I feel very privileged to be a professional musician, especially knowing my own personal physical limitations, I've never been one to moan about disadvantages or being different. You only live once, so that's what I always intended to do and I wanted to play the guitar, sing and write music. My Bio gives you the modern day jist, but here I will tell you a tale.
A long time ago....
I made a few EP's before making MindsEye. I wanted to do something far more grandiose than I've ever done before. Every single song I have ever written I have recorded and produced myself. I have played with many bands and musicians before I decided that I wanted to do my own thing. I look back on these times with an optimistic point of view. Not every musicians first band is their greatest, only & last band. We can't all be Rush eh?. : )
The 1st band I was in was called D.V.D (Damned Via Distortion) which pretty much started from High School. My fellow classmate was a drummer who could pluck a few chords on the guitar and I was learning the guitar every day, singing and (oy vey) writing lyrics. The songs we wrote weren't completely laughable, but I wouldn't compare our set list to the 1st R.E.M EP neither. It was a learning curb. We stepped off of it and did one gig, which went spectacularly wrong, mainly because our bass player didn't turn up....well, his physical presence was there, but his mind was at the bar........in another venue. The band experience was just that, an experience. a valiant attempt of finding a new bassist just didn't pan out, thus t'was time to move on. First band, end scene.
I then formed a new band with a new bass player, new drummer and my friend Matt on vocals. Seriously, the guy sounds like Sebastian Bach. I wrote all the songs, even recorded all the basic demos for the band to learn from and bang out in the studio and with no word of a lie, our very 1st band practice was fantastic. The lads learnt 4 songs, actually learnt them. We sounded like an actual hard rock band. Unfortunately, Matt had another band who he was in 1st, so understandably we took a back seat priority wise, which sucked at 1st, but given that our drummer was abit mental and our bassist was sniffing spare charlie off his bass before practices (nice guy though), I just wasn't into that shit. Long story short, this band (with no name) disbanded, as Matt's band, Structured Chaos, released a couple of EP's before their cloak wearing guitarist and their drummer (who couldn't keep time) took their over inflated egos and movedon.
In the words of Victor Caroli, It is the year 2005 and, in this case, no Transformers in sight. I decided to form a new band after playing various gigs with other bands that includedmy brothers. Only this time, sharing the song writing load. After placing a few ads in some local mags & rags I found Sandra, a local female rock singer. With common musical ground we formed a band called Miraje (pronounced Mirage). We were a duo searching for a decent rhythm section whilst simultaneously playing small acoustic gigs & working on some songs. Three tracks of which for a demo EP (What You See Is What You Get) which was never released bar a track or two posted on Myspace.
This band experience was a mixed blessing. On one hand I got to finally experience a collaborating process, working with a singer who wrote lyrics and came up with their own melodies. Compromising in a band is harder than it seems. We couldn't completely agree on musical directions, which ultimately led to a split. Thankfully I took all the positives from this and decided at this point I was better focussing on the music I wanted to write, even though I was not the best vocalist in comparison to my band mate, who to hercredit had a decent range & power, reminiscent of a female Dio (as someone once said after a gig). I needed to work on my vocals and thus began the solo venture........*costume change*.
There were a couple of tracks that written around this time period that I rewrote and used for my 1st solo EP, Divine Inspiration, including the tracks Nightcrawler (featuring my mate Matt on vocals), Within The Temple, D.I (Instrumental Intro) and Vagabond.
Limits In Expectations was my 1st real solo effort in the fall of 2005, finishing it and releasing it on Myspace in 2006. Originally I recorded 15 tracks for it, though I brought it down to six. Musically, this was more of the indie rock direction that I grew up listening to a fair bit in England, bands like The Verve/Richard Ashcroft, Radiohead, Embrace, Oasis/Noel Gallagher, Coldplay and others. For some reason I always seperated the styles that combined my all-round taste. Not many musicians will list their overall musical influences from bands like The Verve & Radiohead, adding bands like Iron Maiden, Dream Theater & Yes, then following that up with Steve Vai, JoeSatriani, Planet X and then others like Eric Johnson, Vince DiCola, The Cardigans, 30 Seconds To Mars and so on. It took me a while, but I did eventually realise that it doesn't matter who or what musically influences me, it's the music I write that IS me, whatever the "style" or "genre" it falls into, that IS my genre, my style.
Limits featured some of my most honest lyrical content from life experiencessimplified, guitar driven sound. Each track had a different reflection of time, though a similar musical theme throghout. When January 2006 came along and the Arctic Monkeys were the flavour of the UK music scene, Richard Ashcroft was releasing his 3rd solo record Keys To The World and was signing autographs/cds at HMV's Oxford Street store in London. I'm a huge Verve & Ashcroft fan & influenced by all of his music, so, I went down with a copy of Limits in hand to meet the man himself. I saw him live at the Astoria in 2002, which was a great show, though meeting him & being able to personally thank him for the inspiration & just to tell him that I'm a huge fan of his music was great. What made the day better was his reaction when I handed him my cd & telling him I did the whole thing myself, he was very humbled, polite and a true gentleman, gave me words of great encouragement and belief in my abilities as a musician & a songwriter inspite of my disability, that, the free signed album & posters (you gotta love free stuff #Jew) made that one of the best days of my life. Not bad for a birthday gift as well.
