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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas - two songs

I hope you all are having a great Christmas today.

Over the past few weeks I've been inspired by the season and written a couple of Christmas-themed songs that I thought I'd share as a present to you.


The first was written for a radio interview and is the live recording from that day - I basically didn't want to sing a carol, so rustled one up myself. Props to Si for playing guitar with no rehearsal and only a rough voice memo to learn it from.

The second is a wee home recording, maybe one day I'll record it properly, but for now it's hopefully just a nice vibe for you.

Enjoy your family and friends and make the most of the season and thank you for listening. I have a feeling 2012 is going to be a huge year, so I'll catch you then.

It's Christmas Time I'm Told

Christmas Again

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jordie Lane

On Sunday evening I had the privilege of attending a great little gig in Auckland that showcased a bunch of very talented folk musicians.

Three NZ artists took the stage for short sets before the headliner, an Australian called Jordie Lane, finished off the evening. Katie Scott, Matt Langley and Mel Parsons were the Kiwi acts and all impressed in their own ways - Parsons' voice in particular was a highlight for me - but Jordie Lane definitely showed his class as a true storyteller in a genre that needs more of the type.

This guy is one of those old-souls, or just someone particularly gifted in expressing a sense of wisdom and worldliness in his songs that belies his appearance - much like my beloved Laura Marling! Plus, his tunes were great, his musicianship was impressive and he was personable on stage in a way that a lot of Kiwi singer-songwriters could take note of - humble and funny, without any shy awkwardness.


I was actually lucky enough on the night to win a copy of his latest album from a bucket draw (last time I won one of those things it was a meat-pack, so this was huge!) and I've been listening to it in my car the past few days, just to make sure he's not one of those acts you see live that you love only to find their recordings let them down. I was in luck again - it doesn't. It's great.

Have a listen to the below tracks and, if you like them, please go out and buy his album off iTunes, you'll not regret it.



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Album lyrics

Just to stop any confusion out there (there are some strange interpretations going around), here are the definitive lyrics to the songs on my band's latest album, World Comes Calling.


THE STREET
Verse 1
Meet me in the street, where we used to go
Find out what you need, with a single look
I never ask much of you love
I never ask much of you love
I never ask much of you love

Verse 2
Meet me in the street, where we used to go
Rising memories, of a simple world.

I never ask much of you love
I never ask much of you love
I never ask much of you love

Chorus
We’re the best at believing
But the last ones to be heard
Will you fight just to breathe this?

Bridge
Meet me on our street tonight, we’ll ride, we’ll ride
History repeats tonight, we’ll ride, we’ll ride

Chorus
We’re the best at believing
But the last ones to be heard
Will you fight just to breathe this?

Outro
Meet me on our street tonight, we’ll ride, we’ll ride
History repeats tonight, we’ll ride, we’ll ride


DOWN INSIDE
Verse 1
You and I, we’re different thinkers
You’re stuck in time, I’m a future boy
Don’t tie me up, for no good reason
Then rip me off, then rip me off, right down inside
Chorus
Who, who are you to say this music dies?

Who, who are you to lose this paradise?
I, I’m never gonna leave this paradise…

Verse 2
Fill me up, with a sweet illusion
Then send me blind, through a pack of wolves
Oh Mr Man, did you think I’d return?
To rip you off, then rip you off, right down inside
Chorus
Who, who are you to say this music dies?

Who, who are you to lose this paradise?
I, I’m never gonna leave this paradise…
Bridge
You’re too late mister, I’m way too gone
I said you’re too late Mr Sorry, I’m way too gone, way too gone.

Chorus
Who, who are you to say this music dies?
I, I’m never gonna leave this paradise…
Who, who are you to say this music dies?
I, I’m never gonna leave this paradise…

WON’T STOP
Verse 1
You talk of a victory, you never won
Then send your confession, t’far and beyond
You fly with the fables, then pass the buck
Parade with your people, you did not earn it

Chorus
No I won’t stop breathing, if you don’t call
No I won’t stop breathing

Verse 2
Your eyes are aligned now, with every star
When one flickers brighter, you buckle up and then
You send your ship past heaven
You send everything you own
To the world you’re a princess – you did not earn it

Chorus
No I won’t stop breathing, if you don’t call
No I won’t stop breathing
No I won’t stop breathing, even if you talk
No I won’t stop breathing, won’t stop

Bridge
I told you darling not to follow this road
Walk on, walk on x4

(Chorus with bridge continued)
No I won't stop,
No I won't stop breathing,
No I won't stop,
I told you darling do not follow this road.

I won't stop breathing If you don't call,
No I won't stop breathing no,
No I won’t stop breathing, even if you talk
No I won’t stop breathing,

Chorus
If you don't call,
No I won’t stop breathing, even if you talk
No I won’t stop breathing, won’t stop breathing.

WHO SAID YOU'RE FREE
Verse 1
I want a young love, I want a second sun
I want the blink of an eye back from burning
I need a new scar, I need a lucky last
I need a gift, get high on my birthday

Pre-ch
Who. Said, You’re. Free

Chorus
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us
Well who said, who said you’re free?
To take this freedom away from me.
Who said you’re free? who said you’re free?

