HISTORICAL DEPICTIONS OF THE FUTURE
Now then… I’ve gone and done a new album thing.
The cover was taken from beach nearby to what I believe was the Space Shuttle Atlantis beginning its journey, a round trip of 5,284,862 miles, on 8th July 2011. The reason I chose this particular image was because it sums the album up in one single blow. Most of us think of space travel as a thing of the future but this particular spacecraft is due to be decommissioned and will therefore become an outdated piece of history. As ann artefact in a museum, it will be a symbol of past, present and future.
Also, the date of that launch was 2011 which, as you avid Meiosis followers will know, was the year my album Where Reality Ends & I Begin was launched. The first in this trilogy of albums that would prove to myself if nothing else that I am still able to write and record music as I did when I was in my late teens and early 20s. Like Atlantis, I was on a mission. I found it hard to complete yet here I am on the beginning stages of completing it. The final album, Historical Depictions of the Future, launches on 4th August 2013. In common with its two companions, the aforementioned Where Reality Ends & I Begin, and Songs for 20 Something Year Olds, it has a concept: love, exploitation, sexuality, greed, addiction and extremism.
Yeah ok. I had to fit in a few concepts in one go as it’d be the final part, but I feel they all work together anyway.
I began working on the album in August last year. However, a lot of the songs have been written over a period of 13 years. I’m already thinking about making another new album comprised of purely new material but for now, I guess these songs are new to everyone but me.
As is now traditional in the Meiosis camp, I’ll write a blog explaining the songs on the new album. Here is that blog:
Do you have the ‘gene’? This is about an old friend of mine whom everyone assumed was gay when they met him. Assumptions like this frustrated me as an 18 year old gay man, as not being very camp, nobody ever just assumed I was gay. I’d have to tell somebody all about it, thus limiting the choice of people I could have sex with. If you have ever been an 18 year old, you will know that most of your life is dedicated to having sex with people. If you haven’t been an 18 year old, then you won’t be so aware and if you are an 18 year old then your life, thoughts and work are solely dedicated to getting laid. You may not know it yet but they are. This song is intentionally camp and revealing in order to pull members of the same sex. 13 years on… it’s just a disgusting record of my former sex obsessed self. I have recorded and released it on this album now, not only because I think it’s a great frill filled pop song but because, at the age of 31, if I left it much later you’d all be vomiting into your slippers.
Set in a lounge piano style – mainly thanks to the work Paul Fairbairn of Toxic Melons did on this track. I asked him to record a keyboard part for the song and would like it to be piano led rather than guitar led. He sent me a wealth of wonderful string arrangements, piano, whistles and my person favourite, the marimba. It’s all in there but was a bugger to mix. You can still hear my acoustic guitar chipping away and my bass, drum, brass and synthesizer tracks. I recorded the vocals for this track around 15 times before I could get it how I had imagined in my head 10 years ago when I wrote the song.
It’s a fictional account of a lady being abused by her lover and eventually overcoming her fears to overcome him. The lyrics are written in 3rd person as an observer rather than a participant. As they are both fictional characters that only exist in my head - it does not matter what the man did to her. I think the song came from listening to a few drunken young ladies in pubs telling me about their ex-boyfriends and me being horrified that this actually happens outside of newspapers. I was young and naive. Of course it happens.
On A Mission
I pulled this song out of the ‘Old Songs I’ve Done Nothing With’ bag last year for a live show. I have to stick a song in my live sets that perhaps isn’t among my best or most popular but that keep me interested in performing and keeps me on my toes. I posted a video of the performance on some social networking websites and people seemed to really like it. So I kept playing it and eventually recorded this version for the album. I like it too now. I have been using the formula of suspension and release in my music for a long time but I think this is where it really prevailed. If you don’t know what suspension and release is – then look it up – I don’t want to explain it here as to a non music geek, the knowledge may ruin the formula of music forever!
I also needed to record this song before I could no longer reach those high notes. It took a lot of rehearsal and training to get back to that vocal ability again but I very much doubt it can last.
The song is about an experience I had when I was about 17. I actually fancied a person. I was so obsessed that I tried to always put myself in places where I’d ‘accidentally’ bump into them. This involved quite a lot of standing around on my own, long drives for nothing and sitting on buses for hours. Upon releasing my oddity, I decided ‘I think I’m going to be ok in the end’. I was not pining for a love that was new but yearning for a love that was lost.
Eventually you’ll realise that it’s all ok regardless. I don’t know why that has to take so long.
Jonjo McNeil from Deltasound provides some much needed vocals to the chorus of this song. I felt I was no longer able to sing the chorus with the power and emotion that is required. Jonjo achieved this task effortlessly with his distinctive and wonderfully gravelly, cutting voice.
This is also a fictional account. It’s a story about a young lady who may be schizophrenic, having one of her ‘mini rages’ where she voices her frustrations to the world but nobody listens to her. In hindsight I guess I invented this story to deal with my own bipolar disorder and learn through experience that it’s better to sit down and talk about your feelings than to shout, scream and break things when it all gets on top of you.
