MIKE VARTY - Biography
Mike started playing the piano and violin at the age of 4. In his later teens he traded orchestras for rock 'n' roll in his first band - the Somerset-based folk-rock trio, HMV. Throughout the early ‘90s, he earned a solid reputation around the Hampshire/Surrey border area with the band Study in Scarlet - 'progressive rock with a hint of scarlet' - albeit playing bass guitar!
In 1993 he spotted an advert put in a local music store by Clive Nolan, and got the job of live keyboard player for Shadowland. He quickly became a full member of Shadowland and contributed to the writing of the last studio album, Mad as a Hatter released in 1996.
Also in 1996, Mike joined the more regular performers Credo, with whom he has released two studio albums - Rhetoric (2005) and Against Reason (2011) and live CD and DVD This is What We Do (2009). Mike also took on the role of Producer for the Credo albums, as well as recording, engineering and mixing (with Karl Groom of Thin Ice studio).
The germ of Janison Edge began around 1994, as a songwriting partnership between Mike and Sam Collins (nee Sue Element), who brought in Ian Salmon (Arena, Shadowland), Dave Wagstaffe (Landmarq, Wishbone Ash) and Paul Brown (Medicine Man) in 1997 to bring the music to reality. This resulted in the iconic album The Services of Mary Goode, released in 1999. A few gigs and a Live Acoustic Session EP (2000) followed, before Janison Edge disappeared into prog legend. In fact they have never disappeared, just been engaged with other projects, and a second album is still planned...
The Mighty Rooster
In 1999, Mike got back together with Steve Heath, one of the members of his very first band (HMV), by joining the popular folk rock group, The Mighty Rooster, playing both keys and violin around the west country of England. The Mighty Rooster recorded 2 studio albums - Gargoyles and Red Room (2002), a live DVD - Can’t Believe Your Eyes (2003) and a live album - Can’t Believe Your Ears (2003). Sadly, this band finally retired in 2005, but re-emerged - so far briefly - in 2009. Mike still occasionally plays acoustic fiddle sessions with Steve on vocals.
In 2001 Mike also worked on another partnership with Sam Collins to provide some harder edged rock to accompany the cult British spoof movie Fluffy the English Vampire Slayer. This resulted in Noscaferatu, which included old prog friends Ian Salmon and Paul Brown again on guitars and bass, Credo’s Martin Meads on drums and local Experimental/Industrial/Metal guitarist David Hobbs. Noscaferatu are currently experiencing a resurgence in interest from the Twilight generation and have re-released the tunes as Espresso Requiem.
In 2005, Mike joined Landmarq to perform on their DVD, Turbulence (2006), and to record the keys on the new studio album - Entertaining Angels - released in 2012, on which he also undertook production duties.
Since 2008, Mike has also been working with Ian Salmon and top jazz singer Sue McCreeth as Infinite Sunday, producing luxurious ambient jazz chill-out. Their debut CD was released in July 2012.
Since the beginning of 2012 Mike has also taken over live keyboard duties from Marillion’s Mark Kelly in DeeExpus.
Gargoyle Studio and Production Work
Mike's degree in electronics led him to set up Gargoyle Studio where the Janison Edge album was recorded, and subsequently many of the releases of the other bands he’s involved with.
Mike also has a talent for arrangement and production which draws heavily on his classical music training and natural musicianship. He has produced Janison Edge, all of The Mighty Rooster and both the last two Credo CDs and Landmarq’s latest album. He has also engineered miscellaneous other small CD productions, as well as lending his production skills to assist other bands, including Tiny Fish on their latest release The Big Red Spark (2010). He also undertakes mastering jobs on request.
Soundtrack and Orchestral
Mike has written and produced the soundtrack for cult films Foiled, Fluffy the English Vampire Slayer and the spoof blockbuster Big Chimp. He has also provided original music for a number of cartoons and animations.
An example of Mike’s soundtrack music...
Watch the brilliant animation ‘A Spot of Rain’ by Steve McCombe.