Verse 2
I wanna be sure, I need a final call
My. Lord. Love me like a waterfall
I wanna see dead, I want a few regrets
I need a break, flying with a cigarette

Pre-ch
Who. Said, You’re. Free

Chorus
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us
We’re just trying, tryna live a good life
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us, look at us yeah
Well who said, who said you’re free?
To take this freedom away from me.

Bridge

Pre-ch
Who. Said, You’re. Free

Chorus
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us
Well who said, who said you’re free?
To take this freedom away from me.
Who said you’re free? who said you’re free?
Who. Said. You’re. Free.

COME ONE, COME ALL
Verse 1
Each time I walk by, everybody wants to know why
This land gives me life, this blood can only let me strive
I give what you need, if you will only follow me

Pre-ch
So open up and feel the noise
Come and follow all the girls and boys

Chorus
Come one, come all
This town is home
Come one, come all
There’s no need to roam, this town is home

Verse 2
Each time you move on, just think about where you belong
Move on, mobilise, I’ll wait for you to realise
Pre-ch
Chorus

Bridge
Come one, come all, to the town I was born in, you’ll never know, where you’ve been before…
Come one, come all. Come one, come all – we could take this, we could.

Chorus

Outro

Come one, come all. Come one, come all – we could take this, we could take this
Come one, come all. Come one, come all – we could take this, we could take this

WORLD COMES CALLING
Verse 1
This is where we will live, this is where we will die
There’s no one to run to, and no place to hide
There’s one to turn to, no world running wild

Pre-ch
So what you gonna do when the world comes calling?
What you gonna do when the world comes calling?

Verse 2
This is where we exist, this is where we will fight
There’s no one to save us, this flat earth we’ve made
We’re blind to the burden, of digging our graves

Pre-ch

Chorus
What you gonna do when they reach out for you?
Tell me you don’t think about it, you never think about,
What you gonna do when the world comes calling.

Bridge
And I still recall the answer, as it rained down from high
You said:
What you gonna do? x 6

Pre-ch
Chorus
Chorus

TOO YOUNG TO WONDER
Verse 1
Give us direction
Shine through the dark
Run with our wishes
Mind disregard

Chorus
I don’t, I don’t wanna give you up
I don’t, I don’t wanna give you up
We’re too young to wonder

Verse 2
Roll with the ocean
Take what you find
Walk with a whisper
Break wrong from right

Chorus
I don’t, I don’t wanna give you up
I don’t, I don’t wanna give you up
I don’t wanna give you up
We’re too young to wonder

Bridge
Feel no perception
Lose every sigh
Feet far from frozen
Break through goodbye

Chorus
I don’t, I don’t wanna give you up
I don’t, I don’t wanna give you up
I don’t wanna give you up
I don’t wanna give you up

We’re too young to wonder

LISTEN
Verse 1
She was born with a grey and aimless mind
She was born, with a chance that she denied
Oh, she caught my eye

Verse 2
Lucy went, to a house every Friday night
Working for her man, believing that her name would shine
Oh, she caught my mind

Chorus
Everybody listen, there’s a riot in the air tonight
Listen, it’s a tragedy you can’t deny
Listen, she’ll be calling out your name tonight
Listen, everybody listen.

Verse 3
She had faith, oh god, she had won
Look beneath the sheets, this bed’s a fool for fun
Oh, she caught my mind. Oh, oh.

Chorus
Bridge
Chorus
Outro - adlibs

FRENCH GIRL
Verse 1
I can’t find what I need, in this stale stricken sea-town
I feel, I feel, I feel, like a stranger to love
I see, I see, I see, you on the TV I’m dreaming
Of finding what I need, the arms of a French girl

Chorus
I’d take a train through the night just to smell you on me
And the voice of an angel would settle this mind
Find, me a French girl
Gotta find, me a French girl

Verse 2
I know, I Know, I know, your eyes are a-searching
For what, I cannot say, but I hope I can shine
And though I’m far away, I’ll watch and I’ll get there
And one day I will find, the arms of a French girl

Chorus
I’d take a train through the night just to smell you on me
And the voice of an angel would settle this mind
Find, me a French girl
Gotta find, me a French girl

Find me
Find me

MARK MY WORDS
Verse 1
One last look before I go, I’ll never understand it
But I know we can be strong
Falling like an autumn leaf
I’m falling from the tallest tree
Into a time I don’t belong

Pre-ch
Mark my words that I’ll move on, and I will stay strong

Chorus
I let my lover walk, into the coming dark
I rest my hope in the daylight
And if the sun should rise, would you believe that when all is said and done
We’d be lost, if we should face, it all alone

Verse 2
One last touch before I go
One month and I will feel it more
One moment keeps the powder dry
Feeling like a done-for child, through it all I somehow smile
One moment keeps the flame alive

Pre-ch
Mark my words that I’ll move on, and I will stay strong x2

Chorus

Outro
One last look before I go, I’ll never understand it
But I know we can be strong
Falling like an autumn leaf
You’re falling from the tallest tree
Into my arms where you belong
Mark my words that I’ll move on, and I will stay strong x2

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I think I've found my summer album

Some sweet modern soul....well, not really modern-sounding, but I'll take it and not feel too bad as I'll throw it an a mix with Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye etc..

