29 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 18 how pigs make music

28 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 17
La Gran Guitarra arrives at the drugstorecave and the air is filled with excitement! I'm now turning-off from the known universe and switching into the sloppy recesses of my little demos. Had to take a pic with the new black-beauty, but camera no longer has a working timer, so had to pose in front of the cave-lounge mirror...
As a desaparecida, I will leave you in the company of two intrepid, but open-hearted young boys, about to embark on a great journey into the darkest corners of the human heart. My own copy of this book has been held, grasped, curled and cried upon so many times, that now, no longer with its dustcover, it more resembles an old beaten-up bible, of some mad barefooted preacher. It is painfully dark and utterly desperate, but then..., You know in the last few pages, when Billy wakes-up, after having kicked El poor dog out the night before? - (...oh man, that 3-legged beast kills me, the wretched little thing, totally fucked-up by life, but still waggin' its tail...), but for some mysterious reason he then goes on looking for el perro? Isn't that a sign that, despite the unbelievably treacherous evil descent, there still remains in the heart of everyman some need to connect, a primeval string of compassion and love that links us all? Your task this week: read this masterpiece while I'm away, let's talk about it later.
"We think we are the victims of time. In reality, the way of the world isn't fixed anywhere. How could that be possible? We are our own journey. And therefore we are time as well. We are the same. Fugitive. Inscrutable. Ruthless."

26 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 16 - of human kindness
Today I briefly want to talk about the beauty of unexpected acts of kindness. I never keep track or a life-tally of either good, bad or the occasional ugly thing that comes knocking on my cave. I see life as a wonderful amalgamation of all of those things. But sometimes something happens, hits your life straight out of the blue yonder, an action of unprecedented kindness, that it stands out like a lit match in a sea of darkness, that you cannot help but be moved and intrigued by it. I have thought long and hard about the nature of goodness; It is an old debate that still leaves philosophers, scientists and believers divided, and I must confess, I'm nowhere closer to understanding its nature, but feel grateful that I have, on occasion, being able to witness such acts at close quarters. A week ago I posted an email to drugstore fans with a link to this blog, adding as a postscript: "now accepting donations in kind or kindness", as a joke, really, as "kind or kindness" was a term much used by cab drivers to prostitutes in the 18th century, returning back to East London from a busy evening in the West-End, "So...how would you like to pay, luv, kind or kindness...?". Anyone who has been following this blog/facebook/twitter is aware that I've been recording my demos with a nasty, untunable Kay guitar. Last night a complete stranger sent me an email with a link to Chappells Music Store, it read: "just pick the guitar you want and it will be delivered to you." Let's take a minute to contemplate. I felt overwhelmed, and still do.
After a short-lived struggle, decided to accept the gift, as I don't really see any point whatsoever in being proud, as it is the shameless, the one's that have a never-ending appetite for life that deserve to inherit the earth, the moon and everything else beyond.
So there you have it. Acts of kindness do occur, still don't know how or why, but mighty pleased they do! ps- need to add that drugstore fans who cannot send me expensive guitars or a Tiffany's bracelet, should not feel bad, for even the smallest act, (ie- an email, a comment on this blog, updating the drugstore website, plugging the Dingwalls gig etc) also have their own beauty, as they're all made from the right stuff.