Continuing through to the following year with writing more music I was still seperating tastes and styles. I like ALOT of music spanning across various styles. Trying to fuse these styles and sounds together was a challenge unto itself, one that I eventually managed to figure out.
With that in mind, 2007's Violet Sky EP was the complete opposite of Limits, being completely instrumental, no vocals. This was quite the challenge as I found it difficult to create melodies with the guitar as the vocalist. VS was a very Vai & Satch influenced EP, showcasing my passion for the electric guitar. This was also the EP that featured the restructured instrumental version of the track that I was constantly working on, titled ThunderLightningBolt. This track was one of the original songs written two years prior in Miraje. Singing this song was not possible. At the time, my voice was still progressing and certain ranged were too demanding. TLB is still one of my personal favourite instrumental songs I have written. It was the most challenging piece of music I had written at the time, fusing many overlays of harmonic guitars into varied time signatures. At the time I spent alot of time on this one track that it felt like a personal theme tune that still had room for growth and potential, but the Violet Sky EP as a whole had potential. The opening track Welcome To The World is the 1st of a trilogy, with part 2 being featured on my debut album. Myspace lended a hand with the promotion of this EP, tThis track and video were featured in an MTV America animated pilot 'DJ & The Fro' in 2010, a modern day Beavis & Butthead styled show that was never picked up for a full time schedule.
In the spring of 2008 I recorded a more acoustic based called The Code Breaker, which I wanted to gig and thus re-formed my solo/backing band with an entirely new line-up. with an Indian chap on guitar, uncle fester spliced with cousin IT on bass and someone's grandad on drums. This sounds as funny as it looked, and you know what, it was funny. Some of the gigs we played were fantastic, tight musicianship, bold sounding & lots of fun, but some of them were beyond shocking. You only hear these stories all the time and wonder if they actually happened, well these actually fucking happened. These shows were known as;
The Gigs of UGH!
In late 2008 I was approached by and signed with Stone Island Records (but never actually released any music through them). When a band or an artist gets "signed", the automatic assumption is "new record, touring, merchandise, magazine articles, etc". Unfortunately this was not the case. I was under management that didn't manage anything. As a band, we wanted to gig, but never got many gigs....saying that, they got me one, ONE fucking gig. The supply of free booze was the only upside I can recall, reason being because I don't drink alcohol and thus could remember every single detail, right down to the hole in the venues ceiling, the bucket of rain water on the dance floor and my pissed up, but very talented drummer shouting "don't kick the fucking bucket!" mid-song while pissing himself laughing. Looking back, it was funny as hell, but at the time I was seething beyond belief while I got the cheshire cat grin treatment all-round. This wasn't be repeated, that's for damn sure.
Coming to the end of a long stretch of gigs there was a couple in Camden that stand out. The Dublin Castle with the drumkit share from hell. We couldn't use ours because the "headline act" (can't remember, wouldn't wanna remember their name) already set theirs up, same shit, different venue. Naturally for a bunch of tossers, they didn't take kindly to my drummer pointing out the obvious flaws with their swinging toms and non-existent bass pedal sound, so that was a fun night I can tell you. One of the other Camden venues we played at on a Monday night had a sign on the door saying "Closed Monday"....WTF? Despite the stupidity, the venue opened to a man & his dog & we played with a band from Hornchurch called Corporal Machine & The Bombers. I love this band. If you're ever in London or Essex, check them out. They were a great live band who like to have a fucking laugh.
The proverbial last straw came at a venue in Romford that made us start playing without a fucking sound check as the gaggle of cretins that were due to perform after us had took it upon themslves to over-run their sound check by 25 minutes in a vain attempt to set up their laptop, simultaneously strumming one chord to a repetitive beat. Understand this, to the average person, it's completely irrelevant, but when you're a band, in a venue, waiting to sound check before you gig to a packed out pub and you have to sit there, downing over-priced tap water, watching wounded ducks trying to turn on a Mac, you wonder "Why?".
Collectively, these experiences certainly put me off gigging in these venues for a very long time. There's no passion, no commitment, no energy or even mere common sense in 98% of these venues that we played. Bands, don't think about getting paid unless you bring your own crowd and expect to get treated like a bunch of idiots by a complete moron. Also, make sure the venue has it's own PA, just in case they "expected" you to bring your own. This is not a joke.
When 2010 came about I wrote the 4 track Instrumental Rock EP UltraViolet Lights and would be busking/gigging this alot around London minus the now defunct backing band. This was the closest to a metal record I've ever produced with some eccentric guitar playing, which may appeal to the Guitar Hero in you, if that is indeed your thing.
Rolling into 2011 came the Supernova EP, blending sounds of electronica, acoustic rock, hard rock & world music, mixing vocal & instrumental tracks that silently paid homage to the musical direction I ventured from. If anything, Supernova, for me, was a platform by which to build on. The ideas were there to build on the foundations and take it to the next level. It was from this that I wanted to expand my sound to greater boundaries, learning to play piano/keys more efficiently, bettering my bass playing & my drumming in a wholehearted effort to write the album that I've always wanted to write, record & perform where possible.
You will find all the links to my entire music catalogue in the 'Music' section via the tab above.
For now, to be continued for a future blog....