Donald Newholm
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Donald Newholm

London, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2000

London, England, United Kingdom
Established on Jan, 2000
Solo Alternative Singer/Songwriter




"Pig with the Face of a Boy, Brighton 2012"

Pig With The Face Of A Boy, aka Donald Newholm (guitar and mandolin/geeky) and Dan Woods (accordion/demented), like to keep on-stage chat to a minimum – “because we’re serious musicians”, they told us. The duo instead relied on their lyrical talents to keep their Friday night audience engaged. And while that was no easy task – precisely 36% of the crowd were extremely “refreshed”, let’s say – they pulled it off.
After a jolly opener about health and safety, PWTFOAB didn’t take long to darken the tone of their set. I Am The Taxidermist, which correctly concluded “isn’t it grim?” was followed by a song half-heartedly talking down a suicidal David Cameron and a delightful exploration of auto-cannibalism.

A deliberately disastrous instrument swap and spot of audience participation (with two of the crowd joining in on screeching violin) broke things up nicely, while a quartet of songs about pie, gravy, mash and pi was a witty stylistic touch. But it was the duo’s more macabre offerings that were the most compelling – Newholm’s The Lonely Shepherd (you can guess where it goes) was deliciously reckless, while Woods’ paean to midwifery was hilarious, juxtaposing a whimsical verse about “lovely babies” with a barked chorus that began “I want to eat your placenta”.
It made their big finale – A Complete History Of The Soviet Union As Told By A Humble Worker, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris (2.6 million YouTube views and counting) – something of an anomaly as it’s more clever than funny. Nonetheless, it rounded off an accomplished, deeply amusing set from the hugely likable duo. - The Argus

"Pig with the Face of a Boy, Edinburgh 2009"


Come in off the crowded streets and escape the unending raucous cries of flyer-bearing promoters and overheated children – the Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival brings you sweet and twisted comedy tunes from Pig with the Face of a Boy and twelve perfect little songs cleverly composed with both well-honed comic timing and fine musicianship.
Their lyrics always begin in the world of the sane but then take a surprising leap down dark and surreal comic alleyways, where love-struck shepherds mingle with the half naked, urine-drinking Howard Hughes. With a jingly set of instruments, including a 12 string ukulele, their harmonies put you in mind of the early Divine Comedy, as they blend the melodies of music hall with intelligent acoustic pop tunes. A better hour of shiny comic songs may be hard to find, and certainly not for free. - The Skinny

"Pig with the Face of a Boy, Edinburgh 2009"


The idea of an "anti-folk" band with an accordion raises major questions, which are thankfully soon answered by 'Pig With The Face Of A Boy'. Their off-beat silliness charms from the start with a ditty on safety hazards in the London underground, and they quickly move onto urges to eat placenta and embrace sheep. This left some of the audience a touch bemused, but most in fits of laughter at the sheer invention and wit of Dan Wood and Donald Newholm. Both are accomplished musicians, entertaining as much with their playing as their jokes. It's well worth slinging a few pennies into their enormous hat; these boys are in danger of making 'anti-folk' the new rock'n'roll. - Three Weeks

"The Future Is Here (The Not-Too-Distant Future album review, 2007)"

After considerable procrastination, the most promising and original band on the South London live circuit have committed themselves to a proper albumatory document of their current state of (d)evolution. La Boite Diabolique was released in association with local rehearsal/recording studio/general hive of local talent, Antenna Studios, situated more-or-less beneath the mighty Crystal Palace Antenna (foreigners note: this is a huge broadcast aerial which serves most of South East England and dominates the local area). However, it could be argued that The Great Exhibition (Victorian science fair held in the adjacent park) would have been a more natural home for this dimension-hopping four piece (if it hadn't burned down). Despite the band's monicker, this is one of those albums which taps beautifully into the present and reflects it through the alternately bewildered, cynical, defiant and humourous eyes of the musicans who created it. At the same time, the originality of the music looks to the future by reinterpreting the music of the past to give it new life, suggesting that Not-Too-Distant Future may just be the intergalactic, time-travelling "beings" they love to portray themselves as.

1) An Intelligence Test (in Mercury) The theme of time is instantly introduced with the ticking of a great clock (or possibly just a metronome), followed by an explosion of bold guitar chords which are ultimately superseded by the keyboard-riff at the centre of the piece. Yes, NTDF use their keyboards like a lead instrument. Yes, it works. Yes, even if you don't like Gary Numan. All swirling guitars and assured drums, this track is a good example of how NTDF combine the pomposity of a stadium prog band with the punch of punk, the playful wonder of psychedelia and the delicate, introverted touch of post-punk and "indie". The Floydian bridge later in the song both contrasts and fits in with the earlier song and helps underline how hard the band have thought about the structure of their songs. Like some of the stadium bands alluded to above, NTDF do not shy away from the big themes and concepts. The lyrics and music work together here to suggest tightly-wound modern panic and paranoia giving way to a sort of post-apocalyptic calm zen acceptance of our living at the whim of evil puppet masters. Combine this with my earlier time-travel theories and the Vonnegut references can hardly come as a shock.