25 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 15
The drugstorecave has been buzzing with activity. Managed to finish a couple of demos and feel an unashamed sense of achievement, not only because it's always exciting to turn the abstract into something tangible, but I also feel pretty good about having overcome some of the ridiculous shortcomings of the ministudio set-up itself: dodgy stereo leads held together by old masking tape, noisy cables, missing bits of software and so forth. Have now resigned to the fact that sound quality will remain fairly poor, but taking comfort in the fact that, in this instance, core content hopefully more valuable than sound quality. I've been doing all my singing very quietly, as trying to keep a low-profile and not upset the neighbours. Although I'm happy to be 'the only smoker in the village', not terribly keen on being the 'noisiest'. But singing quietly really suits most of the stuff I write anyway, as it gives it the intimacy I'm after, that is often lost in the controlled environment of a professional recording studio. Had a call from a musician mate of mine, who for years has been trying to get his band off the ground. As usual, I dreaded asking what's been happening with his band, for inevitably it leads to the same old answer: "nothing much, really...". I often think about how our lives are shaped and how some people seem to move in the right direction, while others are left behind. Around the time we released our 2nd album, I was often asked if I believed in fate and whether some things were meant to be; I'm not surprised, given that the album was called 'White Magic for Lovers'; A good title, I think, but one that has led to a great deal of misunderstanding, that has for long troubled me. 'White Magic for Lovers', the song, was not advocating faith in the occult and obscure, but acknowledging our inability to overcome loss, and how we completely lose sight of reason when overwhelmed by emotion, that was all. There is indeed no masterplan, and our lives are just a result of our actions, what we actually do, and its interaction with everything else that happens around us. So we can and should take a good share of responsibility for what happens to us. We cannot, obviously, control what happens out there, but that is part of the excitement. So please, next time you see me, avoid giving me any 'lucky crystals', as they'll be mercilessly thrown away, alongside anything else that is remotely vague. As for my mate, who is still trying to get his band off-the ground, and hoping that 'something, someday, will turn-up', I hope he takes note: Dear Alex, if you really believe in your work, I think you ought to do something about it. Maybe start a website or a blog about your band, upload some of your demos, open the door, and then, who knows, maybe then something good might happen.

22 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 12
Finding it difficult to remain away from the real world and spending the time I want to spend in the ministudio. Real life never stops demanding. In the past I used to do my demos at that remote Led Zep cottage (Bron-y-aur), no phone, no TV, just the occasional ledzep fan peering through the window. Had another place I used to go to in Cornwall, which didn't have the added entertainment of dazed'n'confused ledzep fans lost in the woods, but had the extra bonus of a heated pool. Here, at home, there's always stuff going on and I have to make a real extra effort to switch off. The Drugstore gig is coming up and bringing with it its delightful carousel of rock'n'roll paraphernalia, and me being its proud custodian, have a fair share of stuff to deal with. Today, I have restricted a friend's visit to 1 hour only (will have a timer at hand). Tomorrow, doing a photoshoot. Will try to squeeze in every possible second into recording the demos. I'm excited, and just want to get to the day when I'm uploading some of my music here. I never really thought of myself as a songwriter, but instead, as a storyteller of sorts, but for stories to come to life, they need to be told and need to be shared with someone else, otherwise they remain vague expressions of an unfulfilled possibility.

16 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 6
Very productive day at the cave. Having spent the last two days reading the terminally unreadable "user manual" of the new portastudio, managed to put down a few drum tracks and sang on a couple of songs. The set-up, as usual, is slightly improvised, with an old tripod standing for a mike-stand and bits of sellotape hanging things together. I've often felt that my life has always been held together by the flimsiest of sellotapes, a mere hint of a breeze and the whole lot gets displaced. But that in itself, the feeling that you're always just hanging in there, can have a positive effect, as you become used to improvising and adapting yourself to any corner, whatever shape and size. Been thinking about shapes a lot - just shapes; how sometimes things just fit, without any effort. That has become a near obsession, having things fit just right, without a struggle. Funny how we seem to spend so much time trying to make things work. I have now come to see that, often, if something needs to be worked-out until the morning light, then it will probably never be a smooth fit. You see, the things that have remained with me, are those that fell beautifully into place, and before I could even acknowledge its existence, had already claimed a place in my life. And so to songs, I could never imagine trying to make "it" work. Sometimes, something just fall into place in such an unprovoked way, that it is hard to ignore it, and those are the ones I keep. Tomorrow I'm meeting Daron, go through a few ideas, try to decide on a setlist of sorts and a few other things for the London gig. I can hardly contain my excitement. Had a dream about the gig last night, my mum was in a room close to the stage, but couldn't see the show, as she didn't have a ticket. There - that should keep all the "would-be" Freudian Pathos Hunters busy for a week or so.

