Sunday, December 19, 2010


This video speaks for itself - I had just spent a day exploring Paris and ended up in the porch of a cafe in Bastille where I celebrated my discoveries with some friends over some wine, olives, cigarettes and the newest friend to my taste-buds, escargot.

It's scary how big these things are once they're out of their shell and it's kind of off-putting - but once I took the leap they were not dissimilar in texture to mussels and were slathered in a basil pesto sauce which made it all pretty pleasant really!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Michelangelo...the legend...

It was a crisp winter's evening in the Tuscan countryside, I had arrived at a restaurant about 30 minutes outside of Florence in Italy and I was ready for a fantastical feast of fine cuisine.

Upon being seated, the food began to flow from the kitchen - first, a kind of meat platter with salamis, bread and pate which was probably the highlight of the meal. This was followed by courses which, unfortunately, descended in quality and I began to feel a little disillusioned with my Tuscan dream.

However - all was saved by one man. His name: Michaelangelo.

A queer character rolled through the front door of the restaurant with just a keyboard straight from an episode of Beyond 2000 and a classically Italian swagger. Slowly, he sweated his way through the assembly of his stage and visibly readied himself for his art via a series of deep breaths and swabs of the forehead.

He pressed a button on his elaborate keyboard and a fountain of midi-laden delight burst forth into the room. Then he opened his mouth.

My way of describing this larger-than-life character is as a cross between Meatloaf and Shakira - he was a stickler for the dramatic and certainly not one for lyrical accuracy. He wore his emotions on his forehead and threw his voice throughout the room without the aide of a microphone, such was his natural boom.

The first song he played was Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm by Crash Test Dummies - a herald for the type of songs to come. Always by Bon Jovi, I would Do Anything For Love by Meatloaf and Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits, amongst other classics. All were wet with emotion and, thankfully, entertainment.

My stomach was in pain after my Tuscan feast - but not due to the average food. Michelangelo had me in fits for a full hour. He will go down forever in my mind as one of the most entertaining musical acts I've ever seen.

I loved him so much I got a photo with him and I really think I should get on to setting up a Facebook fan page for him.

I managed to capture most of his rendition of Romeo and Juliet on my iPhone - everyone else in the room was talking, while I was transfixed, so it's a little hard to hear the legend sing, but he definitely gets clearer as the video goes on and his passion rises, so persist with it! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

La Sagrada Familia

Of the many churches, castles, cathedrals and palaces I visited on my adventure, one of the most incredible and mind-blowing was La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

This city has been lucky enough to have been touched by an amazing artist called Antoni Gaudi - various buildings, parks and squares were designed and built by him during his lifetime in the late 19th and early 20th century. I was lucky enough to check out a number of them - the highlights being Park Guell and his unfinished church, La Sagrada Familia.

Under construction since 1882 (expected to be complete in 2026), its complex architecture is both baffling and beautiful - each pillar, facade and vault is an individual meant to reflect nature. It really is the most unique religious building I've had the pleasure of witnessing - and though it is more of a spectacle than a spiritual home, its wonder is certainly not diminished.

I took a video from inside its nave, my happy memento, that's more hilarious than informative but I hope you'll enjoy it anyway. If you want to see some more of what it actually looks like then head here:

Monday, December 13, 2010

San Gimignano

The second of my joyful mementos came in the form of a place and its atmosphere.

This was a small medieval town in Italy called San Gimignano. It's a very popular place to visit so I imagine yourself or someone you know may have been there as well, but I like to think I got a unique view of it all (just to reassure myself a little more!). When I went there it was very much off-peak tourist season and the place was deserted, serene and supremely beautiful.  For a little while there was even someone playing what sounded like a lute in the gardens of an old church - was a wee bit inspired. I can't describe the feeling I got while walking its streets or taking in its surroundings, but I can show you a wee video of the view I got from one of its many stone towers - incredible.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The evidence of adventure

Adventure in any form of life is where I see people finding the pinnacle of happiness - whether it's an adventure in love, ambition or a physical journey, that's where some of one's happiest moments can occur.

You might feel it in the thrilling encompassment of a new lover, in the satisfaction and contentment of achieving a life-goal or, in my case, in experiencing foreign sights and cultures with the best of friends to share it with.

But happiness is intangible - that's why sharing it with other people is always more satisfying. Your emotion is validated by seeing someone else in the same shoes as yourself and thus it's more real, it happened, no you weren't dreaming.

This feeling doesn't last as something we can communicate and share though, so that's where souvenirs and mementos of your great happiness take its place, as tangible proof of a wonder once felt. Don't get me wrong, they don't diminish the experience (often they even magnify the adventure), but they are a very uniquely human way of holding on to your happy memories.