2) Disinformation For the Clash's first album, Joe Strummer rewrote a song about Mick Jones' girlfriend ("I'm So Bored With You") as a stutteringly articulate commentary on American cultural hegemony ("I'm So Bored of the USA"), a track which would sit far more comfortably amongst the subject matter of their future output. Similarly, NTDF have rewritten a tale of unrequited love ("Hollywood Melodrama of the 1950s") as their most explicit political commentary to date ("Disinformation"). I dislike band-to-band comparisons but imagining this track might be easier if you did think of the Clash, then Manics tracks like "Faster" and "Revol" and then made them somewhat more oblique. This is the only time anyone has ever got away with using the phrase Weapons of Mass Destruction in a song (these things are all in the delivery and context) and that is probably important to bear in mind when I tell you about ...

3) Music For Idiots ... which incredibly manages to pull off: "When the revolution comes/You will be the first against the wall" without a wince in sight. In fact "Music For Idiots" ia something of a live favourite, the haunting Dr. Who keyboards being strangely danceable. Themetically, it seems to tackle the issue of "dumbing down" but from the point of view of a human being as opposed to, say, that of the "Daily Mail". This is the theme tune to a society caught up in a whirlpool which is spinning faster and faster just before it gets sucked around the u-bend.

4) Freud There's an underlying keyboard part in this that could be made by a circuit board or an actual piano - such is the NTDF organic/electronic interface. Also, music hacks are fond of "screaming guitars" - these are more subtle ... "siren song guitars?" ... hmmm. Another highlight is the high camp of vocals: "How nice!" The ticking sense of time running out returns; as does the kitchen-sink mixture of politics (a less literal Clash or M.S.P.), psychedelia (esp. Floyd) and existential angst (an angrier Cure?) - this is like the band equivalent of a Renaissance Man, polyglot scholar or schizophrenic.

5) My Pretend Girlfriend Music magazines like MOJO celebrate a broad genre of music labelled "Americana". Is it then possible to group peculiarly English artists singing about a peculiarly English whimsical experience under some sort of flag of Anglicana? The conversation at the foot of the flagpole between Ray Davies, Syd Barrett's ghost, Damon Albarn and Pete Doherty would probably be less stimulating than the lyrics but this track would not be out of place on the front of magazine CD. "My Pretend Girlfriend" would almost work as one of those semi-mainstream "indie" ballads - as long as no one listened too carefully to the playful guitar line and alternately sweet and random lyrics about the girl of the title with "foibles so feeble" being balanced against her finer traits but treated with equal affection.

6) Viva La Resistance This is generally the most popular track on the album. Incorporating a genuinely great and novel riff, a satisfyingly flatulent bassline and a neat buzz roll, "Viva La Resistance" epitomises NTDF's ability to make implicit socio-political commentary without ever quite crossing over into that territory occupied by cheap sloganeering and oversimplification. They have paid for their Poetic Licence and are not about to lose it for the sake of sounding like a copy of the "Socialist Worker". Besides, they have a sense of humour and an all-pervading sense of fun.

7) The Overloaded Man Using the quiet/loud/quiet/loud formula so beloved of bands in the 90s for their own purposes, NTDF subject one of their typically disconnected protagonists to a harrowing account of his emasculated and de-sensitised existence (or, as its author would have it, "retreating into a fantasy world of shapes and colours"). I detect good use of the noble theramin and am impressed by the retrieval of the song from the noize.

8) I am Ahab! is a circus music/sea shanty/post-rock adventure with breakneck lyrical delivery, throwing up such glorious exclamations as "I am Ahab but I am in the wrong whale!" Best enjoyed by those who didn't enjoy Herman Melville: "What a strange end to my rubbish adventure!"

9) Samenra et la Boite Diabolique This is the track from which the album gleans its title - speculating broadly as it does on the unusual wonders gathered within its enigmatic cardboard sleeve. Here, however, it refers to a track which tells the tale of a sort of mythological gameshow (Pandora's Box meets The Price Is Right). This is rendered over a slightly-Gallic-organy sounding thing with extremely theatrical vocals. Pure and unusual genius. And just a little disconcerting.

