Five Years

“…And now it’s all over,
You’ve paid your money and you’ve taken your choice
And I don’t know if we’ll ever meet again
But…. I just wanted you to know
I remember every…. single… thing….”

© Cocker/Banks/Mackey/Senior/Doyle/Webber, “Disco 2000” from the album Different Class, 1995.

Just before I make a return to my day job for a while in order to sustain my procrastinated passion (thanks Dad, at least I know where I got it from), I’ve decided to rewrite the lyrics to The Wishing Game.

While I was relatively content with them as they were, I wasn’t convinced that my collaborative partner Robert’s music really suited them and had thought for a while that I could find something better for the minimalist melody that he came up with. Well, that was nearly three months ago and it has taken a while for inspiration to arrive.

In fairness there has been quite a lot going on around here what with devoting time to getting back into work before I end up in penury, giving an old friend somewhere to run to temporarily when his world and his routine came to a grinding halt and the re-emergence, albeit somewhat temporarily, of someone important from my recent past who I never thought I would see again. And it is that person who has inspired these lyrics.

The goal for this track is still to be a song that has a feel very much like George Michael’s A Different Corner – although its three times as long nearly (weighing in at 5 minutes plus)  it is quite minimal in its sonic soundscape, giving the lyrics room to breathe but with a simple softer melody that couches lyrics that are anything but soft. Reflective, yes. Somewhat regretful, yes. Maybe some might say harsh in places. Well, maybe they are.

To explain: Five Years is basically about how I felt about someone right now as they unexpectedly came back in and almost immediately out again of my life, right this moment as I type, five years after one of my most important anniversaries  to the day. Its kind of akin to burning a bridge that someone is in the middle of rebuilding, even though you never asked them to – and wishing that you didn’t have to, but knowing that deep down, there was not really any other option.

As the lyric implies, despite all that has happened, ultimately I was still the wrong man for her, for a plethora of reasons. And, whenever we touched or kissed, I knew it deep down, as well. Some things you can’t hide, no matter how well you think you can.  Some of the lines I had already, but most of them have come about over the last 2-3 weeks in isolation, but in the knowledge that they’d fit together when the time came, because they were borne from the same subject matter about the same person.

Anyway. For a change, I digress. The track itself, is almost finished. Melody, bassline, rhythm part, arrangement, everything bar the vocals and some other overdubs (maybe synth or sax or strings). Will it make it onto one of the KOAS project albums? Arguably it will. Its likely to be on No Expectations instead of Never Be Mine as the closing track.

 

Five Years

v1/
So now we can’t even talk on the telephone
How did I become so jaded with you?
Maybe I’ve spent too much time here on my own
To think I needed anybody new

So now you reached out, right out of the blue
Could you tell that I’d been thinking about you?
I should have known some things were too good to be true…

v2/
Its nearly five years since I caught your eye
Wouldn’t have made it, if it wasn’t for you
Learning to live with watching my best friend die
And I was lost but you knew just what to do…

But when you said you can’t do this any more
I didn’t fight it, I just walked out of your door
Did you really think I’d ever come back for more…?

Bridge/
Why are you back, just like a long lost pet?
Did you think I’m as good as you were ever going to get
But you tell yourself you haven’t sunk that low just yet….

All of those battles fought over old ground
You spend my time and drink my money all over the town
We think we’ve both changed, but is that really true?
I’m still the wrong man for you.

Solo/

Bridge/
Skin warm like gold, but a cold heart just like steel
I fell out of your hands and under your heels
And just like the last time you said it was over
You thought I’d still be thinking of you.

v3/
Maybe its my turn to decide
Not to follow you so blind this time
Maybe its you who should be left alone wondering why…

Maybe it proves I’m right not to trust you yet
Because when I kiss you, its clear that you’re not pissed enough yet
How do you churn me up inside when I thought there was nothing left…?

Bridge/
Tomorrow its five years since I last looked in her eyes
Life wasn’t easy, but at least I know I tried
Despite the wounds and all the sacrifice
Through it all I still think about you…

Solo/Coda/

©Words by Steve McCarthy-Hunt, Music by Robert Pearce, 2016

Whats New?

