Head Above Water – Live

I am pleased to announce that I will be performing at Atmospheres Music Festival at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. 

‘Head Above Water’ is the title of my upcoming album and I shall be playing all 6 new tracks from the record, including the recently released singles ‘Until the Stars Align’ and ‘Liability’. 

This is the first time I will be presenting this music live and after rehearsing with Dan Nelson (Bass) and Aled Lloyd (drums) I am really forward to it. 

You can get your tickets via this link: https://www.rwcmd.ac.uk/events/2022-05/atmospheres-2022-head-above-water

Tool – Live at Manchester

It’s been a long while since I’ve seen a show of this scale.

Tool have been on my ‘to go see live’ list for years and I’ve never had the opportunity until now. I believe the last time they played live was early 2010s with the exception of download 19.

I had seen the bootlegs and some live footage and saw the audio visual element which is astonishing but as can be expected, nothing compares to being there in person.

They started by using a gauze curtain with thin textured lines coming down. The work that went into the screens and lights was incredible and about 4 songs in they opened it up.

This is a major part of the experience but the essential element is the playing, which is at the highest possible level.

The Tool band members are in their 50s and their experience and dedication was on full display. They were totally in control and played with so much precision, it was unbelievable. Maynard. Adam, Justin and Danny are all so damn good at their instruments. The sound is unbelievable too. Adam’s combination of Diezel Amps and Gibson guitars absolutely screams whilst Danny is a drumming octopus with loads of nice touches including pitched percussion and a modular synthesiser. Maynard sings in the dark like a ghostly figure and Justin hits the bass hard whilst interacting with the crowd the most.

It was overwhelming…and loud!

But what made it even better was that the audience of 20,000 honoured the band’s request not to have phones out during the show until Maynard granted people request to take their ‘stupid effing cell phones’ at the end.

For far too long, being at a show is about the audience saying they are there than just allowing oneself to be experiencing music in the moment.

It was so good to see music of this level of sophistication being enjoyed by so many people but then again, these guys have been at it for decades, and what we witnessed was decades of work.

It gives me hope. So much music today is blamcmanche and quite frankly banal to the point of total irrelevance and swarming in a desperate toxic sea of approval chasing social media crap, but not all. And it’s about time we start nurturing younger acts who want to make music at this level.

Tool inspires me to maintain integrity, stick to my musical instincts and be ambitious.

If you get the chance to see them live, do it!

What I don’t like about music today.

I have been thinking about this a lot recently.

Music is undoubtedly a topic of subjectivity and arbitrary viewpoints, tastes differ as do personalities and the more you can accept and respect other people’s tastes, the better.

That being said, it’s fun to spark a heated debate now and again and I’d like to touch upon something that I deeply think about when it comes to the music that I really dislike.

Music is hard to write and talk about without getting tangled in knots, but if I am able to express what I don’t like about certain music it puts me in a position to express my critique or opinion in a way that is informed and respectable.

I feel it’s important to do, because one of my biggest issues with music at the moment is the way it does not drive the culture anymore. I have found myself tuning out of so much music that is plugged my way and having to work hard to find music I like and I want to find out why that is.

Here are some general things I have managed to pinpoint that do not sit well with me.

Music being used as a means to tell music theory

This is a byproduct of the Youtube Musical star culture which I ignore because I get no joy whatsoever from using music as a means to fawn over music theory. I study music theory relentlessly and am fascinated by its use in music of all varieties but when the theory sounds like it supersedes the music itself, it makes me really uncomfortable. There is some music that labours on the theory side so much that it completely supersedes the music and I can’t help but find that problematic.

Music that is illiterate

I sometimes read pop lyrics and am sometimes taken aback by how bad some of the language is. Lyrics reduced to text speak, non-sensical metaphors or similes and things that are just grammatically wrong. Lyrics don’t have to reach the literary standards of Yeats or Keats but come on, the least you can do is make some actual sense with some degree of sophistication.

Innocuousness or Vapidness

This rife in modern day releases. Any artist who gains traction and picked up by labels or corporate sponsors is so afraid of speaking out against something that their music becomes reduced to something merely passive and with little meaning.

So much mainstream music that is released is completely and utterly vapid, designed to be here today and then gone tomorrow.

