Together with his band mates in The Maccabees, frontman Orlando Weeks earned a cult following that seemed to grow with every release from their 2007 debut album Colour It In. Their third record, 2012’s Given To The Wild, saw their critical acclaim matched by growing commercial success, reaching #4 in the charts and earning the quintet a prestigious Ivor Novello award. That rise continued in 2015 when their final album Marks To Prove It went straight to the top of the charts.
Music remained a vital interest for Weeks and when The Maccabees disbanded, those three creative endeavours (songwriting, storytelling and illustration) converged. After Weeks wrote a song about a seasonal hero, he was compelled to continue to explore the song’s protagonist in much greater depth.
“I thought there was something in this character, so I started linking him to more music by writing songs from his point of view or in a style that I felt he would enjoy,” he explains. “The more that I did that, the more I felt he needed a story to explain the songs, and then I wanted to flesh him out further by trying to figure out what he might look like.”
That creation became the focal point of Weeks’ debut book The Gritterman, which blends the title-character’s economically elegant monologue with his creator’s artwork. An ice-cream man in the summer months, The Gritterman’s true love is his other seasonal job: to secure the safety of treacherously icy roads at the height of winter.
The book is accompanied by a companion album which was also written entirely by Weeks. Interwoven with the narration and foley effects, the eleven compositions delve deeper into The Gritterman’s inner thoughts and allow his feelings to be conveyed romantically and poetically – a contrast to the sincere candour of his spoken word.
The Gritterman feels like the beginning of a new chapter for Orlando Weeks. “I’ve got such fond childhood memories of listening to story tapes in the car or whilst going to sleep, and this feels like one of those just with extra music,” he states. “I really hope it’s something that kids and parents can enjoy reading or listening to together.”