Hiya, Don’t worry this isn’t the name of a new single or anything, but what a choice it would be if it was. We’ve actually worked with both Cheeky and Big Fave before but it didn’t amount to anything. Maybe …
Don’t worry this isn’t the name of a new single or anything, but what a choice it would be if it was. We’ve actually worked with both Cheeky and Big Fave before but it didn’t amount to anything. Maybe that’s where we’ve been going wrong if you’ll pardon the pun.
We’ve been dotting about all over the place the last couple of weeks but most of it has been under the radar. Too much time has been spent in Mickey’s garage which turns into a sauna without the perks from June-September. The new songs are gradually starting to emerge so all is good in that regard!
The main reason for this email is that we have been shortlisted for live band of the year by AIM – the Association of Independent Music. We’re very proud of our independence so it is lovely to be included for this award. We are on the list amongst some pretty special live bands so please have a look at the following list and either a) vote for the band you actually like best or b) stick a cheeky vote in for us.
BEST LIVE ACT TO VOTE CLICK HERE: http://bitly.com/bestliveact2015
In an honest sense we think that we should win because of all the bands here we have a) the best looking bass player, b) the best-pound-for-pound live snare sound, c) some decent songs, and d) a good attitude.
That’s it really, enjoy the summer.
Hello everybody, The main reason for this blog is to say a huge thank you to every person who has supported our third album and helped it to reach number 31 in the UK album charts. Your support is the …
The main reason for this blog is to say a huge thank you to every person who has supported our third album and helped it to reach number 31 in the UK album charts.
Your support is the reason why we are able to function as full-time songwriters and your faith and loyalty lets us really just focus on the task of making music. It is such a relief to know that you give our music a fair listen, without preconception, before making an honest decision as to whether you like it or not. We are completely appreciative of this.
Whether you have pledged, or downloaded, attended a gig or sent a message of goodwill – thank you
Me, Mickey, Matt and Steve had a lengthy meeting last December in a pizza shop in Banbury just before Christmas 2013 and decided two things: that we wanted to release music ourselves, totally independently and that we would try and make the next year our most productive ever.
We (I say we but in reality I mean Mickey), wanted to record and release 3 EPs and an album before the end of 2014, this was despite the fact that we currently had NO songs recorded and Mickey was due to become a Dad for the second time in March. Luckily we quickly revised our plan.
In setting up the little label we really wanted to learn about the machinations of releasing music but also to make sure that every aspect of what we did was treated with care and attention – without the distraction of ££$$$PROFIT$$£££. Logically we knew that having an office in the house (or a pizza shop!), recording in a garage, and creating videos and music ourselves (along with getting Mr and Mrs Coles to act as our distributors-to-the-power-ten from a house in sunny Jarrow) would make our overheads next to nothing – selling 100,000 albums was therefore never a goal – it could only ever be a byproduct, and without this pressure we happily set to work.
I think we all from the start had the idea of maybe having a top 40 album as a target – we’d never achieved it before despite the advantages of being helped by both major and independent labels, and so we really did have a point to prove in that – why can’t you do it yourself.
We have had a lot of help and support along the way from Steve and Amber our agents, Mr. Steve Tilley, AIM, Believe and our families – but we still feel like we have grafted.
I want to avoid this blog being over-sentimental but we aren’t often people who enjoy the moment and we do all feel that this one is something to cherish.
Mind you, we’ve already started planning the next one
Hello everybody, Hopefully you are well Our new album Hope is Just a State of Mind was released on Monday into the world. At the start of last year we all sat down together to plan this release – doing …
Hopefully you are well
Our new album Hope is Just a State of Mind was released on Monday into the world. At the start of last year we all sat down together to plan this release – doing everything ourselves: from making cups of tea, to choosing packaging, creating artwork to writing the songs. We had a surreal little target of a top 40 album.
We don’t often place much emphasis on numbers or charts put we really wanted to attempt something that so far had eluded the record labels we had worked with – almost taking our independence to an illogical extreme. A lot of this was based on people like you – people who have supported our music for years and years in many different forms. It gives us a great deal of confidence as song-writers that we have an open minded audience who seem to judge music on its merits and not on perception. You either like it or you don’t. This total honesty is something we very much appreciate.