Its been nearly three weeks since my last review and look-back at what has been going on with writing and recording. So, I figured that now was as good a time as any to bring you up to date with what has been happening.

To get one thing out of the way first, there hasnt been any new lyric writing over the last 14 days or so. Most of the energy has gone into recording and composing.

As I hinted at, during my previous update there are a number of tracks that for a while didnt appear to be going anywhere that have found a new lease of life. These include:

Elia/The Last Dance – now in a very advanced state. Most of the core tracks are in place and all that remains to be done on it are some overdubs and vocals. I feared that this one was getting bogged down because of the complex arrangement that was required to make it all work. That bridge has been crossed and for the most part all of the component parts sit together quite well, but not quite there yet.

Castles In The Sky – likewise. The core tracks and the arrangement are in place. Hardest bit to do is going to be the vocals and any solo parts – saxaphone and jazz guitar.

Doesnt Matter Now – chords and arrangement are completed, even has some guide vocals. Its likely to remain very sparse, as was the original intention. But at the moment, its maybe a little too sparse and requires some drum brushed parts and upright bass and a couple of solo spots for saxaphone and guitar. Its going to be one of those long songs that needs space and room to breathe and is very much going to be “less is more”, but I’m not quite sure what form that is going to take yet…

The Wishing Game – now this one, while I’ve managed to save the original music track that was written for it by my collaborator, Robert…. I’m not sure I can really save the lyrics. I have a feeling that this one may end up being re-appraised, lyrically. Musically, there is a definite passing resemblance to George Michael’s A Different Corner – this song may take a lyrical turn inspired by that, its a little early to say. I’ve not put the final arrangement on enough times yet to work out what that will be. I might have to try the Polly Samson trick of mixing the arrangement down to MP3, sticking on my iPod and going for a long, long walk with a notepad across the Wiltshire Downs and seeing what shakes out after a while. If it worked for her on Rattle That Lock, it can work for me too, I hope!

The Fear Of Missing Out – very advanced stage of production. Almost all of the music is complete. Saxaphone and brass stab parts were the last ones to go on, early last week. Just the vocals left and then mixing. Only thing is, its still maybe a little more “jazzy” than “funky” and while the Steely Dan influences are clear, its not really grooving yet. And while I’ll not be distraught if it doesnt, I’d be more satisfied with it if it did.

No Getting Over You – almost done, bar vocals and mixing. Again, this was one that had bugged me for a long time, but managed a growth spurt in the last month.

This Time – just guitars and vox left to go before mixing.

There is still a lot to be done and I’m still debating what to do with some of the other songs. Some may be put back into very deep storage, I haven’t decided yet.

These tracks include: Let It Go, Stars, Accidental Love, Stay and a couple of others. I’m inclined now to take the approach of composing the music first and then the lyrics, until inspiration rears its head again on a lyrical front, which it hasnt really done since Castles In The Sky came along nearly three months ago.

Theres also the fact that I may be moving house, depending on what full time work I end up in next (still very much open to fate) and also that I’ve had an unexpected house guest recently which may further complicate matters. Hopefully some further progress will be made over the late Summer Bank holiday, but… we shall see.

Use of the Arranger Track and Beat/Tempo Detect tools in Cubase has helped a lot in the last two weeks and has led to a couple of lightbulb moments (ie, “why the hell didnt I use this before?”) but I think also that there has been something in the Creative Energy thing I was chewing over a couple of weeks ago. The more I immerse myself in it, the more it helps.

I just have to make sure that I keep putting myself in the orbits of creative people, I guess.. *grin*

What does all this mean for the KOAS project? Well, I think its unlikely that we’ll see a double release of both London Road and No Expectations, as was originally planned and chances are, neither will happen until closer to Christmas or at least until the day job situation becomes clearer. No Expectations will definitely still happen, but London Road may end up being reduced to a four or six track EP, depending on how things go.

