|Posted by Arthur on September 4, 2012 at 11:35 AM|
SOME THINGS CHANGE, SOME THINGS STAY THE SAME.
If you’re reading this then you are probably aware that I have been in other bands and there’s a good chance as you’re here, that you’ve liked one or two of them. But this is now, that was then. Some things change...
For me it was always about the songs. For some people it was more about the image or the scene attached to the band’s I’ve been in before. But not for me. It was always about the songs. When there were good songs around, I felt good. I didn't care if anyone bought them or not. When there was a shortage of good songs, I felt like it wasn't really worth bothering with...but then a good song would suddenly arrive and all would be well.
Now free from any shackles or things holding me down. It’s still only about the songs. These songs I feel are amongst the best I’ve ever done. They are different to things that I have done before, I’d say they were better. The next batch will probably be different to these, because I can’t control what comes out. I love music. I don’t believe in putting up barriers. I keep an open mind, I feel what’s in my heart, I open my mouth and songs fall out. It’s quite pleasing. It annoys some people, as they'd prefer the same sounds over and over. That’s fine, but they shouldn’t really expect me to deliver it for them.
I’m happy for you to call it whatever it is that makes you happy. Yes it was recorded at home with no budget so yes, I guess that makes it ‘lo-fi’. That doesn’t mean it sounds rubbish.
It’s pop music and it’s independently made, so if that makes it ‘indiepop’ in your mind, that is fine by me. Personally I’d just call it pop music from the heart. But I’m not sure there’s a scene or genre called ‘Pop Music From The Heart’ Maybe there should be. Maybe I've just started one. I hope you’ll give these new songs a chance. It's a record that perhaps takes a few plays through to really find it's place in your heart. You might find you love them as much as I do.
The boring side of doing music....(unless you're already signed)
I sent out around twenty CDR's of tracks from the album to various indie record lables. Two of them sent me a reply, both saying they really liked the songs, but didn't feel they were right for their label. Saying it was too 'odd' and a bit too 'acoustic'. Which are both fair points. Another two both said they thought it was one of the best things they'd heard in years, but couldn't release it because they had no money right now. The rest failed to even send a 'thanks but no' reply. Even though some of the people I sent them to actually know me! But it's okay. I console myself with the simple fact the very same thing happened to Galaxie 500, Elliott Smith, even The Beatles! In fact nearly all the bands who have been any good have at some point struggled to find a record label. Times are hard, money is tight, people feel the need to be sure of selling enough to make it worth while, so they'd prefer to play it safe. It's understandable, but it's not healthy for music. And the bigger labels? the ones who have got the money, well you know what they're like...
The album certainly doesn't 'fit' in with anything going on in popular music today, either in the mainstream (thankfully) or the underground (thankfully) but that's okay, I've never really felt comfortable being in a gang. I've always prefered to be an outsider. Remember some of the bands we all love and rate highly, such as Felt, The Smiths, Velvet Underground...(I could go on and on) all released records that didn't 'fit' at the time. None of those bands played it safe. Even Belle & Sebastian released their debut album in the middle of 'Brit-pop'. A quiet, reflective, melancholic, gentle and pretty record in the middle of new ladism, beer swilling, knees up, flag waving and big bombastic Oasis anthems. All the best music didn't fit. I've done what I felt was in my heart. I can do no more than that now, can I?
So no gimmicks, no scenes, no shouting, no demanding, no begging, no pleading, no moaning, no excuses. I have made a record I am totally proud of. There is nothing further to say.
The album is called 'Humour Me' and will be available as a CD (A Work Of Heart Records AWOH3) on November 1st and also as a download. It comes in a gatefold sleeve with A4 poster insert.
You can pre-order it now and will probably get yours before the actualy release date, but you won't get it immediately, so be patient!
I have made a few videos to go with a few of the songs. They are more short films than pop videos. Nothing really happens in them, but that's not to say they're not highly entertaining and enjoyable to watch, because, well, because they are.
Here's some information about the songs on the album...
I wrote three different sets of lyrics for this, and ended up using the one I hope puts across the idea of ‘ A new start, a fresh beginning and a positive outlook’ (the song is ‘set’ in film-esq style in 1985) In my head it sounded like a Pet Shop Boys song (the downbeat moody type) played by Tim Buckley! (I did say in my head!) The phasing in the middle bit took me ages to get right. But it was well worth it. I really like this a lot. You will too if you don’t expect an instant pop hit.