Yesterday we received the news that the album is currently sitting at number 18 in the midweek charts – already due to the fact that yet again, you have been incredibly supportive of our music.
It would be truly fantastic to keep the album where it is, so all we would ask is that (if you haven’t already purchased the album) you might follow the link below, and if you like what you hear then maybe spend a couple of pennies!
If not no worries
Rob, Mickey and Matt
I think that this is really the most emotionally honest song that I’ve ever written, and also one of the simplest – it is just a message to my little boy William: my hopes for him. It’s a very optimistic …
I think that this is really the most emotionally honest song that I’ve ever written, and also one of the simplest – it is just a message to my little boy William: my hopes for him. It’s a very optimistic tune and took place so late on in the recording of the album, that it became clear that this was the song to open the album.
We only realised once we’d finished recording it that it doesn’t really have a standard form – our songs often follow a particular pattern A B A B C A B, where A would be a verse and B chorus, C coming as a middle 8 or lift towards the end: but this song ignores it all, and the fact we weren’t really aware of it that until we’d completed it shows (in theory) that it works…
The form for this song is A B C D E, which is quite bizarre but I think it just happened during the writing process as there wasn’t a point where we imported an idea from elsewhere, it just all occurred naturally.
Once again Jack from Bwani Junction recorded the drums and I remember it was a really beautiful session – I don’t use that word lightly, and I definitely feel Jack put a lot of feel and emotion into the drum and combined with Mickey’s spacious drum sound, it gives the song a great deal of depth – I love the drumming on this song….
Building upon the percussion was quite easy – we worked on each section individually and the parts didn’t need too much sculpting. Before long the middle of the song was formed with only the beginning and the end remaining. All the acoustic guitars were then recorded in Mickey’s kitchen, and even though the fingerpicked, sparse sound isn’t really something we’ve done before I think it bookends the song nicely.
There were then just the vocals to do…. I normally don’t enjoy recording the vocals as I am quite mathematical about it – I do a certain amount of takes and (to be honest) over-think certain notes that often I create a stress about nothing, but I think the subject matter of this song really helped and it was actually amazing to sing – it just felt right. Often for us, aspects of recording (asides when I do guitar takes) are quite controlled – but this was like singing a song live and I had a real adrenaline rush when recording it. Sometimes being emotionally unhinged when you are recording a song has quite an impact when you listen back later – it’s normally unusable, but in this case it worked perfectly. Again, the backing vocals seemed to stick to the lead part well and recording them was a bit of a doddle.
For the beginning of the song, we again did something quite different for ourselves – Mickey really wanted the start to be one-take and conversely the last thing we recorded for the album, so on the 27th of December we set up in Mickey’s kitchen. I know the start is quite strange but he wanted to capture the element of live performance – I take a drink from the tap, then walk to the microphone, pick up my guitar and play. As with the end it is quite empty but works nicely I think….
The final additional part that I want to mention is the spoken section. When me and Mickey were little our Mam and Dad would set up a tape recorder when we played just for memories sake – I suppose it was the 1980s version of an iphone, and I remember listening back to these recordings when I was older. I’ve always wanted to do this with me and Mickey’s little boys, William and George who are the best of friends: overlaying it with some of our music.
One Saturday afternoon we did just that, and then over the course of an evening I loved editing this 2 hour long recording into the conversation you can hear on the song. That very good, oh-oh, oh no, where are you? Back home. Me back. Sit down here. OK….. It’s funny, but it’s my favourite bit of any song we’ve ever recorded, and it’s not really us haha….
I suppose the thing I am proud of with our music is the fact that we’ve always followed our hearts and stayed true – we do what we love, and we work very hard but we’ve never compromised ourselves for it. If I could pass one message onto my little boy, other than how much we love him, is just to be true to himself and keep an open mind – there’s always more to learn…
Cut all the pages
from a magazine
I must preserve
the right to dream of
my boy William
Power to the unions
Cannot save my soul
I’ve lost my faith in
rock and roll: tell it to
my boy William.
