30/07/12 - MusicByMeiosis

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Monday 30th July 2012. Blog #55.


SONGS FOR 20 SOMETHING YEAR OLDS


For much of my life, in fact a third of my life, I have had little direction, few ideas and very few ambitions. When I was a teenager I think I thought that one day I’d be in a proper famous band and signed to a real independent record company, doing gigs for love at the Glastonbury Festival & doing gigs for money at the Reading Festival.  I worked on my songs and I perfected my odd spasm dance moves to make myself into the perfect frontman for the bestest band ever. By the time I was 18 I had the band. 6 members and we made a lovely sound. Sometimes awesome & sometimes really shit but still spectacular,  I think we only performed one gig I’m not proud of for one reason or another and that was a long long time ago.

We stopped performing in 2003. Our last gig was in our local pub. We played well over 2 hours and all the locals super enjoyed it. We added a handful of silly cover versions for good measure. The low key event was a quite fitting end to everything we had done.

I started writing songs at the age of 7. My first song was about a garden pea that was rolling around a bit. I can’t recreate the lyrics for you now as I can’t remember them but it was an awesome song and you will just have to take my word for it (it was awesome). I performed the song to my mother and she seemed to enjoy it. So much so, that she asked if I could perform it for my brother when he returned from school an hour later… obviously as an artist I had moved on and completely changed direction by then but still gladly performed the song about the pea.

A couple of hours later, I was once again asked to perform the song about a pea to my father, I obliged but I was already thinking about new material working around the concept of grapefruit, so my performance was a little stale.

For many months I was pushed and prodded to perform the song about the pea. Whenever friends or relatives visited the house & there was a gap in conversation, my mother would say “Martin, sing the fucking song about the fucking pea… fucking sing it you massive gay… SING the fucking pea song… fucking hell, Martin…  SING IT!”*

I became jaded with the song about the pea and I decided to never perform it ever again. I started to say no to offers of gigs. I was 7 after all.

After many years in the wilderness, I managed to form a band at school. There were 3 members of this band, Martin Thompson on keyboards –who’d perfectly in time press the backing button on a keyboard what like the Pet Shop Boys have been doing for their entire career, then I played a melody with my right hand basically mirroring the vocal melody from the front man (boy) who was Kevin Greener. Paul Howells was on drums. He did not know how to play drums but we didn’t let this small problem stop us. If he could go BUM, TWAT, BUM, TWAT, BUM TWAT… on a bass drum and a snare, that was enough.

Our most famous, I say famous but I really mean oldest, and the one that the old folks from the old people’s home clapped along to when we played it for them at our massive concert at Tanfield Comprehensive circa 1994 was a song Kevin wrote (he wrote all 3 of our songs). I can recall the song in great detail but it is not worth reproducing. Kevin was a big fan of East 17 and I, being the musical director of the band, reprimanded him for his poor lyrics at the time. Anyway, I hope Kevin does not mind me reproducing them here for you all to gawp and stare at:

STRANGER GIRL – by Kevin Greener (OBE)

Love you girl, yes I do,
Just you wait and see,
You’re the one, the one for me.
Love you, love you, love you stranger girl…
My stranger girl.

Kevin wrote these lyrics down on a piece of paper. I hadn’t thought of doing that.  What a clever thing to do.

I was lucky enough to have an old piano and some creativity to play with when I was at this age so around the age of 11 or 12 I wrote my first proper song. I think it was called Kids. Unfortunately, it was before I started keeping stuff. I can remember the piano parts & I may record them some day as a CD extra but I cannot remember the lyrics. It was inspired by the awful but controversial film Kids which is about teenage kids having sex a lot. I still have not seen the film & have no desire to do so.

However, I do have the lyrics to what I think is the second song I ever wrote, which was called Inside You.

So, I think it is only fair, having embarrassed Kevin that I embarrass myself too. This was written at some point in 1995 when I was 11 or 12 (ish):

INSIDE YOU

You think thinking is stupid,
For a fifteen year old,
You believe anything,
Anything you’re told.
You know it’s not right,
And you still go out,
Night after night after night.

