Everything In The World EP

Introducing Mark Nelson

…who mixed and mastered my new record ‘Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky‘ (he produced my first EP too!). You can hear also hear his awesome drumming work on ‘Fingernails’.

Not content with manning boards and bashing skins, modern day renaissance man Mark is a gifted photographer, videographer and lectures on sound recording. He drums for and produces heavy metal founding fathers Savage and he’s also a singer and guitarist fronting his own band Amazing Planes.

Check out his photograpy here, Amazing Planes here and Savage here. Contact him here for recording work.

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

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.

First Tuesday Former Pupils Nottingham Sounds

New Notts Music Explosion!

There are a whole new bunch of great Notts music coming out in the next few months, some of it from First Tuesday members, former pupils and collaborators.

Following up his excellent Aeon album Scor-Zay-Zee is releasing the Gangsta Wraps (Take The Throne) EP on Sep 30th.

Copper and Lace the debut album from Americana masters The Most Ugly Child is out on 25th Nov. Mountain Schmountain‘s second album Skate Chills is already out (check out the Dewey Decimal video).

Simon Curd (of Mou Schmou) did the artwork for my new EP and Mark Nelson mixed it. Mark’s band Amazing Planes have a single Good Thing out now from their forthcoming album Lost In Translation.

Joe Strange‘s long awaited album A History Of Birds should be out any day now as should the Garlic EP from Sea Monster Eyes

If you catch The Edi Johnston Bit performing live you’ll be able to get your hands on his ukelele-powered comedy hip hop EP Rock Paper Scissors right now. A digital release is coming soon is out now on Bandcamp!

Speaking of hip hop – the crazy/prolific Bru-C has a fantastic track called Marimba which he’s gonna make downloadable when it reaches 10k plays – which surely isn’t going to take long.

And last, but not least, my EP Everything In The World Is Fighting Everything In The Sky will be out Nov 1st. You heard it here first.


Behind The Song

Funeral Dirge For A Dead Ex-Girlfriend

Joe Satriani Pays His Last Respects
Download     mp3 demo

When I was 15 I had a vivid dream that my recently ex’d ex-girlfriend died. Being a highly strung youth it upset me. But 5 years later when I wrote a depressing foot dragging instrumental I was over it (and her) and decided Funeral Dirge For A Dead Ex-Girlfriend would be a fun name.

In 1989, smack in the middle of the neoclassical virtuoso shredder boom (Flying In A Blue Dream had just come out), I was stuck in an extremely lightweight rock band, but listening to anyone with big hair and a floyd rose. Drummer Mark Nelson and I spent extra hours in a rehearsal room in Grimsby (where the band was based) jamming through ideas for this and another tune called Disney X.

Later, out of the band and back in my hometown of Sutton In Ashfield, I worked with virtuoso bassist Phill Danks on the tracks that would make up my solo guitar debut album (including the original instrumental version of Shang Ding Hong Song called Verbal Gerbils). And then, just like that, I put my prospective shredding career on indefinite hold.

Funeral Dirge finally got an airing in 2005 when I arranged it for the Advanced Guitar Group I taught on a Saturday morning at Brunts School in Mansfield. For the next two years various budding metalheads (including Sarah Kerry and Joel Peat, I think) wrestled with release bends and chromatic melodies. When I left the kids even performed it in my honour along with a medley of Tequila, Mr T‘s Mother, Treat Her Right and The A Team Theme that they shoehorned my name into. And it was as bizarre as it sounds.

So in 2016, looking backwards to go forward, I recorded the first demo, 11 years after the first public performance and 27 years after I wrote it.

I really do have to pull my finger out.

Musically I can definitely hear the influence of Joe Satriani on the main melody (it’s in the same ballpark as Hill Of The Skull) and solo (3:41 and 3:55), Randy Rhoads-era Ozzy (clean dissonant arpeggios 2:04), Cliff Burton-era Metallica (lead bass at 2:20), Steve Vai (wide intervals in the solo at 4:00) and maybe a bit of Stravinsky’s Rite Of Spring peeking through at 2:40.

The main point of interest is how many keys it goes through from Am and A harmonic minor to Cm and Ebm, Em and finally F#m. There are some interesting harmonies to parallel 2nds in the chromatic melody (2:50) and parallel 4ths shortly after (3:02). In the solo I play a lot of 7th (3:31) an idea I got from Izaak Wierman.

The inspiration for the pre chorus came when I realised in A harmonic minor you could have F major and F minor – but if you only heard the power chord you would assume it was major. I liked playing with that assumption.

The freak out right at the end (5:26) was from the guide track which I’d recorded before I dialled in the ritardando (slow down). It sounded so gnarly I flew a rough mix back into the finished session.


Rain – rain.mp3 by soundman9826
Bell – S: 111013 – Sirmione – Kirchenlaeuten.WAV by aarom
Snare drum roll – snare – Premier Artist Maple – loose – buzz roll x3.wav by bigjoedrummer
All from under a Creative Commons license
Laughter from Flight Of The Bumble Bee (Spike Jones), Sunday’s On The Way (Take 6) and Moonglow (Chet Atkins and Les Paul).

Meaning I got to jam with two legends of the guitar on this track!

Behind The Song Song Vault

Polishing A Turd (NSFW)

If they hang it in a gallery, it still don’t make it art
Three chords and the truth
Download     mp3 demo     Lyrics (pdf)

During FAWM 2015 I was writing a song based on additive structures and in the middle of trying to piece together a demanding and over elaborate demo came to the conclusion I was trying to ‘polish a turd’. Despite all efforts to resist I flipped over the lyric sheet and started writing a new song on the back. The three chord pattern came immediately and ‘Polishing A Turd’ was demoed and done in 2 hours. The “roll it in glitter line” came from Mark Nelson (you can hear him say it to me in the behind the scenes video for Let’s Build An Airport).

The Pop Mythology site was kind enough to say “[If it] doesn’t give you a genuine LOL moment, you might not have a soul”.

Polishing a turd, polishing a turd
You can get a Grammy for polishing a turd
You might impress a hundred million pre-pubescent girls
“OMG he’s polishing a turd!!!!” >:O

Autotune a fart, autotune a fart
It’s OK to be pitchy if it comes right from the heart
If they hang it in a gallery, it still don’t make it art
Fire up the Melodyne™ let’s autotune a fart

Photoshop your mom, photoshop your mom
Make her taller, thinner, browner, bluer-eyed and blonde
Take away her cellulite and put her in a thong
Vogue will hold the cover if you photoshop your mom

Polishing a turd, polishing a turd
That’s what you get for polishing a turd
Roll it in some glitter but it just gets more absurd
That’s what you get for polishing a turd

(Make the world a better place by polishing a turd)

Deep Vault Former Pupils Nottingham Sounds

Headstrong Savage

Here’s a song I co-write with Chris Bradley of Savage. I realised that over the years I’ve playing in different bands with three members of Savage (Mark Nelson is also mixing and drumming on my new EP) and the fourth member Kristian Bradley is a former pupil.

EP Diary

EP #2 Diary – Part 6

Back in the studio at last! Tracking drums with multitalented (drummer / producer) Mark Nelson. Mark is currently putting the finishing touches to his own project Amazing Planes second album as well as drumming, engineering, producing, mixing and mastering Savage‘s double album Live And Lethal/Seven.