The album is called No Time For Dreaming by Charles Bradley...his name makes him sound like a PGA Tour pro, but you'll quickly ignore that once you a) see his album cover and b) hear him sing. Too good.


Here's a taste. Listen, then go buy it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Living in the Material World

I watched this Martin Scorsese documentary on the life of the late George Harrison last night and pretty much all I can say about it is: see it now.

It's a long one - the two parts come together to be around four hours of viewing, but I was stuck on it from the moment it began.

The thing I loved about this doco was that it not only covered the general path of his life but it also went into great detail about his inspirations and what it meant to Harrison to be doing what he was doing.

I also seem to have some kind of morbid fascination with the kind of casual obituary provided by friends and colleagues that comes with this type of film.

In short, I loved it - Scorsese is an undisputed genius and so was Harrison, so it was pretty hard to go wrong on this. Again, see it now!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Another book down

I was recently talking to a fellow musician at an awkward sober industry gathering (most are decidedly non-sober so no one knows quite how to act whilst only under the influence of coffee) and he splurged forth his ideas on inspiration and how important books can be in that process.

In his studies of 'great' songwriters, apparently almost all of them had been avid readers - Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen were thrown around as examples - and I was suddenly reassured and spurned on in my passion for literature. It can be hard to keep this passion while being immersed in an age of internet and gaming and also whilst being surrounded by people who have 100% bought into that lifestyle.

So - I am encouraged and I wanted to share with you my latest read: a book called One Day by David Nicholls. It's the love story of two people who are perfect for each other but who, through life's interventions of distraction and timing, find it hard to live out their passion. It's a very real story, very relate-able and is told in an often candidly hilarious way that balances it's tragic subject. It's a very easy read and was the perfect accompaniment for a recent week-long beach holiday. I wouldn't put it up there as being a classic or must-read, but it's definitely an enjoyable three-and-a-half star book.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Brain Freedom

It's been a busy past few months of planning and promotion of the band's new album and I'm really happy with how it's all going - hopefully the band now has a busy summer of touring ahead of it.

What all this has meant to me is that my mind has been given some licence to explore again. It's hard to really explain how hung up you can get on the creative process and how you don't even realise to what extent, until you can do no more - but that's what happened to me for most of this year, and now my mind is free.

In this time, I've been giving myself a(hopefully!) creative refresh.

I've finished a couple of great books which I can highly recommend - East of Eden by John Steinbeck and Veronika Decides to Die by Paolo Coelho. Both do what I think great books should do; make you ponder your own situation.


I've watched some great documentaries that, again, leave you questioning and inspired - Senna, Pearl Jam Twenty, Upside Down: The Creation Records Story, amongst others.


And, of course, I've been listening to a whole bunch of music, rediscovering older acts like Primal Scream, Leonard Cohen, John Lennon's solo records, Sublime and Supergrass as well as a host of new albums, the highlights being:

* Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire (like this wasn't going to be here!)
* Frank Ocean - Nostalgia/ultra
* Grand Rapids - Faintheartedness
* The Horrors - Skying
* Bonjah - Go Go Chaos
* Mariachi El Bronx - II (summery fun)
* Active Child - Your All All I See
* Terius Nash - 1977
* Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know (the love continues I know..)
* Wilco - The Whole Love
* The Jezabels - Prisoner
* Feist - Metals (surprised me!)

I'm lucky a fair few of the above artists are touring New Zealand early next year - so exciting viewings are ahead! I'd recommend you check out ALL of the above artists if you are a fan of melody, stories and soul.

All of these things inspire me and without inspiration I'm pretty lost - so here's to more discoveries this summer and the freedom and time to express that feeling!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who Said You're Free - lyrics

Verse 1
I want a young love, I want a second sun
I want the blink of an eye back from burning
I need a new scar, I need a lucky last
I need a gift, get high on my birthday
Pre-ch
Who. Said, You’re. Free
Chorus
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us
Well who said, who said you’re free?
To take this freedom away from me.
Who said you’re free? who said you’re free?
Verse 2
I wanna be sure, I need a final call
My. Lord. Love me like a waterfall
I wanna see dead, I want a few regrets
I need a break, flying with a cigarette
Pre-ch
Who. Said, You’re. Free
Chorus
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us
We’re just trying, tryna live a good life
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us, look at us yeah
Well who said, who said you’re free?
To take this freedom away from me.
Bridge

Pre-ch
Who. Said, You’re. Free
Chorus
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us
We’re just tryna live a good life look at us
Well who said, who said you’re free?
To take this freedom away from me.
Who said you’re free? who said you’re free?
Who. Said. You’re. Free.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New toy, great song

I had my first wee live try out of my new recording toy last night(one of these: http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/duet2.php) - I'm still pretty crap at it all, but my main use for it is to demo ideas, rather than produce a polished product, so I'm stoked it can sound pretty decent anyway!