Anyway - enough of the musing! What I have brought back from my latest adventure is a bunch of nicely tangible mementos that I can now share with you all, probably to my own embarrassment, and reassure myself that I wasn't in a coma and dreamt this stuff up over the past 5 weeks. I'll post a few of them over the next few weeks - but first off, the wonder of Monte Carlo...and its toilets!

Yes, that's where my trip took my mind, right to the bottom. This is amazing though. I was told to go and check out the toilets in the casino there and initially I did my number ones and didn't observe anything out of the ordinary. However, I exited the facilities to find a friend of mine with a huge grin on her face and I immediately knew she had discovered what I had missed. So I took a breath and composed myself for a second visit within five minutes to this fabled lavatory, past casino staff and disgruntled millionaires, to find its hidden treasure. And this was what I found:

More mementos to come soon...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Heading off...

I was trawling through old videos on my computer this afternoon and came across a picture-compilation I made after my last big trip to the States. It's basically just everything I shot whilst there, drenched in sepia and in sequence to some music but it's a great reminder of the excitement I experienced during the whole time away.

In six days I'm going to be embarking on a trip abroad for the first time on my lonesome and I'll be endeavoring to put together a similar thing at its conclusion.

It actually sounds a bit crazy to say, considering I've traveled a fair amount, but this will be my first time traveling without any family - whether blood or band related.

I've always wanted to travel to Europe since finishing high school - my family hails from Britain and I studied European history at University - but I've always been 100% committed to music and where that can take me, so I could never jet off by myself. Until now.

After a roller-coaster ride of a year in a lot of ways, the band has decided to have a month off for the first time in its existence and I decided to make the most of it by booking return flights to London. Presuming the band's plans for the next few years work out, this may be my only chance for such a trip for quite some time so I'm going all out.

At this stage, in my 34 days off, I'll be exploring England, Italy, France, Spain and the Netherlands plus a mystery destination my friends have kindly organised for tune in for some pictures and anecdotes once I get back to a computer!

In the meantime, here is said sepia-soaked video of my last adventure:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Baby's Balloon

Second audio-log! Sometimes music tells the story better than any words...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Everything is Illuminated

I may have just finished reading my last paperback ever.

I adore books and the adventures they take me on but they are not the most perfect companion to my travel-minded soul. So, I have purchased a Kindle - since they finally came down in price - and now I can tour with a hundred books at my disposal for those times in my life where books are perfect: waiting for band members, waiting for soundcheck, waiting for show, waiting for van, waiting in van, waiting for plane, waiting in plane, waiting for sleep, waiting for sunshine, waiting for rain. Books fill the gaps in my life that would largely be otherwise terribly mundane.

BUT - before that sparkling new era begins I must briefly reflect on the book I just completed, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.

I was recommended this book by a friend. I'm not sure which one because I ask almost everyone interesting that I meet what books they love and I add it to an ever-expanding list on my phone - a highly recommended pass-time.

I'm not into publicly deconstructing books because I think reading them is a very personal experience, but what I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed it and it now comes recommended by me - which is a pretty awesome thing in itself! Haha.

Here are a few passages which stood out to me. Don't worry, they won't give away any mystery the book contains but they will give you an idea of where it can take you.

"This was the world in which she grew and he aged. They made for themselves a sanctuary from Trachimbrod, a habitat completely unlike the rest of the world. No hateful words were ever spoken, and no hands raised. More than that, no angry words were ever spoken, and nothing was denied. But more than that, no unloving words were ever spoken, and everything was held up as another small piece of proof that it can be this way, it doesn't have to be that way; if there is no love in the world, we will make a new world, and we will give it heavy walls, and we will furnish it with soft red interiors, from the inside out, and give it a knocker that resonates like a diamond falling to a jeweler's felt so that we should never hear it. Love me, because love doesn't exist, and I have tried everything that does."

"God loves the plagiarist. And so it is written, "God created humankind in His image, in the image of God He created them." God is the original plagiariser. With a lack of reasonable sources from which to filch - man created in the image of what? the animals? - the creation of man was an act of reflexive plagiarising; God looted the mirror. When we plagiarise, we are likewise creating in the image and participating in the completion of creation"

"And this is what living next to a waterfall is like, Safran. Every widow wakes one morning, perhaps after years of pure and unwavering grieving, to realise she slept a good night's sleep, and will be able to eat breakfast, and doesn't hear her husband's ghost all the time, but only some of the time. Her grief is replaced with a useful sadness. Every parent who loses a child finds a way to laugh again. The timbre begins to fade. The edge dulls. The hurt lessens. Every love is carved from loss. Mine was. Yours is. Your great-great-great-grandchildren's will be. But we learn to live in that love."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Inborn inspiration

I think all people have a creative side to them - be it in their own personal way, through music, art, business or science. But I think inspiration is a much more precious and rare quality.