Oh but I love it,
When you come running for help,
‘Cos it reminds me that you need me,
Because there’s nobody else.
I can see it inside you,
That you hate what you are,
You know it inside you,
That your life’s not going far.

Chorus:

You watch me when you think I’m not looking,
Then I look up and you look away,
I wish you wouldn’t and just keep on looking
Because we both want to be together one day.

Do you really want to stay here,
And be proven wrong,
Or do you want to go?
And you know it won’t be long.
Until he realises you’re not coming back,
But you’ll be away from him,
And rid of all that tac.

You’re hanging around the streets at night,
With nothing to do,
Why do you wait for him?
He said he’d come but he’s not going to.
That you’ll wait forever more,
I can see it inside you,
That you can’t stand anymore.

Chorus:

You watch me when you think I’m not looking,
Then I look up and you look away,
I wish you wouldn’t and just keep on looking
Because we both want to be together one day.

Bridge:

I can see everything inside you,
I can read you like a book,
But you still control me,
With just one look.

Chorus:

You watch me when you think I’m not looking,
Then I look up and you look away,
I wish you wouldn’t and just keep on looking
Because we both want to be together one day.

Blimey! Having to type that out here, no matter how crass it seems, was quite an experience.

I kept writing songs throughout my teens and through to my mid 20s. Writing at least 2 or 3 songs a week and often writing 2 songs in a day. I released 2 albums when I was 17 and 18 respectively. The first was called ‘Meiosis’, the second, ‘The Melon Shark Legacy’. Both sold surprisingly well for somebody who had no confidence in his own music. I made about £150 from each.  I formed the live band from my pick of people I wanted – to be fair I was studying Popular Music at college so I didn’t have to go far to find them.

Meiosis ‘the band’ was formed when Michael Tully asked if I fancied doing the songs live. I admired Tully he was an awesome musician and I wasn’t. I was shy and reclusive. We were standing around as students do and Tully asked that question. I said “yes”. Then, all of my fellow musician smokers (everybody smoked or hung around in smoking areas in those days. There was little other choice!)  chipped in “I’d be in it”.. ,”I’d do it”…,”Me too”.  Within seconds Meiosis the live band was formed, within a week we had a rehearsal and within 2 months our first gig… Newcastle Arts Centre, 15th May 2000. We supported ‘Skintrench’ & ‘Garage Girl’.

Skintrench were a band with a man called Simon Chester who liked to operate in the tune of ‘drop ‘D’’ and had death grunts that made Slipknot look like fucking massive pussies.  It wasn’t my thing but I thought what they were doing was technically clever. Their fingers used to move so fast, with no attention paid to melody - they were quick, loud, noisy and odd. They had a nice polite fan base too.

Garage Girl were a band fronted by Stu Walton which was Americano Grungey but in a way that is Brit likeable. They had 2 or 3 awesome songs which I can still remember. I don’t have any recordings of these songs but I think it’s safe to say, that if I remember them 12 years later, then they must have been awesome songs. They were called Roundabout, Sleep, and Number 1 With The Bullet.

So in my mid 20s, I had a massive breakdown. I have an awful condition of depression, which I can normally control. At that point in my life, due to a series of circumstances I have already blogged about to some extent… I let go. I couldn’t get back up. I stopped writing songs. Everything stopped.

In 2007 I started to DJ. I thought it a good way to get back into doing something with music & getting to know people who were likeminded again. At first it was awful. Nobody turned up to our gigs. I mean nobody!... but we practiced and eventually got some offers to go and DJ at some nice places. I remember this process of just choosing some songs to play in front of some people being quite therapeutic. I’d pull all-nighters night after night, trying to get my sham of a playlist right. Nobody liked it. Only when Julian ‘Shaft’ Lee met me in a pub and asked if I wanted to play his REVENGE night was I vaguely excited. I was beside myself. This was the thing that had inspired me to do something in the first place. This was the night I was going to thinking ‘thank God, Newcastle has a night with decent music playing’.

