2012 was bipolar – but I’d do it all again
Well, that was a… colourful year. And who could ask for more? Rather that than the alternative, which is a dreary thought. Death!
So what happened? (I’m still asking myself that, so this summary is as much for my benefit as anything else.)
1) Released 2nd album. Got more, and better, reviews than #1 – which was kind of the idea.
2) Did a brief and eventful tour after release – pretty much broke even: another first. Played a fair few other gigs, mostly solo, some with…
3) A band, which orbited around the songs for roughly 8-9 months and then exploded. With hindsight, it was never going to last, but during that time we played…
4) Live on BBC Introducing: The South (and the single got a little air-time too). This was exciting.
…Besides these bare bullet-points, I’ve just kept on doing it, “it” being more songs. Met some potential collaborators in the last couple of months, had a few tantalising overtures; again, I’m not going into detail yet for fear of The Jinx; in this game, so many promising set-ups tend to evaporate without warning.
But it’s promising just the same. And it’s been a blast – on a gross venal level, the trickle of royalties makes filling in an income tax Self Assessment form such a thrill.
Joking aside, I’m still fuelling off the highs and regret none of the lows – hope you (whoever you are) likewise. Happy New Year.
notes from waaay underground, Sept 2012
It’s hardly an original observation, but we’re in an unprecedented place with music right now. And that’s leaving aside the hopelessly blurred question of illicit downloads (although the idea that music should be a free, inexhaustible and perpetually-available resource, like sunlight or oxygen, is utterly self-defeating). (Strawman argument, anyone? Sod it – like I said, blurred.)
What we’ve got is an ever-more-entrenched top tier – the trad music biz – with a chokehold on all outlets still, despite everything. Shrinking but sucking up all the gravy, digging in, skimming off as much short-term profit on karaoke and career-path indie as possible… and then there’s practically everyone else. Okay, there are exceptions when someone interesting somehow gets over the fence, but you know what I’m saying.
“Everyone else” being the huge semi-pro DIY mass, squashed in a corner, playing the long game. Doing it for the love of it, waiting for a break, gambling on longevity – or persistence – or bloody-mindedness – or vision, call it what you will. (If the sheer volume of ever-accumulating stuff out there on the internet hasn’t made a nonsense of ideas like “back catalogue” and “posterity”, for unknowns anyway.) This in itself isn’t a new thing; it’s the extent of the lower tier that’s new. There simply aren’t enough outlets that pay – either in terms of making a living, or the finer commodity of sustained visibility. Of course the situation could eventually stabilize, even improve; something unexpected might come along and change the game again. Until then, though…
They believe in what they’re doing, these hidden dreamers, so they roll the dice and carry on regardless.
As will I, despite the discouraging recent experience of having a backing band blow up on the launchpad. Discouraging, not fatal – with 20/20 hindsight it’s best in the long run, for reasons I needn’t go into here. Gave me ideas on how I’d like to continue, which is something; time now to get on with it.
Another year, another gamble: thankfully, the work is its own reward. Clearly lots of other people feel the same.
I haven’t fronted a band since Empty Vessels on 14th Dec 2006 at The Montague Arms (RIP): so what’s changed? Happily, very little.
Solo acoustic (or with perhaps one other musician, eg. keyboards) is a totally different animal – I’d forgotten how charged the atmosphere at a real gig can be. The New Cross Inn on Friday was vibey as ever; I, Ludicrous sounded good – well, their soundcheck did, we’d buggered off back to Brighton in the van by the time they went onstage – and the sheer power and physicality of the experience was… well, there aren’t any words, really. I just love feeling the drum-cracks and noise-shreds blast my spine, and aiming my voice right… through… the middle; worth every second, every minor discomfort and expediency.
It went over well, too; nice crowd. It’s good to be back. More to follow, soon.
oh, and many thanks to Andy Clarke, without whom…
The Facebook link above has the necessary, but bare bones: it’s at The Hydrant in Brighton, suggested donation of £3 for entry, starts 7:30pm – I’m onstage 7:50ish. It’s also the last solo gig I’ll do for a while, all being well.*
It’s also, needless to say, in a good cause: ie. to help prevent Benefits being stripped from those who need them most by a bunch of blinkered, sociopathic Victorian mill-owner types… who wouldn’t know genuine, compassionately-motivated positive intervention if it lined them up against a wall, blindfolded and executed them by firing-squad. (Think it’s plain where I stand on this issue.) Anyway, enough frothing & ranting. There’s bands and comedians and stuff – should be a nice night.
*(See below: got a good band behind me now, locking down tracks from album #2. Speaking of 2nd album, I’ve got the rough mixes and they sound great. It’s a bold step forward musically, sharper and leaner – will be mastered and finished within a week.)
…and for my next trick…
Last night’s Interrobang gig was great – good atmosphere and venue, receptive audience, lots of interesting stuff going on. A welcome reminder why I do this in the first place, and confirmation of the gut feeling I’ve been getting lately about what kind of gigs work best for me, and everyone else in the room.
So – a good place to stop, chill out for a week or two, and think carefully about how best to carry on. There’s only so much one guy with an acoustic guitar can do, after all; it’s kind of limiting the options. Might be good to try putting a band together… (Although ironically, the new material written for album #2 suits solo acoustic much better, so who knows? The last thing I want is to end up with yet another by-the-numbers indie band.)
With all kinds of ambitious but as-yet unformed ideas*, I’m taking time off from live stuff for a couple of months to try out different approaches. Last night was good enough to make me regret the decision, which proves it’s the right one, if that makes sense.
*About presentation, not format – you won’t see me turning music into an app, for instance. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, full of fear and envy for a future I don’t understand, yet want to skull-fuck… But instead of being exciting and meaningfully interactive, that just smells of focus groups and Tory Big Society outsourcing mentality to me: You do it, we can’t be arsed.
Anyway, more and better, coming soon.
PS: I’ll still be posting stuff on here, videos etc, and play a few open mics to keep my hand in. The Windmill in Brighton last week was particularly good fun.