A New Song – The Steam Engine Murder and the Trial of Seven Bells John

The Trial of Seven Bells John

1. The Prosecutor:

We’ve heard the accusations,
We’ve heard the counter claims
I say you’re guilty sir,
The evidence is plain

The blood upon your clothing,
The powder in your hair,
The looking glass smashed to shards,
And no-one else was there,

Tell the truth,
Say it plain,
There’s not a jury in the land would clear your name

We’ve heard the accusations,
We’ve heard the counter claims
No matter what you say, your guilt is plain

2. Seven Bells defends himself:

Your honour what you’ve heard here
It makes a saucy tale
The truth is I’m not a saint
My good intentions fail,

On the night in question,
I was on the train it’s true,
But not in the ladies cabin,
Past the hour of two,

Don’t believe the things they say
Don’t believe the deeds attached to my good name

You’re honour what you’ve heard here
A travesty, a joke
I’m honest as a summer day is long.
I’m honest as a summer day is long.

3. The Newspapers

Come read the latest news of the villain Seven Bells,
Murder on the locomotive, a journey straight through hell,
Three shots fired and one shot struck, pistol to the head,
The only alibi that could get him off free from a witness who has fled

A criminal who claims that he has changed the way he lives,
Previous convictions of the kind you don’t forgive
Says he met the lady for an honest tete tete
Left her in her rooms before the hideous event.

Come read the latest tale of a twisted murderer
Innocent girl shot to death just because she turned him down
Pay no mind to his stories or his wicked lies,
The only path to justice is to see that the villain Seven Bells Dies

4. Seven Bells Contemplates his Fate (Instrumental)

5. Summing up

You’ve the sordid details,
You’ve heard the saga through,
The evidence presented
The verdict’s up to you

A woman left for dead
on crowded midnight train
the killer fled into the night
But we all know who’s to blame

So say it right and say it true,
Guilty is the verdict you must choose

We’ve heard the accusations,
We’ve heard the counter claims
Now Seven Bells has got a price to pay.
Seven bells has got a price to pay.

Why Pay What You Want?

I’ve just made a few changes to my bandcamp.com site.

As well as adding some new quotes from some of the lovely people who’ve reviewed the album, I’ve changed the payment scheme from ‘free’ to ‘pay what you want’.

What does this mean? It means anyone who wants to download my music can choose to pay what they can afford/ judge it to be worth. I’ve left the free option, as I want people to hear the music and to have a copy on their mp3 player of choice, but I’ve also given the option of paying actual real money for people who want to do that.


I love composing and recording music, and would like to be able to do so full time in a few years time. My bills aren’t going to vanish though, so this is the first step in working towards supporting myself through my art.

Several other artists I admire already do this. There’s the famous Radiohead example, but as well as that Matt Stevens and Steve Lawson also offer their music in the same manner. Amanda Palmer does this too, though I’d be hard pressed to say I admire her.

So it seemed the way to go – we shall see if it works out.

In the meantime, here’s my current favourite song of Spinning the Compass, Lines overheard at a Séance:

<a href="http://tomslatter.bandcamp.com/track/lines-overheard-at-a-s-ance">Lines Overheard At A Séance by Tom Slatter</a>

It Ain’t Steampunk If There Ain’t No Goggles

The rather talented older Slatter brother who can be found at www.thedarkpower.com has been making some steampunky goggles.

I’m making some steampunk goggles for my brother. This was kind of going to be a secret but the desire to tell people was getting too strong and he emailed me earlier and suggested doing a steampunk music video for one of his songs, so it seemed like a good opportunity to mention it to him.

They’re made of various bits of junk: the main body is a set of plastic welding goggles covered in leather effect material from a table mat that I got from a pound shop. The main eye extension thing is one half of an old set of binoculars that I got off ebay and there’s half a pair of old glasses attached to a medical probe on the other eye…

Read more by clicking here!

