From fronting popular Nineties Britpop-era band Hurricane #1, to creating beautiful pieces of abstract art that have been snapped up by the likes of Donald Trump and Mike Tyson, Alex Lowe is successfully strutting the line between art and music. His next exhibition The Aquarian Conspiracy, which sees him team up with ex-record boss Alan McGee, is his latest artistic venture; exploring one of their mutually favourite topics – Magick. While also finding the time to write his fifth solo album, it seems Alex has hit creative overdrive. Where does he get the time?
Though most will recognise you as the front man from Hurricane #1, it’s your art that seems the predominant thing in your life right now. Were you always painting and creating artwork when you were in Hurricane #1?
I used to dabble a lot before I was in Hurricane #1, and then when the band took off I really didn’t have time for it. But ever since I was a kid I have always been interested in art.
Right now you’re working with Alan McGee on your latest art project, which is a series of Acrylic pieces called The Aquarian Conspiracy. Sounds interesting, what’s it all about and how did Alan get involved?
I actually can’t say too much on this project just now, but let’s just say that it has to do with art and Magick with a ‘K’. The public will either think we have lost our minds or they will think it’s genius. I think the ones that understand it will really get into the whole philosophy and idea behind this project. It’s a great idea.
Though I’m no art buff, the paintings I’ve seen of yours are really wonderful. Big, bright, beautiful colours and great affects. To me it’s the appealing side of abstract art. So tell me where your style comes from and what influences you in your work – day to day stuff or something much deeper?
I am really influenced by people like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko, these type of guys. I love bold colours painted in a simple style or manner, but I also love William Turner and some of the old masters. These guys were the rock n roll stars of their time, and I also love Van Gogh.
I’m guessing the John Squire comparisons come out a lot, though like John you both seem extremely accomplished at both. Do you feel art created by people like yourself, who have been involved in the music industry, seems to be appreciated differently by the general public?
It’s funny, because of Hurricane #1 breaking up so long ago there is a new generation of kids that know me for my art and not my music, which is fine with me. But I am known mostly as Alex Lowe the hell raising rock n roller from Hurricane #1 (laughs)! It is great to have a different set of fans that are totally into your art.
You’ve actually sold some of your work to people like Mike Tyson and Woody Allen. What’s it like creating something that people like those love and really want? Is it the same kick you get from releasing your music, playing a knock out solo?
It’s the most bizarre thing selling to a Hollywood star or celebrity, it’s very nerve racking to say the least! I was nervous when I had to do the Woody Allen commission and even more so doing Mike Tyson. Because of legal and private reasons I can’t say what I painted for them as they are in their private collections, but it was amazing to be asked to do it. It’s the same buzz you get from releasing your solo stuff to the world – maybe not as exciting because I just stand there and paint in an empty room, but it’s still a big buzz.
And as well – your music. Four solo albums since Hurricane #1, what happened to the band in the end? Andy went to Gay Dad before joining Oasis, and you went on to set your own label up, 12ft records.
I was really angry at the time of the split because I thought we had so much more to offer. Andy just said he couldn’t write songs any more and drew a blank. I offered to write the next album but nobody was interested and the album became my first solo album, ‘Dreamcatcher’, which was released on Sony and sold really well. A lot of politics and jealousy I would say. He was silly to split the band.
Your last release was early this year, ‘Garage Flowers’. Do you still enjoy the process of being an artist, in a musical sense, touring, recording, writing?
To be honest ‘Garage Flowers’ was an experimental thing that I really didn’t finish – a one off you might say. I am going out on tour next year to Japan and across Europe with a guy called Nick Repton, who was in Bonehead’s band The Vortex. He will be playing acoustic bass for me. I have also just finished my next solo album ‘Can’t Get There From Here’, which will be released through Cherry Red Records UK. So yeah I still love going on the road and performing, I think that’s where it’s at nowadays – playing live.
Is it something that now suits you, painting and playing solo, very much the individual artist?
I do love the freedom of being an artist and a solo musician. I can please myself then and don’t have to worry about politics being involved.
Though normally an obvious one, what do you think you’d have ended up doing if you didn’t go all the way with the band? You’re from the highlands of Perthshire – do you think you’d have stayed in your town of Blairgowie if not for music?
I think I would probably have travelled around the world, I love to travel and see different cultures, food, drink etc.
When you look back now do you realise even more what a great time it was when Hurricane#1 were about, and how do you see the current music scene today?
I always appreciated the time I had in Hurricane #1, and I still do. I am back working with Alan McGee who has always supported me in what I do and is one of my best mates – would say two Scottish nutters together, it seems to work. The music today? I only listen to The Beatles and The Stones.
And finally, when will we be able to see The Aquarian Conspiracy exhibition, what’s more nerve racking, someone listening to you sing, or creating and putting on an exhibition like this?
The Aquarian Conspiracy will be unleashed to the world in Spring 2012. I think performing live onstage is more nerve racking than painting. I really couldn’t care about critics anymore, I used to when I was in Hurricane #1, but now I paint and write what I like – I do it for myself foremost.