On the contrary a lot of my favourite music has a very focused viewpoint be it deeply personal yet empathetic or standing up for what you believe in. Kendrick Lamar is probably one of the best examples of artists who does this really well. He’s managed to become hugely successful without compromising himself with his solo work. In such an unfair and divided world, we need people to stand up to oppressors and not many musicians of today do this unfortunately.

Self above anyone else

We can thank the internet once again for amplifying this juggernaut of nonsense. Music appears to be used by some as a tool to elevate one’s ego or narcissism and not much else. The music becomes just a byproduct of celebrity culture where the idea is often sold that the most important thing is to be famous and seen as successful.

Negative Ideation

I sometimes check in with the charts and at one point was really worried about what it was that kids were exactly listening to. At one point, the charts were dominated by artists who were taking xanax and singing about it in their works; too many have lost their lives prematurely from messing with such things. I listen to some of the darkest music out there and love bands like Swans, NIN and Clipping. but there’s a difference between exploring horrifying topics in interesting ways and outright glorification of dangerous lifestyle choices.

Lazy or uninspired production choices

There is no barrier to producing music these days, but as a result the long tail of modern day music production is pretty mediocre. Over-reliance on sample libraries, loops, already sourced and preset sounds, triggers (give me some real drum kit sounds please!!!) are all things that turn off my ear because of the lack of originality. It is a long and significantly tougher road to go down to create your own sounds, hone in on the details and find your individual aesthetic, but it is much more worthwhile.

Lack of dynamics

The digital age brought the loudness wars and over-compression. Things did gradually get better but I would argue that there is still so much music that completely disregards dynamic quality to ensure the audio gets into your face in a rather obnoxious way.

Retromania

I’ve been reading Simon Reynold’s book and since the 2000s music has struggled to come up with its own identity and feel. Instead we have seen new artists openly wearing the influence of the latter 20th century decades on their sleeves. The result is music that doesn’t offer much new. Rock music has become the new classic music in many ways and new artists have sometimes deliberately just recycled the acts of the 70s or 80s and built their act entirely on that. The overbearing nostalgia in my opinion is a bit boring and I am keen to hear artists willing to try different things and embrace the future a bit more.

There are quite a few issues I have managed to raise that don’t sit well with me, there is a lot of music I absolutely love, and in another article, I’ll follow up with what it is I tend to like when it comes to music.

What are your thoughts. Do you agree or disagree with me? Feel free to leave a comment below because I love talking about this kind of stuff!

Thanks as always for reading.

Liability – Music Video Release

The music video for my new track ‘Liability’ is out.

This was a really fun track to put together. I wanted to create a really moody, rage filled track to call out all the political leaders running amok who have been so destructive on societies around the world.

Many of us are sick and tired of people in power who are kleptocrats, egoists, self serving and ultimately, not fit for purpose.

It’s sometimes easy to feel powerless, but with music, you always have the power to express your truth.

I hope you enjoy the track and I look forward to sharing more musical releases with you this year.

Credits:

RME – Vocals, Guitars, Synths, Producer, Mixing

Andrew Bishop – Producer, Backing Vocals, Recording and Mastering

Aled Lloyd – Drums and Percussion

Dan Nelson – Bass Guitar

Drew Hamley – Video direction, filming and editing

Until the Stars Align – New Music Release

My new single ‘Until the Stars Align’ is now out.

This is the first single to be released from my new upcoming solo record.

You can listen to the track on all streaming platforms.

A huge thanks to the wonderful team of people involved in making this track. Here is the list of credits

RME – Guitars, Vocals, Keys, Producer, Mixing Engineer

Andre Bishop, Co-Producer, Recording and Mastering Engineer

Aled Lloyd – Drums and Percussion

Dan Nelson – Bass Guitar

Emma Davidson – Vocals

Daniel Soley – Voice

Niamh O’Donnell – Voice

Darlee Urbiztondo – Artwork

Here are links to the track:

Apple

http://itunes.apple.com/album/id/1611298579

Spotify

Lyrics

Until the stars align 

I’ll just bide my time and do what I can 

In this present set of circumstance, what else is there?

Unfurling tragedy, 

the only remedy is to sit and wait it out 

But what of the time, that’s in between?

Until the stars align 

I’ll just bide my time 

Until the stars align, 

We’ll commit the time to keep the spark alight 

Even if it’s just your face and your voice 

We can talk about our days 

And the many ways we keep our hopes alive

For the moment when, we reunite. 

