Former singer/guitarist with 'Such Perfect Liars' and 'Dead Fingers Talk'. Thousands of live appearances, plus around 150 recorded tracks. Now working in a semi-experimental acoustic, solo genre.
I wrote songs (poems actually) long before I even owned an instrument and employed Grandma's knitting needles to play the sofa cushions, until my hands were blistered. They bought me a drum set for my tenth birthday, just to spare the furniture and I was hooked from that time on.
I've played with some great lads in my time. I've made mistakes and sometimes been less than sensitive toward others I was working with at the time, but i was a young boy then, full of myself and so confident of my abilities, I became frustrated with anyone who struggled to keep pace with me. In hindsight that was a major failing on my part and should any ex band member be reading this, I'd like them to know that I'm aware I could be a major arsehole at times, but my intentions were only ever toward advancing which ever band I was with at the ime. I work very quickly and wasn't known for my patience with others who didn't work at the same speed. I can see my failings now, but I couldn't then and I have quite a few regrets, regarding my conduct back then. But as I said, I was only trying to advance the unit as a whole.
I still have a great deal of respect for all of them, as they are so intertwined in my life (through the reords we made) they occupy a very spcial place in my heart and I'd like them to know that also.
I see I was working way too much when I last answered these questions. I now do 3 gigs a week in the main, more in holiday periods and special days. I still love to be among people, entertaining folk, it's my job and pretty much all I've ever done. Too many special moments to list here, but almost every gig has something special about it. I did particularly enjoy helping Oliver Pratley (the young Down's Syndrome swimmer) to get to Taiwan, as he came back with 5 world records, 2 Gold, 2 Silver and a Bronze medal.
Now THAT is a result, so I was especially proud to have been a part of that and to have had the priveledge to get to know Oliver himself as he's a lovely chap.
I've always had an almost rabid fear of influences, although I know it's not possible to have not been touched by the people I admired in some way. I went through a phase of writing the complete opposite to the people I was listening to at the time. I don't do that now and my tastes and opinions have changed a little as I have aged. There are bands who's work just speaks for itself, Beatles, The Faces, Elton John, Stones, Stevie Wonder, Bee Gee's etc and no one can deny them their place at the alter. Then there are bands I just loved personally (Beatles again) 'Sly & the Family Stone' just epitomized that workaday funk ethic, as well as bringing stories to life (see "FAmily Affair") as did 'Parliament/Funkadelic'. I love 'Third World' and adore 'Eek a Mouse'. The Commodore's spawned the songwriting giant that is Lionel Richie, a guy who's songs have been the soundtrack to so many people's lives, and I'd love to become a writer who's work touches people for the right reasons.
I also admire Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher for their writing abilities, but the guy who's writing has astounded me for over 3 decades and is responsible for so many different emotional rides, has to be "Mark. E. Smith" of legendary Manchester combo "The Fall". I thought I'd grow out of their particular brand of art-noise as I got older, but I simply haven't. I still have a seizure of the dancing feet and shoulders that shimmy in autonomous fashion if I hear "Deer Park" or "Theme from Sparta FC". I have every Fall album ever made and any band that has had over 70 members come and go and yet STILL exist, has to have earned the 'Legend' label. They had a couple of goes at being more commercial ("Victoria" and "There's a ghost in my house") but they were only minor diversions.
I just admire someone who refuses to change (I'm one of them too) just to be able to pay the rent.
The Fall. They cannot be copied, but they can be greatly admired - and they are.
I still have the old deadnought and the old Squire, but they are now kept company by a Gretsch Historic series, a Frankenstein Les Paul (bolt on neck?) and a nondescript nylon strung guitar. I still have the Peavey PA gear, but now I also have some Pulse stuff, along with three sets of PA cabs, Laney backup amp head, a cuple of practice Marshall combo's, an Alto (the little L-8) mixer, Shure SM58 and Samson Mics, a Line-6 Sound interface I use between the Alto and the laptop for recording. I also have a Boss GT-10 guitar processor which still amuses the hell out of me, a year after I bought it.
I'm the least organised person on the planet. I write songs at an astonishing rate and always have heaps of filled A4 pages, notebooks, Diary's, even a financial ledger I took over for lyrics. On top of that I have dozens of lyrics on my phone and I-Pod, plus lots of roughly sung melody ideas on my phone, yet for all of this output, I am still astonished i actually manage to get ANYTHING done!
I'll have it in mind to start recording a track, switch to another at the last moment, then do something completely new when I press the record button. I use generic drum loops (or as in "Heartache is one size fits all") sit and laboriously program into the "Beatcraft" software (I record with the deeply un-trendy Mixcraft, but it works for me, so....)) When I do latch onto something to work on, I'll change the lyrics as I go along, make notes on cigarette packets or whatever is at hand, and tracks will just mutate into what they become, by a process of sheer chaos. It would drive anyone more organised absolutely crazy, but it's just how I work. I also use the old, battered SM-58, when I know only too well I should be using the clarity of the phantom-powered Samson, but I like the slightly gritty reality of the 58. Plus I tend to sing better into a mic I can feel through the pop-screen, as opposed to having to stand back and sing into the ether.
I wish I were more organised, and I DO try to be, but while I am churning them out I'm gonna stick with the chaos. Plus, as I have already said once, I'm too old to change now.
I wish I knew how to mix finished tracks, but I don't and that's that, which is why the recording quality varies so much from track to track. "Where did the world go wrong" was done on the exact setup config that "Always Be That Way" was, yet they are poles apart in quality, with "World" sounding like I did it on my old PC, as I used to, directly into my 2 desktop PC mic.
I'll finish by thanking those that I know do actually read this stuff, actually take notice and take time to come up to me to say they enjoyed this, or didn't wuite understand that, or hated the other. The very nature of art is in that it so cannot be quantified, is so fluid and dynamic, so flexible, inspirational and liberating, yet gives so very much of itself. I still love the fact that I can get a blank piece of A4 paper and a couple of hours later, be on my sofa in my headphones, nodding along to a finished demo track. THAT is the magic of music.