The Exorcism so Far

Demon has been out for a week or so now and so far we have exorcised three songs.

What do you mean exorcised?

I mean got it all out in the open, shared all the stories, told all the tales.  So far we’ve taken a look at all the behind the scenes, origin stories and nerdy music stuff for three songs.

For Wizards of this Town I talked about working in the Enfield, North London and being so spaced out by the horrible summer heat that at one point I genuinely thought I saw a wizard on a balcony half way up a council tower block.

For Modern World I talked about using the different sections of the song to tell a sort of potted musical biography, including making use of the piece of my music that genuinely got the most negative online comment any of my music has received.

For Weather Balloons (email heading your way on Monday if you’re already on the mailing list!) I’ve talked about my tentacle trilogy. Yes, I have a tentacle trilogy. Don’t you?

Nerdy Musician stuff?

Yes, there are also videos about the nerdy musician stuff. Particularly useful if you’re a guitar player might be the chord charts and tabs I’ve done for all the rhythm guitar parts, and even a couple of the guitar solos (including the whole tone solo from the middle of Modern World, which was an annoying thing to write out!).

Want to join the exorcism?

You can, you’d very welcome.  All you need to do is join my mailing list, which i have temporarily named the Demon List.

Click here to do join

 

Exorcising The Demon

Demon is out!

It’s an album about wizards and demons and tentacles and murderers. But it is also an album about me, about family, friends and home. It’s just none of those things are in the lyrics.

That means all the autobiographical stuff is in the harmony, chord choices, structure and allusions. One song is about changing career and moving to a new part of town, though you wouldn’t know it from the lyrics. Another contains parts of three different pieces of music, sketching out my history as a songwriter. Another uses crossword clue lyrics to say what I really think about humans (hint – I’m not a fan). One is all about the things that haunt us and the reasons we sometimes wake up with an awful taste in our mouths.

And the whole thing is about family and about joy. No it is, really honestly. Yes I know it contains murders and demons. It’s still joyous. It is!

You can hear all the songs and all the stories that go with them by joining the mailing list by clicking here.

If you do, I’ll send you links for all the songs and all the origin stories. It’ll be ace.

Join the list

 

 

 

They’re talking about me! And it’s mostly good. I think…

The first review of Demon is out, in the 100th edition of Prog mag no less.

…And before I talk about that review here’s a service announcement: if you like prog rock, please buy that magazine. It’s a great supporter of the scene and a great publication.

Here’s pic of that review. I genuinely think that the reviewer is a bit confused by the album. Which is definitely on brand for me. But it says some nice things and I am very happy with it.

There are also a couple of nice previews up.

House of Prog: “Demon” is the new album from Tom Slatter, and will be released by Bad Elephant Music on 26th July 2019.

Following on from his highly acclaimed “Happy People” album, and the Murder and Parliament instrumental project, Tom returns with his most personal album yet, heavily influenced by indie rock albums of the mid 90’s.  Read more here.

Power of Prog: “The worlds gone horrible at the moment, so I thought it time for another album”, says Tom of Demon, his sixth full-length album, and fourth release for Bad Elephant Music. Read more here.

Isn’t that nice? People are hearing the thing and no-one’s sent me an envelope full of vomit in return, so that’s not a bad start, eh?

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You can hear three Demonic tracks by clicking here and joining the Demon list.

You can pre-order the album here.

If you’re not gigging, are you a real musician?

If you’re not gigging, are you a real musician? What’s better, gigging online or in the real world? How much effort should I put into being a live musician?

When you’re a kid dreaming of being a musician you want to be on stage. That’s where the magic happens, that’s what being a musician really is. Now I’m older and some of the more annoying bits of life get in the way, but that’s still part of what I want to be doing. If I could I’d perform every day. But… there’s always a but.

Over the last few weeks I’ve played a little online gig every Sunday morning on Facebook live, later posted on youtube.  I haven’t given any warning or promoted them, they’ve just been experiments to find out how the system works. The Facebook figures tell me those three gigs have been watched about 200 times.

Contrast that with the last Tom Slatter band gig which had about ten people in the room. In fact, I can guarantee that more people listened to my little fan club only ‘bootleg’ recording of that gig than heard it live in person.

The Tom Slatter band gig before that had a bigger audience and was probably the most fun I’ve had on stage playing my own music. If I could make gigs like that happen on a consistent basis I would do so.

