Mark McGann made his name playing one of the most iconic musicians of the 20th century.
But it’s his own music, not that of Liverpool’s John Lennon, which will put him centre stage when he returns to the city of his birth next month for a very special event at the Cavern Club.
McGann is set to launch his new album, Perplexed Music, on February 28.
The album shares its title with a film which the 57-year-old – second youngest of Kensington’s talented McGann clan of actors – wrote and directed two years ago after raising the budget through Kickstarter.
Brother Paul and nephew Jake ‘Sonny’ McGann were among the cast of the film which took its name from an Elizabeth Barrett Browning sonnet, and which has won acclaim at a host of festivals across the world including the LA Shorts Awards, ARFF Paris, and the Red Corner Festival in Sweden, where it won best cast award.
And it seems the crowd-funding experience was something McGann was keen to do it again.
He explains: “The experiment that was working with these people via Kickstarter has been so amazing and so overwhelmingly positive that it just became a really obvious thing that we needed to find something else to do.”
He went back to his backers – who hail from the UK to North America to Australia - and suggested either another film, a stage play, or an album.
McGann, who at 20 was nominated for an Olivier for playing the lead role in Lennon in the West End, has a dream of starting a rep company near to where he lives in the South West, but admits it’s a difficult project to secure mainstream funding for, despite the theatre model having been around for hundreds of years.
“That was one of the things I was going to offer to the Kickstarter people,” he says. “Because if I could raise the money through there, I could offer the model to show how effective it is for maybe a limited season of three plays.”
In the end he decided the most realistic option was an album, taking the rather unusual path of asking Kickstarter supporters to choose what songs were included on it.
“I gave them a pool of about 15-20 songs that I had, some of which I’d been sitting on for a while, some of which were quite recent, and asked them to vote on which were their favourites,” he says.
“They came up with those 10 which were on the album and then I started to raise the money from them to do that and that’s what happened.”
He adds: “It feels like a people project, and that really rocks my boat! I’m so grateful for it because it’s given me a boost; it restored my own faith and it meant we really didn’t have to go to anybody else to get permission to do it.”
Two of the film’s cast – singer-songwriter Stephanie Grace Kennedy, and actor and musician Reid Anderson – joined him on the record, and they will be performing as part of the launch event on February 28 along with the rest of the musicians who recorded Perplexed Music at Parr Street Studios.
The film follows the central character (played by Doctor Who, Withnail and Monocled Mutineer star Paul) as he comes to terms with the loss of his life companion, and the songs on the album follow a similar path – although they are all quite different stylistically.
McGann agrees: “It’s not that I attempted to kind of write something that was pastiche in its undertone or anything. It’s just I suppose in many ways, growing up in Liverpool I’m sure that’s had a major influence.
“We’ve never really been scared and worried about how derivative things are. I think the recognition that it’s all derivative really takes the pressure off! And then it’s just a question of opening your heart and trying to be honest about it.
“They’re all separate stories really, which is the thing that rocks my boat about them, the individual narrative behind the songs.”
Perplexed Music isn’t the only musical date in the city for McGann this year.
He’s due to appear at International Beatleweek in August, playing a set with Pepperland as part of a concert at the Philharmonic Hall – his first appearance at Beatleweek in four years.
“Pepperland are going to play Abbey Road first, and then I’m going to come on and do a set with them for an hour, which I'm looking forward to," he says.
Perplexed Music the album will be launched at the Cavern Club on February 28. Tickets are £10 HERE