Monday, 29 December 2014

End of Year Round Up.

Well, the good news is, I thought I started this blog in January 2014, so my lack of progress, was really a wasted year and quite depressing.   Then looking at the blog, I see I started it in June.   So that made me feel better.

I started with great intentions and dreams and got sidetracked by the day job, The Hair Thieves EP6 and EP7, the world cup, the Xbox and me temporarily killing my music PC whilst trying to upgrade it.

I'm glad to report the PC is now fine and back up and running, so no excuses for 2015.

I have been through some of my backlog of abandoned and rejected tunes and done rough mixes of everything so far.  I think I probably have ten songs (in various states of completion) I could work on, with about 25 minutes of music so far (the shortest idea is about a minute. The longest about 5.  Only one has complete music and lyrics).

So I am going to set some targets with dates. as per week one of the Ariel Hyatt book that is now somewhere on my Kindle at about page 8.  I haven't given this any thought, I'm just going to type five things and see how it goes, whilst trying to make them achievable.

So the immediate plan.
1) Finish and preview new song March 2015.  (This will probably be called Persephone).
2) Do Fawm 2015
I did Fawm 2014 and managed five new songs.

Fawm is an annual attempt to write 14 songs in 28 days.

Of the five songs I wrote in 2014, one made it onto the Hair Thieves EP6.  Another of which is about Bacon.  Another of which I stole for an instrumental project. Least said about that last two the better

Oh go on then.  Here is a song about bacon!

And here is the instrumental.

So we shall see what next February brings to the mix.

3) Launch website March 2015.
4) Start practicing guitar / singing with aim to start playing open mics in Spring 2015.
5) Release EP (or possibly album) September 2015.   (ideally an album. Must be finished by 6th March 2016....)

bonus task
6) Finish '80s musical journey blogpost Jan 2015
7) Finish '90s musical journey blogpost Feb 2015
8) Finish '00s musical journey blogpost March 2015
9) Finish this decades musical journey April 2015.

So that is a rough plan, that I now need to stick to!  (I will finish this and update my task management system appropriately)

At the top of the page is a video of me messing about with a synth.  It is by no way an indication of where I am going with this project.  I just stumbled across it on my phone today and have no recollection of actually recording it.

Hope you all had a wonderful 2014 and hope you get a better 2015.   I'm off to practice my guitar....  

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Life is wearing me thin.

Sorry for not blogging for the last month or so.    Work commitments, Hair Thieves commitments, family commitmments, holidays and festivals have left little time for writing and recording.

The image above is of me at last weekends Mansun Convention in Chester, playing one of the Chad's guitars.

Work is progressing on the first solo tune.   Lyrics are 75% complete.  Some music has been recorded but a lot of time has been spent playing with the music software and hardware trying to get guitar sounds that I'm happy with.

Hopefully, the lyrics will be finished in the next week, so I can start putting the music together, whilst learning chord shapes in DADGBD tuning.

I've not looked at the branding task from week two in the marketing book.  Until I have written a few tunes, I don't know what the overall package will sound like.  Well that is my excuse!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Month One report.

One month into the solo album and things haven't gone totally to plan.

I'm blaming this on the World Cup, (which I didn't take into account for) and also me complicating the Hair Thieves latest release by adding another song and signing us up to record a cover song for a Mansun tribute album.

However, as I stated in the intial post, I have done some planning based on on Music Success In Nine Weeks by Ariel Hyatt.

I failed to do the 5 victories thing each day.  Mostly because I have a pretty good task system, so I can see the progress of things ticked off, each day!

So I have set myself a end target to release the album in March 2015, which will coincide with my birthday.

Before then, I need to set up a website (which won't be needed until I have something for people to listen to).  set up distribution, social media and start playing local open mic nights and find some support slots.  So much to think about, plan and do.

I have started work on the first song, however.  So far I have some music and some lyrics.  It has the working title of Persephone.   I rejected it from being a Hair Thieves tune on the basis that it is in DADGBD tuning.    So I will see what I can do with it in the next week or so.

I have also dragged out my old amp.  I bought this amp in 1990 (around the time I bought the B.C. Rich Warlock).  I used it to gig throughout the 1990's.   Eventually selling it, before buying it back again since I missed it.

I am contemplating recording some of the material with it, given in the past, I have used V-amps. PODs and Amplitude plugin for guitar sounds, so it might be nice to record a proper amp for once.