Anyway, here's a track I recorded, it's a cover of an amazing song by a buzz act called Lana Del Rey. She only has a few youtube songs out and nothing you can buy just yet, but I'm predicting big things.



And here's the original:

Chasing on a Motorway

We were all by ourselves
No more money
We were moving our lives
Fading family
Rolling our dice
To break on through into another world.

Say goodbye to our home
The memory's banished
It's a whole new view
From the people's palace
We were playing our cards
To break on through into another world.

This is all too much
Feast or famine
It's a long way down
Honey, hold my hand
If you're game, stick close
We'll break on through into another world.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Base camp reached.

When climbing Mt Everest, your base camp is around 5,500 metres high - you reach this place, rest and acclimatise, and then resume a climb to a peak you may not ever reach.

I am at my base camp.

Last night we completed all the vocals for our yet to be named second album. Now there's just some strings to add to a few songs before the final mixing and mastering processes begin.

Our first single has been chosen and that's headed to be mixed within the next seven days before being released in New Zealand late next month.

At this point, personally, I feel immensely satisfied. I love every song that will be on this album and I love what the band has gone through to create them. We found our motivation, planned our climb, put life aside and set out for another journey in which we'll poke our minds into the sight of the world's examining eyes. Right now these are our songs, we are the sole-owners and we can treasure listening to them.

Very soon they will be songs of the world, not ours. And that's where the climb resumes - a climb you can plan on little but hard work.

We're planning on conquering our mountain - but if we fail trying, at least wherever we fall, having come this far, we're going to have a view to always remember.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Creativity

An awesome and, rather timely, look at the process of creativity in people and how that process can be potentially channeled and controlled.



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A passage to ponder...

"Our species is the only creative species, and it has only one creative instrument, the individual mind and spirit of man. Nothing was ever created by two men. There are no good collaborations, whether in music, in art, in poetry, in mathematics, in philosophy. Once the miracle of creation has taken place, the group can build and extend it, but the group never invents anything. The preciousness lies in the lonely mind of a man."
— John Steinbeck (East of Eden)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

So close....

Album tracking is tantalisingly close to being finished...but for now, it goes on...

At this stage, we've pretty much finished tracking 95% of every song we're recording for this album and now we're adding the very final touches to each track before they're mixed.

For most of this week Si, Nick and myself have been in Studio 203 adding guitar, percussion and vocal backing tracks to songs and we're at the point now where we only have to add some strings, a wee bit more percussion and a few vocal bits and pieces to songs in order for it all to be 100% tracked.

The next step is to pre-mix the tracks before mixing happens - we'll be pretty much rough-mixing the tracks, complete with our desired effects on instruments/voice, as well as making the sessions as simple as possible for whoever we get for the final mix.

Hopefully that will all be sorted within the next 10 days and then the songs will effectively be set free into the arms of people who make the songs sound like they do in our dreams - and then to the world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Winter

Everything slows in winter, except the wind. And the fast wind only encourages escape. My mind craves a richness of ingredients to balance the crawling hideaway. A selective richness in food, drink, company and music.

This winter I have discovered some new ingredients to add to my regular musical intake.

Firstly, an album from a band well-versed in creating the perfect wintery escape - Smart Flesh by The Low Anthem.


It is a complete album (not two or three hyped tracks mixed with some co-written bullshit), it tells a story and, like a good story, takes you through a range of situations and emotions on its way to delivering you an experience. Every song seems to have a purpose and I like that. If you like Eels, Band of Horses, Noah and the Whale, Great Lake Swimmers etc, then you'll like this album.



My second recommendation comes for a band that I'd never heard of before and very much stumbled upon - yet it's their third studio album. These guys are called Hey Rosetta! (the exclamation mark might've been important to them about five years ago) and the album is called Seeds.


They've apparently been quite acclaimed in Canada, winning awards etc for a number of years - but to me none of that really matters - just one listen to this album got me hooked and I feel like the more I listen to it the more I will enjoy it. It's one of those albums, and maybe on of those bands, that has a lot more depth to it than one can first notice. And, like The Low Anthem, this album is complete.

Definitely listen to this one if you are a fan of Glen Hansard, Okkervil River, Arcade Fire, etc...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New York vs New Zealand - part two

Where would you prefer to record an album if you had the chance? Would you take a gamble, spend your savings and follow a dream to New York? Or would you choose to be around family, friends and familiarity and stay in your home country, New Zealand?

I've done both - so I'm now detailing a bit of a comparison between the two roads I've chosen in recording albums with my band. Here's part two of the story...

Food
The Brave Don't Run: I don't think we ate very much at all while we were in New York, we had spent all our money just to get there so we had the diet of hobos. I can remember a lot of things from McDonalds' $1 menu and, if we were feeling like splashing out, a sandwich from a deli. Great novelty factor - but I think we all got sick at some stage during that time.
Album II: This time around we have our own cars to get to supermarkets to make breakfast and lunch in a studio kitchen and we even have a budget for food in the album costs, so we order dinner each night from a local restaurant. The only exception to that is when our main man Andrew Buckton's wife brings in amazing home-cooked meals for us to dine on. Just a slight upgrade!




