It started, like all good rock ‘n’ roll stories, at The House of Blues in New Orleans. It was Bouchercon 2016 and Stuart Neville, Mark Billingham and Doug Johnstone had downed a few beers. An open mic night was too tempting so, recruiting local writer Bill Loehfelm on drums, they bum rushed the show and played a few shambolic tunes. The seed of an idea was planted.
Fast forward a year and Stuart, Mark and Doug have teamed up with crime-writing pals Val McDermid, Luca Veste and Chris Brookmyre to form the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a full-on rawk experience, murdering songs for fun in front of anyone who will listen.
Mark Billingham (Guitar/vocals)
Mark is the author of the bestselling series of novels featuring country-music-loving Detective Tom Thorne and has collaborated with acclaimed Americana duo My Darling Clementine on an album and live show called The Other Half. A huge fan of songs about despair and alcoholism, he brings a ‘three chords and the truth’ sensibility to the band, largely because he can only play three chords. So, if they are performing a song about lost love, empty glasses or dead dogs, it’s probably his fault. His public spat with Phil Collins is now a thing of the past, though the band are unlikely to cover ‘Another Day In Paradise’ any time soon.
Val McDermid (Vocals)
Val McDermid dreamed of being Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen but failed to achieve Canadian citizenship. Instead she settled for writing books. Around 40 so far, some of which have won awards. Singing is easier.
Chris Brookmyre (Guest Vocals)
Chris Brookmyre is the author of twenty novels and the owner of way too many Blink-182 albums. He regards guitar-playing much the same as writing sex scenes – best left to other people who have more experience. He does, however, have the voice of an angel, though unfortunately it’s the angel of death.
Stuart Neville (Guitar and Vocals)
“What, you need a bio? What for? Oh, for f… Okay, write this down, then. Word for word, right? Here goes … You’ve heard of the guitar hero’s guitar hero – well, Stuart Neville is the guitar hero’s guitar hero’s guitar hero. Aside from his good looks, Stuart’s immeasurable talent as a musician is matched only by his humility. Stuart also enjoys referring to himself in the third person. He absolutely did not write this bio himself. You got that? Okay. Maybe mention the books too.”
Luca Veste (Bass)
Luca first picked up a guitar when he was nine years old. He hasn’t got much better since then. He spent twenty years in various bands and on the pub circuit as a solo act. He writes books now and some people enjoy them. He tries to look as cool as Flea while playing bass, but instead appears to be closer to a Sting tribute act. Despite being from Liverpool, he hasn’t forced Beatles songs into the setlist.
Doug Johnstone (Drums and Vocals)
At the age of fourteen Doug could drum along to every Rush song. That didn’t get him any girlfriends. Or friends. He graduated to guitar and singing and journalism and best-selling crime novelist. But deep down, he’s a drummer at heart. He still uses the same drumsticks as Neil Peart, sadly.