Anyway. Thats enough for now. Hopefully, the Bank Holiday will see some more real progress. More as it happens, when it happens.

See you all soon, I hope.

 

 

Latest Developments

“And they call you a genius
Cause you’re easier to sell… 
But the fire in your belly
That gave you the songs
Is suddenly gone
And you feel like a fake… 
Is that what you want?”

© Hogarth/Rothery/Trewavas/Kelly/Mosley, from the album Afraid Of Sunlight, 1995

As a certain footballer who may remain nameless was fond of saying “Its a funny old game…”

It certainly is. Nearly three weeks has gone past since my last update and I’m not going to deny that at that point, I was feeling somewhat jaded and wondering whether this project had any steam left in it. There have been some changes since then, I’m glad to say.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned recently is about energy and being around it and people who have it. What I mean by that is (stick with me, please!) it has dawned on me that if I am in the company of people who have the positive energy that I crave, that it tends to rub off, however briefly they may be in my orbit. This epiphany came when spending a weekend with the most inspirational person I know and her boyfriend. She has had mountains and obstacles to climb all of her life which would have floored a lesser person and she just doesn’t know the meaning of “Quit”. It is impossible not to look at her, to be in her company and not be inspired and to give yourself a good kick and tell yourself to pull your finger out.

And, that I did. I also have had some visits from some of my closest musical collaborators as well which has helped too – and it began to dawn on me that the fuel for the fire that I was searching for is actually the energy that these people give off, whether they be creatives or not. Until I find a way of developing and sustaining my own fire, being around these guys is a source of energy, whether it be positive or negative – it is still an energy source that I can channel and use. So, the lesson clearly is “I need to be around creatives more, go to more gigs and draw in all the inspiration and energy that these guys give off”. And I need to do it soon.

That might sound a bit New-Age-Hippie, but its the only explanation I can think of. And whatever it is, it appears to have worked and is still working. Better still not to question it or try and overanalyse it… just get on with it.

Add that to the other self-help lingo of “if you’re ever in doubt as to what you’re achieving, take a look behind you and see how far you’ve travelled down your path”. Which if you measure it in years or months is usually quite a good way of perking yourself up – but when you apply it to a three or four week period and it still raises your eyebrows, then its maybe time to think that the problem is my own impatience rather than anything structurally wrong.

I did say when I commenced this journey and gave up the day job that it would be a voyage of personal discovery. How very true that turned out to be.

There has been quite a lot of progress in the last 8 or 9 days

– the music for No Getting Over You, which has bugged me for the best part of two years (especially when I had the tune in my head all along) has finally dropped into my lap and the track is in a very advanced state of recording. Chords, arrangement, the lot.

– Another problem child, Doesnt Matter Now, which has been sitting around as a set of complete lyrics with a great story with only an intro for over a year is now, as of today, in a state where the rest of the instrumentation can be put on the track. It even has a vocal melody, which apart from maybe one or two lines in the entire song, it has never had before.

–  The Fear Of Missing Out, which when I last left Long Island nearly two months ago was just an intro and two first verse chords. Its now pretty much finished bar comping the guitar lines, adding vocals and mixing. Again, it just seemed to topple out over the course of 24 hours, very much against expectations.

– Likewise, Castles In The Sky is, as we speak, in development to the point where it has most of the instrumentation that it needs, it has its chords, its melody, its key components: From where, I know not, some sort of momentum has come and I’m very glad of it.

There remain a number of tracks deserving of priority attention that are in a state of partial build:

  • Elia/The Last Dance,
  • This Time,
  • Talk To Me,
  • Come Back To Me, Money,
  • An Accidental Love

At this rate there may well be enough to complete the No Expectations album.

Whether it will be these tracks that appear on it remains to be seen. But there is enough in an advanced state “in the can” for at least a couple of EP’s if nothing else.

So. Onwards and upwards.Repetition is the mother of skill, as one of my favourite life coaches is fond of saying.