Company
The Brave Don't Run: In a city of over 26 million people we had ourselves, our producer and a photographer friend for company. We made some awesome new friends along the way but most of the time we only had this small bunch of people to hang with.
Album II: Being in our hometown, Auckland gives us a whole bunch of friends and family we can spend time with during the recording process. Most days we have visitors into the studio who can share our excitement for the songs, take pictures, record claps with us (if the timing's right) and keep conversations fresh. Plus the guys with girlfriends get to have more than just "skype-contact" each night!



Process
The Brave Don't Run: For our first album we recorded in a way that's pretty common for bands on a tight budget - we laid down each instrument in their own block of recording time. We started in a studio where would only record drums - we spent just two days there doing all the songs before we moved on to three other studios, including the one we lived in, to track guitars, bass, keys and vocals. This meant there wasn't a lot of flexibility to change the songs once the drums were down and it was more difficult to zero in to the vibe of each individual song.
Album II: Being in one studio for three weeks has meant we've been able to record a new song each day - this means we can give each of these their own treatment and we can spend a lot of time keying in the right tones for each instrument and thus create a different environment for every song's unique mood.

Songs
The Brave Don't Run: Before we arrived in New York we had around five songs with a clear vision of how they'd result. The rest were crafted while we were there, under a lot of pressure. The songs also spanned a long time in terms of their origin - we had songs that were three years old and ones that were three weeks old.
Album II: We've spent a lot of time preparing for this record and we have a lot more knowledge of how it's all done so this time we've come here with 11 fully-formed songs and another three we wanted to leave for the studio as more spontaneous creations. We spent six months focussed on writing while we were living in Sydney and then the past three months doing six-day weeks in our rehearsal room working on pre-production for these songs. So we are, if anything, more than prepared this time around.

Animals
The Brave Don't Run: We had about 20 feral cats surrounding our "home" in Brooklyn who provided little distraction from life while there. The only awesome animals New York really gave us were squirrels whose sporadic appearances were always brief highlights of any given hour.
Album II: One animal is giving us all the comfort and entertainment we need in a studio - Derrick, a cat we've adopted as our own who most-likely just lives nearby and likes the attention and KFC leftovers we provide. He's awesome though.


So you do the math - each process had/has its ups and downs and different levels of excitement and focus. I suppose the great thing about recording two albums in two very different ways is that we are sure to produce something that varies from our first effort - and this comparison only really compares the process, where things like our musicianship, experience and age play an unmeasurable role in our sound.

Whatever the case is, I believe the band has made two great decisions about where to record albums and the results will surely follow. I very much look forward to sharing them with you.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New York vs New Zealand - part one

This album-recording process is a much different experience to the one we had with our first, The Brave Don't Run - so I thought it'd be pretty interesting to run through a few comparisons between that and the present case...

Location
The Brave Don't Run: New York (Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem, Manhattan)
Album II: Auckland (Parnell, Newton)

Obviously New York wins this comparison strictly in terms of surroundings, incredible - to be able to record there was an absolute privilege for a Kiwi band.


Accommodation
The Brave Don't Run: Tiny two bedroom studio for six guys to share and sleep on airbeds in - during daytime hours we had to record in those rooms, so everything was packed away each day. Plus we had a great toilet which was constantly blocked and over-flowing.
Album II: Band flat - we all live together in a great house. So our own beds and surroundings to return to each night are pretty great.



Budget
The Brave Don't Run: We had pretty much no budget for this album - we spent all our savings to get there and we were relying on the album having some success for us to be able to pay anyone involved. Once we retrospectively received NZOnAir funding and were signed we were, thankfully, able to do this!

Album II: This time we enter the process as a signed and successful act - most of our budget comes from NZOnAir and then our record label provide the rest. Due to NZOnAir funding processes changing this year, this could be the last album we record like this as our budget would be substantially cut - unless things really take off for us abroad, fingers crossed!

Studio/s
The Brave Don't Run: We recorded in three small project studios around New York for most of the tracking - only drums were recorded in a large, established pro studio. There was a lot of time spent packing in and out, setting up and packing down and in adapting to new desks and surroundings.
Album II: This time we're in one studio, York St in Auckland, for the whole process - we have everything at our fingertips, time is well-spent and we have space to set up a kind of commune throughout the different rooms the place provides us.



Gear
The Brave Don't Run: We were able to bring a few instruments with us to New York, but we were largely relying on our producer for extra gear to vary sounds on that first record. It ended up being just varied enough but probably not ideal for a true creative exploration of sounds for the songs

Album II: Recording in Auckland in one big studio means we have all our own gear, our friends' gear, borrowed gear from the Rockshop plus the gear the studio itself owns. We're truly able to spend time finding the right vibe for each instrument for each of the tracks which will definitely result in better songs for everyone to listen to.



So that's part one of this little exercise - I'll have more for you over the next few days. Things are going great here by the way, 10 songs down and sounding amazing!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Birthday, a new friend

Album II - Day 4 & 5

It was more of the same in the studio on day four - the only notable exception to the recording process was celebrating Si's birthday with a cake and a fair few drinks.

We got through the bulk of another song and hopefully some of the celebratory mood we were all in will be evident in the final version of the song.

