2019 – burning bright

This year so far has seen a veritable flurry of activity.

The start of 2019 saw Dawn of Elysium release its second album “Raven”, expand from a 3-piece to a 4-piece and play a kick-ass launch party at February’s Carpe Noctum, where we rather nervously followed the formidable Sometime The Wolf. It was an awesome night and great to play to a reasonably full house. The album has been well received and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved with it. It’s a much shorter work than 2016’s Time and Tide but much more complex in a few ways, with many layers. A lot of work and energy has been put into it and its completion saw me somewhat spent.

I’m not entirely sure how we are going to follow it up just yet. The beginnings of writing sessions with our new guitarist Tim Furze have shown some promise. However, I am minded that we should not merely do “more of the same” and that somewhat of a paradigm shift in sound is required. I am sensing frustrating times ahead to some degree but we’ll get there I’m sure.

On the live front, it has been a different story. We played a mini tour over the spring bank holiday weekend, which saw us play 3 consecutive dates in 3 cities over 3 days. This was very exciting and great for us to be spreading our wings a little. Of the dates we have booked in 2019, there are no plans as yet to play in our home city of Bradford. This may change but at present, we feel it is more fulfilling for us to play in different places. So far this year, we have played Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester and our next one is in Scarborough.

Crash Scene Flowers has continued to roll along, jamming and writing. We have become a very tight knit unit both creatively and personally. I have not had as many laughs in a band in years. We gel so well together, it’s unreal. Our set is expanding bit by bit and we managed to play at one of The Underground open-mic nights a couple of weeks ago. At just six songs, we still need a little more material before we can gig proper but we’re not so far off. The set was well received and we managed to get some footage. The audio was recorded by Dave Godby, multi-tracked from the desk and so I took it home and produced/mixed it. I was very pleased with the results. Video was filmed by Phil Pollard using a mobile phone. At least it’s the beginnings of us getting out of the rehearsal room. We have more gigs coming up over the August bank holiday weekend, where we play Scarborough and Idlefest. I am still itching to get into the studio and do some recording proper. We’re just waiting until the timing is right for us all.

Crash Scene Flowers – Voight Kampff recorded live at The Underground 06-06-19

Regarding Scarborough, it deserves more of a mention. Over the last 3 years or so, Emma and I have made quite a few new friends in Scarborough and have come to know the local scene to some degree. We get over there whenever we can, although visits seem short and few. Seeking a gig over that way, I got in touch with one of the main music venues “The Apollo” and booked Dawn of Elysium in for a support slot in October. However, this was expanded on and we were then invited to play at a goth all-dayer on 17th August called “Shadow Of The Castle“. Since this, I have been in touch with the promoters at The Apollo fairly frequently online and in conversation I happened to joke that with all of the Bradford bands I was recommending, I could probably fill an all day event with some great bands. She told me to go for it and thus the idea for “Bradford By The Sea” was born. After the 2016 gig at the 1in12, I really didn’t want to do any more events. However, this was a chance to take some great Bradford talent and put it in another town and the team at The Apollo had been lovely. It is at the time of writing a work in progress but there are a good half dozen acts confirmed with a good mix of sounds. More news on this as it unfolds but it is scheduled to take place on Saturday 24th August. Interest has been high and I suspect there will be quite a few making the journey over to the coast for this one. I have personally felt a connection with Scarborough for many years and always look forward to returning. The people are amazing and we always have a whale of a time.

In addition to Dawn of Elysium and Crash Scene Flowers, I have recently joined Bradford punk legends Threshold Shift. These guys have been together on and off with various line-ups since 1988 and have been very dear friends of mine for the last decade or so. It’s early days and we’ve just had the one session so far but it gelled straight away and we got a good half dozen numbers together. We are gonna get together as and when we can and hope to be playing reasonably soon. It was great to be playing a bit of punk rock again and look forward to rocking it live.

All of the above has seen me very busy and studio projects take a bit of a back seat. I love studio work when the inspiration takes me but sometimes, it is not as forthcoming. It’s exacerbated by the fact that my day job involves a lot of close computer work and sometimes my eyes and head are done in after the working day. There are a few things I need to catch up on regarding studio work, comprising projects for/with friends, solo work, developing ideas for Dawn of Elysium and finishing off the editing and mixing of the Crash Scene Flowers live footage. My head just hasn’t been in the game for a little while and the live work has been a welcome antidote. I am hoping to redress this balance in the coming weeks and it has been plaguing me that I have been letting people down, especially one person in particular for whom I care deeply and is having a rough time of it of late. As busy as I am, I don’t forget.