Crossroads/update

I returned from the BASCA Monnow Valley writing retreat on Sunday night, about 12 hours before I was scheduled to do, but it was the right thing to do to slip away earlier than planned. My thought last year was that it would be the last one that I would do should realistically have been the one that I ought to have stuck to. Like last year my contribution as a writer was somewhat tangential and I spent most of it in a production capacity. The first twenty four hours ended up being written off after I found that I couldn’t really do anything with the combination of an elderly Romanian Jazz Piano Diva and a Polish ambient techno-metal/odd time signature composer (yes, really. Very challenging when they are the matches and the dynamite and you’re the oxygen. The next two rotations brought about two good tracks, with intelligent lyrics (Without You and Heroes) but while my storytelling and production contribution was valuable (approx. 50-60% in each case), my lyrical contribution was down in the mid to low 20%’s.

Which in itself would be fine had it been a “Production Retreat”. But it wasn’t. What I hoped would happen (capitalising on the energy of the other participants to capture some of that passion and energy for writing and creativity again that I could leverage for KOAS) didn’t really come to pass.

Our mentor was her usual irrepressible self (wouldnt have her any other way) with fabulous war stories and brought along another great professional writer to impart some wisdom and encouragement. Funnily enough, the road that he’s walked down to find himself where he is now is looking very similar to the one that I’m on. Lovely fella, experienced, wise and a great sharer of this recieved wisdom.

So…. (before I digress any further) combining that level of reduced participation with the lack of momentum since returning from the US on the KOAS project, it started to get quite mentally cloudy for a while. The thought did cross my mind as to whether the fire, the passion for writing songs had gone out altogether – and at some point, I would need to stop trying to light a fire that had limited fuel and was never going to catch and concentrate on going back into the day job and just accepting that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew and that the project wasn’t going to be realised.

After all, I did say nearly four months ago that I wasn’t going to get a better chance to do this, that it meant a lot and that I should seize the opportunity while I had the money and health to do so.

Well, hand on heart, I cant say that I have seized the day. A lot of examination led me to rationalise that because most of the time I wrote over the last five years for catharsis, that because I have a different emotional attitude these days (dont ask) that maybe there are no more demons to be slain and no more catharsis is necessary. So, ergo, nothing really left to write about and where the older material is concerned, what is done is done and thats that, going back and revisiting it and raking it over isn’t really a good idea, on reflection.

36 hours later and not a huge amount has changed; there still doesn’t appear to be any real fire and I cant deny that I appear to be at a bit of a crossroads.

Do I stop writing full stop and just accept it that the whole thing of it was not so much the realisation of the goal but the journey to try and get there…?

Or do I try a different alternative… namely still have a goal of writing/producing/playing an album’s worth of material (meh, maybe even two, who knows), but dropping an awful lot of the material that while I am proud of it, by the same token is just too damned complicated, just too damned time consuming, energy sapping and to be frank, just too damned dark. Yes, I did just say that. So stuff like Let It Go, Stars, Never Be Mine, Stay, Manhattan Lullaby and others may well end up being canned and replaced by FOMO, Castles In The Sky, Doesnt Matter Now and others.

And writing different stuff instead that isn’t primarily for therapy. Who knows, maybe even starting with the music first and then seeing where that leads….?

What I do know is that if I continue to do nothing and stay stuck in this torpor of overthinking, thats exactly what will happen; Nothing. And that isn’t good.

So. KOAS and No Expectations and London Road may end up getting either put on ice or binned altogether or they may end up being completely different to what I planned them to be six months ago. At the moment, the direction hasn’t really clearly formed. I’m allowing myself no later than the start of August to make a clear decision one way or the other. And then to start acting on it.

Time will tell, I guess.

Latest Developments

The trip to the US is over, the two big gigs that I was hoping to draw inspiration from are now only memories, albeit very fresh ones. Essentially, I am one month and a week or so into the 3 month timeframe that was allocated for the KOAS project and I did say that I would post an update.

So, how is it going? What has been done? What is to be done?