Before we create, we must be inspired and some people go years without being inspired - some just minutes.

Those people lucky enough to be constantly inspired, I believe, may have been born with that quality. And some of those people may say that it's not, in fact, a lucky attribute to have at all - much like beauty, to be inspired could possibly be a burden as well. What those people do have is the ability to communicate human expression in a form that is immediately recognisable and is empathetic to our hearts and minds.

These people, who I believe have this "inborn inspiration", seem to me to have a few recurrent qualities.

There is the age-old discussed person of melancholy - someone born with the weight of feeling all things sad and lonesome. They feel all the highs of a normal person too - but seem to reflect much longer and deeper into the lows of nature. Their way out? Expression.

Then there are romantics and dreamers - people who fantasise about perfect situations in life. People they barely know are blown into flawless sculptures to obsess over and future events are whimsically conjured into unadulterated bliss.  These people find themselves on a constant quest for these situations and the roller-coaster ride that goes with the goose-chase provides all the inspiration they need for a creative flow.

Lastly, (and only because I'm no phsycologist and I'm not writing an essay here - if I was this list may be much longer) there are people genetically predisposed to feel the brunt of humanity's fear for all things different to what is perceived as normal. This is where strange-looking people play their part. It is no coincidence that many of the greatest musicians of all time are not particularly good looking - especially those that were most inspired. Same goes with painters and authors. These people are often born with a physical ailment or are just plain ugly, extremely tall or short, or even just red-headed (this is not a poke). What these people have in common is that they don't fit in and so they either lament this fact and express the thought from the roadside of life or they strive ever harder to be a part of it and create something that will make that change happen.

Now, the true legends of inspiration are born with all three of these qualities - that is where absolute creative genius is sprung. Sometimes I wish I was one of these people, but I know I am not - though I do have elements of each I suppose (dreamer, blind, short....but far too good looking haha :p).

I don't really know where this all fits in as a blog as it's just an observation and one that's pretty obvious anyway - I suppose I just wanted to annotate the ideas in my head. BUT - I recently found a lovely redhead, via my sister's advice, making great pop tunes out of Britain. Her name's Lissie and she's rather like a more upbeat, poppy Laura Marling and if you read this blog you'll know that any comparison to Ms Marling goes a long way. So here's her big single from her debut album to delight your ears:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The road...

A wall of words surrounds them
Conversation keeps them safe
Desperation in his eyes
She resists from his embrace

Another time, she whispered softly
Behind a veil of forced goodbyes
Another time, he took and buried
And kept till winter did subside

But winter stretched into a symphony
Remotest chance became absurd
The passing years deepened the mystery
Her case of wonder went unheard

He wrote a song most every evening
Each tune detailing line for line
Each rare and bitter-sweet occasion
He had laid eyes on she divine

While he was musing over moments
She lived a wild reverie
Replacing rare, unblemished instants
With tragic raids upon the sea

Then one day proffered St Cupid's peach
Her lonesome heart made passage
His clouded eyes no longer blind
Another time, was banished

And so the arduous road to One
Rewarded weary travelers
The wait to feel each other's lips
Did barely even matter

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Isn't it magic...

Isn't it magic in the movies?
How you meet somebody doing,
The most innocent of daily set routines.
And you find the guts to speak out,
And the lines are sweet from your mouth,
And you're whisked away upon a fated dream.

But in reality, I'm locked up fast,
And when I'm out I'm cold,
No enterprise reveals itself,
No story will unfold.

What a charmless scene we're in,
Oh, when will the games begin?
When will innocence be won?
When will god shine down his sun?

Isn't there glory in a painting!
The beauty of creation,
A vivid mark that sets your spirit free.
And you fly above the sterile room,
The notions in your head ring true
And you leave the place befitting of a babe.

But in the real world,
I'm chained to ground,
There's grey upon my wings,
The chance to fly passes me by,
And I'm afraid to sing.

What a charmless scene we're in,
Oh, when will the games begin?
When will innocence be won?
When will god shine down his sun?

The melody will one day come...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Just For Once

People always, probably naturally, want to know the lyrics to songs my band releases. It's always pretty entertaining listening to the public give their take on them and what they mean. Then it's even more entertaining to listen to people I know place themselves within my lyrics.