The Company They Keep
Paula’s vocals on this are amazing. They lift the song to such great heights for which I shall be eternally grateful. Possibly, this is the best song I’ve ever written. You might not agree, especially if you’re obsessed with the old Lo-Fi fuzz sounds, from things I've been involved with before. But that’s ok, you’re allowed to be wrong. It was going to be called ‘Liberation’ but I changed it because I didn’t want the first two tracks on the album to be one worded titles! (yes I’m that picky.)
Stories Of How We Never Got Anywhere
(Film on video page)
It reminded me of The Sea Urchins slightly, which I considered to be no bad thing. Just me and a guitar one take live. Harmonica over dub. Picky bits overdub. I was going to throw it away until John (ex Beatnik Filmstars) listened to it and said it was one of the best songs. I listened again and discovered his wasn’t wrong. Sometimes we all need someone to point out certain things to us. What’s it about? Work it out for yourselves.
Strange About The Rain
(Film on video page)
See EP info for details of Strange About The Rain.
The Gratification Files.
(Film on video page)
This was first recorded with a full band, but I felt that it killed the song. It didn’t leave any room for it to breathe. So I just sat down with a guitar and did it in one go. I feel completely satisfied it’s as near perfect as it should be. Is it based on a true story? Of course. But with embellishments for added entertainment. Actually this is the best song I've ever written.
The Sole Of Your Shoes.
This one was an experiment that worked so well, I could barely believe my luck. Tim played some weird sliding guitars, and everything just fell into place. I didn’t have any words so I just sang, and these words are what came out and they were spot on. Sometimes I do believe in the ‘first idea/best idea’ thing. Certainly in this case. They were obviously the correct words for the music, and when I realised what I’d sung, it all made perfect sense to me. I know exactly what and who it’s all about. It might be a ‘play it three times’ kind of song, but there’s nothing wrong with songs you have to listen to more than once to really grab you. Once it’s in, you’ll love it. But you have to let it get in. And I know that you’re sensible enough to do just that.
A sad song about getting beaten up at school. And despite some of the things in the song, actually happening to me at the vile secondary school I attended, the song isn’t actually about me. It was about a friend who went through some hideous bullying but at a different school from me. And whereas I soon sussed out how to avoid certain situations, and spent most of my school days skiving, down by the river. He couldn’t find any way of escaping and sadly took his own life at the age of 13. I often think of him, and I know that he’d have been so impressed and proud of the music that I have created over the years. He knew it was a passion I had inside me. I hope he’d be pleased with this song.
Clinging To The Records
This one was a tricky one to capture. I spent ages trying to work out why it sounded too rounded, and then I stripped it all away and it just sounded right. You have to get half way through before it all kicks in. But it’s worth the wait. The guitar at the end was recorded in a bathroom to give it the echo-sound.
The Southern ‘R’
More quiet acoustic strumming. This came about as two separate half finished songs, that I couldn’t find the endings for, then I realised that the two pieces were in fact part one and two of the same song! It’s what I call a love/hate song. I love it, you'll probably hate it! (I jest, you'd need a heart of stone not to love this!)
All Of Your Things.
The shortest song on the record. It’s short because the two lines say it all.
The Tommy Cooper Affiliation Society.
(Film on video page)
A huge pop monster of a song! It was not easy to do this with home recording equipment (and not hi-tech stuff either!) It really needed to be recorded in a top of the range studio, but how the hell am I going to justify spending hundreds of pounds on recording one song that’ll sell such a small quantity? So I did the best I could with what I had. I confess in my head I thought it should sound a bit like The Weather Prophets. But that’s not really what happened once the instruments and voices started to go down. It sort of took hold and ran away with itself, and that’s probably a good thing. Pretty obvious as to what it’s about…I’m incredibly pleased with my Harmonica playing on this. And played in one take too! I was a Tommy Cooper fan by the way. I think we’d have got on if we’d met. I did know someone who had met him a few times. Rocker played Hammond Organ and Vox Continental Organ. Handclaps were from assorted people who happened to be around. Listen carefully and you’ll hear the ghost of The Groove Farm past lurking towards the end of the song.
A song which takes me right back to things that happened during my school days. It's kind of funny and sad at the same time. Jez plays a mean clainet on this.
And that is that, it's all over and you instantly have the desire to play it again. Or at least I hope so.
Now head over to A Work Of Heart Records and order one!