The answers to that being: “Not bad“; “Some very good progress has been made so far” and “still lots and lots!

Firstly, the New York trip. I made a start on the music for The Fear Of Missing Out, but havent got as far with that as I would have hoped. There is something starting to emerge but there is a lot of work to do on it yet.

But where the most progress was made in the US was on The Last Dance. This was the one that I wanted to work on more than any other over there with the help of the family of musicians and although it came about in rather different circumstances to what I figured it would, it did come nonetheless. My uncle Angel played me an old Intensive Heat jam from 1975 called Elia from a rehearsal session which was written by him and one of my late father’s best friends, Paul Oves who was a vibraphone player.

It is difficult to describe and probably more difficult to believe that the tune that I had in my head for the last three years was more than close enough to a track that I’ve never heard before for it to be viable for me, with the permission of Angel to use for The Last Dance. Singing the vocal melody to him while the wav file of the track was being played proved that it was a viable chord structure to be used. So, all I have to do really is build the rest of the track and put down the vocal melody or find someone who can. And, I have someone in mind, if I’m not up to it. *grin*. All I’ve had to do is change the arrangement slightly. Its bordering on serendipitous and somewhat spooky that a song I’ve never heard would end up being 95%+ what I heard in my head three years ago and that wont go away.  I’m absolutely not complaining though and believe that it will be a great track. I have 12 guitar takes from Angel at various stages of the track to be included in the finished song and it will be listed as a collaboration between Angel and I.

As I say, I would have liked to have achieved more in the time I was there but there was a lot of family duties to be done, including the Puerto Rican Day parade (1.4 million watching from the streets and 100,000 of us, including yours truly, marching down 5th Avenue for 30+ blocks. Surreal….) and other matters. So, all in all, two good steps forward, all things said and done.

On the return to the UK, it took me longer to decompress from jetlag than I’d thought after a particularly disappointing flight back from JFK. So, not much if anything done last week but the two big gigs that I hoped would bring inspiration did so in spade loads.

Firstly Heart – Apart from learning why I dont drink sodas any more (long story), the gig was a total pleasure. Ann’s voice is still in great shape and the Albert Hall, as ever, is the perfect venue. Even when you’re closer to the ceiling than the stage, the sound is still great, the view, though distant is still perfectly adequate. And her voice filled the whole hall.

And as for Carole King and Don Henley yesterday in Hyde Park in London – apart from a really annoying contingent of people who just wouldnt stop talking during Henley’s performance (my pet hate, I’m afraid. Cant understand people who spend lots of money buying tickets to an event and then figure that their own conversation is more important than the artists performance… it drives me nuts) – this was an unforgettable show. Carole, at 74, one of the greatest songwriters of the last 50 years, was so full of energy and passion and as my closest friend remarked, honesty – its impossible not to love what she does. I did figure that when I bought the tickets on Artist Pre-sale that this would be a one off and the last chance to get to see her at all, let alone to hear the whole of the landmark Tapestry album in full – but it dawned on me very heavily that once the show was over, that was it.

This was something we were never going to get to see again, especially not in the UK.

It truly was a one off show and thats why I was determined not to miss it. And, the sights and sounds of 62000 people singing along, and when we were leaving Hyde Park, there were groups of guys and girls, just clumps of five or eight of them at a time, just all singing Will You Love Me Tomorrow or You Got A Friend, at the tops of their voices, singing their hearts out, filled so full with joy at what they had just experienced – I’ve never seen that in London before. I saw something similar in Wales about a decade ago, leaving the Millennium stadium after seeing The Eagles, but the Welsh are different in that respect, they always have a song in their hearts. London on the other hand… I’ve never seen this before and it is going to be one of the most enduring memories of the day. Wonderful and definitely inspiring.