I also made myself a new friend in the studio and I'm totally in love, in a 'can't get enough of them' way - here's a picture:


So in-between ideas and takes I've been hard at work trying to beat my high score - these things must have been especially mind-blowing pre-computers and consoles...even more than they are to me now! So I'm pretty sure I'm gonna get me one of these if I ever get my own house.

Day five was a groggy kind of day for us - it was dark and wet outside and maybe that, and a few too many drinks for a few of us the night before, meant slow progress...

But that's nothing another night can't fix...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gathering momentum

Album II - Day 3

Recording is coming along nicely - we're onto song three of the album on the third day, so we're right on track. One of the main reasons we've been able to do this is the way we've set ourselves up here.


Let me explain a little. We have two recording setups here at York St - the main studio and control room are being used for tracking all the important instruments and vocals. So throughout the day these areas are humming along in constant business - guitar, bass, drums and vocals are all tracked here, all the most important stuff.
While that's all going on we have another recording hub going on - the "B studio". We've taken over what is usually an office and Nick has brought in his home studio set up. Here we record backing vocal and percussion tracks plus work on synth and keyboard sounds. We can also use it as a place to simply jam along with the guide track and come up with ideas over and above what we've already produced prior to coming here. This set up is playing a huge part in us keeping up with the rough "song-a-day" schedule we've planned as pretty much no one is ever idle during the day.

So it's very much a case of us building an environment we're we create our own momentum and run with that hot feeling - it's working a treat so far!

Here's a very wee peak into studio life for you...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Looking for inspiration

Album II - day 2

After a day of largely setting up yesterday, today we're finally 100% recording/creating/messing with music.


As I'm still recovering from my wee cold, I won't be recording any final lead vocals until possibly next week - so my role at the moment is to be an opinion on sounds for guitars and pads whilst concentrating  on backing vocal ideas and lyrics.

Lyrics are always a major challenge as they can't be forced and play such a huge role in deciding whether a song clicks 100% with an audience - plus they are so personal, so it's always a challenge throwing a part of yourself literally into the world to be judged. (Don't excuse the pun, embrace it)

I'm always searching for inspiration wherever I can. I recently spent a rare few nights with my family in Tauranga and dug up an old box of childhood memories I had stashed away - photo albums, diaries, gift cards and tapes. My Dad had an old tape player and I spent a good few hours playing through these tapes and listening to various recordings my family and I had made - mostly they were just me talking, joking around with friends at sleepovers and, occasionally, singing.

The biggest gem I found was this recording of me at some stupidly young age doing my best RnB impression (I say stupidly due largely to the song choice)... but it inspired me as it was a fearless recording and I think fearlessness needs to be a key ingredient for everything contained in the album we're currently creating.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A new chapter...

Album II, Day 1

Having spent the weekend largely tucked away in my room with a badly-timed mild cold, I awoke this Queen's Birthday morning finally with the feeling that a new album was a reality.

I don't think many people realise, but it's been three years since the band recorded The Brave Don't Run in New York and four or sometimes five years since we wrote many of those songs. In that time the band has grown up, had huge success, huge failure, embarrassing moments and moments full of pride. We've toured the US twice, played over 100 shows in Australia and made a start on getting somewhere in Asia. The band has some experience in the music industry now, we've found a small foothold in a place where so many slip away - but at the same time we are babies, still in wonder of music itself...no matter how long you are in this industry I don't think you can ever shake that feeling, and I couldn't bear to regardless.

So now a new opportunity has arisen and my future as a musician will largely be determined over the next three weeks - an excitingly daunting prospect.

We've spent countless hours writing and producing the songs we're going to be recording, we're almost over-prepared and absolutely itching to see how we've grown over the past few years as musicians and songwriters - so, naturally, I spent the first morning of the process in bed while the rest of the guys loaded in and set up the studio.

Yes, I'm the lead singer.

Though the reputation that role carries probably doesn't quite apply to this situation - my time was better spent in an empty house working on lyrics rather than waiting seven hours for the studio to be ready to start recording anything. Yes, that's the reality on day one - 90% of the day is spent recording nothing at all. We spent most of the time taking over the studio - loading in gear, dressing the rooms with lamps and lights and setting up equipment the way our engineer wants it.


We're aiming to work roughly on a song-per-day timetable for the first few weeks here - so after a 10am load-in, it was 6pm before we started laying some live cuts down...so that mantra obviously won't apply today!

But, despite the slow start, a beginning has begun and this new chapter is finally realised...



Friday, June 3, 2011

An empty page...

When you are describing,
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things,
With a sort of mental squint.
~Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)


Monday, May 30, 2011

Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows

A fine wee folk/country music recommendation for you here...

 

This is a tribute album to John Prine featuring songs by prominent folksy people such as Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Josh Ritter, Justin Townes Earle, My Morning Jacket and The Avett Brothers. Pretty great lineup huh?

Although the style on this record leans more towards the country side of folk than some of the above artists normally do, don't let it put you off. This is a great chilled-out listen, perfect to accompany a good book and a crisp, sunny morning. Try it as soon as you can!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friendship should be the sum of...

