Last Thursday I put the finishing touches and final edits to a new six by seven album. It’s been 8 months in the making and is of course my favourite six by seven album as it’s the most recent but also because it’s the most different. I have always said that after 5 or 6 albums a band should re invent itself and change it’s sound, the best bands do. The most interesting artists have the ability to shake things up, Bowie, Neil Young, REM. As good as Love And Peace and Sympathy was, for me, it was old hat before it even came out. I did write every song on the album, that’s true so maybe it’s a a natural thing to think it’s old hat because as a songwriter you are always moving forward. It defo captured the sound of six by seven from the popish radio rock to the massive emotional heart tugging build ups but it also took a step back in terms of creativity because songs like Crying were written over 6 years before and had already been rejected by the members who were in the band at the time. So why put it on the record? I was given no choice, it was brutal, it was about taking it up the arse for the money to make the record and I compromised.
The band line up that made the record was also on a limited life span from the start. It was a miracle that the album even got made considering the characters and personalities in the band and the general dislike between all the members. You can get away with it when you are young but dragging this around in your late forties is a hopeless affair, especially with such an apparent lack of interest from the Coldplay loving public. Maybe it was a record which could have done well but it didn’t, not in the grand scheme of things.
We played a great gig at Glastonbury and did a short UK tour after which our agent abandoned us, no doubt ‘looking for the next big thing’ to put his dirty fingers on. People kept writing, “play more gigs, come to France, come to America, come back to Scotland!” “Yes”, we cried, “we’d love to, but no one will book us!” We played in Bristol and 80 of you turned up, we played in Leeds and it was even less, it had to be 200 to get a handshake and to get asked back. That’s how it works. We were taking 6 people on the road, staying in Travelodges, 3 to a room and hiring a small splitter van safe enough to travel in. We spent £6000 making an album and more on rehearsing it for months before. The financial returns came in and covered the costs but nothing more. Guitar players expecting fame and glory cried, “Where’s my money, what do I get out of this, we’ve had all these reviews in The Guardian and The Times but where does it lead, what does it do for me?” Keyboard players drank the rider and lodged in The Hilton Hotel and cried, “I’ve had enough of this!” Drummers simply disappeared back to wherever they came from and refused to return calls, texts or emails.
Was it viable? Was it worth it? “Yeah!” ‘Love And Peace And Sympathy’ is a record that is now out there and if anything it’s testament to any up and coming young band to try and get things right first time because, first time is probably the only time.
The music industry sucks, it’s a cliche. It more than sucks, it’s a joke. It’s an old boys network and an establishment where you have to know the right people to make things happen. Sophie Ellis Bextor and James Blunt will always be sitting on the right sofas talking to the right people, playing the game, being nice and profiteering like parasites and pirates swimming and playing around with the sharks. It has of course nothing to do with music, it has everything to do with selling an image, like everything, it is marketing. Bill Hicks put it all in a nutshell, like so many things he said, funny, yeah, a joke, but so fucking brutally true it’s gotta make you laugh or you’ll just lose any vestige of hope.
‘Love And Peace And Sympathy’ is an album that represents putting up with so much shit that sheer perseverance is all you have left. It’s like being Scott in the Antarctic, it’s about carrying on and about survival. You never give up if you believe there is hope. In life there must always be that chance. For me, Art and Music give you the chance to find your way through the snow and the blizzards and the obstacles and seek a path of your own, one that will guide you. It’s about finding a truth and some meaning to all of this.
I don’t know what a band is anymore, I sometimes don’t know who my friends are, I have no idea if an album is a CD or a piece of Vinyl or a download or how many tracks it should be or how much it should cost. Everything has changed so much but it’s not something that worries me, it’s something I embrace. The internet has smashed everything, opened things up and closed them down. The music industry was a fat pig, living on expenses and ripping off the consumer, for years and decades. The internet has cost me a living and made me a living. I’m up for change, I always have been, it’s others around you that aren’t and they will hold you back and throw doubt in your mind and stop you. Mostly these people are your record label and your fans, how ironic don’t you think?
I’m happy with this new bunch of songs and the sound I’ve forged throughout these 12 new tracks. I know why I did it and I know where it comes from but above all, I’ve stopped caring about what people may think and I’ve completely lost the ability to compromise. Will it sell a million and will I be on the sofa chatting to a weird (re)presenter, I hope not!