I played an acoustic showcase at the Icarus Club on St Patrick's Day. If you've never been to the Icarus Club (every Thursday at The Station Hotel in Hither Green) I highly recommend it. The guys who run it do a really professional job and it's definetly the best night's enterntainment in the local area.
Anyway, I played a 4 song acoustic set which went down pretty well. I was headlining the night as one of the acts didn't show. The 4 acts before me were Eddy Johns, a very good guitarist who writes songs about travelling in far off lands, Diana Johnstone, a folk singer from Cornwall, and Tony Haven, a very talented musician who hits guitar strings and beats percussion on his guitar at the same time (very good but not really my cup of tea).
All the acts before me gave very quiet, intimate performances, so I was very happy to provide something a bit different. I enjoy playing quiet, understated songs (think Elliott Smith) but I know I'm better when I give an energetic performance. It feels more passionate and I can convey my lyrics better. With this in mind I started off with 'Loveheart In The Tree', which as I stated on the night is a love song written to my wife. It's upbeat and melodic and I like to open a set with it as I sing it and p[lay it pretty fucking loud. The opening riff is a blatant rip off of The Strokes 'Last Night' and it sounds better when there are some drums behind it, but it also works acoustically.
I wanted to show off the versatility of my songs, so next up I played 'Cowards', a song about a schoolboy loser getting advice on how to stand up to bullies. It's quiet and allowed me to show off a bit of fingerpicking. After that I debuted 'Banshee & The Eskimo', a pop song about a ghost and her lover (an eskimo) who move to a city and find it tough. It's a song i've had for a while and I wanted to write about an odd couple, hence the characters' names. It's got a good riff, a catchy tune and is ultimately a song about love and having resolve in hard times.
I closed the set with 'The Devil's Mat Says' 'Welcome'. This is probably my favourite song and I like to play it live as it sums up the sort of music I try and play; passionate, thought provoking and with memorable lyrics. The ending always sounds better when sung with the harmony that you can hear on the recorded version (the one where I wail my heart out, even slightly out of tune) but it still works when belting out the final "woah woah woah's'. The lyrics are some of my most thoughtful, describing a tale of separation and bitterness. I'm very proud of the final couplet.
"God was watching you have fun. Now the Devil's mat says 'Welcome'"
Overall, I was happy with how it went, especially as I was very nervous beforehand. The audience seemed to enjoy it and appreciated the effort and energy I put into it. My friend Pedro took a few pictures which I'll put up on Facebook. Silvia, my wife, instructed me that in future "it's best not to talk about your wife all the way through your show". She's very wise indeed.
I felt very inspired after that to actually make some effort with my music, so I bashed out about 40 emails to different venues and promoters in London asking to play. As a result, I've got 4 shows booked for April and more to come. Watch this space [ ]
I posted a demo off yesterday to Rough Trade. It's the first time I've ever made the effort to do it (I'm 28) so that kinda represents how laid back i've been over the past few years. The 3 songs I chose to include are 'Goodbye', 'Devil's Mat' and 'What a Waste Of Time'.
I think my various songwriting styles are summed up by these, so we'll see what happens, though I am sure nothing will come of it.
I've written and recorded a couple of new songs recently. 'Red Letter Day' is a riff that i've had for a long time and had the 1st verse for a couple of years, but it's only now that I am making the effort to finish old songs. It's about breaking up with a girl, but it's about no-one in particular. Not all songs are autobiographical. I guess some of the emotional output comes from past experience, but it's more of a universal story rather than about me.
'Ships Of The Line' is my attempt to write a sea shanty. It started as a poem and is one of the few songs where I have written the lyrics first and then adapted them to some music. I guess Mumford and Sons may have influenced me a bit when it comes to the chorus, as I wanted big overlapping voices to repsond to my Sea Captain's questions.
I've written a few poems recently, more often than not on my iphone when i'm on the train to work. I'll probably post them, even though I'm not really a poet so I don't know how much critical weight they carry.
On Monday I am going into the studio proper to record My Pirate Ship Lover, both as an instrumental and as a full song. I'll reveal why later on.
I've had a flurry of song recently (well...two!). I've written a sea shanty / ballad called Ships Of The Line which I have not yet recorded because I can't seem to get the sound right and another on called Big Mistake, which I wrote and recorded a demo in the space of a few hours.
On Friday morning I woke up and started strumming a few chords while watching 'The Wright Stuff' on channel 5. After about 5 minutes I had come up with a nice little chord sequence and started humming a tune to it. It was progressing nicely, so I decided to take it seriously and went to fetch my notebook and a pen from the bedroom.
I went and sat in the kitchen and came up with the chords for the chorus and then started singing some lyrics which eventually became the chorus. The song is not one of my most meaningful and a lot of the lines are 'throwaway' lyrics, but it has a theme which is relevant to me and my girlfriend Silvia at the moment, in that we are both living at my parents and are struggling a little to find our individualism and identity while under their roof. We are desperate to move into our own home and it's been a struggle since we moved back there in January (We are saving up for our wedding in September).
Anyway, the song was finished very quickly, so I took all my guitars and digital 8 track to my bedroom and recorded a demo. I'm happy with it, though it's raw and I hit a lot of bum notes. I recorded a lot of guitar parts, some were successful, some were not, so it needs a polish and I think it will be a good live number.
So that's how I wrote that one.
I have now uploaded 9 songs onto Reverbnation, which can now be accessed through Facebook and Myspace. A couple are very new and some others are old favourites.
I have also spent this last week making a 3 song demo so that I can send some off to some record labels (haven't got around to doing that yet) and to give out to people at shows when I play them. So far, I've made 8 demo's with a handmade sleeve. I've given 5 away and have 3 left, so if you want one, just send me a message and I can make some more.
The 3 songs are Goobye, The Devils Mat Say Welcome and What A Waste Of Time. I wanted 3 songs that could diplay my versatility and I think these 3 do that. This week I have also copyrighted all my songs, so I now don't have to worry about anyone stealing them or claiming my work as their own, so I'm quite glad that's all sorted.
Keep checking the site for more updates. I have published all the lyrics on Facebook now and I hope to download a programme so that I can put all the chords and tabliture on there as well, just in case anyone wants to learn.
OK. I've created my Reverbnation page as it seems that Myspace is out of fashion. So the idea is to spread the message through the medium of Facebook.
I will be posting my songs on here so that anyone can listen and download. At the moment i am playing open mic's but hopefully going to start doing some longer (and paid) shows, so I'll keep everyone updated.
I'm also trying to find musicians to play with, as a lot of my songs have drums, bass, guitar and string arrangements, plus more than 1 vocal, so if anyone wants to help me, please ask.