If you had to describe your music in a sentence, what would you say?
I’d probably say something like “One man’s exorcism through the medium of modern experimental folk rock music”, but then I’d hate myself for saying it.
Have you always wanted to create music? How did you get into it?
Ever since I can remember. My dad is a musician so that helped a lot because he encouraged me to learn guitar and listen to The Beatles. I started playing in a little punk band when I was 14 and I’ve been doing it ever since. It’s never made me much money, but I’ve seen a lot of the world and met every one of my lifelong friends, not to mention my wife, through doing it. The decision to immerse myself in music has been a hugely life-enriching one.
What do you think is the overriding influence on your songwriting: other art, emotions, current affairs – or a mixture of all of these?
Everything, of course. How could everything in your life not be an influence? I mean, obviously you have musical influences or things you want to write about, but the way they get processed is through you as an individual so everything gets mangled through this unique filter of everything you’ve ever absorbed or experienced or felt and comes out the other side as something only you could have made.
Can you pinpoint a live gig or a piece of music that initially inspired you?
There was a VHS in the house that had Queen’s Wembley ’86 concert on it that had been taped off the telly which I watched endlessly when I was a kid. I thought it was just magic, still do.
Do you have a favourite song or piece of music to perform? What does it say about you?
Not a favourite song really, but when I was getting some live shows together of this new solo material I found myself in a bit of a quandary because I’d written half the songs in one tuning and half in another and I really didn’t want to drag two guitars to every gig. The solution I came up with for a couple of the songs was just to sing them a capella, which I’d never done before, and I found it such a mad experience. I opened a couple of the gigs by just starting to sing, and the discomfort in the room was absolutely instant, I loved it. So I guess what that says is that I take perverse pleasure in making audiences feel weird. Some of the songs are pretty open wounds anyway, so to have everything stripped away apart from the vocal just taking you directly to the point is quite bracing.
What was the first gig you attended?
Status Quo in 1991. It was absolutely amazing.
Do you have a favourite venue you’ve performed in? If so, what makes it special?
I guess it’s hard to separate the venue with your experiences of playing there, but for a long time I’d always be describing The Kazimier as the best venue in the country to anyone who’d listen. I was lucky enough to play there twice. And that’s not as a nostalgic local either, it was long gone by the time I moved to Liverpool, for shame.
Can you recommend an artist, band or album that Bido Lito! readers might not have heard?
Mike Seed. One of the very few living musical geniuses I believe. Find anything you can from him (a quick search on Spotify will not suffice), there’s mountains of it and a lot of it is fairy disparate, but it’s pretty much all amazing and your efforts will be rewarded a hundred-fold.
Why is music important to you?
The fact that it’s possible to create vibrations in the air that can affect people’s emotions is one of the most magical phenomena I can imagine. I get to hear so much new stuff as I also work as a mastering engineer these days (I run Tall Trees Audio Mastering) and I never tire of hearing music that makes the hairs on my arm stand up. The idea that there’s nothing new and music was somehow better in the past is such nonsense, there are so many people making so much incredible music right now, right here in this city even, and I encourage everyone to do everything they can to support it.
‘Mater’ is out now.