Aside from that, my dear friend and collaborator Robert and I worked on a number of tracks for the KOAS project between the shows over the last weekend. Amongst these were Doesnt Matter Now (which I have been stuck on for quite a while and some progress was made there, but still a lot to do) and more significant progress was made on The Wishing Game (which has vocal and keyboard guides down on disk now – it wont take long for the rest of the track to come together) and also music that Robert had originally worked out for a song called Escape From The Shadows which didnt fit the original lyrics – these lyrics were used to great effect by David Barnes in a totally new track which worked very very well. This version shares the same name, but that is about it. All the lyrics that I’ve been writing for it are completely different and the track is anticipated to have quite a New Order/Talk Talk kind of feel – sort of 80’s/electronica. They’re great chords so I hope my lyrics can do it justice.

The 2016 BASCA Songwriting Camp in Monnow Valley is coming up next long weekend, so its now a case of building up and maintaining momentum now. There is still an awful lot to do and time is slipping by.

I need to do more… I must do more. And I will do more.

I will keep you all posted. Its an interesting journey, thats for certain.

Update

Its been a few weeks since my last update and activity on WordPress, so in addition to putting up the three new songs that appeared unprompted in the last 24 hours, I’ll bring you briefly up to date with the album project, now that the day job is no more, for the time being.

There is still some fluidity in the final track line ups for both albums and some will chop and change as they evolve. Particularly where the No Expectations album is concerned. London Road, less so. Album cover pictures have been sourced, the design is almost finished.

Recording technology/DAW-wise, things are pretty much ready. Both studio and portable Cubase rigs are ready with all the sounds I’m likely to need to build these songs and make them real.

Just a case of packing everything ready to go to the US for next weekend and the plan is to keep writing and start recording on Day 5. I’m hoping to do some more preparatory work during the five days that I have left before I fly out, particularly on the tracks that are already on tape in skeletal form. The journey to realising this project has truly started now and to paraphrase a line from Roger Waters, I heard the starting gun sure enough. I fired the thing nearly three months ago… *grin*

Oh and the other news is that even though I said last September that I wouldnt do it, I’ve decided to go to this year’s BASCA Monnow Valley Songwriting retreat. The change of mind came about for two reasons – one, the inspiration of being around other like minds is infectious and very conducive – and two, I’ve finally managed to talk one of my collaborators into going as well and I did promise him that if he did, so would I. So, in the middle of the recording and writing process, I’ll be taking four days out on another Busman’s Holiday in the beautiful countryside of Monmouth.

More as it happens. Stay tuned, folks.

Update

I dont normally write stream of consciousness blog updates, although it is something that I sometimes do with my lyrics.

But, today…. having not long got home from the day job and switched on my tablet and tuned into a satellite news channel to be smacked in the face by the banner of BREAKING NEWS: POP SUPERSTAR PRINCE DEAD AT 57. Its been about half an hour since I first saw that headline and I’m still not wanting to believe it.

I was never his greatest fan, but was lucky enough to see him live at the 02 in London nearly a decade ago and no one could ever deny that while being an enigmatic personality, that he was a phenomenally gifted and flamboyant multi-instrumentalist – alongside the likes of Steve Winwood, Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney – and a prolific writer and performer.

The industry has changed so much since he and the other artists that we’ve lost in this horrible year came to prominence. As it stands, maybe its the end of the era of the superstars in the industry. Certainly ones who can sustain a career over one decade, let alone three or more. Maybe we’ve just been lucky to have shared our time on this earth with these guys and to have had the opportunity to witness their artistry in full effect and to wonder at it and be inspired by it.

The one thing that came to my mind while I was trying to absorb the news is one thing that I would exhort to any other creative who may be reading this, whether emergent, latent, just starting out or whatever:

For Gods sake, if you’ve got “it” in you, something to say, no matter what it is – music, lyrics, art, photography, poetry, it doesnt matter what it is – I implore you, let it out and let it out now, while you still can, before time comes and lays its hand on your shoulder to usher you on to the next realm. There will be an eternity in the next realm to wonder whether it was good enough, but by then no one in this world will ever hear it, see it, marvel at it or be inspired by it. And everyone’s story is an inspiration to somebody.