Of course, none of the above could happen without good work and home life and I am very happy to say that both are fantastic. I am loving my job immensely and house and home are wonderful. I have some beautiful friends and family around me and life is very positive right now πŸ™‚

Hope you are all enjoying the summer!

Advertisements
By Alec Posted in Blog

2018 – a fertile affair

We’re 14 days into 2019. After a heavy going festive period, both for partying and feeling sub par due to recovery and head cold, I have just this last week been getting back into the swing of things.

2018 was a great year in all which saw Dawn of Elysium enter its sixth year of existence. Our live calendar improved significantly on the previous year, taking in 11 gigs. Most were in Bradford and Leeds but we managed our York debut and also had a great night in Keighley. Hopefully we can improve on this in the coming year and get a bit further afield. It’s always been our aim to get about more and indeed we have had things arranged in the past which have often not worked out for whatever reason. Still, we shall persist. In the summer, I got a new vehicle which is ideal for band activities so it would be nice to use it as such πŸ˜‰

I’ve enjoyed the collection of material we’ve played as we’ve tried some new ones this time out. We’ve been working piecemeal on the follow up to 2016’s Time and Tide pretty much since the album was released and a collection of recordings had been almost finished for quite some time. I am happy to say that it is now complete and release is imminent. It will be nice to clear the decks and finally commit it to CD.

Last January, I founded Idle Hands Studio. It’s just a moniker I gave to my little project studio and an online platform from which to talk about my projects and technical interests.

The first real project I did was to complete the EP which we recorded when I was in Echofire. I have mentioned this a number of times over the last couple of years and wrote some liner notes to accompany the release, which I published in June of last year. These can be read here.

In September we released the Dawn of Elysium Divide and Conquer EP, which is essentially a small collection of alternate versions and covers of existing songs. The title track is one which I wrote for Suicide By Cop a decade ago and I had been meaning to record an alternative version for some time. More info on this and the other songs on the EP can be read here.

Last month I started some solo recording. It’s all very embryonic but I have a calling to do something of my own this year and I am very excited about it. What shape and how long it will take remains to be seen but I have a strong idea for my first song at least. It’s a sketch at the moment but now that the DOE album is finished I will be turning my attention to developing it further. Although I am happy with programmed drums for many things, I have been speaking with a drummer friend of mine about recording some live drums for this particular song. Not only does the style lend itself particularly well to it but his playing will fit perfectly. More news on this project when it starts to grow legs. Hopefully this will pave the way for more collaborations. I’m feeling more motivated than I have for quite some time.

The band we put together in September 2017 finally started gaining some traction. The original line-up ultimately didn’t work out as bassist Kenny decided last January that it wasn’t for him. This left us bass-less and in limbo for a couple of months but in some ways reiterated how much we wanted to do it as we stuck together. In April, we were joined by Chris Brooks, with whom I played in the Reeved days some 15 years previous. He hadn’t played for quite some time but fit in with us immediately. We named the band Crash Scene Flowers and it started to feel like a solid unit. This was further augmented in August when we were joined by guitarist Mick Barrett and thus became a 5-piece. Mick had actually been my replacement in Echofire but aside from that, we go back years. It was great to be finally playing alongside him. Despite rehearsal time not always being consistent or plentiful, we ploughed forward. The chemistry and creative energy has been excellent, not to mention the camaraderie. Although not having had sufficient material for a support slot proper, we managed to play a short set at the jam session in our local pub The Brewery Tap, Idle in November. It wasn’t much but it was a start. It was great to be back playing live with a rock band for the first time in almost 2 years. Much as I love DOE, it’s quite a different type of gig with a different vibe. Crash Scene Flowers is a very organic thing which I love and am looking forward to eventually committing the material to disk. However, I am really looking forward to doing it live.