Red Man/Green Man
This is the first time I have used a synthesizer for a bass line. I wanted it to sound like an old Yamaha Clavinova electric piano I used to write my songs when I was 11 years’ old.
Probably one of the more difficult songs to get ‘into’ on the album but not wholly difficult in its intentions. It has been a favourite song of mine sine I wrote it in 2001 and I’m pleased to present it to you in this way now. The timing is perfect.
The wonderful thing about being detached is that you can employ the value that ‘ignorance is bliss’. This song first depicts that I am depressed, damaged and plainly useless. Then it goes on to give examples of how I could naively impress a potential lover, as if treating it like a curriculum vitae for a job that needs to be done; “this is why you should go out with me”... It culminates in the refrain of “I’m not blue, ‘cos I feel it for you!” as my most qualifying redeeming feature. The tactic works.
Gin Girl – AKA Laura Bartley, has made this track come alive with her wonderful emotional sounding backing vocals. Her continuing refrains of the offbeat, flat noted “I’m not blue” have sent shivers down my spine every time I have had to take up the job of mixing and remixing this song (which is a lot of times).
Bomb Me Out
Might be a political statement. It’s a Bob Dylanesque look at our political climate today. The lyrical refrain is self-mocking; “but I’m losing my hair”, so why should you not listen when I shout about being “so damn free, to do what I want, any time I please!” It’s a song about giving up, hitting rock bottom and then finding the self-esteem within oneself to defeat one’s demons.
This song is a rare love ballad from me. It is about a relationship being cut short and terminated via telephone before you had a chance to answer so many questions that you were dying to answer. Personally “for this realisation of mine… we’ve already had our time” – is one of my favourite lyrics. I can’t remember who it is addressed to – but it took me a whole song to work that one out!
I wrote this song in autumn 2012 specifically to fit in with this album. I wanted to write something reflective and new to give a perspective on the concept of the album, within the album.
I had some rules for instrumentation on this album that I would only have beats, bass and piano & then overlay guitar and any other things I wanted to add. The Olympics’ opening ceremony had a slight influence as 15 years ago I was trying to record big electronic orchestral numbers with timpani drums banging in the correct places and then I saw on telly this wonderful thing! But I also think ‘I can’t do that anymore as peeps will think I have copied it’. I have turned the timpanis and the big drums down in the mix. For the chorus I use a rhythm on acoustic guitar I would not normally employ, that rhythm was directly lifted from a Captain Trips songs, I just played different chords! Thanks for the inspiration lads!
Promiscuous is an honest look back at my life when I wrote most of the songs on this album. The lyrics aren’t that clear on the recording but if you really care you can always check out the lyrics page on this website once they are published there to see what I said. This song pretty much says – fun (+sex) – job + friends (divided by emotions) = undecided.
The Big Attraction
There is something about this song, whereby if you play it well it’s awesome but if you play it another way (not necessarily badly) it becomes rubbish. I think we have recorded a good rendition here.
My friend Eddie Rivers provides some much needed vocals on this track and to be brutally honest I wasn’t expecting him to be so good!
The song is about a change of opinion. It is a victim song. How do you get me now… that I am so… what? It’s too late because help was delayed. It carries on in circles… How do you get me now? GRRR! It’s too late, man… it’s too late!
Vodka & Pills
Let’s be honest. Let’s be very very honest…
This song depicts a very true story.
I was intent on committing suicide via jumping off a viaduct. I was 19 years’ old. I walked from Craghead, near Stanley to the Viaduct of my choice near Lintz Green, a distance of around 15 miles. I can’t explain how I felt. Because my mind was a blur – intent on one thing.
I have attempted suicide twice since this song was written and believe it or not, privately, this song has helped me a great deal. I love this song. This song has saved my life umpteen times.
I’m not trying to be sensationalist by releasing this song now, I’m not even trying to make a point about depression (or else I’d have put this song on my concept album about depression Where Reality Ends & I Begin, 3 years ago). The point I am trying to make… Oh hell…
I played a demo of this song to an old boyfriend of mine in 2003(ish) and he threw a shoe at me. I asked, politely, “why did you just throw a shoe at me? It hit me in the face. It kind of hurt.”
And he said:
“Because of this song, you are so stupid… how dare you write this song... I cannot bear the image.”
Other quotes go by:
“I don’t like this song”
“Fucking GO ON!”
“Hurrah – somebody at last speaking out for depression!”
So it’s the last song on the album.
I love it. Piano could be better but so what.
I cannot express enough how much thanks I can give you for reading this blog about my album.
Can I take a moment in my blog to dedicate a paragraph to our friend Simon Ebblewhite:
Ebby was a power within the Newcastle music scene. He was a power because he played what he liked, and when he liked. When dealing with the aftermath of a fatality on the railway, you become jaded – I never thought that this may be one of my friends. He was a great guy and a massive loss to us all if you love the Newcastle music scene… Hopefully his music will live on!
In the meantime here’s a new song from the new album:
Listen n to the album here: www.musicbymeiosis.com
Proper blog tomorrow!