So, go ahead...Just For Once.

At the first sign of winter's cold I took your hand in mine
At the first sign of autumn leaves you took these eyes and made them shine
Just for once...

Would you let me be the one? Would you let me be the one?

At the first sign of summer's sun we sat down, watched those waves

But at the first sign of bad weather you left me searching again

And I wish just for once...

We'd be out of our minds, we'd risk all we could ever know

We'd be running so fast, god couldn't set us to stone

 Would you let me be the one? Would you let me be the one?

On the night of our lives you saw straight through these pair of lies

And you gave me the keys to your car and we drove off for miles and miles

And we looked out on those city lights and we shouted out, to the stars

Just for once...

We'd be out of our minds, we'd risk all we could ever know

We'd be running so fast, god couldn't set us to stone

Would you let me be the one? Would you let me be the one?

I wish just for once, I wish just for once, I wish just for once, let me hold you love

Let me be, let me be the one

Just for once...


Monday, September 6, 2010

Buffalo Summer

Here's a nice music recommendation for you as, down-under, spring descends upon us and summer beckons us with the tease of clear, crisp afternoons.

I've been sitting on this artist for a little while, waiting to see if the music was a fad - but I've come to realise its worth as time and a string of convincing live videos have surfaced.

I'm talking about Avi Buffalo - loosely named but focally revolving around its lead vocalist and guitarist.

Their music is very much the fashionable low-fi Cali-pop sound that is soaring around blogs and hype-sites worldwide but I genuinely believe these guys are the best of the bunch and have the soul to go with the sound - what I believe is the most important element of original music, not it's danceability or unnecessary catchiness.

They released their first album this year. It's self-titled and contains a mix of lazy-afternoon stories and upbeat summer-fun sounds. The vocalist's voice takes a little getting used to but it's well worth the brief adaption.

SO - here's the music. The first video is straight off their album, the last two are live performances - firstly a Neil Young cover with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, the second from the brilliant Takeaway Show series.

The Last Station

"Your youth and need for happiness too vividly remind me of my age and incapacity for happiness." Tolstoy

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A day in the life of a blind man

I wake to a Monet world every day - a fantastical place where nothing and everything is possible. I cannot make out the time on my bedside clock, yet I can lie within my haze, dream and waste the daylight as if nothing exacting exists.

Once spectacled, the world awaits and demands - briefly. As I stroll to the bathroom, time, alarms and headlines demand my attention before it all slips away again under a stream of mist and heat.

Someone has rearranged my showery toiletries and it takes a minute to figure out where they've gone and which one is which. This is an important process as another case of conditioner to the body is an undesired and slippery plight.

You look amazing naked. That being said, everyone looks good naked to me. On any given morning when one of my presumed frequent lovers asks me, while looking at herself in the mirror, 'do I look good naked?' My answer is 'Yes, you're incredible'. And then I put on my glasses and answer the question realistically. Inside my head, of course. Everyone wins - to me, she looks like a supermodel and she, inversely, feels like a supermodel around me.

Once clean, the choice of the day presents itself - to wear sunglasses or to work on my laugh lines. Like picking a washing day in Auckland weather, calculating the expected amount of sunshine and personal time spent under its gaze is a most tricky thing. The inevitable conscious presence of contact lenses inside my eyelids must be weighed against the amount of white concrete footpaths one may be strolling down, in the sun, in the day ahead.

Heading to beach for a swim under this presumed sunshine also presents a dilemmic (sic) situation. While wearing contact lenses there is always a good chance that they will slip out of your eyes, attracted to the equally salty environment of the ocean. Goggles are just not an option for me. And wearing plain old glasses minimises the fun you can have with riotous waves. Hence beach visits are always bittersweet.

Once decided, a venture outside in my squinty eye-wear exposes me to various public prejudices. Here's some examples:

Curly hair + glasses = "you must be Jewish! Here's a minora for your birthday (this has actually happened)".
Curly hair + glasses = "you're in a band? Lemme guess....the keyboardist?".

One must admit that it is a rare thing that a bespectacled vocalist can get anywhere in the pop-music industry - BUT, the keyboardist?! C'mon! I could at least be the cute guitarist for once!

In fact, one should learn from this and never presume that glasses are the way to pop-success for everyone. I know of one fellow NZ musician who bought the exact frames as me for $1k and not even put a prescription in them - I don't see him succeeding. And fair enough too as, for me, that kind of glasses-heresy is like a very tall man wearing platform shoes.

The other side of the prejudicial system at work here is that I am welcomed with open arms into libraries, galleries, scenester clubs, museums and construction zones.