I have played guitar now for almost 30 years. I’m not the most dexterous of players and my theoretical knowledge is rudimentary at best. I get by, playing mostly things which I create myself by ear and it brings me great fulfilment and enjoyment. I have held a keen interest for years in effects but have hitherto not paid as much attention to raw tones, the bread and butter sound which is affected by guitar, amp and overdrive/distortion stages. Until fairly recently, my guitars have been often cheap ones which feel reasonably comfortable to play and sound “right enough” and I adjusted whatever multi-fx unit I was using to compensate. This served my needs fairly well and I was quite happy with the sounds I achieved. A few years ago, I bought a Gibson Les Paul from a friend and I became very aware very quickly that it was better than anything I had played before in terms of both feel and sound and I was also becoming aware of the plethora of pedal and amp setups which many of my guitarist friends were using. Earlier this year, I embarked upon a little journey of my own to discover and understand tone to a greater degree than I had before. I set about putting together a pedal board, consisting of mostly analogue tools. I covered this in more detail on the Idle Hands blog. It has been quite an enlightening experience to finally gain an understanding of some of the more fundamental aspects of my chosen instrument.

All in all it has been an interesting and fulfilling year in many ways. My home life is wonderful. We’ve made a few home improvements and earlier in the year we got a little cat, which has been a little dream of mine for many years. She’s a mischievous but adorable little soul. The most awesome summer in living memory brought many barbecues and garden parties not to mention days out. 2019 already feels like it is set to follow suit. I am happier and more positive than I have been for a long time and loving life. Here’s to more exciting times ahead!

Summer 2018 – feeling hot hot hot!

Last year was a very eventful, chaotic and musically unproductive year in the main. This year is seeing some things come to some semblance of fruition.

Dawn of Elysium have spent the first half of the year playing some live dates after a lengthy period out of circulation and in need of a break from recording activities. It has been just the tonic for all of us and we have played what I would consider some of our finest performances to date. I really feel as if we are evolving as a band and have started turning heads who have hitherto been uninterested.

This gig season has held some especially memorable moments. Special mention goes to our March date in Keighley with Black Horse Fairy and Echofire. This was a personally very poignant night as not only did we share the bill with Echofire but Paul Gooding joined us on stage for Pictures of Matchstick Men. This was the first song his dad Steve taught him to play on the guitar when he was a small boy and we played it as a surprise for him. It was great to be sharing a stage with my old sparring partner and I for one would like to repeat this or do something else together at some point. What shape that might take is anybody’s guess.

We played the last one on 22nd June at The Primrose in Leeds. I am not sure what was going on that night but I have not enjoyed playing a gig that much for many years. It was one of those nights where everything just felt right.

We have a couple more dates in the calender but have tentatively returned to recording/writing mode. Since plans for the second album seemed to be taking longer than anticipated, our intention is to release an EP in the interim.

Regarding studio activities, the first few months of the year saw me make a final concerted push to finish the Echofire EP. It was an intense period as I was determined to put it to bed and get it sounding the best I could. I am very pleased indeed with the results. I released it on my own Bandcamp page as a free download. Echofire have their own page and release with a very different lineup and I wouldn’t presume to interfere with that.

The EP is my first full work under the new Idle Hands Studio moniker and after its completion, I needed to give my ears and head a break. In addition to this, the last few weeks has seen some particularly hot weather hit the UK and so the studio room has not been the most hospitable of places to spend a great deal of time.

Last September, I came to the decision that I’d like to set up a brand new rock band. Starting from scratch certainly doesn’t get any easier as you get older and even securing adequate rehearsal time can be problematic at times. However, on I ploughed and managed to get the first line-up together at the start of October. It was a promising start but as one might expect at these initial stages, not for everybody. After a couple of months, our line-up issues were resolved as we were joined by ex-Reeved bassist Chris Brooks. We named the band Crash Scene Flowers and have since been working on our initial songs and sound. The style I am playing is sort of a natural continuation of what I was doing with Echofire and Man Down but maybe a little more grungey.

This has been a very exciting breath of fresh air for me as I am working with people I have never worked with previously, namely singer Jamie (Jimmy Pop) Sullivan and a really talented drummer called Kyle Grundy. I always had a great relationship with Chris back in the Reeved days too. We are gelling nicely and getting used to each other’s way of working. There is also the possibility of us introducing a second guitar into the mix, taking us to a 5-piece but at the time of writing has yet to be tried. My goal for the band is to have something recorded and to have played some form of gig before the year is out, with a view to getting out more next year. I have played just two non-DOE gigs in the last three years, one each with Echofire and Man Down respectively, therefore I am probably more determined than ever that this progresses beyond the rehearsal room walls.

