A blast from the past – Dorian Gray

One of my most popular songs, even after all these years, concerns a man who wanted eternal youth. But, of course, nothing comes for free. Have a listen for yourself.

 

In another episode right out of an old diary, I bumped into the singer of one of my old bands last week. He’s still rocking, I never doubted it for a second, and his current band is called ‘Secrets & Lies’. Mighty fine punk rock. Google them!

A Condensed Pink Floyd Concert for 500 Quid?

I’ve just been flicking through my back catalogue and I came across this gem.  I remember writing this song.  I had just watched Les Miserable at Queens Theatre, London and I came up with the (mad) idea of trying to fit a whole musical into the space of a five minute pop song.  Perhaps I’ll Kill You was the result.  I was proud of it at the time – in fact I thought it might just be the best thing I’d ever done – and listening to it today it still sounds great.  And very, very mad!

Hard Art

It’s past midnight again… I’m a sucker for punishment.  Ha ha!

So, have you checked out the new Eleventh Hour site?  www.eleventhhourinitiative.com

The new site has allowed me to push Bill a little more to the forefront when it comes to talking about the Eleventh Hour material.  I can now publish pieces from him and I think he’s quite enjoying it.  I’ve told him to wax lyrical about his involvement with the project and he has taken up the challenge admirably!!!  So… seriously, check it out.  He has been writing about the concepts that have influenced his contribution to the début Eleventh Hour Initiative album.  I will likely post some articles on the site about my musical influences and the importance of the album in the context of my musical life at a later date.  I shall let Bill take centre stage for the time being!

But… I will always be posting here.  And I do have things to say.  I set this site up as a place where I could share ideas about music and let people into what it takes to actually write an album.  A kind of ‘behind the scenes’.  That’s the thing you see… “writing an album”.  I don’t like to do things by halves!  I like to set myself a challenge and see if I can run with it!

I finished All Monsters and Dust.  I am working on the finishing touches for the whole ‘package’ of Eleventh Hour material (and I don’t say that lightly – there is a whole lot to do!!!).  But importantly… I am already a quarter of the way through the next Confession of the Whole School album.

The next Confession of the Whole School album will be an interesting affair.  For you see, in the past I have spent so much time refining my music. Refining my words.  Seriously, when I look back on past albums I can physically see the sheer hard work.  I have a box in the attic with papers from my time of writing the Alexi in Winter album. ( Hmmm…. Note to self, link to that album below now! )

I have pages of endless drafts of lyrics for songs such as Salt Cellars.  I had so much to say, and with such a narrow scope at that time.  The songs were focussed and the album was all the better for it.  But those songs were art.  And they were hard art.  And they were unrewarded art. But they document a time of my life and I am thankful that if I wanted to, I could play that album and hear a specific period of my life.  Those songs were so thought out.  They were complex and deep.  And most importantly, they were ‘proper’ songs.  They could have been on the Bends or on a Travis album or something.  You know what I mean?  Proper songs.  Acoustic guitar songs!!!  Singer songwriter songs.  They were of an age of fragmented Brit-pop.  The end of an era really.

There is a slight crossover with some of the early songs of what eventually became my first entirely solo album All Monsters and Dust.  You can hear it in a comparison between songs such as Love is Blind and Legend, Icon, God.  On the Eleventh Hour site I will likely, in the future, talk about similar ‘cross-over’s.  I talk about the Alexi in Winter period as being a distinct sound and a focussed set of songs.  Well… I feel similarly about the Eleventh Hour album.  It is an extremely specific, focussed set of songs.  But there is a genuine reference back to my Alexi in Winter period and, although I haven’t yet done it, I reckon listening to both albums back to back would be interesting.  But, as I say, I hope to go into detail about this on the other site.

This site is for my personal ramblings!  You may have noticed I like to ramble!  Big time!!!

So, Alexi in Winter was a very specific set of songs.  A collection of songs rooted in a particular set of emotions.  Rejection, anger, sorrow… mixed with a little bravado.  A very intimate collection of songs in a way.

All Monsters and Dust on the other hand was more scattershot.  This randomness was primarily due to the length of time it took to put together!  I went through a lot in those ten years.  The track listing takes you on a journey through my life.  The Comedy is Over dealt with similar issues to Alexi in Winter.  Fall dealt with anger and death.  ’50s Teen Flick dealt with yet another rejection.  The newer songs dealt with the aftermath.  Finally, Perhaps I’ll Kill You paved the way for a new album.  A new album with new rules…

And so, here I sit at 0039 hours.  Eyes stinging.  I know I ramble on about the same topics again and again but you must understand – this is like therapy for me!!!  And if my albums are diaries then this blog is the diary of a diary!