I have made no secret that the loss of Glenn Frey, Colin Vearncombe and David Bowie earlier on this year had focused my mind on the KOAS project and that now was the time to find the courage to go out on a limb and create this thing, even if nothing else, for posterity, as a legacy of “no matter what else happens afterwards, this moment was mine”. If anything, the events of the last 24 hours have proved to me personally that the time is right to do it and the decision is the right one.

Many of us, particularly when we get to a certain age become conscious of our own mortality (heaven knows, I do, its pretty much all I write about!). It speaks to us in different ways as we go on and some of us I guess choose to ignore it and then have to deal with it when it comes to us unexpectedly and the rest… we’re aware that its there, carry on doing what we’re doing anyway, but occasionally take a look over our shoulder to make sure.

Time is of the essence and it is the most precious thing you will ever have. Use it while you can.

 

Latest news

Well, the album project that I referred to in my last blogpost has got slightly firmer dates around it. I leave my current professional obligation no later than the 1st June 2016 and hope to start work on the project at the earliest opportunity after that.

I’m also going to be spending some time in New York – two weeks – with the US family and am hoping to take my portable Cubase rig with me along with a basic USB interface, a USB key controller and probably a USB Midi Wind Controller and a spare hard drive. Hand luggage is going to end up being quite chunky as a result, but I’m sure it will be OK.

The plan is that I will record over there and ask my uncle’s friends to take part as well, particularly in some of the tracks that need other musicians or skills that I do not have – he and his friends were all professional session musicians in the late 60’s and into the 70’s and 80s and are tight, resourceful, inventive players. I may also continue to write over there as well and see whether my adopted hometown of New York can inspire me further. I sincerely hope that it does.

While it is not enough time to record both entire albums, it is enough to make a serious dent in proceedings. It would be looking a gift horse in the mouth not to ask my uncle and our friends not to be involved. And on the return from New York, I am due to go to two landmark gigs (by my standard anyway) – Heart and the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on the 29th June and Carole King in Hyde Park on the 3rd July.

The Carole King concert is one that I’m particularly excited about as she is most definitely on my bucketlist of inspirational writers to see while I still can and I’m in no doubts whatsoever, that this is going to be my last chance to see her play. And the fact that she not only is going to be playing Tapestry in full, but also has Don Henley as a guest, is just icing on top of a fabulous cake. No way on this earth I’m going to miss it. And hopefully, these two great shows will help to sustain and develop the musical inspiration at a point in time where I’m going to need it the most.

So. It is possible that my current professional engagement may finish earlier than June 1st, but if that is the case, it just means that the project starts sooner. That is OK, I have no problem with that.

I promise I’ll keep you all posted, every step of the way.

Its been a while…

“…..Every year is getting shorter/Never seem to find the time/Plans that either come to nought/Or half a page of scribbled lines…”
© Mason/Waters/Wright/Gilmour, 1973

As the title says, it has been a while since my last update. Nearly six months in fact.

Like I mentioned in my previous blogpost, I had to return to the day-job at the end of September 2015 and it has pretty much taken most of my waking moments between now and then. Its no different, I guess to what millions of other writers and artists have to do and is the way of the world these days. Much as corporate IT life may dominate my time, not leaving much at all for anything creative, I also know that I’m lucky to have that to fall back on.

What this has meant is that I haven’t done much in the way of songwriting since Monnow Valley, but the events of the first couple of months of 2016 have focused my mind on this calling that I have and reinforced the lesson of if I don’t make it happen, no one else will, which I learned when reaching out to my late father after a void of nearly 40 years.

The loss of David Bowie, Colin Vearncombe and Glenn Frey in the space of a month, each one so unexpected and each one a song writer that has left a mark on me, has reminded me in the sharpest of ways that we all only have a finite time on this earth and a fleeting chance to create something by which we can be remembered after we’re gone. These three writers have touched generations and will continue to do so for many years to come. A lot of us aspire to such dizzy heights but never get there through a combination of circumstances – luck, money, right place right time and good old fashioned hard work. And, as someone mentioned not long afterwards, these heroes are moving on to another realm, they are making space in this realm for others to move into. While it might be an oblique, maybe even semi-spiritual way of looking at it, its not lost on me that their memories not only live on in their own works, but also in the works of those they have inspired along the way.