Once the day is through it's back to the water-coloured world within my bed.

Sleeping's easy for a blind man when you've mastered the art of dreaming with perfect vision 99% of the time. I can swim in summery dreams, wear safety glasses without double-glasses-layering in scientific/construction dreams, open ovens without fogging up in cooking dreams, can fight bad guys without worrying about excessive facial injuries in kung-fu dreams, I can go to police stations and not have to take my glasses off in holding cells for hours on end in crime dreams, etc. A good sleep benefits your body in a wonder of ways - and being blind just helps makes this essential part of life so much more welcoming.

Good night.

Thank you to Occhiali Optical for supporting my crusade against the discrimination of blind people who aren't afraid to show it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sleep easy

I have never counted sheep.
Warm milk is not my cup of tea.
And a massage from my band-mates isn't such an attractive concept.

For people out there who struggle to get to sleep at night, one trick I can recommend is thinking of all the songs that used to put you to sleep when you were very young.

I was extremely lucky to have been brought up in a musical family and my Dad used to often bring his guitar into my room and sing a few tunes to myself and my siblings before we turned the lights off. The songs themselves almost always told a story, the characters came alive and set our imaginations running wild and into our dreams. Perfect.

I suppose this is part of why have developed such a love for folk music and the stories they tell. Although this isn't always evident in my own personal songwriting, it's something I aspire to in my journey as a lyricist. One of the songs from my band's first album, Benjamin, was definitely an attempt on my behalf of recreating some of the magic that surrounded my childhood imagination. Here's a brilliant interpretation of that song that, I believe, does the story it conjures up a lot of justice.

Aside from that, I thought it would be nice to share some of the songs that sent me down the road of a love for story-telling in music and also, from time to time, to a deep sleep that otherwise may not have come easily.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Old discoveries to share

I'm very much the type of person who is forward-looking - I don't dwell too much on past events apart from what I can take positively from them.

I'm the same with music as well.  I listen largely to what is happening NOW in the world of music apart from creations that will stand up forever in my mind as absolute class. And by no means does that stop me from looking back for inspiration and happiness - just this week I've got hold of albums from Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, Nick Cave and Bonny Prince Billy which I'm really enjoying. Some of these albums I can see myself enjoying for many years, some for not so long.

I thought I would share with you a couple of old gems that have stayed with me for a long time and I think always will in some form and for different reasons - some songs are just plain great and some bring back amazing memories.

Firstly, a band that only ever released one album that I have a large soft-spot for - Sunhouse. Their only creation was called Crazy On The Weekend - a brit folk-rock beauty.

It contains many timeless tracks in what is a complete album - a rarity these days. Definitely give them a listen if you're into the latest folk-rock trend. Here's three tracks in one youtube vid to get your mouth watering:

Secondly, a band whose sound is very NOW but was released over the past 10 years - The Dears. Their album No Cities Left is on my 'greats' list and is a crazy mix of styles similar to the likes of fellow Canadians Arcade Fire and Wold Parade plus The National, Blur, The Smiths, Elbow and a little of Doves.

If you are a fan of any two of those bands then I would highly recommend getting a hold of at least that album. Here's one of my favourite tracks from said album:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Cherry On Top

For all those people out there who love Mumford and Sons and can't get enough of that type of English folk-rocky goodness, I have another band for you!

Their name is Cherry Ghost.

I first came across them whilst recording our first record and Mr Andrew Buckton, the man recording us, played us their album Thirst For Romance.  Myself and the whole band immediately loved it and wondered why the world hadn't embraced them and still hasn't - it's a great illustration of the ruthless factor of timing in the music industry.

These guys are somewhere in-between Mumford and Sons and one of most-favourite bands of all time, Elbow (listen to ALL of their albums at once(at a moderate pace, not actually all-at-once, that would be just crazy eh) if this is news to you).  

NOW - why this is all relevant is that they've just released their second album to rave reviews in the UK and I'm rather excited to hear it and hopefully they get huge and tour near us all.

So once I've found a way to buy it down-under I'll let you know how it sounds, but for now I can highly recommend their first album - here's one of many highlights:

Friday, July 16, 2010


I think for most people Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill album reminds them of rebellion - reading "saucy" teen mags in primary school, playing it really loud to piss off your parents, smoking at lunchtime, underage RTD-ridden house parties and teenage "exploration".

For me it reminds me of waiting in the car while my mum did lots of grocery shopping.

Not an amazingly profound observation, but this is one of the most beautiful things about music - it means so many different things to every person and captures moments in life that otherwise would have passed your mind.

