For those people that haven’t heard of you before could you tell us a little bit about yourself your story?
Ok well I started doing gigs at around 17 years old; just playing harmonica with bands on the Isle of Wight. Harmonica players are generally all crazy (present company included) so I couldn’t find anyone to teach me; just taught myself. Got in my first band ‘Shapeshifter’ when I was 23 at music college. The band broke up and I embarked on my solo career; working desperately hard to get better on guitar so I could just go out and do solo gigs. Since then I’ve recorded a few albums, played guitar, bass, percussion, vocals, harmonica and human beatbox (I’m like a crappy 80s drum machine!) in many bands over the years. Notably Dubheart (European reggae band of the year some years back and very notorious) which I fronted and also the Genaro Project (think babyshambles meets Madness haha)… I supported David Essex on his UK tour in 2009 (all the dates; I lived on the tourbus) and have made two appearances on BBC’s the Voice (failed spectacularly both times but garnered a fair bit of attention online!)… I played harmonica a few times with Nizlopi (The JCB song) and The Mad Professor (the famous reggae producer)… I now tend to play solo shows at private parties and festivals; I have a yearly residency at Camp Bestival (third year running this year) and I’m writing new stuff all the time… I’ve got a Christmas song in the pipeline (think Fairytale of New York rather than Slade joviality haha) and with any luck I’ll be able to retire on that (not that I’ll ever retire!)
How was Portugal, what is it like singing to an audience who speak another language?
It’s a great experience; to be fair quite a lot of the audience were English but the Portuguese bods love a bit of English Rock and even though there’s the obvious language barrier, if you sing something beautiful it always gets through…
Who inspired you to get on stage and perform?
I’m gonna say Leo Sayer because he could do summersaults on stage! Him, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, Justin Heyward, Rush and er, Erasure haha! Many more I’m sure; I was obsessed with the Old grey whistle test and Top of the pops when I was young.
Your track “When the last bird flies” was a winning entry to our reverbnation competition, what inspired you to write this song?
This was definitely a peace song and I was feeling a certain kind of melancholy about the state of things in the world at the moment. And really the strongest thing I can do as a musician is write a song. I hope people get the gist of it because I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of people who may think I’m a little pretentious but this song came from a pure place and is still one of my favourites. It started life with the falsetto ‘oohs’ which I sang randomly through a Line 6 guitar amp for want of anything better to use and then typically when I came to recording it at Studio Luca with Scotty Farron, we spent hours trying to recreate that particular sound on the vocals that I got from that guitar amp! I still have the original ‘oohs’ in my phone haha.
Which albums really influenced you growing up, have those musical influences stuck with you throughout your career?
Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the Worlds’ still love that album so much. Got my dad to thank for that, he gave me a Walkman with that on tape when I was about six or something and it changed my life! If I could only choose one that would be it but… Bat out of Hell, Off the Wall, Thriller, Appetite for Destruction, All the Old Bob Marley albums, Radiohead’s first two but all of their stuff really etc. etc. Dark side of the moon, Tower of Power (Oil in the ground? Can’t remember the album name) Sergeant Pepper’s, gosh the list is Endless, Miles Davis is in there and the Prodigy too; eclecticism haha!
You run quite a few open mic nights, how important are they for the UK music scene?
Ha ha if you watched my Facebook page you’d see this is a debate that rears it’s head every few months or so and everyone and his/her dog has their two pee’s worth! To the point where I can’t even be bothered to argue anymore and usually just end up commenting ‘What, THIS again?’ But yes in my humble opinion open mics are very important when you consider that so many musicians do their first tentative shows at these events. Many of whom go on to get paid gigs and more success down the line. Deeper than this though is the fact that not everyone who plays guitar or sings a few songs actually has aspirations to be a rock star. Some people just want to get on stage and have some fun and they get so much from that. And without open mic nights these guys might never get to experience playing live on stage. This is where I tend to lock horns with some of the more, let’s say, elitist musicians who have made comments along the lines of ‘well I never do a gig unless it’s paid’, or ‘open mics are bad for business’ yadda yadda I’ve heard it all but venues need to make a buck or two to stay open; lots of venues end up shutting down due to mismanagement and if you have an open mic on a Tuesday, for instance, you’ll most likely get more people turning up than if you paid the same, or even different bands to play that night every week. It’s just a fact. On top of all this there’s the social factor; musicians can find other people to work with and many fine local bands I know came into being through people making the connection at an open mic night… Am I a little biased? Perhaps; I do run two open mics. The famous (notorious?) one being O’Neill’s, Bournemouth every, er, Tuesday haha!
What has been your favourite venue to perform at?
Without a doubt, the London Palladium. Had my best gig there to a packed house when I was on David Essex tour. My whole family came along (a rarity!) and my dad says ‘Tommy Cooper died on that stage you know son…’ And I’m like ‘Yeah but I’ve died on loads of stages dad…’ You get the picture. You can watch the vids on YouTube. A close second would have to be the Birmingham Symphony Hall; that’s just a stunningly beautiful place, although I did fall over, and drop my guitar on that stage haha; no fault of theirs though haha mea culpa…
What plans do you have for the rest of the year?
Well I’m going to hopefully get another two albums done as I’ve got so much more material to record. The songs you haven’t heard yet are ‘out there’ and I really want everyone to hear them. I’m just trying to tidy them up a bit first as I tend to never play a song the same way twice when I’m playing live which is obviously an issue when it comes to the disciplines of recording haha… Watch this space!!
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