The point of this post was to say that the new album, (remember, I mentioned it a while ago!) is a departure from the Alexi in Winter days.  The lyrics are stream of consciousness. There are no pages and pages of corrected ideas.  I stand by what I now create… but I am unsure whether it is better or worse for its lack of discipline – for its lack of considered thought.  What I will say though is that this album will be my most adventurous.  It will not be a hit.  It can’t be.  It is too personal and too bold.  But it will be cohesive.  In its own way it will be just as cohesive as the Eleventh Hour Initiative album.  This next Confession of the Whole School album will be this current era of my life set to music.  I am so lucky in that I can be adventurous musically and commercially with the Eleventh Hour, and yet still hit you smack in the face with my solo material.  Bill wrote on our site about the importance to him that the general public ‘like’ our music.  I agree to a certain extent.  I… have  to agree.  It is important that people like my music.  And it is especially important that people love the Eleventh Hour Initiative.  It is a special project.  I would go so far as to say it is a magical project born of a magical situation.  While Bill is more modest, I am certainly the loud-mouth, and I say that my mix of ‘epic music’ with his ‘poetic genius lyrics’ stand head and shoulders above most music out there today.  I want the Eleventh Hour Initiative to succeed and I sincerely believe it deserves to succeed.  But… deep down, (and I will point this at my own music rather than the Eleventh Hour) – although I appreciate it is important that people like my music, I do not really care whether anyone likes my music.  ‘Important’ is one thing.  I mean, obviously some people have to like the music or serious questions would be surfacing.  Questions such as “Is it any good or am I just living a fantasy life like all the other people out there that think they have a voice and think that owning a music creation game on their computer makes them a “musician”?”.  I have had people adore my songs in the past.  Adore I say.  Ha ha!  Adoration does not change the spin of the Earth.  I’ll be honest… It changes very little.  I hold the majority of the general public in contempt.  They do not represent me and I do not represent them.  If you truly like my music – if you truly enjoy my music.. then you are a King.  Or a Queen if you prefer (you never know… there may be some women reading this.  Funny things happen at sea).  If you have enjoyed what has come before then you are going to love my next album.  I am making an album of white noise.  I am filtering the noise into music.  I am decimating the sound of 500 million explosions and picking out fragments of tone.  Pitch?  Ha ha!  I’m aiming for disorganised cacophony!  But with a strong narrative.  I will not be in character.  I will be talking directly to you.  TO YOU.  And if you don’t like what I have to say then you are going to despise the album!  Ha ha!  And, I know you should never begin a sentence with ‘and’.

Oh, and remember… always take my words with a pinch of salt.  ‘Cause you can never be sure when I have a wry smile on my face and a twinkle in my eyes. 😉

Goodnight.

p.s. have another listen to the only song currently ‘out in the open’ from my next album.  Think of it as a sneak preview! I present, again, ACTION HERO!

The Eleventh Hour Initiative

First of all… Remember to buy my album All Monsters and Dust!!! – http://confessionofthewholeschool.bandcamp.com/

I am taking a little break from music for a few days.  Things to do you see.  There’s the Royal Wedding to watch:

Hmmm.  Let’s hope the weather stays stunning.  I’ve read that it’s due to turn.  Fingers crossed!  Ha ha!

It has been a full-on few months.  I completed that first solo album and I’ve nearly finished the Eleventh Hour album.  I thought I’d just talk a little bit about a few changes Bill and I have made with our collaborative project.  Well… what started as the Eleventh Hour has now become THE ELEVENTH HOUR INITIATIVE.  I will write more about the reasons for the change closer to the time of the album release… but basically this new band name is a better summation of what Bill and I are all about.  It’s a closer fit to the scope of the album.  It is a mission statement in itself.  We have a band name that sets an agenda.

The album title will still be Escapism.  I will probably ask Bill to write a little piece on the theme of the album and the thinking behind the songs.  At this stage I will say that the title of the album genuinely fits the motivation and emotion of the songs.  So, the Eleventh Hour Initiative‘s debut album, Escapism is so very nearly complete.

I am having a ball with music at the moment.  I have produced songs at a phenomenal (for me!!!) rate and I am SO pleased with the results.  I listened to All Monsters and Dust through and I was knocked out by some of the inventiveness and catchiness of the tunes.  Obviously I am hugely biased… but it is an album that was so long in the making that any sense of cohesion could have been lost.  But on the contrary, I think the songs hang together well as a track listing and exhibit the essence of a ten year struggle with music.