10) Errol Face Originally called the "Dmitri Files", this is now an instrumental number where drums beat out a confident tattoo whilst palm-muted guitars gradually coalesce into something both more meaty and more fuzzy and an oft-repeated note struck on the guitar resembling the horn on a clown's car and novelty bass gradually accelerating into the noize of insanity.

Reviewed by Punk John - 2007 - The Antagonist

"Stegg - They Always Get You In The End (album review, 2000)"


Hooray for bands that stay together for over their requisite two years without any kind of record deal. Stegg have been going for five years now and it shows on this fifteen track album.
With an age range spanning twenty to twenty five this isn’t your usual collection of songs knocked out in a few months. This is a musical document of growing up, changing musical tastes, and improving ability...
…Which is why “They Always Get You In The End” is such an eclectic record. In the main it’s honest to goodness indie rock, sincere and energetic. However, the variations on this theme is impressive. “Chemical Change” pulls in a UFO sounding keyboard line whilst “Please Don’t Tread On My Cheeseburger” sounds like something you’d get in a more upbeat church service. Ah yes, you read that last song title correctly, Stegg have “novelty” songs, no doubt written late at night after ten pints of cider. The other novelty track, “Mark”, successively rhymes “curry” with “hurry”, “worry”, “slurry”, “Surrey”, “flurry”, and finishes with, “threw up over Murry” (fill in the connecting sentences yourself). Simultaneously awful and brilliant, one for when you too are the wrong side of ten pints.
Other strong, more traditional, tracks here include “Taking The Tracks” (good harmonies, brooding without being boring), “Father Tooth” (very, very Shed 7 in the verses), and “Rainy Day” (very different, like Foo Fighters when they were good).
Worst bit? The first track, “Dress Rehearsal”, which is literally the sounds of a band getting ready to play. Unnecessary and off putting. But that aside this is a very strong self release and a distributor would do well to contact them. Failing that you can e-mail them at for more info. - Drowned in Sound


Stegg - They Always Get You In The End (2000, currently unavailable)

Stegg - "... from my cold dead hand!" (2004, currently unavailable)

The Not-Too-Distant Future - La Boite Diabolique (2007, currently unavailable)

Pig with the Face of a Boy - La la ha ha (2009,

Pig with the Face of a Boy - The Girl With The Arms Made From Marrows (2012,

Donald Newholm - Hubris (2018, upcoming)



Vaguely descended from music-hall legend Fred Annesley, Donald Newholm was born in London and started playing music as soon as he could get away with it. He started out as vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for punk band Stegg, which swelled with psychedelia and krautrock to become The Not-Too-Distant Future. Influences included Cardiacs, Soulwax and Barrett-era Pink Floyd. Over the course of its two incarnations, the group played many gigs (including the Ministry of Sound) and spawned three albums. These are currently unavailable but will perhaps return to us, comet-like, at some later point in time.

When The Not-Too-Distant Future split, Donald formed comedy act Pig with the Face of a Boy with accordionist Dan Woods. In contrast to the electronics and histrionics of previous work, Donald took a back to basics approach, concentrating on acoustic and orchestral instruments, with a natural, untreated sound. The songs eschewed modernity, drawing influence from folk, music-hall and world music. As often as possible Donald shunned the guitar, instead learning a plethora of stringed instruments: bass, ukulele, banjo, mandolin, charango, ronroco, tiple, accordion, maraccas and castanets have all been graced by Donald's hands during the course of Pig's activities.

It was in Pig with the Face of a Boy that Donald found some success: their video for The Complete History of the Soviet Union, Arranged to the Melody of Tetris quickly went viral, spawning many imitations and tributes, and inflitrating popular culture in a pleasingly insidious manner. The key line "I am the man who arranges the blocks" has become common slang in online gaming communities and the video continues to get a million hits a year. It won two awards, appeared on Adam Buxton's TV Bug, it is referenced in the novel "The 57 Bus", and most worryingly, it is now even used in the American education system. The song was included on their first album, "La la ha ha". Their second, "The Girl with the Arms Made From Marrows", boasted a greater array of orchestral instruments and fleshed out their acoustic sound. The album featured an appearance by music-hall legend Roy Hudd. A third, more topical album was attempted but the political landscape shifted so dramatically that it was rendered impossible.

Ten years and two and half albums with Pig with the Face of a Boy have left Donald with a pile of curious songs that don't quite fit. He has been endeavouring to fashion the best of these into some sort of solo project. The album, "Hubris", fuses the orchestral influences of Pig with the vigour of earlier work, drawing influence from artists such as Scott Walker, Tom Waits and David Bowie, and touching on many additional genres including jazz, funk and circus music. The great work will soon be upon us; at this point, Donald will be on the lookout for gigs, sales, deals, fine wines, power and glory.

Donald is interested in hearing from you on just about any topic.

Band Members