Who and what have I been listening too?
So this page is about the paths I've walked musically. Who am I listening to now? Who did I get into for the many different reasons we all listen to music?
Listening to music is not just about self indulgence its about education, understanding and evolving a wide palette.
There's a lot I listened to that I wouldn't anymore. But I learned a lot.
Pushing the parameters out sonically is healthy, inspiring, educational and helps clarify and define your core genre.
Over The Years
Peter Gabriel, David Bowie- up to Diamond Dogs, Elvis Costello.
9 Below Zero - Blues band live!
West coast Rock; The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Santana and Bad Company
Post Punk; Punishment of Luxury, early OMD and The Only Ones
Depeche Mode- post 1990
Sampling, Symphonica and Songwriters
I think I worked out one day that I've done around 6000 gigs. Mainly covers whether piano bar or with the advent of MIDI with the full band backing. A low percentage of my own output.
It made me a living. Still does. Have I sold my soul along the way? My creative soul? Well perhaps, but not totally, it's still there burning as strong as ever. Learning and interpreting others music in the long run is good. It improved my understanding of the craft of writing by having the standards from the last 60 years imprinted in my brain. I still wrote songs in the conventional sense and yet expanded my music knowledge by going to Film school and utilising the new sampling and sequencing technology while listening to all genres. I also wrote games music mainly for Telstar for the PS1 and CDROM market whilst earning a crust pianobar-ing around Scandinavia and London and the inevitable toilets.
Samplers were born and I explored live what they could do - and what the Ensoniq Mirage, Yamaha CS5, Roland synths and Drumtraks could do. I still have these original analogue beauties. 8 mono samples held on one floppy disc played live. No sequencers or MIDI. No such thing as mp3 players!!. In the 80's/90's it was the Wild West technologically and I was into Indie big time. Synths and samplers, the gear was heavy to lug around but I was layering and looping Talking Heads, Old blues artists, even John Peels voice. The Bull and Gate was my home - those that know it, know it. I wrote articles for an Indie mag, House of Dolls and interviewed a fair few bands and individuals.
I played on and earned a living having enjoyed Indie, film school and composing for the games industry. All along I was still writing songs, piano based verse, chorus, middle 8, chorus, chorus songs. I was heavily into Green politics and the songs reflected human interplay and interaction with nature and each other. My songs definately weren't commercial. I brought out a CD and they were a snapshot of what I was writing at the time but not neccessarily the best songs I had written. Constantly told how hard it was to make a living in the music business, I did so and kept on playing. Whatever paid I played.
You need a slice of luck in this business and I just didn't get it. I had near misses and made wrong decisions whether out of arrogance, naivety or intentionally but I can bear that, open up now and write about it without any remorse or self pity. To err is to be human so the saying goes. It's a good source of ideas and real emotions. The stories? Reserve for a band no one had heard of here who were going to the USA. They released a single and LP. It went to #1 there and they toured stadiums. I jammed with and auditioned for a few names but didn't get the final jobs. Even writing in the games business three big games came in at the same time and I just couldn't physically do the work so the contacts went elswhere and I was sick of shoot 'em ups anyway. Hey that happens. But here's the thread. I kept on playing and writing.
Then The Road to Damascus moment; half way to friends up in Suffolk I turned the car round after one too many red lights on the road, went to bed for 24 hours and jabbered incoherently. Obviously my mind and body had had enough and I turned to my wife Ceri and said, shall we put a plan together to go to Cornwall and we can get a small holding and I can start a walking business - a big passion and raison d'etre for me-. We did and 12 years later the business is up and running and during this period I wrote a few ideas down every so often on whatever hardware I had to hand. Still playing hotels, weddings and a few more toilets when I had to, there was no desire to be writing and there was the overriding need to feed the family. Last winter I finally put the small studio together in part with a Tascam 24 track hard disc recorder, the first gear I had bought in over a decade. I decided to complete a few ideas, lyrics and riffs that had accumulated over 12 years and turn them into 6 piano vocal songs. Bare, raw and no overdubs.
So what now? Well I had some near misses, hence the title of a new song, The Nearly Man. A responsible hedonist, introverted extrovert, lost and found, loner and devoted friend, I'm still hungry, still writing, still reinventing. The stories are there to be told.