Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Catchin' a ride, on destinies side...

So we woke up, or tried to, the next morning after we recorded our E.P.  We were heading to Scotland that day, and had to be in Manchester for 6.  I think it was about 1pm when we managed to get out.  Sometimes it was so hard to leave Niz in bed.  It was so cosy and warm with her.  We would just lay with eachother talking about the universe and life and everything.  We were still hoping that we could find a way for her to stay, but it was seeming more likely that she would have to take that flight back in October.  So we started to think of a way she could get back.

We went to my Mums house to say goodbye, and burn our CD's an print them.  When we realised what the time was, we were rushing so much, and we just about made the train, that if we had missed it, it would have made us miss our ride to Manchester.  We darted for it, and made it.  Once again we sang our travelling mantra 'On the road again, just can't wait to get on the road again'.  Always brings a smile to our faces.  With all our stuff in our bags, a brand new city awaiting, and a contact from CS, we made our way to Scotland via Manchester.. 

On the bus on the way there, we thought about doing a crowdfunding campaign.  It had been an idea of Niz's for a while.  We see if we can get enough to record an album together.  We really felt it was a beautiful way to capture this experience, this feeling, this adventure and our music together.  And if we made enough, we would use the money to get her ticket back here as soon as possible.  We wrote all our ideas down and started to visualize it more and more.  But we needed time to make a video and do the website and stuff.  We got to Manchester and waited for the good old Megabus, it was over an hour late, and in the mean time another bus showed up for Edinburgh, and we got on it.  It was full to the brim with people and when Niz had already put our stuff on, the fella said this isn't our bus.  I shouted Niz and we got off an waited for ours.  I wonder how many people got on that bus thinking it was the other one?

The ride there was nice and quiet, there was only about 6 people on it, and we lay down got some rest.  Since it was the biggest time of the year in the city, we were lucky to find someone to stay with, and once again Couch Surfing brought a friend into our lives.  David said he would pick us up at the Station, given us his number and said where he would be.  We were meant to arrive at 1am, and it was now 1 am and we had stopped at Glasgow for what seemed like well too long.  I didn't take his number down, and was unsure where we were meant to be meeting him.  Then the doors opened in Glasgow and about 40 drunk, bare backed Scottish ravers got on the bus.  Each one that walked up the stairs, I could hear the music to trainspotting playing.  They were screaming and shouting, and this pack of 4 19 year old, loud girls, sat right behind us.  They were screeching and cackling and making this noise that really made your ears tense up and ache.  They were screaming at the driver telling him he was going the wrong way.  It was getting to 2.30 am and we looked at eachother and wondered what we had let ourselves in for. 

We finally pullled up to Edinburgh, and I will never forget this ginger lad at the front with no shirt on, stood up and really cracked his head on the bar of the roof.  You could hear it thud, his eyes clenched a bit and then he just shook it off with that Scottish look in his eye.  Me and Nizha got off the bus as soon as we could and tried to find St Andrews entrance to the Bus depot.  It was a Friday night so the city was packed with people who had come from the clubs eating a McDonalds and singing and screaming out loud.  We were dashing around looking for this entrance, we had no phone, carrying our luggage, looking for a place that was closed now because we were an hour late!

On the bus journey here, we both wanted to listen to our E.P, so we put Nizhas little laptop on and both had a listen.  The battery had a few percent left, and Niz being that wise mystic gypsy hearted girl she is, said lets keep a little battery for emergency.  We went into a Burger King and tried to use the Wifi, and then they tell us it's off!  We dash next door to McDonalds and say can we use the wifi.  He says you need to put your phone number in on the site, I say Mate, we dont have a phone!  So as the battery is flickering on red, the McDonalds is full of people waiting, he takes his phone out, puts his number in, gets the code, puts it in and we are on!  We frantically try and get Gmail up while the battery is still flickering with a whisker of life.  We get the number, and I email him aswell saying we are in McDonalds. He lives a 40 minute drive away from the city, so we knew if he had gone, it was a night on the streets again.

I go around everyone asking if I can borrow the phone, but noone had battery!  These smart phones never make it a full night on the town!  Some guy lent me a quid though, and I went the phone box to call him.  I get through and he is still waiting for us!  He tells us where he is and I come out and tell Nizha he is still there and the joy and relief in her eyes was unforgettable.  The wind was blowing hard, it was a crazy new city and we didn't think we could take a night on the bench again.  We go and meet David, and he gives us a big hug and welcomes us to Edinburgh.  He is a Scouser living there for the last 20 years.  He really loves the place, and he lives in a cottage in a Hamlet in the middle of the Lowlands.  We drove to his place and talked and laughed a long the way.  We knew we had met a great guy and our Scotland adventure was off with a bang.  We got out of the car at this little Hamlet with about 4 cottages, I looked up to the sky, and I swear I have never seen such a clear starry night.  It was like the Universe was right there, shimmering and sparkling brighter than I had ever saw.  Scotland was gonna be one hell of a ride, and this was just the start...............