When you reach that low
At your nadir
When they creep up beside you
And whisper nothing in your one true ear
I hope you resist
And you stand so tall
And that grief will desert you
Leave a message on your bedroom wall
There’s more to this than meets the eye my love
Don’t drown your dreams stay true but
Try as I might
There’s much to learn and much to sow my love
But try as you might
All is burning
All is burning
All is burning now.
If you really want to know what this song is about then please visit this link and have a read. http://www.refuge.org.uk/what-we-do/working-with-families-to-effect-change/maria-stubbings/ I remember hearing Maria Stubbings’ story while listening to a radio 4 interview with her brother a few years …
If you really want to know what this song is about then please visit this link and have a read.
I remember hearing Maria Stubbings’ story while listening to a radio 4 interview with her brother a few years ago – it was a really moving piece of radio. He was passionate, eloquent, emotional and intelligent in the way he spoke about something that was clearly of total importance to himself and his family.
Like with Salt, those words stuck with me and I knew when we started to play with Wherewithal that it was an appropriate song.
Domestic violence is a very important issue for me, especially as I feel that our society could do more on many levels from governance to policing, media representation to education.
Again all I hoped when i wrote the lyrics for this song is that I used appropriate language.
Musically, Mickey was very worried that this song was a bit too 80s, especially with his little Sexual Healing chorus guitar part, but other than that it wasn’t too difficult to record. He sometimes gets these very personal hang ups about a song that the rest of us can’t really hear (we don’t really play “Her Black Eyes” anymore because he is convinced we have changed the key and not told him), but once he gets past them it all follows on like it normally would.
The main problem ending up being working out a suitable baseline – the guitar part was written first and so does the job that a standard bass part would do, it doesn’t leave a great deal of space in which the bass can operate. Also, we really wanted to make sure that the two verses were adequately delineated – sometimes our music can sound a little repetitive melodically so we like to bring in another “theme” when a second verse happens. A few slides and weird noises later it was sorted.
Weird noises are our standard go-to when we have a problem: it normally involves Mickey having a cuppa while I record about 10 guitar takes. He’ll then come back, shake his head and then spend 6 hours knitting together something coherent from what I’ve done – so much so that it bears no resemblance to my original part. Like giving Leonardo Da Vinci a ball of wool and him turning it into a sculpture of an eagle. Mickey describes this as “taking what you do and making it a million times better”. This offends me greatly but I suppose I just have to deal with it….
Jack Fotheringham plays the drums again on this song. We loved working with Jack – he drums with Bwani Junction who we all think are the greatest band who aren’t massive in the world. They don’t use any tricks live – everything you see is them. Very few bands do that anymore and this integrity and fullness of sound tells you everything you need to know about their musicianship and songwriting….
I know that’s a bit of a ramble to finish off on, but hey ho. I suppose it’s ok to go sideways from time to time, works for crabs.
Picture me enchained like a memory
And I won’t waste, I won’t waste
Figure you’d be safe, calling the police
They won’t wait, they won’t wait up
Shaking like a leaf, as a simile
Doesn’t begin to describe
Every little failing is annuity
To the one in four who survive
Funny how the ending mirrors my life
Sharp love from sharp eyes
Buried under coats, needing all relief
I won’t wake, I won’t wake up
I’ve been hiding under stairs: I’ve been there for a while
All temerity is stuck on the hem of your guile
You think emotional appeasement is just a part of the style
When a victim needs to trust in the system to fight
And the truth is I can’t trust you anywhere
And the truth is I can’t trust you anywhere
On the tip of your cap is a badge
Semper vigilo: you never ever did that though
And I can’t trust you anywhere
No I can’t trust you anywhere
Me, Mark and Mickey used to get up at 6am in the morning to rehearse. We’d meet at a little school in South Gosforth to collect our gear, put it in the van and drive to a Tesco to get …
Me, Mark and Mickey used to get up at 6am in the morning to rehearse. We’d meet at a little school in South Gosforth to collect our gear, put it in the van and drive to a Tesco to get breakfast. I’d get croissants but pay for carrots (totally accidentally….) and we’d toddle off down to our rehearsal room arriving for about 7am – after shouting endearing obscenities at a local accounting firm. By the fourth week of doing it, they used to look forward to it I think. We also used to play a game where we tried to guess the lollipop-lady-on-Osbourne-Road’s name, but no-one ever got there.