How I wrote ‘Lines Overheard at a Séance’

    Lines Overheard at a Séance began life as an improvisation for last year’s 50/90 songwriting challenge. I turned on the keyboard, sat down and began to play. The only decision I made beforehand was that I was going to start on a slightly unusual chord: D/C#

    Before long I had the rising bassline and out of kilter chords. The lyrics came to me at the same time, exactly as you hear them on the recording – in fact I’ve only ever played and sung this song once: everything you hear from vocals to piano to bass is all one take and semi-improvised.

    Lyrically its what the title suggests – I’m not too sure any more explanation is needed.

    Here’s the original demo:

    Lines Overheard (Demo)

    There’s a red red room that I can remember
    With a clawing branch right outside the window
    And I’m not breaking down

    On a cold cold night I saw something evil
    Turned the red red walls a deep shade of grey
    And I’m not breaking down

    Won’t you tell me where the last one is?
    There are ghosts in my dreams,
    But I can’t hear them

    Two New Steampunk Songs

    I’ve started contributing to the 50/90 songwriting challenge, and already have two new songs. Here are two acoustic demos:

    The Beast of the Air

    We Sprang into Motion, When they told us the news
    Half a herd snared by the beast of the air
    Propellers a-whirring, we took to the sky
    Off to ensnare the Kraken

    And as we rose higher, our engines a-blur
    A strange copper tang, filled up our lungs
    The scent of the kraken, afloat on the breeze
    Grew stronger the closer we flew

    The beast of the air wails a song
    Wails a song to keep us dreaming

    An eye through the clouds
    Tentacles reaching
    An eye through the clouds
    Tentacles bewitching

    The beast of the air wails a song
    Wails a song to keep us dreaming

    If the lights were never switched on

    They say history changed that day
    When they tried to switch the lights on
    Half a thousand dead
    When the tried to switch the lights on
    Maybe bad luck, maybe poor design
    But they changed the law that day
    Now we’ll never switch the lights on

    A century of mining
    Of oil spills, and gas explosions puncturing the earth
    A century of digging
    Gave us blackened skies and ruined fields and cities filled with smog

    And from this balloon we see
    The world encased in iron
    And from this balloon we see
    The world we used to have
    And from this balloon we see
    The world encased in iron
    And from this balloon we see
    The world we used to live upon
    before we turned her sour

    How I Wrote ‘Bad Dreams’

    Bad Dreams, the fifth song from Spinning the Compass is one of my favourite of all the songs I’ve written.

    It began life as a short song for the 50/90 songwriting challenge, the absurd summer competition where songwriters challenge themselves to compose 50 songs between July 4th and and October 1st. Here’s the original demo:

    Bad Dream (Demo)

    As well as the production values, there are some obvious differences – I’ve since composed an entire middle section that foreshadows one of the vocal lines from the end of the title track from the album (‘They’ve been spinning the compass again…’).

    I’m really happy with the solo section after the second verse, which borrows heavily from Frank Zappa, via all the Steve Vai and Dream Theater songs I’ve listened to. The structure of the song, with it’s three verses portraying various nightmares, was heavily influenced by ‘One More Red Nightmare’ from King Crimson’s ‘Red’.

    Does that leave anything original in the song? I don’t know, but I’m still really proud of this one.

    The cables break
    Car begins to fall down
    An electric flash and I’m heading for the ground
    All around me people panic and scream the cables break
    Another bad dream

    Bones begin to fall down
    The ashes begin to rain
    Red washed cry a strangers cry of pain
    Your safe safe world is nothign like it seems
    Bones begin tof all down
    Another bad dream

    They’ve been spinning the compass again
    Changing the rules as we play
    These Bad dreams are spinning me round
    With this compass a way can’t be found
    They’ve spinning the compass again.
    Spinning the compass again.

    Flashing knife broke through my guard
    A bolt of light dazzling my eyes
    Trip and stumble red water in the stream
    A flashing knife
    Another bad dream

    A Puzzle to Solve.

    My first is in steam, but not in engine
    My second is in engine but not in trial
    My third is in love but not in trust
    My fourth is my second come around again
    My fifth is in never and not in freedom
    My whole is a number to enter in here

    Solve the puzzle, figure out the password and you get to hear a new demo song. Fun Eh?