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Monday, 6 January 2014

Back Home in Kenny

So, where were we in our true love story?  We were just heading back to England on a lovely Ferry ride with 2 German mechanics, who were chasing an engine round England........  Again, I have left it too long to write in this blog.  I have been back home for nearly a month, and even with free time and a computer, I havent wrote any chapters.  It's because when I am back in England, I don't feel like an adventurous traveller.  Being back in your old house, in the same old bed takes away a lot of the adrenaline and excitement you feel from being in different country in a different city, with no money, nowhere to stay and just a guitar.  That feeling is the kicks that keep your blood running.  Like motion and movement is life, in motion you feel alive.  The earth never stops spinning.  But when you are rooted in one place, you feel trapped sometimes.  I have one phobia in this world, the fear of not being able to move.  Whenever I cant move my arms or legs, I get crazy!  And when we touched down in England, I felt that familiar wave of familiarity hit me again.....

So we were dropped off in Old Swan in Liverpool, we never had any English money on us, cos we spent it on a pint on the Ferry, we asked the bus driver if we could just jump on.  He was reluctant at first, but a bit of sweet talking got him round, so we touched down half hour later in the city centre.  Driving past all the old estates, in Kenny and Toxteth, a few of my old houses, just wondering what Nizha was making of it.  It was cold and grey, even though it was August and we got ourselves a cheap jacket potato from the cafe and sat and ate with the hungry pidgeons at our feet.  I always spoke so high of Liverpool to Niz, how there is music everywhere, street musicians, dozens of venues that host live music, and really an infrastructure that just nurtures bands and musicians.  The last few years have seen most of them venues close.  The Barfly, MOJO, Magnet, and so on.  There was a dank dampness in the air, and just an old Roma woman playing sad accordion on the corner.  I feel Liverpool was the best musical training ground I could ever be in.  Playing with bands in all the venues, hosting open mic night, acoustic afternoons, going to Uni there.  It really engraved on me a true love and belief in making music.  But on a wet Wednesday afternoon, your first impressions of it might not be as grand.

We took the train to my Mums house to go and stay there for a few days and make a plan.  There goes 8 quid just on the fare!  I always thought Britain was so cheap ya know.  But this journey would have cost almost half the price in PARIS!  I always think of the older generation who built the railroads, they must have been so proud that they felt they were building something that was gonna connect people to wherever they need to go.  In those days when it was 'Peak Time' it meant that the trains were free, as people had to get to work.  Now, Peak Time means the fare is 50 percent more expensive.  The last 30 years has seen England sell to private firms all its family silver.  The 'Public Transport' was a fine piece for the collection.  But anyway, I digress.  We take the train over to the Wirral, and I know my mum is a little concerned.  The last she heard from me, was a frantic skype call in Paris, where I say I am comin home to get married, haha.  Niz was a little nervous about meetin her an all that, but the moment we walked in all was good.  We drank a cuppa tea, told of our stories and plans, and me mum loved her from the first moment.  We ended up stayin at me mums for a week, and the good thing about Liverpool is the busking!

There are no laws or restrictions here.  Pick a spot and play for as long as you want, as loud as you want.  Thats what I mean about the atmosphere of the city just nurturing musicians.  I have a good little busking amp and until the mic for Niz's violin came, I did a bit on me own.  I got a 20 quid drop, a big crowd and some nice busks, but it didn't feel right as my Niz was either watching (getting the beer in) or at home, but her mic finally came and we had a few quid to get us started.  We wanted to save enough to get to either Ireland, Isle of Man or Scotland.  We were staying with my friend Alicia, who is a heart and soul of the Liverpool music scene.  You will always find her singing, acting, photographing, radio hosting, anything creative.  Her house is a shrine to all the musicians and artists who have come through.  A drum kit and PA in the living room, a beautiful musical home.  It was in my old estate of Kensington, and they had demolished all the houses but Alicias, she had stood strong, but was about to sell it and get a travelling van!