14 July 2009


13 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 3 - Today, due to a serious lack of provisions, I'm forced to leave the drugstorecave.
Spent the last few days working on drum patterns/loops on the computer and coming-up with some basic structure for a few of the songs. I always plan to just record the most basic beat (just a click or a tambourine), but always end-up getting carried away, and programming every single bleedin' cymbal crash, and a drum structure for every part of the song. I've settled on 06 songs to start with, which is already going against the plan to just focus on a couple. Playing the songs side by side on the acoustic and with some beats, I'm beginning to feel that they all belong to a shared landscape, where the Bad Seeds meet Calexico, in some obscure deserted bar, in which all manner of life gets twisted and comes to a head. There's a country feel, but the setting is a lonely urban desert. will need to come up with some dirty-fuck guitar slides. The mystery of the shaker has been solved. It all came back to me - it was given to me by a little indie band called LaHonda, pretty positive about that. There's been so many tours and bands we've met, after awhile it all becomes just a single happy memory, if a little hazy.

11 July 2009

---------------------------------------------------------------------- day 1 - The mini-studio is up and running. Spaghetti junction worked out and cables are connected. Found a piece of a broken tambourine and a shaker, which I think was given to me by the guys from band Headswim (?) or some other band we toured with. Will spend the afternoon just playing a few songs, and picking out 1 or 2 to start with, work out a rough pace and key. Spent the last couple of days clearing up the mess I'd created while painting the desk with blackboard paint, which sounded like a fxcking great idea at the time, but quickly turned into yet another mini-diy disaster. it looks good though. This is a good spot - huge windows, no neighbours - I feel I could be in the middle of nowhere. Phone's switched off. I've got coffee, bread and wine and 2 extra packets of marlboro lights.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- INTRO - Follow the process from despair to inspiration, as I gather ideas, demo new songs and plot the new Drugstore album. anatomy - from the Oxford Dictionary: • noun (pl. anatomies) 1 the scientific study of bodily structure. 2 the bodily structure of a person, animal, or plant. 3 a detailed examination or analysis.

I have never lost, even in my darkest hour, the sense of absolute awe, the desire to understand everything that surrounds me, and a profound compassion for it all.

the past 7 years -
Drugstore went into hibernation and I fell into a music-free coma. Within a couple of years I was lost in the mist, stuck right in the middle of a bad script, set in the desolate landscape of a Cormack McCarthy novel, being shot by Polanski on a very tight budget. Scary. Making music was but a fuzzy memory, and I could not imagine ever having the drive or desire to play guitar again. About a year ago, having ridden out the worst of the storms, I unexpectedly started to write, and out came a bunch of songs, then another, and another. By this point, I had long sold my music gear for a few pounds on Gumtree, and all that remained was a cheap'n'nasty acoustic guitar, which is the one you will hear on these demos. At some point I started filing my ideas in a drawer called Anatomy.

the demos - I moved to Kew at the beginning of the year, and that brought a much needed sense of normality back to my life (just). I was hoping to start demoing the new songs the same way I've done on the previous album (Songs for the Jetset), taking my time and down to the smallest detail and overdub. With the upcoming Drugstore reunion gig at Dingwalls (07/09/09), I've decided to change gear, and just upload some pretty Rough'n'Ready demos. Once the craziness of the gig passes away, I will go back and start over again, with time at hand, to add all the little dubs/sounds I hear in my head. So, please, keep in mind, the stuff I'll be uploading here are PRE-Demos of the Demos, put down very quickly, and will probably sound very rough. I was never very good at recording to start with. I know nothing about equalization and my new portastudio (kindly donated by r.v.m.) has dozens of buttons and knobs that will forever remain a mystery to me.