Until the stars align 

One day at a time

Until the stars align 

One day at a time 

A stand against authoritarianism

Putin has always been known for the saying the fall of the Soviet union was the biggest tragedy of his life.

And this act of war on Ukraine is tragic but to anyone paying a smidge of attention, it was coming.

The invasion of Georgia, The annexation of Crimea, the Salisbury poisoning, the interfering of elections.

And what did the west do? Pander to Putin, do deals with him, elevated his power and Russian Oligarchs and enabled a dictator.

And the scary thing is that Putin’s completely false claims about Ukraine Nazism and peacekeeping operations are notions that he has probably convinced himself are true. This is what happens when people have absolute power, the longer they have it, the more their grip on reality subsides.

When it has come to dealings with Putin, moral principles, values of democracy and justice have all been superseded by money. For too long, money has trumped everything.

Speaking of Trump, he has been closely tied with the Russian Mafia for years! Dark money was allowed to run amok in the US elections. He has openly praised Putin and called him a genius for his move on Ukraine! What more evidence do you need to ensure that Trump can never run for office again? He is an aspiring autocrat himself and funnily enough has also weaponised misinformation ad infinitum. Heck the US can’t even fundamentally protect their own postal service and the right to vote. They can’t even investigate the capitol riot properly!

And Boris Johnson isn’t insane enough to be like Trump or Putin, but he is still a useless imbecile, a liability and someone who has also weaponised misinformation. Him and the self servicing racist parasite of a human being that is Nigel Farage have engineered a damaging Brexit that Russia so blatantly assisted with to weaken the EU and make their move. And when it comes to donors, the Tories haven’t though twice about the influence of money coming from Russian Oligarchs. What a joke of a democracy the UK has when our country is constantly lobbied by corporations and individuals who have no interest in any positive development and only pursue the interest of filling up their own pockets.

Germany is going to get hit hard by cutting off supplies to Russian gas but it feels like the only necessary step, but it is a wake up call to all Western countries to start accelerating self sufficiency and investment in Green and renewable energy. Lord knows the world and climate needs it let alone avoiding doing business with dictators. Dirty dealings are everywhere and countries need to clean themselves up.

So I am really pissed off. Putin and his cronies are responsibly for this tragedy and have been utterly consumed by evil and illusion. But I am also pissed off at the western world for being so complacent and more-so complicit, not taking the warning signs seriously and not addressing the issue before innocent people started losing their lives and homes. Democracy has continued to be undermined and is on a global decline whilst a small minority of rich elites do whatever the hell they like and everyday people suffer.

But I am also hopeful. Zellenskyy has spoken and acted with dignity and honour and he has managed to rally his citizens behind their cause. For the most part, sports and arts organisations have made their sanctions. Ukraine has also managed to garner the support of the Western world so much to the point where some of Putin’s closest foreign allies have spoken against him.

So Putin will lose this war and go down in infamy, and this happened as soon as he decided to invade Ukraine, but at what cost?

The cost is already too great, but at the heart of all of this is sovereignty and freedom against Tyranny.

This is what our ancestors fought and died for in World War 2, and everyone who has enabled this tyranny to go this far via corruption should hang their heads in shame. Liberal democracies are not perfect, but they will always be better than the tyranny of authoritarians and dictators and I urge everyone to reflect on the importance of this and stand up for these values and principles. Things can and should be better.

My heart and respect goes out to all affected by this war, all Ukrainians who have lost loved ones or have become refugees and the Russian citizens bravely protesting against this aggression.

Teach kids to cook.

I always admire Jamie Oliver for the impact he had on promoting healthy eating in schools. He may have been excoriated for cancelling turkey twizzlers but I’m with him, even when I wasn’t vegetarian, the notion of them grossed me out!

Although, I can’t help but think that we still haven’t really tackled the healthy eating issue. I dread to think what the diets of some kids are out there.

It’s a societal issue. Fast food and unhealthy food is cheap and more accessible than a lot of fresh healthy food and the culture pushes for convenience above anything else.

You’ve got to respect the Australian comedian Natswhatireckon for waging his war on jar sauce and packet foods during the pandemic, one man with the idea of pushing people to cook with fresh food and it made a positive change. He is also outright hilarious!