The thing about busking in Liverpool, is you need to put the hours in.  You need to get a good spot and hold it for a good few hours.  There is so much competition, but if you give your heart to it, and stand above the rest you can make really good money.  That month I had spent back here after a year in Amsterdam, I was a rich man with pockets full of pounds.  Me an Niz were doing great, getting a great response, filling our coin bag, saving good and living good.  We knew we wernt here for long, but we wanted to make the most of it.  Sometimes being back in Liverpool would hit me, and I felt like I had been there done that.  But being with Niz, it was like a new world for us both.  Doesn't matter where you are, if you are with someone you are crazy about then it's magical.  We were learning lots of new songs, and enjoying playing with the amp.  The music is not as lost in the city noise, and you can really enjoy it and feel like it is a show.  Bit of reverb on the vox and violin.  Really nice sound we had with the amp.  We needed a CD!  We played a little gig at Stanley Park festival that Alicia was running, and that night we had the place to ourselves.  We threw down 6 of our songs we would play while busking, had a little beer and then left them for a few days.

We were still unsure on where to go, but it seemed everything was pulling towards Scotland.  It was the Fringe Festival and an exciting time to go there.  With our busking money we got our ticket, and looked forward to our next adventure.  The day before we were going, we were busking and had done alright.  It was early evening, and then John, a beggar came and sat right opposite us, and he was winning the drops, then the batteries went on the amp, and even when I replaced a couple, it stuttered and went off.  Niz said, lets go and finish the CD, so we took it as a sign and went back.  We had a little bit of smoke, bought some beers and went to put the last touches and mix the E.P we started.  We were up until 7 am in the morning finishing them, and Niz wouldn't go to sleep until she was satisfied with the mixing.  I have told you about the moments when I physically felt myself fall in love with her even more.  And this was another moment.  We both lay with eachother, listening to the mixes, our eyes nearly closing getting them right, and neither of us leaving till we had done it.  We done it, and though it was a very rushed and last minute job, we had our first CD together, and something to sell on our next busking adventure....The lovely lowlands of bonnie Scotland..........

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Friday, 3 January 2014

A Musical Journey

This time last year I wrote a few entries about my memories growing up and all I went through an all that.  I remember getting to the point where I had just started making music and being in a band with my old school mate.  That was the starting point of my musical life really, so I would like to take it from there, and document all the music I have made since, I have been very busy in the last 11 years and have a whole sack full of albums and projects and ideas.

My first musical project started as 'The EvE', it was my mate Rich on guitars on vocals and me on keys an production.  Rich was a great natural songwriter and we got ourselves a 4 track and recdorded hundreds of songs.  I look back at the songs now and laugh at how I recorded them, I would scoop out all the high frequnecy, bounce them Mono.   But to understand how to record music you just have to press every button and see what it does.  It was when we got a digital 8 track that we really started to make some really strong stuff, in the second year of making music together we really got good at it.  We lived together in many houses and flats, always setting up a studio, then when we couldnt pay the bills we would move somewhere else.  Like a couple of little gypsys.  We would smoke lots of rocky, listen to lots of Radiohead, Floyd, Nirvana, it was when downloading music came to life with Broadband, and we would just smoke, listen to music and make music.  This is an album of songs, that I think are the strongest and favourites out of the more than 200 we recorded.  We changed our name to U-Nuclear along the line, and I do hope and have a feeling we will make another great album together.  But this is where it all started with me.....

U-Nuclear - Fall out 2004
All through those days with Rich, I would record my own stuff aswell.  I made this album that was OK, but I look back now and it was so depressin haha.  I suppose I should upload it as it's part of the legacy, but maybe when I am dead.  But anyway, me and Rich had started to drift apart, I went to community college to study music and be around musicians more.  I got into my first proper band as a front man and we called ourselves Marmalade Dream.  We did some recordings on an old 4 track we borrowed from the college and they are quite good.  But not as good as we were live.  These were just my ideas for songs, that they played on.  I was workin with a great guitarist Steve Simon and we started to build a good musical bond.  So here is the first Maramalde Dreams recordings...2005

While in college aswell, I started another project with a Punk Thrash Ska guitarist and we called ourselves 'Buttercup' I would go fuckin crazy on gigs, usually end up weeping under the stage crying nursery rhymes, haha.  One of the best gigs I ever played was with Buttercup, cos we actually got BOOOD!  And it felt great.  Inciting that type of response in people where they boo you, got me even more crazy for it.  We went into the college studio one day, and just recorded it in 1 take and overdubbed the most dryest fuzz guitar, hahaha, funny band and funny days. Here is the Buttercup E.P.