Before long we roped poor Matt in and started this band….
Our reasons were good and we just played music together and it felt like magic at times. It was dark and intense and often fraught but I’ll always remember those happy days in Davy Burn’s ramshackle garage.
We were very driven then – we wanted to be in a band and tick off every single box on a list of what a band could do, and so the songs we wrote had to be hook friendly, record label inducing, 3 minute bits of pop…. Like a formula. But I think we struggled with this so came out with our own take on it….
Now, we’ve come back round to writing songs just because we like to and so the song Formula was born. I think it is meant to be a history of our band – and a bit of a piss-take of our selves. Bits of the song are serious – we have put seven intense years into this, and at some point this will take its toll.
Me and Mickey wrote it in summer, just messing around with the idea of playing something which was quick and immediate and hooky. The only way we could get away with the eventual result was to make the song a riposte to the idea of contriving but also a little look back on the journey we’ve been on.
Mark Harle plays the drums on this and I’m really glad – it’s always lovely to work with Mark and just see him for a bit, plus his drumming is pretty perfect for a song like this and it has a nice symmetry with the lyrics to have him bashing and tickling.
Wakeful aching early mornings
Prise the desperation from your hands
Leaning out of bedroom windows
Books and hooks we steal from last night’s bands.
Take a girl’s name for the chorus
Repetition and repetition
Write it on a piece of paper
Add some words that I don’t understand.
Just drinking formula
Every think is wasted
We’re drinking formula
Every think is wasted
Seven years of implication
Unaware of hours we’ve wasted
Far from here,
Soluble from weeks spent
Every think is wasted
We’re drinking formula
Every think is wasted.
Cold and clear
Sentiment is spent
I’m a tear
An endless cheek
With total mercy.
You’re drinking formula
Every think is wasted.
Between me and Mickey, this was one of the songs that lyrically we disagreed on the most. As usual the music arrived along before the content, in a lovely quick way. Every part we put down seemed to fit and …
Between me and Mickey, this was one of the songs that lyrically we disagreed on the most. As usual the music arrived along before the content, in a lovely quick way. Every part we put down seemed to fit and I think the myriad of parts in the verses really knit well together. Amongst this the only word that stuck while putting down a guide melody was “effete” (which I pronounce in my own anglo-saxon way haha, but less about that…). So that’s what I wanted the song to be about – this word.
Mickey thought that the song had a lot of beauty about it musically and so should carry a similar subject matter (it’s not often that he mentions lyrics so when he does I tend to listen). We were really happy with the split in the middle of the song and loved the drive of the last 90 seconds – but the lyrics were still a problem.
I wanted to take the idea of the word effete and develop a song idea around a character who I felt typified the word….
When I was university one of my best friends had a pretty inspirational story. He was 5”11 (this is relevant, not just how I describe people), and a good cross country runner but he came to uni with the ambition of rowing in the boat race. He had never rowed before and along with his build had a disadvantage that was beyond mammoth – a medium sized bloke from Wales versus the might of Olympians built like behemoth.
Now, I don’t like what the boat race is or stands for and I have huge problems with the way Oxford and Cambridge are positioned as a fulcrum in our societies, but suspending that for a minute you have to admire the determination and attitude of my friend. Virtually pausing his degree he had managed by his third year to progress from the ranks of a novice into the reserve boat (sitting amongst experienced international rowers), narrowly missing a place in the race. By that summer he represented the UK at u23 level. A real story of battling against odds, beyond improbable. I was inspired by him and still think back with disbelief to what he achieved.
Around the same time, Lance Armstrong – in a story that seemed beyond myth – had completed his own immeasurable triumph. A person that I know my friend had invested a huge amount of faith and inspiration. The amount of other people that this man must have also inspired to beat not only manacles of the self but also illness or injury is stupendous.