And I was taught home economic on a carousel in school and I only remember cooking a select amount of things. I’m grateful for those experiences but I can’t help but think opportunities for young people is limited.

These days, I cook more fresh things than ever and it feels healthy, but it’s also enriching in so many ways, it’s creative, it’s therapeutic, it’s a process that involves care, evaluation and you are in control of achieving tastes and flavours by your choices.

I love doing it and it’s an amazing past time in contrast to my current musical endeavours. Nothing beats eating something amazing that you’ve made and sharing that with others too.

I’d encourage everyone to learn to cook things from scratch. I’m a firm believer that it’ll promote a better sense of well-being in anyone who gives it a go and there are load of great websites out there. Even if it’s once or twice a week, it’ll make a difference.

To start, here is a link to one of my favourite vegetarian chilli recipes.

https://cookieandkate.com/vegetarian-chili-recipe/

Smears and Dismissals

What kind of crazy messed up country do we live in where the House of Commons allows a plainly false and gross smear claim to pass whilst ousting Ian Blackford for saying the incontrovertible fact that Boris Johnson misled and lied to the government!?

This is why people have so little faith in government.

You tell the truth and become marginalised.

You lie and become protected.

It’s such an archaic law. Of course, you can’t call everyone a liar but when there is a precedent in as Trumpian a circumstance as this one, you’d think anyone would have every right to override that law.

Boris Johnsons had a party, got found out, said there was no party, then said he thought it was a work event…with wine. Following the Sue Gray report, how can you possibly claim you’d have to insist that any part of his claim are inadvertently misleading?

It’s intentionally misleading! As clear as day!

But then again we live in a post truth world where people think facts are fungible.

The House of Commons would rather uphold the illusion that they maintain integrity as opposed to operate with actual integrity.

And in his usual blustering, waffling defence against Starmer, Johnson decided to point out his failure to prosecute Saville in what could be the worst kind of whataboutism, far right conspiracy smear to have ever happened in parliament. How low is he willing to stoop?

Boris Johnson is a morally bankrupt pathological liar. This is blindingly obvious to anyone willing to pay a tiny amount of attention. He’s also a megalomaniac, impervious to the sense of public anger that is now aimed against him.

All he cares about is himself. And the Tories only care about themselves too. The cult mob mentality at PMQs is embarrassing, and finally, some ministers are breaking ranks. Not enough though, and the more that this has to be dragged out, the more of an insult it continues to be for the British Public.

I lived outside the U.K. long enough to know how much of a laughing stock we are. It’s gotten worse with each year.

America have gotten rid of their authoritarian monster for the time being.

It’s time to get rid of ours.

The Party

What happens when you vote a clown or reality TV star into power?

The absolute mess that we find ourselves within the western world.

Boris Johnson isn’t sorry about the party, he’s sorry that he’s been found out.

Anyone who spent a little bit of effort looking into who he was as a person would know that he shouldn’t have ever been within a hundred miles of becoming prime minister. He’s been fired twice for lying, made contemptuous remarks about other religions or races and considers himself well above any rules. This is not new news.

And this whole party gate situation is just another scandal that Johnson can add to his CV.

Free school meal U turn, atrocious handling of the pandemic and the 37 billion pound test and trace system that wasn’t fit for purpose but made friends in high places rich should have warranted public anger significantly more than it did.

And as usual, the rules are bent, the mps come in defence and don’t answer questions properly, and if there is to be any sense of accountability such as something alongside the lines of a resignation, I won’t be one bit excited about it or hopeful or faithful in the political system.

Because it’s rigged, it’s fundamentally broken, the cronyism and sleaziness remains and too many people have been gaslit.

Brexit continues to screw up the country in numerous way and onwards they go, ploughing along as if everything’s hunky dory courtesy of our sense of national pride.

What pride is exactly to be had in a clown of a prime minister who is a compulsive liar and a prince trying to use his royal status and money to protect himself from being prosecuted in a Sex scandal?

And if Johnson goes, he will likely be replaced by someone who may be not quite as shameless but still has a false sense of superiority and contempt for everyday people.

The political class needs an overhaul, of boring, sensible, considered, pragmatic and a hell of a lot more virtuous people.

For now, my adult life has been a continuing downward trajectory of disillusionment of those in power and I’ve no hope it will get any better until a hell of a lot more people really stop to consider what it is they want in a leader.