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Everything In The World EP

Introducing Liz Frencham

Who played double bass on my new record Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky. You can hear her work on Fingernails and Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky. She also provided the cool descant vocal to the end of Everything…

Liz is a fantastic songwriter whose latest album You And Me Vol. 3 is a collection of duets filled with great songs like Satan Sighs, King of DIY and Blame It On Rodgers And Hart. If you live in Australia you might be lucky enough to see her live, playing solo, or with her duo Paper Mouse but if you live elsewhere you can catch one of her online living room shows instead.

Check out her website here

My EP is available on Bandcamp (check out the ‘25% off’ digital bundle) iTunesAmazon UKAmazon USSpotifyCD Baby, Soundcloud and Google Play.

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EP Diary Everything In The World EP Former Pupils

Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky EP: A Partial History

Here’s a short essay I wrote for my new EP (released Nov 1st 2016)

On 22 December 1808 Ludwig Van Beethoven premiered several new works at a concert in the Theater an der Wien in Vienna. It was something of a disaster, the pick-up orchestra was so chronically under-rehearsed they had to restart one piece and the whole thing ran massively over time but some pieces were hailed as classics. One, Symphony no. 6 (the ‘Pastoral’ Symphony), had a programmatic nature, the 4th and 5th movements depicting a thunderstorm followed by a “Shepherd’s song of happy and thankful feelings after the storm”.

Sometime around 1918 the young Woody Guthrie experienced the terror of being caught in the path a cyclone with his family in Oklahoma. Writing in 1943 he described the scene

Bales of hay splitting apart blew through the sky like popcorn sacks. The rain burned hot. Everything in the world was fighting against everything in the sky. This was the hard straight pushing that levels the towns before it and lays the path low for the twisting, sucking, whirling tail of the cyclone to rip to shreds

In 1951 Italian artist Leone Tommasi began a series of sculptures inspired by Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. They were shipped to Argentina but remained in storage till 1962. at some point they were badly damaged and it wasn’t until 1975 that the statue representing the 5th movement, a male and female nude in an attitude of thanksgiving to God, were placed in the Buenos Aires Botanical Garden in the Palermo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires in Argentina where they remain to this day.

In 1983 I reconciled myself to the fact that I was never going to be as good a drummer as my friend Mark Nelson so I poured all my efforts into the Tatra Classic nylon string guitar (£29:95!) my mother bought me. A year later I formed a band with Mark and began writing an ambitious 3 part rock opera about nuclear war. Appropriately, given the theme, very little survived, but we did perform the instrumental 2nd movement ‘The Storm’ a few times live.

In 1997 George Lucas reedited Star Wars IV: A New Hope to make it look like Greedo shot first. Five years later Steven Spielberg followed suit, doctoring E.T. The Extra-Terrestial by replacing the agent’s guns with walkie-talkies.

In 2011 Ariel Hache visited the Buenos Aires Botanical Garden and photographed Tommasi’s 5th Movement statue.

In 2012 I wrote Fingernails and played it at The First Tuesday Songwriter’s Group. The same year Aimee Mann released her song Little Tornado. I misheard “Oh no, no we don’t, no we don’t know” as “Oh no, Noah don’t, Noah don’t know”.

The following year the misheard line found it’s way into Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky. I tried to build the song on a beguiling 3/4 – 3/4 – 2/4 time signature I heard in Russian Hill by Jellyfish but when I performed it at the First Tuesday group I was too ill to put the effort into making it work properly and the song drifted into whatever time signatures felt natural and stayed that way.

In Oct 2013 Mark Nelson heard my demo of Everything and offered to remix it (i.e. mix it properly). Which I wilfully misunderstood as an offer to mix an EP. And play drums.

On Dec 3rd of that year I was teaching in a primary school. I had already written a song for the First Tuesday meeting that evening, but had a line going through my head and an idea of singing it over diminished chords. I wrote Me And The Devil in the school office during my lunch break. When I took it to the group that night they were very positive but Chris Hull said I should write a bridge. Which was obviously a ridiculous idea.

In Jan 2014 I wrote a bridge.

Later that year I start recording in earnest. Rachel McClean recorded cello in my front room, Lisa de’ Ville and Simon Broomhead sang at the studio and Joe Strange brought his Chromatic Harmonica. Liz Frencham sent bass tracks from Australia then sent more bass with some vocal tracks too. Mark set up half a kit, made notes on a flip chart and trusted me to run the board. Thanks to google translate and half the Argentinian population of Facebook I contacted Ariel Hache who gave me permission to use his photo and Simon J. Curd added the graphics.

Along the way there were the usual problems – computers crashed, guitars broke, breakdancing classes interrupted. Houses were moved, babies were born, traffic collided and countries were toured.

But no storms.