When his story began to unravel I really wondered how you would feel if a portion of your life had been invested in the purity of this story – everyone wanted that story to be true, yet to lift the veneer and see the deceit, the ill treatment of people and the way that he steamrollered himself into the position of an icon, says a lot about our world I think – if this is a fraud, then can anything amazing be real?
The husk of what is left of Lance Armstrong therefore became to me, an important and correct subject for a song – maybe I attach too much importance to it but he really is (to me) to personification of Effetism.
Nobody cares about you
On your birth date
Wake up: pretend you’ve
I guest you’ve finally
Made it to the back teeth
Effete: to weigh less
Maillot jaune scars
But now you’re staring
At a set of new stars
Free Lance from a packed cell
Hematocrit’ll kick you
Where your hope dwells
Depress to depress
Shake off to shake off:
Everyone was gushing but you never did blush
Bawdy implication was it part of the rush?
Acting so ephemeral according to style
You bully and you sully with a national guile
Everything was open but your mouth stayed
You’d been dealing with the feelings of a seminal cut
The single greatest story and I hoped it was true
But the words on the cover said a lot more about you
Me and Mickey must have been pretty irresponsible to be writing this song – we had the October tour to rehearse for and half the album still to finish and we sat down just to play music. I remember thinking …
Me and Mickey must have been pretty irresponsible to be writing this song – we had the October tour to rehearse for and half the album still to finish and we sat down just to play music. I remember thinking – we have to get the album finished by January 5th and we are still writing music…. But Mickey started playing this little riff on his guitar and the world was ok.
We didn’t really think anything of it other than that it was a catchy little song that might work for album four – but the next day we both woke up singing it so decided to finish it off. Still we didn’t seriously consider it for the album.
When we were finalising the songs to record a few weeks later (we were in Edinburgh at the time playing on the tour), Mickey mentioned “what about that Gift of Sound song”, so I started playing it on the acoustic guitar. Steve liked it (well he kind of nodded and said: it’s alright that – which for Steve is the equivalent of streaking on the pitch at the FA Cup Final celebrating a last minute winner) and our good friend and skilled helpist Matt Walch was very positive about it, so we took it very seriously.
It came together fairly quickly in a recorded and lyrical sense: we listened back to a mic we had set up in the room when we wrote it (something we never normally do) and the structure was fairly tight, along with some good ideas words-wise. For recording we asked our good friend Jack from a great band called Bwani Junction to play the drums (he also plays on Wherewithal and My Boy William), and he and Mickey worked well in the studio – while Jack played I worked out the backing vocals and within a week or so of graft in Mickey’s garage it was pretty much done…. Whether through the necessity of time or the relative simplicity of the song it all came together (for us) fairly quickly.
Lyrically, I suppose the song is just about using language to engage on issues that are important to you – being inspired by the dearth of passion and truth in general politics or society to change things for the better. Just to keep on plugging away. I often feel really down about things like this, but I suppose it is good to try and always have a little flame of positivity lit somewhere within you that allows you to draw strength from negativity and turn it around. The lyrics are below and really are quite self-explanatory I think.
Originally we wanted this song to end the album because of the final line – we thought it would have been quite a tantalising way to finish, but when we listened to the songs together it was far too light for this role, and so it sits where it does…. J
Words that fall from stature
Do not enrapture
Chin feels like a chisel
Lost its fizzle
So hold me like a stranger
Absolve my danger
It’s the similarities
That bring me down.
Given the gift of sound
Given the gift of sound
Given the gift of free flowing language
You don’t own
Given the gift of sound
Can you fill the gaps in?
Search for something higher
Man is like a mountain
Never any doubt in what you do
It’s the realisation that we have all
Been given the gift of sound.
Touch brings you nearer
Could this be any clearer?
It’s the waveform you need the most.
Eyes like a vandal
It’s the truth I can handle:
Let the waveform take you home.
Given the gift of all that’s elitist
Given it so you know what defeat
Given the gift of stairs made to crawl
But cherish the heft of those you can walk up
Given the gift of thoughts for the silence
Given the gift of faith and defiance
Given the gift of Sound
It’s the final pulsings of basically nothing.