2014 had a bit of a somber start. In November 2013, Adam, Michael and I had decided to pull the plug on our association under the banner of Sound Over Silence. The band had been running for just under five years, but we’d seen four singers come and go in the space of the last three. It had become untenable, mentally and emotionally draining. Rehearsals felt like going through the motions, rather that being and exciting creative experience. It felt like we were in a coma, and we just wanted to pull the plug and let the band slip off into the long sleep. It was a disappointing end to such a promising and energetic musical collaboration. I’d always anticipated that we would have imploded, crushed under the weight of well meaning, but competing egos.
Shortly after the decision, I was going about my usual business on facebook, having a blether one evening with Andy from Sons of Icarus. He asked us how we were getting on, and I told him we’d taken Old Yeller out back and shot it. He wasn’t for having it. He wanted one last show. He told us that they were coming North with Fighting Wolves in February and they wanted me to organise it, and have SOS appear on the bill. We still had our rehearsal block booking in Berkeley, so that wasn’t an issue. The problem was the singer. We didn’t have one.
Enter Danny Rudden.
I mentioned to him in class that we had this problem, and asked if he would consider giving it a go. We’d shared a bill at Audio the previous year, so he knew what we were all about. No problem, he said. In five rehearsals, Danny was not only ready to go, he’d written lyrics to three songs that had never been aired in public. We were ready to go for one last show.
On stage everything felt as it should. Adam and Mikey were in the groove, Danny was nailing the vocals, and I wasn’t screwing up on guitar too badly. We sang, we danced, we ran around in the crowd and had some fun. Then it was over. I’m not sure I can describe the emotion of the experienced, it was somewhere between relief and grief. There were thank you chants from the audience. We embraced as a band for the first, and the last, time. Our relationship had been joyous, but it was over. Until the encore. And then it was over.
I’d never been in a band that had predetermined it’s own end, but our final outing was more than worth it. It gave us the opportunity to say goodbye to our fans and our creation.
Meanwhile in Heart o’ the Run-land, we were in the final stages of mixing our 2nd EP, preparing for an Easter release. There were a series of songs on She’s Got Legs that make me feel massively proud, namely the opening track Best is Yet to Come. The song was written very quickly in my living room, James and I producing the goods within the time it takes to consume one beer at a leisurely pace. The theme of the song was simple, it was about a guy in a social setting, probably a house party, who spots a girl and takes advantage of her emotional state, having been dumped by her partner. It should be noted that this song was based on observed experience, rather than having first hand experience of the deed. It was a cheeky poke at youth culture that was intended to be relatable for the listener. Pride is a song that is also close to my heart, because it’s about the greatest football team in the world; Ayr United. James and I had written it in college as part of a songwriting class that stipulated use of certain types of motif and chords. The song also had to be self-deprecating. Immediately I associated the term with following my team. We’re gluttons for punishment; the match quality is pretty poor and the team blow their chances for promotion on an annual basis, yet we still go to watch. It’s almost masochism, never mind self-deprecating.
At the same time I was recording and preparing Fuck Yeah! Molecules single for launch with my label. It was an A/double B-side, which kind of made it triangular. I loved working with the guys because they were so open to suggestion, and their energy and enthusiasm was contagious. There was also a lot of scope for ‘mad shit’ as they so succinctly put it. Have You Got the Demon? was probably the favourite track I produced on the release, and I got to play a wee bit of guitar on it too. I was that enthused with their music and their good vibes that I ended up creating the artwork and shooting a music video for the title track Inky Fingers.
It is utterly ridiculous what you can do with a two smartphones these days. One for filming, the other for lighting. Mental.
Coinciding with the Heart o’ the Run and FY!M releases, I was lucky enough to be involved with the International Exchange Group at the university. The perks of the job meant travelling abroad with a couple of artists from the university, in effect acting as their tour manager. SAINTS and Herborg Hansen were those lucky enough to come under my care. The festival in Germany is called iRock at Immecke, and it’s probably the best one day festival you could ever hope to attend. We spent nearly a week sleeping on the floor of a small outbuilding that normally functions as a rehearsal room, with access to a bathroom in the farmhouse. It was a little crowded, but the glorious weather and access to an unlimited supply of Krombacher seemed more than an ample consolation. The barbeque was lit on the Thursday we arrived and didn’t die out until we left on the Tuesday morning. I probably couldn’t have scripted a better summer sojourn if I had tried. SAINTS were a blues rock band with an early Kings of Leon vibe. They wrote banging tunes with massive vocal hooks in their choruses. If you’ve not clicked play yet, you check them out on the Spotify player at the top of the page!! Herbie, on the other hand, was all about her incredible voice and songwriting. Hailing from the Faroe Islands, she had a unique sound, and was capable of captivating audiences with songs in her mother tongue even though no-one in the audience could interpret the meaning of the song from the lyrics.
More than worthy of a mention, I was introduced to the Canadian contingent that had travelled to Glasgow during the Scottish leg of the IEG tour; The BelleRegards. They are singularly one of the most polished acts I’ve seen live, executing their rowdy folk styles to perfection in every single performance. Incredible songs, incredible harmonies, incredible grooves, incredible musicianship. Just incredible. I was lucky enough to get over to Toronto to check out the music scene for NXNE later that summer, Mitch and Dave from the band graciously hosting me for a few nights. Being put in a position where I could form strong relationships with international artists, festival organisers, and students from my degree year cohort (I’m looking at you, Matt…) was really a highlight of studying at UWS.
The BelleRegards smashing it at Kops Garage, Toronto, June 2014.
Despite the demise of the rock band that had supported me through thick and thin, providing a weekly dose of high volume therapy, I was riding on a wave of productivity. It felt awesome.
In other news, October was a good month. I got this badboy in the post just after my birthday; Carnivores – Let’s Get Metaphysical.
Back to ’09-’14: Sound Over Silence.
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