This does, obviously, subconciously assume that this is no longer the planned acoustic album I envisaged.  Plus with different tunings, this might make playing the songs live acoustically tricky.

So to Ariels, week two tasks (or months task in my case).   Branding.   I will write a separate blog entry on this and my problems with it.  And try and do part one of my '80s musical heritage!



Sunday, 8 June 2014

A Musical Journey - Part 1 The 1970s

Blog post three and it dawned on me, that unless you personally know me, than you are unlikely to know anything about me.

So although, I don't want to go into too many specifics, here is a long journey into my musical heritage.  Why I have such diverse musical tastes and why I have trouble writing a coherent set of like styled songs.

This will be split over several posts with one or more per decade.

Born in the early 1970's into a rather large family.  There was normally someone in the house playing music on vinyl, cassette, or 8-track.

Yep, we had one of these in the house. Possibly my first record player, even if the musical variety was a bit limited.

My mother, wasn't a massive music fan, as far as I could tell.  She did have a few David Essex albums, indeed my earliest recollection of playing a record is David Essex's Rock on album on my little battery operated record player.  I still have the album on vinyl.

My father is a fan of big band (Glen Miller and the like) as well as a bit of country. Plus I used to get to watch whomever was on Sunday night at the London Palladium, Morcombe and Wise, The Black and White Minstrals show.


Ok, slightly dubious concept for a TV show and now considered racist.  You had to watch what was on, given we only had three channels at the time.

Not sure if that was the same model, but it was similar.   I think I was five or six when I got my first real record player.  I liked that I could spin it backwards and it would play the songs backwards. 

Being the second youngest of  nine, quite a few of my brothers and sisters had left home and had left behind bits of their record collection in a cupboard in my bedroom, so the only vinyl I had to play were hand me down 7" and albums.   So I was listening to things like Nazareth, Wings, Alvin Stardust, Gary Glitter, Sweet, Suzi Quattro (the first love of my life and possibly why I like girl bass players. ha ha).

Think I still have "This flight tonight" on vinyl more than once.  Great song!

For a brief stint, I shared a bedroom with one of my sisters.  Whom I got my love of Motown from, before I was shifted in to the boys room, where I shared with a couple of brothers, one of whom was in his late teens,  just as punk hit. 

My other older sister and her husband got me into the likes of Rod Stewart.

Punk had such a big influence on the seven year old me.  The anarchy, the risque lyrics, it was all slightly naughty.   Stiff little fingers were my band of choice, more so than the Sex Pistols.

I was lucky in so much that my brother was buying lots of the singles and albums, Buzzcocks, The Skids, The Clash, Dr Feelgood, X-ray Spex, Angelic Upstarts etc etc.   I had access to play all of these (once he was out of the house). 

(I probably won't forgive him, for selling all his vinyl in the early '80s).

Top of the Pops was very important to me from when I could remember until the day it ended.  As was late night listening to John Peel and watching The Old Grey Whistle Test.

During the summer holidays, I would go and stay at my eldest brothers house for a few days.  As a bit of a hippy, we got to listen to more folk music. Fun times.

My other big love at the time was cinema.

You would never allow it in this day and age, which is a shame, but I'd happily wander the mile into town on a Saturday and go to the cinema on my own to see the latest films.   Star Wars was a huge influence the seven year old me.  I saw it multiple times at the cinema.  Plus things like Battlestar Galactica (in sensurround).

I warn you now.   That I am blaming Star Wars for making me purchase my first bit of vinyl.

Yes, the first 7" vinyl I bought with my own money was "I lost my heart to a Starship Trooper" by Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip.

I still have it and the receipt.  It cost me 78p.

So with bands like Abba and the Bee Gees.   I was into a lot of different bits and pieces of music.

As the 70's started to wind down, punk got more commercial and influenced by John Peel and The Old grey whislte test, I was starting to develop my own musical tastes rather than stealing them from my family.

By this time, I was starting to go out and spend any money I had left over (from buying Star Wars toys and lego) on 7" singles from the likes of Blondie (my 2nd great love) and The Police.

and possibly my final love, before I discovered girls for real. Kate Bush!

Nothing about a bit of classic rock (which wasn't classic at the time).  Slightly less punk than I was into, but up to and not including Brother's in Arms, they were a class act!

and The Cars before they went middle of the road.

