2015 – All going in the right direction

2015 has been on the whole a positive year all round. There have been low points as there are most years but generally the year has been very productive. I have covered a lot of this in previous blog posts but here is my annual review.

I have really settled in to the job which I started in December 2014. It has really highlighted that I am capable of more than I gave myself credit for and also how much better off I am when not surrounded by negativity. The support and encouragement shown to me by my new colleagues has done wonders for my self-confidence. I am very happy and I really hope I can stay at this place for a long while.

This is the first full year for ages where I have not been involved in any venue/gig organisation. I am working on a gig in February at the 1-in-12 club (more news on that to follow) but nothing in 2015 and I have not missed it I have to say. I have done a number of nights DJing at The Black Swan throughout the course of the year. The pub is under new management now so whether or not these continue next year remains to be seen. I’m happy to get to do the odd night, it keeps my hand in. It will be coming up to 20 years since I started as a DJ.

Music-wise it has been a very positive but irritatingly not-quite-there-yet year.

Suicide By Cop was retired at the end of 2014 and we entered the rehearsal room in January with essentially a blank slate. We expanded our numbers and became a 5-piece and decided on the name Echofire. There were 4 songs which were carried through to the new project. We added a 5th and set about recording them with a view to releasing a 5-track EP. This was started at Voltage Studios. The first part of the year seemed to be very encouraging but around about spring time we lost the momentum. The recording project was shelved in order to concentrate on getting a set together for a June gig. This would have to involve covers in order to make the numbers up. For many bands this is fairly straight-forward but not so for us as we all have different tastes and so consequently it ended up with all of us suggesting songs which not all of us particularly wanted to do. We managed to salvage a couple and resorted to playing another old SBC song. The one gig we managed to play in reality came across as “SBC with a new guitarist playing one new song and a couple of covers”. Although the gig was OK despite Paul’s amp dying half way through, I came away feeling rather despondent and disappointed with the whole thing. It should have been so much more and so much better. Echofire was clearly not ready yet. After that we just kind of treaded water for a while and external Summer commitments rendered us out of action for a couple of months. When autumn arrived we started on some new music and I started doing some more work on the recordings. This injected a bit more positivity into it for me and although I have only to date mixed one of the songs, it has been a very positive and exciting learning curve. We were to be playing another gig in the December but this had to be cancelled due to health problems. In reality we were not really any further forward than we were for the previous gig and it came as some relief when we were no longer playing. When I look back on the year, overall I am very happy with what we have done so far but would’ve liked more of it. Next year we have decided to not think about anything other than writing new material and hopefully we can get an album and an entirely brand new set together. I will finish producing the EP and get that out of the way too.

Dawn of Elysium began the year with plans to record an album and in the main, this is what we have done. All of the recording work has been completed and production work has been progressed fairly well. There is still a fair bit to do. Martin Hawthorn is in the chair for production but autumn commitments for him have rendered studio time very thin on the ground. We have a little time over the Christmas period and we’re hoping to get it finished in the early part of the new year. Both Martin and I have got other studio projects which we want to embark on. We released an EP, which consisted of “The Last Time” – a song from the album, the recording of “Smoke and Mirrors” we did in 2013, a remix of the newly recorded version of the same song and a cover of Status Quo’s “Pictures of Matchstick Men”, which has been very well received as a live number. There are 10 tracks in progress for the album. Overall I think Dawn of Elysium is sounding much more professional, due in part to the time spent on pre-production and production of the album as well as regular rehearsal. We haven’t played very many gigs this year, just 5 in all but we hope to improve on this in 2016 and also to get a bit further afield.

In the spring time, I contributed to a charity single. It was a cover of the Gerry and the Pacemakers song “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, which featured a number of celebrities. It was released in aid of Bradford Burns Unit in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Bradford City fire. It was recorded and produced by Tim Walker at Voltage Studios. I played the majority of the guitar work on the single. We were both totally unsure of how it would turn out at first but after a short while, we got into the swing of it and I think I managed to put my own stamp on it. It was very well received and I was proud to be part of such a project.

Since the beginning of the year I have expanded my collection of recording studio equipment and am now fairly self-sufficient. I have learned much and am now producing results which I am very happy with. I have a few tentative plans for future recording projects but there is still a lot to complete before I can think about them. So, 2015 has had lots going on but to my eyes not much in the way of complete results. Hopefully 2016 will bear more fruit.

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