Men of the World

This song was originally supposed to be a collaboration with Paul ‘Hoopshank’ Turrell, a wonderful songwriter who I knew from FAWM. We never got round to finishing it together, and he died relatively recently so now we don’t get to work together at all.

I said, Hoops, wanna collaborate?

He said, yeah, shall we do something a bit Genesis? Maybe a bit like Can-UtilityAnd the Coastliners?

I hadn’t heard that, so I listened once then over the next few weeks this song turned up. I lost lyrics wrote it in my head whilst commuting, which is a bit unusual.

Hoops heard it and liked it, but never found time to do the keys and drums that he was going to add.

I finished it for the album.

It’s about sailing ships!

Rehearsals tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the first rehearsal for what the thing I am not going to be calling, but actually is the Tom Slatter duo.

Does that sentence make sense?

Gareth Cole is going to come play guitar and do some backing vocals I haven’t finished doing tabs for him (Sorry, ran out of time). The studio is a new one to me and I have no idea of it has air conditioning. I haven’t had time to practice my parts much and we don’t actually know if the songs we’re planning to do will work in a duo format.

Nonetheless, I reckon it’s gonna be great. What could go wrong?

Summer Acoustic Gigs

So I’ll be playing a few gigs over the summer. These will be as an acoustic ish duo with the assistance of the lovely Gareth Cole on guitar and backing vocals.

I last worked with Gareth on this song from the last Mike Kershaw album.

Here be the gigs:

July 7th – Acoustic Delight Ish

Andy Tilison, Tom Slatter and Jack Arthurs at the Voodoo Cafe Darlington, UK

I’ll be the middle act from a bill that looks to be proggy, singer-songwritery and really rather fab. Here’s all the info.

July 8th – Airship Northstar 2 – Berwick-Upon-Tweed

I’m the opening act on the Saturday of this weekend festival. It promises to be all sorts of steampunky fun. Details can be found here.

August 1 – The Far Meadow and Tom Slatter in Watford

I’ll be supporting the progtastic Far Meadow at The Horns in Watford. Here’s a facebook event. 

August 4 – The Surrey Steampunk Convivial – New Malden

Once again I shall be playing at the Surrey Steampunk convivial at the Royal Oak New Malden. This is a steampunk event, and to my mind one of the best. Here’s a facebook event thingie.

Please do come along!


Happy People song by song 9: All of the Dark

All of the Dark is the conclusion of our story. At the beginning of the album our protagonist was escaping the clutches of the evil, totalitarian government and going in search of his lover. But after her death in Fire Flower Heart and his last, explosive act in Set Light to the Sky, he has nothing left. He therefore chooses the only option left. He goes back to where he started.

Make me less than nothing,
Make me smoke, mist, gone,
Can you take all of the dark,
All of the things that I’ve seen?

This song is about the negation of the self, about giving up yourself, your personality, your individuality, the pain and dark and hurt. It’s about making yourself empy, numb, nothing.

And in a cathartic kind of way, it’s the most uplifting song on the album.

Composition and recording

All of the Dark is the longest track on the album. Nevertheless it pretty much follows standard pop song structure. There’s an intro, a verse, chorus,second verse, chorus, middle section, third verse and final chorus. But as I wanted a long song that really had room to breath, every section is stretched out. The intro, first verse and first chorus have a lovely lo-fi feel to them, before the last two thirds of the song kick in to something a bit more rocky.

It’s mostly in 6/8, apart from the rocky bit where we have some metric modulation into 4/4. It’s mostly in Bminor, except for the first ‘oh-oh-oh-oh’ section where we briefly modulate into F# Minor.

Here’s the demo (note that my default on a one take this-will-do-for-the-demo lead guitar thing is to widdle like a bad 80s metal player):

As you can hear, the most notable change is the extension of the middle section. This was following one of Jordan’s suggestions:

  • This one can go in many directions – of all the tunes in the album it’s the one I’d dissociate from the sound of the electric guitar, wherever it’s not riffy. Wurlitzer, Mellotron, String Quartet. All nice and lo fi / down sampled / messed up. That way the quasi thrash middle bit will be extra brutal!

  • I would actually accentuate the Slayer feel there – a bit like what happens in Arriving Somewhere But Not Here by Porcupine tree.

  • Bonus points if you quote the Happy People chorus melody in the last solo. I know it’s in 6 / 8 🙂 ACTUALLY – and please feel free to say no because it’s a crazy idea. How about doing a Happy People chorus, lyrics and all, right between the thrash bit and the 6 / 8 at the end? I don’t even know if it works but it would give a nice circularity to the album.

To an extent we followed all of these, though i don’t think the middle section quite got anywhere near Slayer territory.

Things I love about this song? The lo-fi feel in the opening, the nod to the facebook group’s bullying of me in the middle section (the voice spells out the word ‘album’ backwards in the NATO phonetic alphabet because… well, this explains it), and most of all the epic feel to it. This feels like a proper album closer to me.

Worth noting is Michael’s great drumming, he really gets the feel right, and Jordan’s great bass work. But most of all, all the little extras that Dan threw in there. His ideas include – the harmony vocals (a bugger to sing for some reason, but he was dead right), the messy guitar in the middle section (deliberately messy), the synth sound just before the recapitulation of the verse material near the end. Loads of little touches that really made this song for me.

And we’ve got to the end of our story here. Not a happy ending. Having escaped and sought freedom, our guy has now returned to the machine. His rebellion is dead. He’s smoke, mist, gone. Just another Happy Person.

Happy People Song by Song:

Part 1: Happy People
Part 2: Name in a File
Part 3: Satellites
Part 4: Flow my tears, the policeman said
Part 5: Even then we’re Scared
Part 6: Fire Flower Heart
Part 7: Tracking Signals
Part 8: Set Light To The Sky
Part 9: All Of The Dark