What a busy week it’s been! I’ve had lots of gigs, recording sessions and games of pool… does life get any better?
Last week’s Sawmills recording session with Nicky Swann went really well and I can’t wait to hear it all mixed down. If you fancy checking out a few clips there is one of my random video blogs floating around on YouTube that featurings some bits and bobs from our time in Cornwall:
Oh, and talking of videos, my Balcony TV Poznan video is up online (yay!) so if you fancy checking that out too:
This week is equally as action packed, kicking off with a radio slot on Somer Valley FM later on today (Thursday, May 26, 8pm), followed by a gig at The Cheese and Grain in Frome on Friday night (May 27), then Exmouth Festival on Saturday afternoon (May 28, 5pm) and finally a gig with Nicky in Newton Abbot on Sunday.
I’m also still slogging away in my own lovely little studio recording tracks for my new album which is lots of fun and highly annoying at the same time lol.
One of the new tracks I’ve been working on was screaming out for some sort of shaker to be played in the background of the chorus. Me being me (anal, lol) I wasn’t happy with just any shaker sound and so went on a hunt through all my various piles of stuff trying to find on old shaker that I was convinced would make the perfect shaky sound.
After half an hour of swearing and rummaging through different boxes, I purely by accident came across a box that I must have packed up a good 10 or so years ago and I’ve not seen it since. It contained all my first ever ‘proper’ songs and lots of other stuff that I used to keep like gig posters, set lists and all sorts of other random bits and bobs.
Right at the bottom of the box was a blue cardboard folder that contained all my songs and lyric sheets. In true teenage style it had so much graffiti all over it you could barely see the actual folder and it had the usual sorts of inane messages like I WOZ ERE and I HEART so-n-so… God, was I really *that* bad? (hmm… apparently so).
At the time I thought my songs were the bestest tunes in the whole wide world and really had no problems playing them in front of people as I truly thought they were really good – what on *earth* was I thinking?! lol Lyrically they were totally awful and I had a good old chuckle reading through them all. I couldn’t remember what most of them sounded like, the only one I still play today is a song called Have My Love, which was one of the first songs I ever wrote and recorded and thankfully wasn’t as painful to read as all the others.
Most of these tunes would have been recorded in my little caravan which I lived in when I was about 16. I think I’ve written articles before about my wonderful Fostex 4 track tape recorder that I bought from a secondhand shop in Torquay.
Before that I just had a giant ghetto blaster so being able to record on four separate tracks was SO exciting. Surprisingly I used to get a really good sound from my caravan, but it was tiny weeny and when my drum kit was set up the only way to get in and out was through the side window. When recording my kit I used to dangle a rather crappy microphone over the top and due to the lack of space there were many recordings I can remember when I had to press record on my Fostex run out the door, clamber through the window and then sit behind my kit and play. Thankfully I don’t have that problem these days.
It was also very weird looking through all my gig posters. When I first started gigging I played in lots of different bands as I wanted to get as much experience as possible, so I was out gigging four to six nights a week with rehearsals in between, and during the day time I’d be practising for seven hours… blimey no wonder my hands are a bit cranky these days!
I also came across a scrapbook I had made and it contains info for my first 50 gigs. I’d included stuff like what songs I’d played, where I’d played, how I felt before and after and I’d also stuck with sellotape the actual plectrum I’d used for each gig.
It’s really funny to think how life was for me back then. My aim was simple… I was going to get signed. I had no idea what so ever what that meant, but it was going to happen, lol. And it really wasn’t a question of ‘if’, it *was* going to happen and it was really just a question of to who and when lol Life was a lot harder back then too, pretty much all the gigs I did weren’t great.
As I was just starting out I would gig anywhere and I played in some seriously scary places where I either didn’t get paid or ended up with a fiver, and it was really like taking your life into your own hands in many cases!
I’ve told many people about one gig I did where the saxophone player got thrown through a shop window afterwards, and another occasion I had a bottle hurled at me (but after looking through some of my songs I think that might have been justified! lol).
I had so many people tell me over and over that I was rubbish and I wouldn’t get anywhere and that I should give up… to be honest I really don’t know how I managed to take so much crap from people and still keep on going to gigs night after night with the hope that one day things would be better. And it’s funny because I quite often forget just how far I’ve come on my musical journey. I’ve still got a bloomin long way to go, but for me that’s the wonderful thing about music. It’s a constant learning curve that enables you to continually grow as a person and a musician.
I remember someone ages ago regaling me with a saying that went something like ‘you may have no money but at least you have your art’ which to be honest, I’ve always thought was a bunch of crap, lol. But after finding this box of memories and thinking about all I’ve done over the past 15 years or so it is actually so very true. No I’m not a superstar and no I don’t have oodles of dosh, but I have something in my life that has been with me through think and thin and no matter what’s been thrown at me it’s kept me going and is worth more than any amount of money.
…I think, however, my Mother might disagree with that way of thinking, as she’s been waiting for her luxury yacht for the past 20 years!