Playing live is fun. Rehearsing is fun. The travel and expenses are not, and at the level we’re playing at the gig fees do not cover all the costs.

Playing online is also fun. It is not as fun as playing with a band, but I still enjoy it.

So where do I put my efforts?

In the short term, I need to be practical. I have a full-time job that at certain times of the year can be very busy indeed (like now. July is mad for us. I am tiiiiiiiiired). I have time to make the occasional social media post on weekdays and find a few hours at the weekend to either record some music or sing a few songs online.

People tend not to come out to see a concert on a Sunday morning. But listening to some acoustic songs online on a Sunday morning? That’s maybe a thing.

So the regular Tom Slatter gigs will be those.

That is absolutely not to say I don’t intend for there to be more Tom Slatter Band gigs in the future, or more acoustic gigs come to that. All these things will happen.

I’m just saying there won’t be loads and loads of those gigs, and they won’t be the main focus for a while. At least until there’s a bit of a change in circumstance with the whole having-to-earn-a-living thing.

That… that still means I’m a proper musician though, right?

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Here’s the third live video. This uses the camera on my laptop, which doesn’t look good, but that allows me to use my audio interface so it sounds better than the first two. I reckon I’m sticking with this set-up if and until I can afford a better camera. It is music after all, so sound probably matters.

Pre-order the Demon

My sixth album, Demon, can now be pre-ordered from bandcamp. The demon is about to be unleashed. Run away! Run away!

Or maybe, go have a listen to the studio version of Wizards of this Town that’s now up on the bandcamp page as the first single from the album.

Wizards is a song that has been in my live set for a couple of years, first as an acoustic song and then with the Tom Slatter Band. It’s a song about drunkard wizards trying to fix their town through magic. But it is also a personal song. It’s about how I felt when I changed career from teaching – a job that was deeply destructive to my mental health – to the world of charity, and the place I moved to at the same time. It’s about the joy of having people request my songs, about singalong choruses and family and also, yes, about urban magic and drunk inner-city dryads.

Demon has lyrics about wizards and demons and serial killers. But it is also about family and history and my actual real life. I can’t wait for you to hear it, and you nearly can. Just the small matter of finishing up CD printing. Nearly there!

Here’s the pre-order link.

Demon – New Album Announcement

New album!
 
I am very pleased to announce that my sixth solo album ‘Demon’ will be released later this year on Bad Elephant Music.
 
Demon is a set of deeply personal songs, with lyrics about wizards, tentacles, murderers and demons.
Here’s an acoustic video of the first song:

Tracklisting:
 
1. Wizards Of This Town
2. Modern World
3. Weather Balloons And Falling Stars
4. West Wind
5. Patterns of Light
6. Cutting Up All Of Our Dreams
7. Drop Dead’s Punching Above His Weight Again
8. Tinfoil King
9. Demon
 
Pre-orders will open on 10th June. The album will be released on 26th July.

Wizards of this Town – new subscribers only single

I just released a new single to my bandcamp subscribers page, in advance of the new album.
 
If you’re not a subscriber you get to hear it when the new album is released, which will be roughly June this year. 
 
Wizards of this Town was written in 2015 (I think) and has been part of my acoustic set for a while. This is the first time it has been recorded in full band fashion.
 
The summer of 2015 was unpleasantly hot. I was working in a school in the poor end of Enfield. This was my first job after quitting my teaching career (choose life!) for the world of educational charity, so I actually got to take a lunch break on this job. So I’d often walk around the area, having a little explore. That part of Enfield is decades past its prime, but hints of its past glories are still there if you’re looking for them. There are ex-industrial areas, old munitions factories, ruined old canals. There are also drunks and drug dealers in the park, and a general air of an area down on its luck (or down, due to political decisions for all I know).
 
Naturally, I found myself wondering whether the people who lived round there ever tried to change the place through the use of magic.
 
I particularly started to think this after catching sight of a wizard half-way up a council tower block. Yeah, it might have been a load of black laundry out on a balcony. It was a long way away, and maybe in the horrible heat haze of that summer I wasn’t thinking entirely straight but I know what I saw.
 
So I wrote a song about it, with drunkard mages and scared nerdy wizards drinking special brew and casting spells in the council park.
 
In the next couple of months there will be more new subscriber stuff and the small matter of a brand new album. Keep ‘em peeled!