We started putting on local bands with ‘all-dayers’ where you do a whole afternoon and evening of bands from 2pm -10pm at The Dog & Parrot to moderate success. Throughout this period of putting on so many bands in one go – I found loads and loads of local and not so local bands I really liked. Sometime in February 2008 I discovered a band called Captain Trips.

It’s hard to believe but in the mid 2000s – there was nowhere to go out to, in order to find decent music. An indie club opened up called Satellite in what used to be a gay club but it broke down before I could get to it. I’m told it was good. We stumbled into REVENGE at The Red Rooms by chance. We were looking for something to entertain us whilst drinking beer in The Head Of Steam pub one night and found a flyer on a table for this ‘indie/alternative/good music’ night at The Red Rooms. We got directions and attended. It was an awesome night.

So a few months later when I was DJing REVENGE and I managed to get it completely right, it was almost tearjerking. We did it as ‘Hang the DJs’. I say ‘we’ I think it was really just me, but I think Alex Sommersett, Andrew Walt & Ali McGeorge had a big part to play in that too!

Within the year I was promoting, putting on bands before REVENGE as Red Rooms: Live. Within a year after that I was putting on local bands at World Headquarters. Among all of the local acts I mentioned a couple of blogs ago, I did a couple of gigs there that I am really proud of. Namely the Morrissey & Bowie shows. I lost money on both but I was so happy I did not care a jot!

Meiosis reformed itself into just me on my own in December 2010. I had been getting used to performing again at an open mic night called ‘Whose Mic Is It Anyway?’ hosted by Amy Wardley for nearly 2 years. Every other week I played 4 songs on my acoustic guitar in front of people. Somehow, for some reason I always will consider those ‘lost few years as a setback to my song-writing career. Finally, now I was back on track. I started to write new songs again... they were awful!

As a promoter, I enjoyed just putting on a silly special gig at Christmas. I’d done it for 3 years so it was no big deal to say, this year, 2010 – Meiosis will reform (with backing tracks) with Simon from Skintrench and Stu from Garage Girl playing as support. We did that. It was awesome. Nobody was any good – but I don’t think that mattered!

I enjoyed it so much, I enjoyed performing the old songs again. I booked many more gigs and we have gigged extensively around this city for the last 2 years. In October 2011, we released the first Meiosis album for 10 years, it was called Where Reality Ends And I Begin. It was concept album about that period when I could not write, sing, or move. I thought it right to release an album about why it’s taken me so long to get around to releasing an album. Where Reality Ends And I Begin remains a great bench mark for my work and I am very very proud of it. I remember saying that if anyone ever asked me “How do you feel, Martin?” – then I can point, like a cunt, at that. My work. That’s how I feel. I also wanted to be able to stop any more of my friends killing themselves. I achieved this. Only one of my friends has died since I made this album and that was an accident... so that’s a 100% ratio on the 10 years before**.

So I started to think about ‘Songs For 20 Something Year Olds’. I thought ’let’s showcase some songs that are a little bit happier in mood, but still serve a purpose’.

I wrote a few new songs & thought about some songs I have written over the past 10 years that would fit the remit.

“What is the remit?” I hear you cry with optimism, and if I answer, it maybe the end of my writing on this:

Well in conclusion.: I wrote & recorded Songs For 20 Something Year Olds over an entire year. I started it just before my last album came out in October last year. It has a concept – the title speaks for itself. If you are in your 20s and happen to hear this, it’s not advice – but you might wanna listen carefully. If you are over 30, then this album is for you. Encourage them, re-encourage them… because if you don’t, then they may all end up like me, writing and singing about what they stupidly missed out on.

2000:



2011:



You can download the new Meiosis album, Songs For 20 Something Year Olds, here.

You can stream last year’s album here.

More stuff: http://www.musicbymeiosis.com

Twitter: @MusicByMeiosis


*My mother is not that foul-mouthed. I made that up.

** Lots of my mates died when I was in my 20s. I don’t single this one out as any more or less tragic than the rest. In fact I was fucking gutted.

 
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