...spontaneous affection, careless rhetorical excess, the joys of an unsuspicious friendship, games where one's life is not at risk, even in love.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hip-hoppin, no stoppin...

Yep, all the big talk (at least in my circles) is justified as hell - go get David Dallas' new album The Rose Tint now.


It's the overall vibe of this album that makes it good - it's positivity, made up of doses of nostalgia, swagger and joy. The songs sound like they're coming from someone who's not holding anything back and doing everything to make each song's story expressed to perfection - and actually pulling it off.

It's available for FREE download from HERE so you've got nothing to lose. Try it out and enjoy being uplifted next time you're stuck in a rainy traffic jam this winter.

Here's the track that probably sums up a lot of the attitude behind this album, enjoy:

Saturday, May 14, 2011

China - snapshot!

China! My week with you was amazing. I will return some day soon.

Here's a snapshot of my week with Communism...in reverse!



I will write more once fully recovered...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Macacheros Dominguez!

This song and the album from whence it came are both awesome.












But this song really does just sound like me singing fake Spanish lyrics...anyone who has witnessed my drunken, pseudo-Mexican, musical outbursts will attest to this fact.

Now I'm gutted someone bet me to recording it!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Man On Wire

If you've seen and liked the documentary Man On Wire and want to acquire a comparably awesome musical accomplice, then PNC's new album is for you.

It's also called Man On Wire and is a great follow-up to his debut record Bazooka Kid which was one of my band's most-played van-ride albums last year.


Here's a clip of the second single from the album - so if you like hip-hop, listen to it and if it gets you, then get it, on iTunes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reality check

Stephen Fry, you're rather amazing.

I've been a bit of a language Nazi the past five or so years - largely due to my time spent working for news websites sub-editing badly-written news articles - but the video below is a lovely way of reminding me of the other side of language and that there's time and place to be a grammatical Stalinist!

Thank you Stephen Fry.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New discoveries!

It's been a while.

I haven't been inspired by much new music of late for whatever reason - maybe my digging skills have waned in their effectiveness or maybe there's just not much around.

However, all it took was a new friend who had done some digging of their own and was kind enough to share their finds.

One find in particular stands out to me right now on the eve of recording my second album with Midnight Youth as it's not often I find a band that's doing something with a similar vision in mind to us.

These guys, The Boxer Rebellion, are making that beautifully British musical-fusion of rock intricacy, emotion and pop hooks - and it's been inspiring as hell listening to their three albums.


Have a listen to a couple of their songs below and, if they take your fancy, definitely seek out their albums and remember - inspiration is always around the corner and sometimes all it takes is for one new person to walk into your life.



Saturday, March 26, 2011

Upside down

It's amazing how parts of life that one can be so satisfied with can, in an instant, be shuffled and swapped at a whim with those that were so empty previously...

Friday, March 11, 2011

New York

I have just finished a wonderful novel that I wanted to share with you.

It is called New York by Edward Rutherfurd and it's a must-read for any fan of historical fiction/Pillars of the Earth or of the city itself.



New York is a place I've visited twice in my life and each time it has embraced me in its atmosphere of imagination, dreams, freedom and adventure. This book contains all these elements and gave me a greater sense of how this all came about - from Dutch settlers, to English rule, through the Civil War, mass immigration, mass construction, stock market crashes and the 9/11 tragedy. Throughout all these events are woven the tales of a string of families; their fortunes and failures in the great city and how they intertwine with some of the greatest people in world history. 

It's a long book, but don't let that put you off if what I've written sounds like your cup of tea.

It's actually the fourth book I've read from this author, the others being Sarum, London and Russka - all follow a similar format and all are an incredible way to enlighten yourself on various places and times and their roles in human history. If any of you have read the great novel Pillars of the Earth and enjoyed it then these books are 100% for you as well.

Please enjoy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Rock and roll returns...

I've just uncovered my favourite band discovery in a long time - and it's not folk, synth-pop, dance or dubstep.

It's heavy, angsty rock and roll. It's Dead Confederate.

If you are even slight fan of bands like The Veils, Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Silverchair then go and get their album, Wrecking Ball, right this moment. Don't even read the rest or listen to a sample - I'm so sold on these guys it's stupid. And I think you will be too.



Pretty much all the songs on this album are great - the highlight being The Rat. Vocalist Hardy Morris is just incredible. Have a listen here:



I haven't bought the rest of their catalogue just yet - but that will be happening in the coming hours I assure you.

This, people, is a sign that great rock bands are returning and that people want it. It makes me excited as hell.

 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The power of music...

Yesterday my band received an incredible email relating to the disaster of an earthquake that has hit the Canterbury region in New Zealand.

It is not often one is completely blown away and humbled by the honest words of another - but yesterday I was.  

You may not remember me, I was the person that asked to get a photo with you and the guys at Wellington Airport last Monday afternoon.  You were traveling to the next Winery tour venue and I was off to Christchurch for a national health sector chief officers meeting.
 
I was embarrassed that I only had one (my favorite Midnight Youth) song on my iPhone so I purchased your CD as I walked to my boarding gate.  That night I downloaded it to my iPhone at my Hotel in the CBD.  You may wound why I am telling you all this...
 