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Song Vault

Where Did The Time Go? (NSFW)

Days had strange elastic powers, minutes stretched to lazy hours
Frantic (tick tock) hyperactive jazz workout
Written with (and performed by) Liz Frencham
Download     mp3 demo      Lyrics (pdf)

Mr Time where did you go?
How I miss the time I used to hold
Days had strange elastic powers
Minutes stretched to lazy hours
Wish they hadn’t been devoured
Too busy dancing to the

Tick tock, time is sneaky
Drip drop [dropped] the clock and now it’s leaking
Put it in a big box
To stop it seeping out and never stop to take stock
[Stock] our shelves with pointless s**t
Look I scored another tick [tock]
Talking s**t until I finally get a big shock
Where did the time go?

Mr Time throw me a bone
Have I missed the rhyme that calls you home?
See the carrot on the stick
It’s dangling just beyond my grip
Bright and sweet but far too quick
It’s gotta be a silly trick

Stop! Time is sneaky
Drip drop [dropped] the clock and now it’s leaking
Put it in a big box
To stop it seeping out and never stop to take stock
[Stock] our shelves with pointless s**t
Look I scored another tick [tock]
Talking s**t until I finally get a big shock
Where did the time go?
Where did the time go?

Where is the time, to unwind?
To feel alive, breathe in deep
To stretch, to reach
Let the grass grow underneath my feet
Would be fantastic, would feel ecstatic…
(Tick – tick – tick – tock
Tick – tock – tick – tock – tick – tock)

Tick Tock, time is sneaky
Drip drop [dropped] the clock and now it’s leaking
Put it in a big box
To stop it seeping out and never stop to take stock
[Stock] our shelves with pointless s**t
Look I scored another tick [tock]
Talking s**t until I finally get a big shock, please stop!
Tick tock.

 

Categories
FAWM

FAWM 2015 Songs (pt.2) Co-Writes

If for no other reason I love taking part in FAWM because every year I get to discover unsung but brilliant writers and musicians. Last year I came across UK singer/songwriter Expendable Friend, Texan guitarist Hamilton Poolhall and Australian upright bassist/singer Liz Frencham. Liz’s FAWM songs were among my favourite music of 2014 and she’ll be making a guest appearance on my new EP but this FAWM I got to write with her! And I think we came up with some fantastic stuff.

Our collaboration started with Don’t Get Too CloseI gave Liz the lyrics to Hard To Love with carte blanche to go in any direction she wanted. The chorus had never worked and she got around that by writing a completely new chorus! On reflection the core problem with the old chorus was it was too close to the song that inspired it. I was never able to get out from under it’s shadow which should have clued me into amputating that part but it’s always hard to ditch the part that started the whole song. Anyway I took Liz’s brilliantly slinky bass and vocals added minimal guitar and done.

Where Did The Time Go? was Liz’s song. She asked me to come up with a bridge for her incredible multi-time signature jazz sprint, so I just tried ‘bridge technique 101’ which is contrast with the rest of the song – slow vs fast, one meter vs time changes, harmonic movement vs rhythmic movement. Liz moved the bridge to a better key and tweaked how we got in and out.

Oh God, Oh God was weird. Liz posted a cry for help on Facebook lamenting her lack of inspiration. In true FAWM style Steven Black sang her facebook post acapella. Lying in bed with an injured back I harmonised Steven’s melody. Liz then took it back and added bass and a descant. A fun ride.

Liz also had two tracks she asked me to add guitar to.

The brief for Cold Mind was ‘Jeff Buckley meets Radiohead’ so I played around with acoustic in open D and threw a bunch of electric guitars at it.

Liz wrote the melody for Little Lion as she was about to board a plane, singing the melody into her phone. The song is more straight ahead jazz and just need some extended reharmonisation of the chords from me.

Check out all of Liz’s FAWM 2015 songs here and her website here

More FAWM Co-Writes Coming Soon

Fawm 15 (pt.1) post here

Categories
Nottingham Sounds Top 10

The Top 10 Things I Listened To, Watched And Read in 2014 (Even Though They Weren’t All Made In 2014)

Most of these are available on Amazon. Click here if you want to earn me a little commission at no expense to yourself.

Music. Albums. (Mostly).

1) AM – Arctic Monkeys  A long awaited return to form for one of my all time favourite bands

2) Silver Birches – Injured Birds  Beautifully recorded distinctly British folk, created right here in Nottingham. Like Oscar Wilde being introduced to Howling Wolf at a party.


