we're nearing the pledge campaign release date, we hope you're all as excited as we are. there'll be a full release in the summer through itunes and independent record shops, but the pledge campaign is your chance to get hold of the album before anyone else does, so be sure to put your name down before the 29th april or you'll have to wait even longer to wrap your ears around it.
i figured i'd spend a little time here explaining how the album came about, what it's about, and what you guys can expect.
in doing a few interviews with various people discussing the subject matter and the album's genesis, i was struck by a strange feeling. the album is extremely personal and tackles some pretty heavy stuff. however, whenever i was asked about the exact nature of said 'stuff', i instantly and instinctively clammed up. it wasn't out of cowardice, or the desire to seem enigmatic, or anything like that. instead, i found that i was avoiding talking about the subject matter of the album because to do so seemed disingenuous, and too much like trading in pain and suffering (and the suffering of those closest to me) for press exposure and publicity. i just couldn't do it. and the thought of explaining this story over and over again in the future filled me with a very distinct kind of dread.
my stock answer was always '...and then a bunch of stuff happened and i started making music again...'.
but this isn't enough. it doesn't do the album, and the pride i take in its quality, justice.
i'm going to tell you guys here what happened, just so it's done. then i'll leave it alone. if the press want to know the backstory to the album then they can come and read it here, if not then so be it, no skin off mine. chances are, no-one will give a monkey's anyway, so it may prove to be of little consequence all the same.
this is songs for crow.
six years ago i left the cooper temple clause. some of you may know that already. i won't go into it in any detail as that is all in the past, but suffice to say it was a huge decision. that band and the music industry (horrid as it was/is) was all i'd known.
now i wanted nothing more to do with it.
i got a job in a library. i started writing fiction. i wanted nothing more to do with music and i swore i'd never go back to it.
this carried on for about four years. the great novel never came (evidence of why can be found here in some of my aborted attempts at fiction).
then the relationship i'd been in for nine years came to an end. another huge break. i found myself alone and living in my mum's spare room at thirty years of age, trying and repeatedly failing to get more than halfway through a novel.
not a great situation.
out of desperation, and no doubt too out of boredom, i went to the garage and picked up my guitar for the first time in four years. it was rusted and in pieces. i took it apart, cleaned it up, put it back together again. it felt like a ritual.
i started strumming, playing the same old things i would always play whenever i picked up a guitar (biffy's 'stress on the sky', johnny kidd and the pirates' 'shakin all over', lots of rage against the machine), nothing inspired, just anything to distract me from the shambles my life had become.
then i wrote a song.
i wrote the first song i'd written in over four years. it wasn't any good, but it was a song. and i'd written it quickly too, something i had never previously been in the habit of doing, save for the rarest of occasions.
the first thing i did was send it to tom bellamy. his reply was something along the line of 'you dickhead, i've been waiting four years for you to do this. come down (to london) in a couple of weeks and let's do some recording.'
the next day i wrote another song. and the next day another. in that initial first spree i wrote twenty five songs in three months, a level of prolificacy heretofore unknown. i went to see tom and we laid down the bare bones of some tracks (including 'calliope', 'gathering storm' and 'give old fat fish a chance'). it sounded great, this was actually happening, who cares what comes of it, it just feels good to be doing it again.
then my father died.
he died suddenly of a heart attack. i don't want to go into much detail, just to say that it happens to everyone, if you're lucky. it's right that a child should bury their parent, rather than the other way around (something my mother had to do, hence the support of fsid, now called the lullaby foundation, through the pledge campaign).
naturally, i wrote about it ('saddle up, son', 'spanish courtyard'), and then i felt guilty about using my father's death to write rock and roll songs, so i wrote about that too (dance with crow). it all helped, of course.
then i found love again, in the most unexpected of places (you're not getting that story, it's all very soppy and wonderful and no doubt repugnant to read about). and i wrote some songs about that.
and lo and behold, we had an album. i owe a lot to a lot of people, none more so than tom bellamy, without whose dedication, talent and support this would not have seen the light of day. and thanks to the marvellous folks known as paul, jon, jim, nick and laura, we can even play it live.
so that's it. the album is done, and we're about to release it. i never thought this would happen, but it seems as though it has. the album track listing is finished, but if anyone is interested, a rough chronological running order (lyrically, at least) is as follows:
red blooded males
no painter of note
the gathering storm
saddle up, son
dance with crow
no idea what that would sound like as a running order, but there it is.
it's been good writing this. hope it hasn't been too turgid for you guys.
hope you are all well.
take care of yourselves and those closest to you.