On the other hand, the forthcoming Eleventh Hour Initiative album is a different Beast altogether.  This will be no long drawn out affair.  This will be no distillation of years of effort.  This album… Escapism… will be the most concise album I have yet produced.  It will be on a par with my Alexi in Winter work in that it will showcase a defined period of my life.  The music has flowed and actually been ‘easy’ to capture on ‘tape’.  This is a complete, rounded album – musically speaking.  With regards to the lyrics the album is also resolutely concise.  Razor sharp in fact.  Bill’s words have encompassed many topics and taken us on many roads and pathways and many peaks and troughs.  Yet throughout there has been the consistent theme of escape.  The fit with the music has been total.  This is total music.  This will eventually be a total album.  This album will rank mightily fine alongside the best of anything I have ever done.  In some ways, because of the speed of its inception and the scope of its endeavour it may just be the pinnacle of my artistic life so far.  Until its release you can still play the music by clicking on the album below.  We want to wet your appetite and we are sure that you will be the first to download the album when it does become available.  Remember… until then you really are the select few.  In years to come others will trawl this website to see what we were talking about before the album’s release.  But my friends… you are here now.  The select few.

All Monsters and Dust is released!!!

Click this link to buy!   http://confessionofthewholeschool.bandcamp.com/

Okay fellow Confessioners… the day has finally come.  The day I have banged on about for a long, long time.  I have released All Monsters and Dust.  You can click on the music link at the top of the screen and buy it.  Go on, you know you want to.  Wouldn’t the sound of ten years of effort go down well on your Ipod?  The answer, in case you’re struggling, is yes.  Ha ha!

I know I’m like a broken record when it comes to this ‘record’ but it is the end of an era of my life.  When I started recording All Monsters and Dust I was in a completely different studio.  Many of the earlier songs such as The Comedy is Over and Double Click … Delete document a totally different time of my life.  I was a different person back then.   I had just disbanded Alexi in Winter and I was starting a journey as a solo artist.  Now, although many of my projects up to that point had in reality been solo works, I was still surrounded by talented musicians and producers to help me realise my imagination.  With Confession of the Whole School I chose to take on the all-encompassing role.  To write, play and produce all my own music.  Not only that but also to create the artwork and all marketing material.

As the recording of the album progressed I then changed studio environment as I moved into a flat.  ’50s Teen Flick is the main product of that time.  I like the sound I achieved on that song and the lyrics are very much a diary entry of that ‘middle period’ of the album.  I was quite disillusioned and although I still believed that music was my outlet I also felt that no-one would ever want to listen.  For that reason ’50s Teen Flick will always have a place in my heart.

The final period of the recording of the album took place in my current studio.  My dad and I built this studio.  You can see pictures of it on this very site on the top menu somewhere.  The latter era songs, for me, are summed up by the song which I actually decided to make the opener of the album.  The Last Gasp.  It is an important song for it allows me to escape the baggage of ten years.  I came to the realisation that a lot of the things that once made me angry are no longer of any concern to me.  I am a free spirit and no one has held me back.  No one has stopped me accomplishing anything.  For you see everything is still out there for the taking.  The lyrics of The Last Gasp reflect this.  In fact, the Last Gasp and Perhaps I’ll Kill You are a neat little double act as they represent both a ruled line under the past and an indication of what I can achieve in the future.  Both songs map out a plan of action for forthcoming material.  They point a direction.  Yes… they point a direction.  A direction I have since expanded upon with Action Hero… but All Monsters and Dust laid the foundations.  A move from strict indie pop to ‘no boundaries’ flight of fancy.  Listen to the album as a whole and you will hopefully get an appreciation for the decade it took to make.

Oh… and I promise the next album won’t take 10 years!!!  🙂

box of delights

I pull a box out of the garage.  Rummage through.  Funny what you find.  A whole stack of papers – mainly old songs.  Written in biro.  Mostly on the backs of old forgotten documents, but some on the back of actual university essays.

Personal history in its rawest form.  A wipe of the hand through layers of dust and dried spiders uncovers moments of true beauty… along with utter stupidity.  I’m talking about old songs that I have no memory of writing.  Hundreds of words that must have meant something once – but now just languish in never to be heard purgatory.  Reading a few of the lyrics immediately brings back whole melodies, drum beats, hell even feelings!  However, most of the other lyrics only offer proof as to why the songs were packed into a box.  Separated from whatever music was originally attached to them, the words read like pretentious twaddle – backing up the reasons I must have had to consign them to my past in the first place.

You have to understand though.  These songs could have existed.  A simple twist of fate – say a more successful previous band – and these songs could have ‘been’.  They could have been ‘press play’able.  But instead… due to what can only be described as failure, the songs gather dust.  Some of the songs had been played live.  Some recorded.  Some are even available to be heard on this very site (under the history section).  But the majority never existed.  They remain just words on a page.  I no longer have any memory of the melodies.  No clue as to the drum beats, the bass lines, the guitar chords.  All I have is the words.  Some good – some bad  But all were written for a reason.  Once.  A long time ago.  Today – to be brushed off and read again.

The problem now is I have to find somewhere to put these little gems.  For if the world ever decides to embrace Confession of the Whole School  then these tarnished pieces of paper will be valuable.  My plan of action is to carefully put them all in a box… and put the box in the garage.  It’ll be safe there.  Yes… and so it shall be done.