3) FAWM 2014 Demos – Liz Frencham Unless you took part in February Album Writing Month you might not get to hear these songs for another year at least. But I did, cos I know people. Australian Jazz vocalist/double bassist Liz Frencham to be precise. I also really enjoyed getting to know the music of FAWMers Woody Muller, Expendable Friend and Hamilton Poolhall this year too. (FAWM links will only be live till Jan 2015. You can hear more of Liz’s music here and here)

4) Blood Money – Tom Waits  Songs from the play Woyzeck including God’s Away On Business
5) A Creation Liturgy – Gungor Virtuoso praise and worship. Who’d have thunk such a thing existed? Sufjan Stevens’ slightly more normal brother.
6) Hypnotize – System Of A Down Daron is the best rock guitar arranger since Jimmy Page

7) Celestial EP – Field Studies Stunning vocals and dreamscape guitars. Another awesome Nottingham band.

8) His Best Chess 50th Anniversary Collection – Howling Wolf The voice! The guitar!
9) At Folsom Prison – Johnny Cash One of JC’s strings is a quarter tone flat for about 3 songs and he does a couple of tunes off his comedy album. And it’s still awesome. Check out Johnny and June’s duet on Jackson.
10) Glassworks – Philip Glass PG’s most accessible album.

Books.

My Top 10 Books fell neatly into 2 halves

Best Non-Fiction

1) The Jaws Log: Expanded Edition (Newmarket Insider Filmbooks) written by one of the script guys (also an extra) and bound in a weird shark skin feel cover
2) Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters Hilarious, thought provoking and pure poetry. See my many blog posts here
3) Hotel California: Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-1976 A book about the music industry where nearly everyone is a bad person
4) Monkey Business: The Lives and Legends of the Marx Brothers I’m a lifelong fan but I learnt a whole bunch of new stuff
5) The Defeat Of The Spanish Armada Gripping

Best Fiction

1) American Gods Epic. The Stand with superheroes.
2) Suttree Probably McCarthy’s warmest, most humane book and everyone doesn’t die.
3) World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War Almost nothing like the film. Which is good.
4) Hamlet (Wordsworth Classics) Yep. I went full ReBard. Deal with it Melon Farmers…
5) Red Riding Nineteen Eighty (Red Riding Quartet) Boy are these books dark. Three down one to go…

Films

Not really in any clear order…

1) Temple Grandin – watch this film!
2) The Lego Movie
3) Philomena
4) Penguins Of Madagascar
5) Interstellar
6) Inglourious Basterds
7) Lincoln
8) Mr Turner
9) Telstar
10) Seven Samurai

Also enjoyed Sightseers, The Lives Of Others, Rush, Primer, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians Of The Galaxy and Rewatching The Fisher King and A Hard Day’s Night. TV-wise I loved Sonic Highways, An Adventure In Space And Time, Queen: Days Of Our Lives, Firefly and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Categories
EP Diary

EP #2 Diary – Part 4

I’m having second thoughts about the running order and as I keep switching between referring to songs by their running order and recording order why don’t I spill the beans on the track listing?

1) Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky
2) Fingernails
3) Me And The Devil

A lot has happened since the last update. EitW has had an initial mix, M&tD is being mixed. Only Fingernails remains a working progress.
Liz Frencham sent me some wonderful bass tracks, Rachel McClean has tracked all the cello, and I’ve done all the lead vox and just need to do a few more BV’s (both mine and guides for the two singers) and maybe a few bars of lead guitar where the energy drops. I’m trying to book some studio time before christmas to track drums but it might have to wait till new year.

So the EP is moving forward, despite things like the battery slowly dying on my mac, then the power supply breaking and snapping the volume control off my guitar by dropping a mug on it.

Among my small circle of friends, recording is also being delayed by touring, moving house, having a baby and of course Christmas!

I’ve written a couple of new songs since starting the EP, one of which I shared at the monthly songwriting group I host. With the pressure of work and recording I was wondering if hosting a group is still a wise use of my time. But I realised that all three songs on the EP were premiered at the First Tuesday Songwriting Group. Two of them would never have been written if not for the pressure of having to come up with something to share and Fingernails would probably have sat in my ‘song starts’ folder for the next 20 years. So the group stays!

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FAWM Showing Up

We Won!

The First Tuesday Songwriting Group boasts 4 FAWM winners this year and 3 of them got together tonight to share a bunch of their songs. Matt Wood, Rachel McClean, Martin Quibell and I all wrote 14 or more songs in Feb.

Amazing Australian Jazz bassist/vocalist Liz Frencham was kind enough to feature me on her ‘Writers I Love’  page alongside Leo Babauta, Merlin Mann and Seth Godin – heady company! Check out Liz’s brilliant FAWM song Lazy Train – while stocks last!

Really enjoyed part one of Life In The Woods interview with singer/ songwriter/ Noisetrade founder – Derek Webb (the second part was a little bit wooly and contradictory IMHO)

Discovering k.s. Rhoads (through Noisetrade) was one of the musical highlights of 2013 for me. Such a mature and complex writer and outstanding lyricist. This track is from his debut album Dead Language.