
A musical savant who learnt to play every one of those instruments without knowing how, free of rules on what and how he should learn and who spent his formative years poking, noodling and fiddling with reel to reel tape machines, valve amplifiers and ancient mixing desks.
But this was no privileged and idyllic upbringing.
Mike’s talent and musical accomplishment didn’t lead to the natural conclusion as a life as a professional musician or, perhaps, a rock star.
That wasn’t why he’d become prodigiously talented. He’d played and written because the outlet was there and that was just who he’d become.
So there was no plan.
Mike was born in North London and grew up hearing his father playing clarinet and sax in trad Jazz bands in the smoky pubs and clubs of the less salubrious environs of London. Having an endless cornucopia of musical instruments around the house including guitars, trombones, keyboards, drums and a full brass section as well as an array of recording equipment it was a natural progression for him to pick them up and try to get a tune from them.
His father would then set up an old and wheezing reel to reel tape machine and off he’d go; laying down weird and sometimes wonderful songs.
Mike’s father also made guitars; a luthier whose instruments were used by the greatest living jazz guitarists of the time including icons such as Larry Coryell and Bireli Lagrene. If he wasn’t surrounded by musicality enough already the occasional glimpse through a curtain gap of a legend in his father’s workshop simply served to stoke the fire.
The influence of these musicians and, of course, Django Reinhardt himself, can be heard in the Adult Cinema track ’Time Machine’ and that of the trad jazz influence in the song ‘Witches’ (with Mike’s dad playing in the jazz horn trio that features in the climax).
His father didn’t just give him a love of music, but also the ability to pick up the workshop tools and turn his creative mind to the task of designing and building anything – skills that kept a roof over his head to this day.
Mike’s precocious musical talent saw him start playing live as a whiz kid drummer in his first band even though he’d barely turned 11. The teenagers who’d roped him in on the skins extended his musical universe from his father’s luthier clients and trad jazz ensembles to include The Who, the Sex Pistols, the Jam and anything with a guitar that was powering through the minds of adrenaline fuelled kids in the late 80’s.
After a few years of sneaking into pubs as the entertainment Mike realised that he hadn’t yet found the music that inspired him and he set out to create it alone. He decided that rather than be in a band, what he needed was to be the whole band!
He retreated to a tiny space at the back of his father’s workshop and dragged in anything that could be played to make a sound. In every spare moment he focused his attention on learning to play all the essential instruments to get a rock and roll sound on his own.
The piece that completed Mike’s puzzle and coalesced the Adult Cinema sound came when a neighbour heard him playing and asked if he’d listened to the great classic rock bands of the Sixties and Seventies. Realising an education was required, the neighbour lent Mike box sets of Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.
The lyrical themes of the genre fit with his lifetime of vivid dreaming and the nightmares that had shaped the dark side of Mike’s imagination. Mike’s psyche and that emotional connection felt like a natural fit with the epic nature of the music.
With all the pieces that he’d sought now in alignment, Mike quickly wrote and recorded a series of songs, often in many painstakingly detailed different versions, and very soon found himself recording in the studios of EMI, Island Records and a host of smaller labels as the music business sniffed an opportunity.
Alas, almost all the offers came to nought and, bored of waiting, Mike dreamt up a name for his own label imprint and self-released the songs as his debut album, ‘This Is Your Life’.
Lacking in budget and marketing ‘nous’, and with no online presence, the album failed to set the world alight, although a handful of reviewers gave approving nods, such as this from Joe Clay of The Times , ” A winning blend of Meddle-era Pink Floyd, beguiling psych-folk and classic rock riffing. Mike Weston is an accomplished songwriter and musician who deserves a wider audience.”
Nonetheless, one small deal that remained on the table would later alter the course of events.
Several publishers loved the songs and Mike inked a deal with Universal who quietly fed the tracks to music supervisors around the globe. The album contained the track, ‘Time Machine’, and it didn’t take long for editors and music supervisors to link its message – evoking the simplicity of a bygone age – to endless scenes, trailers and clips. On such chance events does the world turn.
‘Time Machine’ was used on shows across the world and slowly Mike began to receive messages from people who’d managed to track him down with the barest of information. When several Hollywood films picked up other tracks, Mike’s initial stock of albums sold out. He hadn’t even listed the album on iTunes so those seeking him out could only buy the album on CD!
Feedback for the album from those who had been turned on by hearing ‘Time Machine’ and doing their detective work was effusive and Mike realised he’d thrown in the towel too soon.
There were clearly a lot of people out there who loved his music, if only he could get it to them.
Although still only a trickle of people, it was the effort they had to go to in order to find him that convinced Mike to reignite his career. Given that he was invisible online, these fans had really had to work hard to find him – you only need to read the comments on the few YouTube clips of the TV clips that had helped them in their search! He certainly hadn’t made it easy for them or him!
Taking a year out to travel with his newborn son and wife and find new inspiration in 2014, Mike returned to the UK ready to build on this new tiny fanbase – even launching a website so that he’s a bit easier to find!
Combing through all the recording sessions for ‘This Is Your Life’ unearthed another album’s worth of tracks from that period that further define the Adult Cinema sound. ‘Teaser Trailer’ was released on iTunes and Spotify on 8th April 2016, and is available now from the Adult Cinema website as a free download of the whole album or to buy on CD and vinyl.
A remastered version of the debut album ‘This Is Your Life’ was released in May 2018 making it the first time that album was available digitally, as well as on vinyl and CD.
The process of writing songs for a second studio album began as he strummed on one of his father’s guitars whilst travelling in 2014. Mike's day job continued to limit the time needed for a one-man band to record an entire album so it wasn't until part way through 2018 that he began the process of recording, but a house move and the need to build a new home studio ('ACHQ2') led to some further delay.
With a few further songs penned in the intervening period that second studio album is set for release in Autumn 2020 along with another, as yet secret, project waiting in the wings for the following year!