I'm glad that one hasn't.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

New discoveries! Laura and Audra.

I haven't always been a fan of female songstresses, in fact I used to go out of my way to avoid them for some reason. And I'm still not a fan of the modern-pop-soul craze that has swept the world over the past few years.

However, this year seems to have produced a whole bunch of great albums by solo female artists making music which is soulful and telling and their voices amaze me - I can't help but love them.

I've already mentioned my love for Laura Marling (who is touring close to me but I'll be on the road then unfortunately) and you can add the Joanna Newsom and Beach House (a two-piece but female-led nonetheless) albums to this year's highlights that are well-worth getting a hold of. I've just discovered two more that can be added to that list - Laura Viers and Audra Mae.

Firstly, Laura Viers, another Laura and another great album. This is her 7th album and I have to say I've never heard of her before and haven't listened to any of her previous works. But on listening to her latest I'm an immediate fan. She has a beautifully-dusty folk voice and her songs are very vibey with a mix of piano and guitar-based tracks to add good variety. It's always hard to pin down what exactly makes a song but I believe that's because it either speaks to you or it doesn't - this album speaks to me so I love it. Here's the title track from the album July Flame:

The second of my discoveries is Audra Mae - a relative of Judy Garland. Her debut album, The Happiest Lamb, I only bought this morning and I've only had a first listen, but it has already inspired this blog, so that's gotta be good right? Most of the album is downbeat and emotive folk-soul, so it'll be a situational listen for most people. But, like the other people I've mentioned, her voice is incredible and immediately blew me away. She does an amazing version of a Dolly Parton song called Little Sparrow as a highlight on the album. It's definitely another one to jump on now if you like the sound of the below.

I hope you enjoy these like I have!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Prince - mad or masterful?

If you haven't heard already, Prince has announced that the internet is dead. In particular, for the music industry.

This legend of the musical world has basically come out and publicly stated that he is mad. Here are a few of his quotes, so you can place some context to this situation.

"The internet's completely over. I don't see why I should give my new music to iTunes or anyone else. They won't pay me an advance for it and then they get angry when they can't get it.

"The internet's like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good.

"They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you."

Already, commentators and media have jumped all over this story saying Prince is grossly out of touch with the world and some kind of neo-luddite. And, taken at face value they'd be perfectly entitled to that opinion.

However, there could be another possibility happening here. 

Prince, an artist who hasn't had a pop-hit himself (he's certainly written them for others) for a number of years releases an album for free via a handful of newspapers and magazines who pay him big money to do so. He's done this before, so this isn't huge news and isn't going to ramp up any potential hype. BUT, what if Prince did something scandalous...would that make people take notice? Would that drive sales of these papers? Would that get his music heard when it is quite possibly itself out of touch to all but his most loyal fans? (see football song: 

Just watch all the press he gets today along with, I bet, a boost in sales of Raspberry Beret, Purple Rain and blog posts about his new album.

This guy could certainly be mad, but he could also be a master of the art of marketing.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010

Alas, I cannot swim...

There's a house across the river, but alas. I cannot swim
And a garden of such beauty that the flowers seem to grin
There's a house across the river, but alas, I cannot swim
I'll live my life regretting that I never jumped in

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Masters of the Makeover...

Forget Trinny and Susannah, DIY Rescue, Dr 90210, Extreme Makeover (even the tear-inducing home edition!) and Pimp My Ride - I have discovered the people behind some of the greatest makeovers in world history.

Wait for it....

Led Zeppelin.

For some of you, this will be old news, but for my generation it is most-likely not. I believe that, in their time, Led Zep was well-known for appropriating other artists riffs/lyrics/melodies but this fact seems to have faded with time.

I'm slowly making my way through a Led Zep biography, When Giants Walked the Earth, which details the band's rise - largely through the masterminding of Jimmy Page and the band's manager Peter Grant.

It also reveals the sources behind some of their most well-known songs. I'm just gonna let you listen and judge for yourself but know that, with all these songs, the band took what was before and made it incredible and eventually owned up and credited ALMOST all of the original sources in some way (despite originally claiming 100% songwriting credit).

Small Faces, You Need Loving (originally recorded by Muddy Waters, written by Willy Dixon).

Jake Holmes, Dazed and Confused.

Sonny Boy Williamson, Bring it on Home.

AND Led Zep's version of Bring it on Home...

And the coup de grĂ¢ce...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My job

A friend recently informed me that it was my job to let them know what music I had discovered of late. Of course, they were joking, but thinking about it more I suppose I am in a position more fortunate to most of being able to have a great excuse to explore new and old artists in the name of research.

