For the thirteenth time I’ve finished February Album Writing Month.

Did I win? Yes! and no.

The challenge is to write 14 songs in the month of February and I got to 11. So in a way I didn’t complete the challenge. However, I now have 11 new songs all of which I think are pretty good, so that’s definitely a win. Lots of them will end up on ‘proper’ releases in the near future.

Several of these songs were inspired by people who shared pictures, so thanks to those of you who did.

Here’s a little rundown of each.

  1. I Have A Mask.

This one’s inspired by a picture of a weird cat face menu. It wasn’t a mask, but it made me think of masks. Probably the most complete lyric of the month, it’s about hiding behind masks and living a lie.

2. Bilge Rats

Inspired by a picture of a sea monster underneath a ship, this one’s an upbeat almost heavy metal song about rats leaving a sinking ship, and the idiot humans who don’t realise the danger they are in.

3. Dance on a tree

This one’s from the point of view of a child who doesn’t understand why their mother has decided to run away with them rather than have them sacrificed. Look it’s not my fault the subject matter is so dark, that’s the sort of picture people were sharing.

4. High Wire Act

Easily my favourite song of the month Twisty riff, singalong chorus, what’s not to like. Lyrically it’s about mental ill-health, a theme across a few of the songs. It’s about maintaining a calm exterior while on the inside you feel anything but.

5. 50 Million

Every year FAWM throws up surprises. The lyrics hear were inspired by a news story about the royals. I am deeply and unapologetically republican (in the literal sense, not the American party political sense) but it often seems like very few other Brits are. This is an upbeat song about that.

6. Where are we now?

Semi-improvised and with lyrics created by various random means. This one is just voice and guitar and to be honest, I’m not sure what it’s about. Not bad though.

7. Traitor Thoughts

I said High Wire Act was my favourite. I’m not sure that’s right. This one is great too. It’s got all the time signatures and sounds a bit like Radiohead (like 50% of my songs do). It’s another one about mental ill-health too, as it’s all about imposter syndrome. It does that Paranoid Android/Bohemian Rhapsody thing of cramming lots of different sections into a short run time.

8. Lifeline

Big Riff! This one has the big riff! I actually wrote a big heavy metal riff with down-tuned guitars and everything. This one’s about asking for help. It currently has a scrappy out of tune guitar solo that I actually kind.

9. Ghost Stories

The last song inspired by a fan picture. The words came to life after imagining the story behind a hole in a wall, behind which some very old newspaper was found.

This is one of the songs from the month that maybe doesn’t work so well. I think it’s interesting and has some good moments in it though. It’s a study in moving between triplet and straight feel.

10. So Lucky

Every February Album Writing Month, I end up turning out at least one song that’s good but not very me. This one reminds me vaguely of various 90s indie rock songs I would have half heard when I was mostly being a teenage metal head. It’s a bit straight, a bit 4/4 and a bit breezy to sit alongside my other songs, but it works pretty well on its own.

11. Hyperbole

The last song! Inspiration for this? I was listening to a BBC political programme and a government minister mispronounced the word ‘hyperbole’ to rhyme with ‘hyper bowl’. Twice. And I found myself thinking, beyond the ideological madness of the class of people who have been in power in the UK since 1979, the current lot are just so unacceptably stupid. Not my usually subject, but there you go. I was also listening to Therapy?. Remember them? I think I ripped them off a bit for this too.

So there you go. 11 songs that wouldn’t have existed if I hadn’t done February Album Writing Month.

Next steps? Erm…. I’ll record some of them properly for a future release at some point I guess. Probably.

14! 14! 14!

14! 14! 14!

After 12 years of trying I have finally succeeded in writing 14 brand new songs for February Album Writing Month!

Here’s the makeshift cover I made yesterday for the album of FAWM demos. Just put it up for my bandcamp subscribers. Might share it with the rest of the world next week. It’s the audio from the videos I’ve shared recently, but in handy streamable/downloadable form.

I really enjoyed February Album Writing Month this year. I think what clicked was the combination of:

-A permanent recording space in the form of The Nightmare Shed so I could get in and start making music every weekend without having to set anything up.

-The songwriting practice I put in over the Christmas period (these 14 songs are only about half those I wrote over the whole winter).

-Making a video for every song. Because I was singing and playing one guitar part live for every video, I couldn’t go back and perfect every line. So each song had to be finished pretty quickly.

Will I do a finished recording for every single one of the 14 songs? No, probably not. But I think the vast majority will end up as the finished article over the next few months.

In you want, you can hear all the songs over on youtube. Here’s the playlist:

FAWM part 2

As mentioned recently, I’m taking part in February Album Writing Month for the twelfth year in a row.

Here are songs 4 to 7:


I’m a heavy metal fan and there’s a long tradition of writing songs that sympathise with soldiers but are sceptical of warfare. I think that’s where this comes from. First drafts pretty much of course, so everything could be better. However, I did punch in a second take of the guitar solo, hence the dodgy cut. Bits in 9, 4 and 3. Not quite metal, but a bit loud.

What’s Heaven Got

This is ‘What’s Heaven Got?’. Yeah, see I can write to a pop song structure. Verse, Chorus, key change at the end, all of that. *Stewart Lee mode* I can write pop songs, I just choose not to. It’s not of interest to me. */Stewart Lee mode*. 6/8 in the verse, 4/4 in the chorus. What I like about FAWM is that you turn out songs you’d never write otherwise.

Keep it close

No idea what the words are about, but I like the way they sound and that’s what matters I mispronounced the very first word and the intro is long so the video shows me just standing there listening. And I had to do a second take for the second half to turn out a half decent solo. But I am still pretty happy with this one.

You’re lying to yourself

I wanted to do another fast twisty one to go with ‘Rats’, so I made this. It’s got bits in 5 and 7 and 4. The middle section needs more work and I need to write a second verse rather than just repeating the first, but I really like the main riff and chorus.


February Album Writing Month 2020

It’s February, and that means I’m taking part in February Album Writing Month. The challenge is to write 14 songs in the month of Feb. Or, as it’s a leap year, 14 and a half.

I’m three songs in so far. Here they are. Just rough demos of course, but you get the idea:

Even Here

This is my first song for this year, written and recorded from scratch in about three hours. It’s a demo of course – everything’s one take. A main section in 10/4, with an interlude in 3, building up to a scrappy one take guitar solo at the end.

Red Moon

Red Moon was written in even less time than my first song, Even Here!

It’s about a red moon that is in some way evil. I dunno.
I recorded the guitar and vox in the video to a drum loop, then added the other layers. Then decided I needed to mute the guitar when the mellotron comes in, so there’s a bit where I’m playing guitar in the video but you can’t hear it.

I like the chords in this.

Mummy’s Gone Now

This is Mummy’s Gone Now, a song in two halves. Part one is 7/8 moodiness, part two is up tempo rock.

14 in a month. I think I have the sketches for the next 3 done, so getting to 6 is doable. After that? Who knows.