🟦 ISOLATION DEMOS
Timeless, shapeless days spent in isolation, weeks spent with no insistence nor obligation - created in my room an ever deepening sense of connection with self. With the guitar consistently closer to hand than it has ever been - inspiration was able to find me un-guarded & ready to listen. I was gifted three songs last week, an expression in part of this unique time & a lasting memory of its inspiration.
DON'T SPEAK UNLESS YOU CAN IMPROVE THE SILENCE
It has been 26 years since I watched Noel Gallagher play ‘Sad Song’ on Later with Jools holland.
There were no bells & whistles on the stage that day, there was no show, there were barely any lights.
Noel wasn’t trying to make anyone get into the tune, he just turned up, sat down, played the song & meant it.
I've always respected him & Oasis for that.
I was ten years old when I watched that gig on TV, my own recently bought acoustic guitar close to hand. Unbeknownst to me in that year, I was witnessing the beginning of a rebirth in British guitar music & in British rock & roll.
A wave of British bands were beginning to create what became the soundtrack of my generation. Bands like Oasis, The Manics, Radiohead, Blur, The Verve. These were musicians who used to take the stage with no pretention & no gimmicks. Their charisma, their character, their attitude & their music brought them their audience.
These were people born of the culture they came from & who played music as an act of rebellion within it. These bands were made from people who could still remember what a day job felt like. And for a time these bands played with their audience, not to them. Back in those early years of the 1990’s this is what made the people who created the music of my generation people I could relate to.
26 years on British rock & roll is silent. In the post internet age quantity reigns over quality & mass consumerism is the past time of a modern, New Labour generation. Bands are ten a penny & everyone’s a so-called musician at the touch of an app.
People of my age talk of the last remaining rock stars, Liam Gallagher, Nicky Wire, Richard Ashcroft - aging icons who hold a torch of rebellion amidst a culture of modern musicians adorned with glitter, dyed hair & manicured social media profiles.
These icons are the last of a dying light from a different time, waiting like many of us who were there in ‘94, for a band to show up & say something again. To sing with us & to make us believe in something again.
Interviewer - “Do you find it incongruous or is there a sense of perversity about playing a song about fascism or whatever on New Zealand national TV?”
Nicky Wire - “Well I think if you’ve got something to say in your songs – there are a lot of people who won’t do stuff like that are literally talking about nothing, which is bizarre isn’t it? They feel like they can get away with just banging a f’in floor tom at the front of the stage going woah woah & that’s alright, licencing their song for an advert. It just doesn’t add up does it?”
“I think the democratisation of music through the internet basically allowed everyone to think they could be in a band, that it’s just like getting a job at Topshop, trying that out for six months you know. They’ll “try being in a band”. Therefore, you had such a mediocre indie land fill that the system got clogged up.
All the great bands were massively ambitious to conquer the world, that’s just not there anymore”
Interviewer – “Don’t Coldplay want to conquer the world? Haven’t Coldplay conquered the world?”
Nicky Wire – “Coldplay have conquered the world yeah, by turning themselves into Enya”.
I wrote my own album - Spending Free Time - at a desk in an Oboe manufacturing workshop in Worthing, England, somewhere between 1994 & 2020.
I scribbled lyrics in my coffee breaks & took them home after work to my guitar, where I turned them into songs. I took them to a studio on my weekends off & used my spare cash to pay for the recording sessions. Five friends came to play as session musicians & gave their own free time & their love to add to the tracks.
The album took eight years before it began to feel complete. It was never rushed; it was a true labour of love.
Why did we give our years to this album? For the love of creativity certainly, but also more. To create something real. We wanted make music with each other, with people who knew that the process is everything. We made these songs with no imagination toward notoriety. The free time we each gave to this process is the very thing that makes these songs unique.
It is the message of this album to stand as a drop of honesty & heart in an ocean of modern ubiquity.
To speak of the freedom & confinement of love, of life lived working through the world of my generation into the world of the next.
This album didn’t speak for years until it had something worth saying.
What its sound is worth has already been shared by the six people who made it. But I know that there are ears in the world waiting like ours were for more, I hope they hear what we hear.
This is only the beginning.
With love – PSB
WEBSITE IS NOW LIVE!
Without further ado - I'm proud to present all previously hidden from view.
SPENDING FREE TIME - OUT NOW!
Ten years & several lifetimes since it was written, my debut album is here.
When the world finally stopped moving it seemed I could not help but crash into myself -
Despite all of the pain that surrounds the world right now, as we struggle to make ourselves well - I am grateful for the peace of these days that has allowed me to find this part of myself again.
In the space of a still & empty, timeless room I have reconnected with a piece of myself which makes me feel better.
Sharing this music now feels like a small testiment to hope, that in these days while we wait, we may all recover such a part of ourselves forgotten.
And perhaps bring it back with us to meet again in a healthier world.
STREAM NOW ON SPOTIFY
Contemplating the imminent release of SPENDING FREE TIME - whilst immersed in the sounds of a Radiohead performance - I wrote this in realisation of the personal & cultural significance of making this album.
When you grow up in a culture responsible for the best music on the planet – I’m talking about bands like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Pink Floyd, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, or bands of my generation like Radiohead, Blur, Massive Attack, The Prodigy, Oasis, Manic Street Preachers – it’s impossible that stuff doesn’t have an effect on your DNA.
Making music for me is in part, coming to understand the influence of all those bands & the legacies they put within me. I’m trying to learn what it means to be from this island, Great Britain, searching for what is my own creative legacy & where I fit within all of this incredible creative culture.
What is the future for the influential spirit of this nation? What is it that makes Britain the best musically creative engine on the planet? What is this ground that raised & surrounds me? What is my voice & how does it speak?
ON UNDERSTANDING "SPENDING FREE TIME"
A challenging attempt to describe how it feels to listen back to myself through my own record.
After the process of building the digital platform for this record began, I became more in tune with the messages contained within those songs than ever before. Listening now feels much like looking at an old photograph of myself again. That person I was has changed, but still informs the person who's looking back today.
Part of him whispered day after day as the morning horizon never changed.
In perpetual decay it could no longer wait;
It took his hand with a pen to a page to take its voice to a guitar & a stage.
The whisper sought to become so loud that he might hear it above all other sound.
For to hear its voice would be to hear himself, words of truth & infinite wealth.
His hands fall empty as he hears his song, the voice of a boy has been within him all along.
The boy has a memory that time is free, that it is a gift of existence for his curiosity.
The boy sees that he has been lost behind the idea of a man, spending his free time with imaginary demands.
But now he’s been found, his whisper is heard through all the sound.
He’s finally free to be me, to go where I please & be who I’d be.