Marmalade dreams and Buttercup disbanded operations and with the guitarist from Buttercup "G Dog' we formed White Trash ana Halfcast.  We had laptops doing the drums and Taylor on 5 string octave bass.  We had a great sound, and when we would practise people would come in and listen.  We had a really good chemistry and we recorded a little e.p.  It was a New Years Eve and I just sat in alone putting the vox on them, and we did a nice job.  Within days of us putting them online we were flooded with interest from labels and management.  We chose to go with Monochrome Media who also managed a really great band called The Seal Cub Clubbing Club.  We developed very strong as a band under Spike and The SCCC.  Here is our first recordings we did.  2 of the songs were to be on our first single we released.  Judas to The Masses and I Dont Know.

Around the same time I was still recording songs with my mate from Marmalade Dreams Ste Simon on guitar.  I had a really crappy computer and Reason and Cakewalk, and I went about writing and recording some of my own little ideas on them.  Ste added great guitar and we got some nice songs done.  As with all my previous bands, I would just improvise the vocals, and then try to form them into something.  These Peggy songs were starting to get a lot of attention aswell.  I was paid to go down to London and play a gig at the Hilton Hotel at this conference for helping people break through in the Music Industry.  With my ripped jeans, my long long hair I went down and played, and said I am here to represent the dole.  These songs were recorded on a slow computer with a mic that hissed, a desk that was stuck on Cathedral reverb and a 6 inch jack lead.  Peggy Brainchild - Mummy Got Laid 2006

I was starting to play the acoustic guitar a lot more.  I felt it was a challenge to write a song that can stand alone on the acoustic.  I was used to recording and overdubbing lots.  But I was being drawn more and more into the acoustic, playing some open mics and jam sessions.  I was always used to playing with a band behind me, you are pretected then.  But when its just you and your guitar singing sad songs, you are much more vulnerable.  One day me and me mate Pete took some acid and went down to an ancient woodland and he shot this vid.  I still play this song today, I really like it, and it was the first steps into me finding myself as an acoustic singer songwriter.  It was around this time that I was invited to LIPA to meet and Jam with Paul McCartney.  So I did. Which was nice.

White Trash ana Halfcast were also developing nicely.  We would take the set everywhere.  From dirty techno punk, to sweet Ska.   We played a great gig at the Barfly with the other bands under our management.  The amazing Black Wire and The SCCC.  Our dear friend Tony recorded it, and we would go on to record some songs with him.  Here is our crazy live set from The Barfly.

At the same time I was immersed in Orwell and Bill Hicks and Alex Jones.  One weekend I didnt open the curtains.  I just recorded this little E.P all in one big go.  I used samples from 1984, Hicks and Jones and as I felt this world conspiracy open up to me, I felt I was seeing things.  I felt lost, a bit down.  But I recorded this little e.p and I like it.  We Are The Dead.  I was calling myself Peggy Brainchild at this time, because it came to me in a dream.  It was an identity for the wacky weird ideas I was coming out with.

With the Legendary producer Tony Birch who worked with Spike at Monochrome, we went into Crash Studios and we set up a recording space in our rehearsal room.  It was right next to the toilet, it was damp and it stunk.  But we loved it.  Tony recorded 2 of the songs on this E.P Be Minor and Neon Man, our live set was really taking a strong turn.  Inspired by The SCCC we would make our set all join into one, with samples and interludes between this musical journey.  Here is the Last White Trash e.p.

I had finished 4 years at college, and uni was the obvious next step.  I just loved being around musicians and learning all I can.  When I got my first grant from Uni, I blew it all on a 16 track digital recorder that I had wanted for so long.  I left myself Pennyless for the next 3 months, but I didn't care, I had some powerful recording gear.  The song End Of The World on the previous album was recorded on it with the band.  But I did another little solo album.  It was just a few ideas really to mess around with the 16 track.  Its called Crash, cos I recorded it in Crash.

Well, looking at it half of those songs on crash were recorded in this mansion in Penny Lane.  It was a strange turn of events.  Let me explain.  In my first year of Uni, I was evicted from the student accommodation for smoking a joint in my room.  I was gutted!  By the luckiest turn of events, I was asked to look after this empty 15 bedroom house on Penny Lane,  by this millionaire from the Isle of Man.  I said OF COURSE!  I didnt have to pay any rent, and I set up a studio there.  In that same week of me getting evicted, my band White Trash ana Halfcast broke up!  All that energy we put into the band, just thrown away by the other 2.  Me and Geoff were die hard though, and we instantly went on making a new band called The Dawn Fanfare.  I spent my next grant on getting a good computer, and a soundcard and a really good studio set up.  We recruited an amazing Sax and Keys and Vocals in Jenny Kermode and we went about recording our first demos.  It was great to have powerful studio software, and we threw so much on the tracks.  Loadsa vocals, loads guitars, vocals reverb.  But I love these recordings.  Good memories with Geoff and Jen recording them.