Part being a musician and writer is the act of being immersed in music and life as much as possible - the more you listen and experience, the easier it is to be inspired and create. Without it, I believe one would become irrelevant.

So anyway - I thought it would be nice to include a few more people (about 20) into the world of my musical discoveries - new and old, fresh and gone. I don't consider myself to be even remotely on the cutting edge of music and my tastes might not suit everyone - but the idea of passing on the enjoyment I find in an artist is an attractive one.

So here's a couple of freshies to kick things off:

Noah and the Whale
Album: The First Days of Spring
Not THAT new, but an album that has kept growing on me to the point where I'm really enjoying it right now. Slow, sleepy, folky and expressive - it has kept my dreams company on many a plane ride so far. Here's one highlight from the album below:

The Tallest Man on Earth
Album: The Wild Hunt
Despite an overt Bob Dylan and Woodie Guthrie influence, this album is full of stories and soulful tunes that make it stand up as an original piece well worthy of your listening ears. I suppose it's somewhat of a folk tradition to tribute your influences and at least it's done in a classy way. Folk, country music - not for everyone - but I love it. Perfect to accompany a good laze in the sun. Here's a number from the album and his awesome cover of Paul Simon's Graceland:

Enjoy! I'll post more soon.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Who I wish I was...

I first caught an inkling of Laura Marling at last year's SXSW in Texas - she was one of a bunch of acts that I'd valiantly listed as ones to catch at the festival....but didn't. It seems my vision of uncrowded, exclusive Austin venues were naive to say the least.

However I heard enough, through snippets online, to buy her debut album and I was rewarded with a beautiful addition to my iPod, if not a completely mind-blowing one.

Since then I've kept a lazy eye on her happenings and I've become more and more enamored.

Her new album, I Speak Because I Can, is now on my list of classic female singer-songwriter albums with the likes of Joni Mitchell's Blue.

To make matters even better her easy and expressive voice translates amazingly live. There are countless people in the world who can hold a tune, but very few who can take that tune and layer it with that indescribable dose of humanity so that it touches your soul.

Anyway, please enjoy Laura Marling live like I have:

The only thing that slightly confuses me about her is that, despite the sound of her singing voice, she's British. No slight at all. It was just unexpected.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

There are no maps...

Bloody hell - blogs are hard to keep up.

I need to demand a raise from my boss so the required amount of motivation hands me the spirit to update this without four-month breaks!

Bloody hell, the shame of it all. In any case, my Twitter account has been busy so I have at least some semblance of my original goal, of safekeeping my memories for the future, intact.

My Dad does not approve of this method of "keeping in touch" and probably quite rightly so - 140 character messages hardly encourage proper spelling and grammar and this kind of English is presumably puzzling to his generation. However, it's value now finds me as a note-taking chronicle of my life and interests.

Some highlights of MY thrilling, illegible Twitter account from the past few months include:

"Gonna be playing some solo acoustic shows in AK city in March/April. My solo-live virginity will be gone..."

"Bat For Lashes covering Radiohead - god I want to sing with her..."

"WTF? "The length of a day is shorter by 1.26 microseconds after Chilean earthquake" wonder my toast got burnt that morning!"

"Came as close as I'll probly ever come to love at first sight at roasted addiqtion this arvo..."

"Pet shop boys is playing in this southern man's ale house..."

"Ah rydges...your bed is supremely sleepy..."

"Saw Alice in Wonderland last nite, 3/5 for me, was like a hot girl wit no personality..nice 2 look at bt cant make u feel anythin worthwhile"

"Thank you Suzuki for creating my newest most-hated TV Ad."

"I would like to find a good coffee one day..."

"The warriors are playing an hour and 3/4 set before I play tonite at mt smart. Dream opening act right there."

"First visit to dentist in approx. 6 years...pretty stoked with only 2 fillings required! Thank you Dental Associates!"

"Baseball draft done....yearly obsession begins again...."

"Body is breaking down - MUST be due to toast deprivation....gonna resume the addiction today!"

"For once and for all - I am NOT the face of the "Becks List"...."

"Got skifree on my iPhone to re-live the days of Windows 3.1.1 but the yeti doesn't eat u once ur past the finish line. Very disappointing."

"My new glasses make their debut in our new vid, chur to LA Eyeworks and Occhiali Optical!"

"Face still numb...cant eat for fear of eating own mouth....oh the hunger!"

"And this is a pineapple plant -"

"Wat is the better of two evils? Credit cards, or owning a car?"

"Let the LA games begin...might buy me some LA Gear while I'm here, won't buy me a pear, no fresh fruit here to share."