While I’m grateful to the IT industry for keeping a roof over my head, its not something that I’m going to be remembered for and, as the old joke goes, no one ever went to their grave wishing they’d spent more time at the office. The office was there long before me and it’ll be there long afterwards. Its just a means to an end, as I am to it. A good friend of mine from the Music Producers Guild told me in 2014 that the point has to come where you have to stop talking about it and do it, make it happen, take the leap. And, given the places he has been, the things he has seen and done in his career over half a lifetime, for him to take the time out to give me – a complete amateur – that advice is something has gnawed away at me for a while. I’m determined not to waste it.

So, what I decided in mid to late January was that once this latest professional obligation is over, I will be taking a minimum of three months out to embark on a three album project. The project will be to record the majority of the tracks that I have shared on this site, recording and mastering them properly, to commercial release standard.  I think it will take the best part of 90 days to achieve this, as there are 26 tracks to do, including all instrumentation, production and mastering, including the vocals, which in all reality, I can not expect anyone else to do.

Whether I will commercially release any of the tracks or the albums themselves, is another matter altogether. It is primarily a personal thing that I have to do while I have the chance and I am never going to get a better opportunity to do it. I will have the time, the technology and the means at my disposal. To not do it, would be a dereliction and would mean that I have truly inherited my fathers procrastination gene, which I have to try and resist.

The project, outside of AlterZero, is for now going under the working artist name of KOAS – Keeper Of A Secret – more about that some other time – and there are a number of album titles under consideration, and as those of you who are writers will no doubt know, a lot of good ideas for project names or album titles have been used already by others. Those I will keep under my hat for the time being, but the plan is to have three albums worth of material, all thematically matched. Some tracks are part done already, others still need music, some are almost lyrically complete but still need some work.

Once the albums are completed and mastered, I am hoping to have a limited physical product run of CD’s in addition to the digital product. To that end, I have been looking at suitable artwork and the use of Photoshop and other tools to produce the finished products. Whether I will choose to sell these CD’s independently, or whether I choose to just have them as a physical memento of this journey, I havent decided yet.

All of this will take time and is dependent on my leaving date from the corporate IT world for a 90 day spell. But it will happen; it is a personal mission to accomplish and I will make it happen. I hope to have the project concluded by September, all things being equal. There is a lot to do and it will mean a lot of hard work and a lot of living outside of my comfort zone.

And what happens after that? I have no idea. Is it likely to be the start of a different career? Is it going to be back to my ordinary profession after that? Is it going to be the closing of a 25 year chapter? Search me. Its a doorway I must walk through, a fork in life’s road I have to take. I’ve been confining myself in the hallway betweeen doors long enough waiting and this year is time to take that step.

In other news, I have submitted a piece of writing for a book that has been in gestation for a while and is likely to be published in early 2017. I got the call about it just before Christmas 2015 and had to have the final piece ready for New Years Day 2016, so it was the first time I’d written anything like this to a deadline, which was challenging, especially with the word-count limits that were set. As these blogposts have revealed, I can be quite loquacious when the mood takes me (which is quite often) and I’ve had to learn to curb that. Thankfully, that doesnt apply on here. I can be as wordy as I like and verbosity comes easy. But, for a change, I digress.

I’ve been privately assured that it is highly likely that my contribution will make the final cut and the fact that the person who the book is about already knows about the project and will get to find out how their music has touched my life and those of others is, with words from my own heart and hands, is an enormous, deeply treasured personal milestone. For that reason, I will keep the name of the project quiet for now until the publishers name a release date. But its incredibly exciting and gratifying, that is for sure. Not just for my words to be remembered in published print, but also for Annette’s memory to live on too. And that is really precious.

I’ll keep you all in the picture when the project really kicks off.

Thanks for your continued belief and support. Hopefully, the next gap will not be six months away into the future.