We played a gig!

The first Tom Slatter Band gig happened last Thursday at The Fiddler’s Elbow, as part of a triple bill with IT and Circu5.

Did we do well?

Yes, we did!

I’ve wanted to play some of these songs with a proper band for a very long time. Three Rows of Teeth was released in 2013 and this was the first time that Mother’s Been Talking to Ghosts Again and Dance, Dance, Dance have been played live.  It was also the first time Some of The Creatures… has been played in its entirety, rather than the truncated acoustic version. I even got the mad guitar solo right, which I wasn’t expecting (and which made up for the mistake in Mother’s where I forgot to repeat one guitar bit).

This was the first time I’ve played guitar and fronted a full electric band for a very, very long time and I’m really happy with how it went. Partly that’s because Michael, Gareth and Keith played a blinder (yes, the only big mistakes were mine, unsurprisingly). But also it’s because of the audience. Were there hundreds of people? Of course not! But were there more people than I expected? Yes, there were and plenty of them came along specifically to see our set. The Immoral Supporters were out in force, tentacle fingers and all, which really made my night.

The other acts on the bill were also really good. Circu5 played a great set that was equal parts prog cleverness and singalong choruses. Here’s a link – I really like the song Stars in particular.

I’d seen IT before at the Bedford in Balham a year or so ago, so knew I was in for something proggy but with a groove and pop sensibility that you don’t always find in the genre. They definitely didn’t disappoint.  Highlights for me were ‘Revolution’ and ‘Hands

I can’t deny, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at this gig. After more than a year off stage, this was an exhilarating return to performing. Thanks to IT and Chris of the London Prog Gigs facebook page for making the gig happen.

I’m really looking forward to the next gig which will be in May at the Raising Steam steampunk festival May 10th-12th in Bromsgrove. We’re playing early on the Saturday afternoon, at about 1pm.

All the info is at this link.

Live at last

Next week’s debut Tom Slatter Band gig (we’re not calling it that. Are we calling it that?) includes a couple of songs from Three Rows of Teeth that have never been played live before:

Mother’s Been Talking To Ghosts Again

This is a tale of duplicitous spiritualists hoodwinking the bereaved and gullible. It’s got bits in 4/4, 5/8, 6/8, and three flavours of 9/8. I didn’t write with so many different time signatures to annoy Gareth Cole, but I am glad they’ve had this effect.

Dance Dance Dance

This is a song about dancing in the face of annihilation. Which, let’s face it, is what we’re all doing. Of course, a song about dancing has to have a chorus that’s difficult to dance to. So it’s in 5/4. Of course.

Three Rows of Teeth is an album of sci-fi rock songs, and I’ve wanted to play them properly for years. Next week at the Fiddler’s Elbow is going to be great.

Or awful. There is some difficult stuff here. It might be awful.

Lyrical themes – Dreams and nightmares

There are definitely recurring themes in my songwriting. I tell stories, I sing about murder, about steampunk monsters and body horror, about being at a distance from the real world.

Dreams and nightmares turn up more than once. Here are three examples.

Three Rows of Teeth

This is song is all about dream logic. We start off riding in a hot air balloon, which is then torn to pieces by some horrific sky creature with three rows of teeth. We tumble down to the ground only to be confronted by more monsters. This second set of monsters are evil living church steeples with spindly legs and gaping maws.

It is a strange song, even I am prepared to admit. But one with a great riff in the middle.

Spinning the Compass

The title track from my first solo album is similarly dream-like. Inspired by the Alfred Bester novel, The Demolished Man, this song is from the point of view of a person who finds their world vanishing and shrinking around them, until the very physics of the world shrinks and vanishes and stops making sense. It’s about being unsettled, feeling as if the world simply doesn’t make sense any more.

These Tiny Things Are Haunting Me

This is a fun little song about the tiny monsters that dance about at night, nibbling at your toes and haunting your dreams. The same monsters might be about to return on my next album…

My new album (out soon, I promise!) will continue the theme of nightmare songs.

None of these by the way, are actually based on real dreams. I very rarely remember dreams, but I do know that like lots of people I do have really weird dreams. Most of these songs have lyrics that turned up while I was very awake, most often while playing with various word randomisation techniques. The oddest ideas can occur in the most normal circumstances.

Thanks for listening!