Paintinghasbeen my redemption; His love of art saved A Flock of Seagulls' bassist Frank Maudsley from a life of excess, he tells Laura Davis.
TOULOUSE is to Frank Maudsley what Arles was to Van Gogh.
Its vivid colours and wide skies inspire him to paint in the same way that the Dutch post-Impressionist was driven to portray the French countryside in globules of oil on canvas.
"Imagine Vincent Van Gogh walking round, and the colours to him must have been like when it's late and you're getting tired and the red of the traffic lights is so very red," says the 50-year-old artist-musician, who has an exhibition of his work opening at Liverpool's View 2 gallery next week.
Maudsley has a 15th-century chateau there, he mentions casually, bought in the late-90s with some of his earnings from being bassist to 80s Liverpool band A Flock of Seagulls.
Asked to describe it, he runs off a list of its attributes like a brisk estate agent - "32 bedrooms, ballroom, it's got a library, three or four living rooms, it's got a lake with carp."
"It's absolutely fantastic, with acres of parkland, but I got homesick and when I got home I felt sad because I'd left France and the painting took the anxiety of not being there from me," he continues. "It's formidably bright there. The lighting and the colours are just so in your face.
"The sky is so different to where I've lived in England. It's kind of grey and smokey and milky here, but there it's intensely blue."
Maudsley's art works are wideranging and include abstracts and portraits. One of the most striking is a towering figure of Jesus Christ playing a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar.
He is currently working on a 3-D painting that has to be viewed through special glasses.
Other than an A-Level in technical drawing, Maudsley has had no formal art training - "I was born and about four years later I was given crayons" he says in his typical down-to-earth manner.
He is just as plain-speaking about his experiences in the music industry, which include winning a Grammy Award for A Flock of Seagulls' album track, DNA, in 1983. "My life has been very animated. I'd love to read my history. If I had a ghostwriter saying 'this is what happened to you' I'd go 'bloody hell, am I still alive?'," he laughs.
"I've had loads of ailments and problems and depression and been on Prozac, alcoholism, drug addiction, cocaine - I've been through it all and I've come out the other side a straight man.
"I've had a lot of, pardon my French, s---thrown at me in life - bitter divorce, financial problems, A Flock of Seagulls in the early-80s went bankrupt... I think some people would fall under the pressure I've had but the painting saved me, it's been my redemption."
He pauses to read a note he scribbled down some days earlier: "Creativity will save us all - Frank Maudsley, 28/03/10."
As much as he enjoyed playing with A Flock of Seagulls - who had international hits with Ran (So Far Away), Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) and The More You Live, The More You Love - he is done with the hard life of a young musician.
"I couldn't do the back of a van, sitting on an amp, freezing cold, breaking down on the motorway, pushing the van to the service station, trying to get help and staying there for 24 hours while someone picks you up, then they take you to a hotel with no hot water and your bed hasn't been changed," he says.
"I've earned my stripes. Now I do a gig if I have the time, if the inclination's there, if the money's right."
He is now concentrating on "giving something back to the city", having recently recorded a charity version of Everton FC's Z Cars anthem in aid of the Rhys Jones Memorial Fund and Liverpool Unites. He is raffling one of the paintings from his exhibition for the same charities.
"I've got my money and I've got my fame, and being a little bit eccentric I just want to give it back," he says.
"I mean that sincerely, I want to do something for the city."
* FROM Chord to Canvas - by Frank Maudsley is at the View 2 gallery, on Mathew Street, from April 15 to May 15.
Wirral people get revenge in Nicky Allt's Brick Up sequel ONE of the playwrights behind the hit stage show Brick Up the Mersey Tunnels is returning with a sequel.
Nicky Allt, who penned the original with Dave Kirby, has created a new comedy Brick Up: The Wirral Strikes Back.
Premiering at the Liverpool Empire in September, the show is set after the Mersey tunnels have been bricked up and the Runcorn bridge blown up - leaving the Wirral stranded.
Without any link to Liverpool, residents of the Peninsula have been forced to adapt to a new way of life. The recession has taken its toll on entrepreneur William (Cammel) Laird, who is struggling to finance new projects and cope with his money-mad wife, Margaret, and their two silver spoon-fed children. Meanwhile, across the River Mersey, his foreman, Vinny Kelly, is busy embracing old school Labour politics while his son, Derek, is aiming for a top job in the Council.
The show is produced by Bang on Top Productions, formed in 2008 by Allt and Emile Coleman - the team behind One NIght in Istanbul - to create cultural events inspired by and for the people of Liverpool. * BRICK Up: The Wirral Strikes Back, runs from September 7-20.
A younger Frank Maudsley will some of his many works of art Jesus playing a Fender Stratocaster is one of the works going on display at the View 2 Gallery dsley today; and, far right, with 80s Liverpool band Flock of Seagulls, who had a series of international hits