I have a good friend, who has been a friend to my whole family.  My brothers and sister.  He is an angry street poet and one of the most prolific songwriters ever.  He is dome like at least 50 albums, just loves recording and its very inspiring.  We love recording together, and when I got my computer studio set up, I went round to his and would help him set up his and show him how to use Cubase and Reason and stuff.  We would get some great stuff in the Process.  So we called ourselves SLUTCO which is Sut and Col together.  We were both into the Icke and Jones and took a lot of fun singing about the royal lizards.  Here is our first album we did together.  Great stuff.

I was starting to have a big catalogue of music, and lost of good contacts and friends in the music industry.  I had just left the Mansion after 6 amazing months there.  I moved into a flat in Kensington in Liverpool and I decided to set up a record label so that it would be a home for all this music I was recording.  As soon as I set it up with the way I would want a label to be run, it attracted so much immediete attention.  So this flat in Kenny, turned into the label HQ and I would get so many people down and record so much.  Here are the albums for this label I produced - but didn't have a hand in writing.

I still found time to throw my last Peggy Brainchild album in aswell.  Just sitting in on me own, recording songs and ideas.  Here is Strange Observations that was recorded in between producing all the previous albums.

Me, Geoff and Jenny from the Dawn Fanfare, went on to recruit bass in my old friend Craig Ebrell and the most amazing drummer I have ever known Ciaran Bell.  We had such a good sound, and from that first practise we just knew it was gonna be great.  It was.  I was gutted after White Trash had broke up, but this band was even better.  I was really focusing on my front man performances.  It would be intense, crazy, but backed up brilliantly musically.  Great band, and great gigs.

I also met an amazing beautiful singer called Sam Taylor at a songwriters aftgernoon.  We worked very well together, and she had the most stunning voice and heart.  We recorded a little album for the label, as we worked so well together.  Auroras Dream.

I also met a great guitarist and friend Aus.  We both loved the Floyd and the smoke.  So we spent a whole year writing, recording and mixing this.  It is the biggest project I had ever attempted.  Each song would have close to 100 tracks on it!  I would maybe like to mix it with some less reverb, and more powerful vocals.  But I still think it is a great album.  Beneath The Mindless Ocean.

When the Dawn Fanfare members were parted for a summer, me and Geoff the guitarist set about making our own little album.  Guttermask was born, and this album that keeps with our angry punk roots.  Really like this album musically and lyrically.  We got some good stuff goin on here.  The song FKN CNTS Was born one afternoon with no weed and too much energy.

Me and Radio Ray did another album under the SLUTCO guise here aswell.  We tried to be as angry as we could but still keeping our wit and musicallity.  Really love this album.  VITAMINS FOR RATS

The end of Uni was approaching and we in The Dawn Fanfare knew life would be taking us away.  We hadnt managed to break the NME yet, though if we had more time we would have been massive.  I know that because of the special live energy we had and the songs.  Here is our last e.p we recorded before life took us all apart.

It was approaching the end of Uni, like I say and I was wondering what I wanted to do with my life next.  I had been going busking a lot to support myself and was finding myself more and more on the acoustic.  One lovely evening I went into Mello Mello studios with Simon Knighton, we drunk lots of wine, and he really captured my raw busking edge that I was having.  Really great night that, and after we had finished the album, I killed Peggy Brainchild.  I wanted to reinvent myself a bit.  I was just about to turn 30, and felt fresh in my head.  Great experience at Uni, recording lots of music.  But I felt it is the start of a new chapter.  I decided to travel through Europe and become a street musician full time.  But here is my first proper acoustic E.P.  Produced by the Legend Simon Knighton.

So I left England for the first time in my life and set out to see the world with nothing but a guitar on my back and a positive heart.  To try and become an acoustic songsmith.  I spent 2 months in France, then fell in love with Amsterdam!  I met some amazing people there at the Magneet Festival, and when I returned home, some came to visit me and record!  One was Cato on Accordion.  We did a nice little album together.

My dear mates Ron and Simo also came, and we did some great recordings.  After the festival we went to a squatted farm house in the middle of nowhere and recorded a little album.  They came to see me in Liverpool and we did some good recording.

I was struggling being back in England, and couldnt settle.  That first time leaving the country, and having a real adventure had only wet my appetite.  All through the Winter I prepped myself for leaving once again, but this time not coming back for a long time.

The Dead Sea Captain was born, and here we are, and here you are.  At the end of one chapter, and the start of another one.

Download our album ‘Where The Days Have No Name’ full of harmony and love in every way.

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Zappas Vibrations

Although I speak with so much love for my studio space, it does come with its challenging sides; mainly, the noise. You can have it all cos...