The following Tuesday was an experience I will not soon forget - if ever.  I got out of the CBD unhurt and was able to help where I could during the first few hours of the Quake.  I eventually walked to Hadly Park (the emergency center for those displaced by the Quake).  It was a bomb site and the ground was unstable.  The people there (1,000~) ranged from 'numb' to 'upset' to 'not knowing what to do next'.  I was near a group of international visitors who were praying and others started to join in.  At that time all we could do was wait.  The phones were down and I decided to play my new CD in my iPhone (I wish the speakers were a little larger).  The praying stopped, people starting listening and the depressed mood picked up.  I turned the (your) music off thinking that people may not want to here it.  "Turn it back on" was shouted out. 
 
We herd five songs before my battery ran out.  I can't express how comforting it was for people to hear some inspiring New Zealand music, at a time where it seemed the world had fallen around us.  I reflected back to our brief discussion about saving lives, which I poorly tried to play down and make an ill timed joke about it.
 
Some of us (in the health sector) have the opportunity to touch the lives of individual people and families.  What you do touches the harts, minds and sprits of thousands.  Be great, write great music, play great music, inspire the lives of people greatly.  Your music was a bright light in a dark day.  I was lucky to be flying out the next day, I cannot imaging how the people of Christchurch will cope over the coming months.
 
I'll send a photo with your CD from our surgical unit.


As a musician and songwriter, I express a part of myself that isn't overly evident in my regular daily life - it is quite a mystery to me how it happens and all I know is that I feel satisfied and excited when that process is in motion. But once it leaves my mouth, the stage or a studio, it is out of my control as to how it affects the world around me and it's particularly hard to rationalise that thought - it's moments like these that give me a greater sense of the power that music has and the amazing gift I've been given and am doing my best to use.

They say I'm on top of my game...



The more sights I see,

The more places I go,

The more people I meet,

The more alone I feel.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Lake

There's a lake in the city where the buildings never grew. 
And a wild reminder of my state. 
The firmest foundations had been carefully laid
For an ever unreal game. 

The plans were a marvel - the daydream ever grew. 
The keystone was solid - the daydream ever grew. 
The workers were callow - the daydream ever grew. 
But I failed to accommodate any essence of you. 

So the work was abandoned, the plans were laid waste. 
And a hole in the earth was all that remained. 
And though this was desolate, stark and bare
I often would wander and think of you there. 

Season on season had laid its fair weather
And the hole in the ground was filled up forever
The daydream now buried under emerald allure...
My youth was enshrined. Still and secure. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2010: the second half...time to praise

For most of the first half of last year I was documenting my favourite new musical discoveries regularly on here but I did slack off a little over the final 6 months, so this is why I'm recapping a bit with these latest two blogs.

I already mentioned I wasn't totally blown away by anything over this second period - but this doesn't mean there wasn't any good music released, there definitely was. So I'm going to list my highlights of the "best of a quite lovely but not mind-blowing bunch" below.

I'm not going to give any huge descriptions of each of these artists - just know that I enjoyed their albums and most of the songs I've linked to are my favourites from those.

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - Before Today



Brandon Flowers - Flamingo



Lissie - Catching a Tiger



The Tallest Man on Earth - Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird



Robert Plant - Band of Joy



Micah P Hinson - ...And The Pioneer Sabateurs



Das Racist - Shut Up, Dude



Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - III/IV



Great North - Newfoundland

Monday, January 17, 2011

2010: the second half...time to dig.

The last six months (roughly) of 2010 didn't blow me away as far as new music around the world went - in my ever-present search for something to blow me away I instead received quite a few breezy tunes but nothing that got my passion riled.

This could be because, unlike a lot of critics and John/Sarah Smiths out there, I don't possess a huge liking for the trendy low-fi punk pop sounds that abound, along with synth-pop anthems and DJ-driven dance opuses (anyone know the actual plural of an opus?).

Yes, I quite liked Arcade Fire's The Suburbs, The National's High Violet and Kings of Leon's Come Around Sundown. All of these were critically acclaimed (Kings of Leon less-so) but I just didn't get THAT excited about them.  

I expected more from the likes of Blitzen Trapper, Band of Horses and Aloe Blacc whose albums were completely fine but didn't deliver me any magic apart from maybe one or two songs each.

With this yawning gap in top quality albums, I took the time free and decided to look back and delve into artists who I had never had the chance to explore, though should have much sooner.

Artists who I knew the prominent songs of, but not the catalogues, like Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Tim Buckley and The Beach Boys.

Or just older acts who I had only ever heard of like Mad Season, Screaming Trees and M83.

What I can say, after exploring, is that all of the artists I mentioned above are worth every minute of your listening time. And all I can do really is show you a glimpse of each, so their craft speaks for itself.

So if you get a spare hour sometime, listen through the songs below and go on your own missions to hear the rest of their catalogues and let some of the great artists of our distant and not-so-distant past have their way with the soundtrack to your life.















AND - the only stream I can find of my favourite Screaming Trees song is via Hype Machine, so here's a link, please listen: Screaming Trees - Julie Paradise