I was also getting intregued by this time by the influx of synths into music in the latter part of 1970's.  Bands like Devo, Gary Numan and especially Ultravox. This was partially influenced by what a couple of my brother's were listening to.

As well as a bit of ska

But I will leave that for the 1980's blog.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Week 1 - Getting Mentally prepared.

It is the first of June 2014.

The start of the the journey into creating some music and blogging about the process.

Some of this will partially be based on Music Success In Nine Weeks by Ariel Hyatt, for no other reason than I need a plan.

Given, my musical priority is and will be The Hair Thieves nine weeks is a little ambitious.  So I will spread the nine weeks out over many months.

I will assume Arial thinks I might already have material written, gigs on the go and what not.

I am starting from near scratch.  Just a collection a few under developed ideas and lyric snippets. Song is different tunings and time signatures.

At the moment I only have two rules for this project.
  1. If the song starts sounding like it should be a Hair Thieves song, then it should be and I will show it to E to say if we should use it.
  2. Given the The Hair Thieves brand tag is"An eclectic mix of ambient indie pop rock punk jazz soundtracks", this project should have a focus and not be eclectic. I have an inkling as to what I want to do.  More about that soon.
  So, back to Ariel's book.

The tasks this weekis to set some goals and set some dates for those goals.

Apparantly, only 3% of people have their long term goals written down and it has been proven that people who track their goals are more likely to achieve them.

I have been a been advocate of David Allen's Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity methodology. I have had a system in place for about eight years now.

It mostly works, for me. I will blog more about my time management system in the future.

So I already have a working task tracking system in place.

The bit of Getting Things done that I have always struggled with is the big picture.

What are my life goals?

I don't have issues with goals for individual projects, but what is my life goal.  I really don't know.  Ariel also iterates the need for lifetime goals.  I'm still unconvinced.

So for the purposes of this experiment.  I will limit my goals to twelve months and this one project and reserve the right to change them whenever!

So this weeks task are to
  1. Write down each day. 5 victories.   (Now I used to do that years ago, so I will start again)
  2. Write down six Focus areas for the next twelve months
    1. with dates
    2. that involve me only
    3. are realistically achievable
In the book, Ariel mentions money goals.   I'm slightly uncomfortable with that.  I would be happy to make enough money to sustain my musical hobby.   I have no ambition to be a full time musician.  I love my day job enough to want to carry that on as a career.

Right, so whilst I get my mind thinking of what I want to achieve for this project.   I have some immediate tasks to get on with namely :-
  1. Name the project
  2. Get the domain name
  3. Get the social media names for it
  4. Create project structure on my music PC for it
  5. Create a project structure in my lyric writing system.
So let's begin and get all of this into my task management system.



Saturday, 17 May 2014


Welcome to my new blog.

For those that don't know me, I am a hobbyist musician, a photographer, a writer and a software engineer.

I am in a band called The Hair Thieves, who record an eclectic mix of EPs. This is mostly indie pop rock songs with a smattering of ambient soundtracks, rock, punk and jazz twinges.

Within this blog I aim to document the writing, recording and marketing of my first solo CD.

As of today.  May 17th 2014,  this exists only as a series of song parts, nothing has been finalised, I have no list of tunes nor completed lyrics to work on.

All I have is some ideas, that are either in weird tunings, weird timings (or both) or have been rejected as songs for The Hair Thieves.

So this might end up a album, or an EP or an EP and an album.   I don't know yet.

The Hair Thieves is still my primary focus, so working on the new EPs for that will take precedence over any solo material I write, so I am envisaging that a solo album may take a year or two to complete.

 So this blog aims to be informative on
  • My writing progress
  • Tools I use to write music
  • The progress of demos
  • The recording process
  • Tools I use to record.
  • Occasional dodgy cover versions
  • How to market a band.  Starting from scratch.
  • Online courses I have partaken in.
  • Reviews of useful blogs for musicians.
  • My take on posts from other musicians.
From the marketing point of view, I aim to base the steps on Music Success In Nine Weeks by Ariel Hyatt.

Obviously, since I am starting from scratch and have other priorities,  I aim to do this in nine months not nine weeks.

This will be supplemented by various books from Bob Baker like, Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook (in which my name is mentioned!) as well as other blogs and books.

So there it is a start, or at least a line in the sand.  To be honest it is a little bit scary!

I am to blog every couple of weeks.    Starting the week June 1st.   Wish me luck!