"Sound check sorted 4 big show 2nite @ the Whiskey - gonna b sweet! We met Si's ginger twin yesterday too: amazing"

"You know Las Vegas is another world when their McDonalds serves pepsi with their"

"Lifts that move in a diagonal direction freak me the fuck out..."

"Kfc USA has wedges instead of chips AND they dnt make u feel guilty 4 asking 4 sauce! Amazing."

"Me taking on KFC's famous double down sandwich - no bread here ppl! So bad, but so good..."

"Toast, coffee, cricket, South Africa struggling in sport - perfect first morning back in NZ!"

"Gonna go chill backstage wit the chills, drink a chilled beer and get some chills while I listen to the chills live."

"First Kookaburra wake-up call in OZ...hilarious day ahead."

So yeah - pretty boring really.

Hopefully some amazingly enthralling events take place over the coming months as the band's album is released in Oz and we tour the hell out of it.

But, once again, my future is largely in the dark. I found a quote on my phone the other day, most likely discovered and hastily hashed in a boozed frenzy, that brings me solace for my situation.

"There are no maps to any place worth going to."

I will update this again when my road leads me back, whenever that may be.

Currently reading: When Giants Walked the Earth by Mick Wall
Latest listen:
Great North - Soldiers EP

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Catching up

Ah summer - a time of year where most people get to flounce around in stubbies, hot pants, singlets and bikinis and let their minds wander from the serious notions of career, study and personal improvement under the glaring sun.

This summer I've been stalking beach towns in black jeans and t-shirts, my mind firmly focussed on my career, my trade and craft and all the while battling NZ's glaring sun.

The past couple of months have been the busiest I've had as a musician in New Zealand - in 8 weeks we've played 19 shows in the North Island alone and most of them have been amazing for me.

This is basically the time of year where bands in this country can make some money in order to survive. The industry here doesn't generally offer enough to give musicians a salary comparable to fulltime work as most people know it. All they can do is hope to cover costs enough to keep the band afloat and give it some touring options abroad.

It's really quite an ironic situation where a band can have it's music get so much coverage and acclaim yet none of its members make more money than most of the people you see living on the streets of downtown Auckland. But that's a whole other topic that I'll cover some other time....for now I'm going to attempt to re-live some of the fun I've had of late as that's much more satisfying.

Ok, so since I don't want to re-enact my university days and write a 3000 word B-grade essay, I'm going to bullet-point my way through my highlights of the past few months.

* Dec 18, TVNZ Xmas song - a highlight because of how hungover we all were and how it turned out, link here: Midnight Youth Christmas carol
* Dec 25, Xmas with the family - always a highlight of the year especially when you get given a ham for a present.

* Dec 26-31, shows in Whakatane, Tauranga, Whangamata and Gisbourne with the band and our awesome crew - Rhythm and Vines for New Years was particularly special as we played right before the countdown to 20,000 people who were totally into having a sweet time and forgiving me for swearing profusely on stage. Best New Years of my life.

* Jan 1-7, got to spend a good few days in my hometown catching up with family, great friends, doing some fishing and playing some golf.

* Jan 8, show in Waihi Beach - a sold out show to an awesome crowd is always special and everyone knows that Waihi makes you feel good inside, right?
* Jan 9, show in Piha - probably one of the most scenic outlooks we'll ever get from on-stage plus a friend of our manager's had a bach that we were fortunate enough to watch the sunset from later that night.

* Jan 10, played in apparently crime-ridden Wainuiomata to a bunch of Scouts - another surprise show and surprisingly good time. Had a huge rider we had to finish that night so it was always going to be huge - and it's always nice to flirt with Wellington a lil.
* Jan 15, Big Day Out - this needs its own bullet-point timeline:
- Artists area/catering = amazing
- Show went perfect, dream come true
- Played to about 20k when we were on
- Lots of singalongs
- Exhausted after
- Got drunk
- Kasabian are top men, gifted us their rider
- Temper Trap guys are super
- Lilly Allen flashed us a boob whilst sunbathing before her set, then we had a good drunken yarn before she was whisked away to her hotel.
- Muse changed the whole floor of their stage and replaced it with some kind of chrome-looking metal...
- They were pretty epic
- The Veils ruled
- BK Queen St to end the night
- Caught a cold as a parting present.

* Jan 23, my Dad's 60th bday party - family converged from all over the world to celebrate my Pa's milestone, a great tribute to a great man. The singalongs lasted til well into the early hours - always the sign of a good night!

So now the summer continues, the inappropriate dress-sense continues and a keen sense of time takes me once more.

"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." Abraham Lincoln.