Stay moist!

Allegiance

This latest pondering has been inspired by a variety of different events, conversations and suppositions. In the interest of the piece not becoming self-defeating, I think it best to clarify, it is not about any one thing.

I have friends who are thankfully many and varied. Some much closer than others obviously but I enjoy connections with a number of people in my life. In the main, I try and maintain friendships as best I can and always with an open mind. Life often gets in the way of sustaining regular contact with people I admit but I am of the opinion that friendship endures time and distance. I’m happy to pick up the page from whence it was left, no matter the time elapsed.

What I find unfortunate is when friends turn against each other or take issue with each other. I struggle to handle that as it becomes difficult to keep a peaceful head and it becomes even more troublesome when there is an expectation of allegiance from one party over the other. I have been in the position a few times over the years where I have “picked sides” and almost always regretted it at a later date for a number of reasons. To every story there are usually three sides, consisting of the respective viewpoints of the two parties plus a third side, the truth. Unless I am in full possession of the facts and directly affected by them, then I don’t actually feel qualified to reach any meaningful conclusions, let alone take issue myself. I find it more unfortunate when the party who expects my allegiance ceases contact when they suspect it’s not forthcoming, rather than discuss it with me. I am left with no choice at that point but to question the friendship which is sad indeed.

I have learned a lot of this the hard way as I freely admit there have been occasions when I have been at odds with individuals (fortunately not many) and friendships have been tested by my attitudes. Thankfully a life lesson which was learned and closed a long time ago.

I think the bottom line is I endeavour to be loyal to all of my friends and to remain peaceful as much as possible. As I have stated in previous posts, if I am your friend then I shall always be. Whether you wish to be mine or not is your own choice but of course I hope you do.

Peace out!

By Alec Posted in Blog

Echofire – Run EP β€” Idle Hands

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=3533433614/size=large/bgcol=333333/linkcol=e99708/artwork=small/

This is a project I have been working on for some time, as and when time or inspiration has allowed. Echofire is a band I was in a couple of years ago and this EP is something we started but never finished in the time I was in the band. Recorded and engineered by TimΒ […]

via Echofire – Run EP β€” Idle Hands

By Alec Posted in Blog

Ten albums that changed my life

So this one has been doing the rounds on social media so I thought I’d do it justice by writing a blog article. The remit is “Ten albums which changed my life”. It differs slightly from what would be my top ten favourite albums I guess but not significantly so. It’s a mixed bag if nothing else. I wrote the first of what was intended to be a series of articles a couple of years ago entitled “My life in music Part 1 (1980-1991)” from which this article borrows heavily in parts.

My awareness of music began at an early age. My dad played a huge part in this, regularly putting his huge Wharfedale cans on my head as a small child. Each speaker was probably as big as my head. It was the late 1970s and it was mostly the pop music of the day but one artist of significance was Stevie Wonder. He was a family favourite and still is at least between my Uncle and me. These were my very early formative years and Stevie has been with me for all of my life. It’s difficult for me to pin down a single album of his as they were all brilliant. Although not his greatest work, I am going to go for “Hotter Than July” as my first choice. The 1970s were Stevie’s decade and everything he touched turned to gold, although I needed to be a bit older to have an awareness of this. Hotter Than July was released in 1980 and was his last great record and since I have a memory of it being played when it was new, I have decided to opt for this one as one which changed my life. I was five years old. The ballad “Lately” has been a lifelong favourite and one which I often like to attempt on karaoke. The album also spawned the hit singles “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” and “Happy Birthday”. This was years before I commenced my journey into rock music and my appreciation for Stevie Wonder has been the subject of some surprise for people over the years, especially through the “long hair and biker jacket” years. Whilst Hotter Than July is a great album, my most favourite era of Stevie Wonder is his trilogy of albums “Talking Book”, “Innvervisions” and “Fulfillingness First Finale” released 1972-1974. Quite simply, the man is a musical god and his music will stay with me whilst ever there is breath in my body.

I grew up listening mainly to pop music throughout most of the 1980s. The radio was always on at home and my dad always liked to watch Top of the Pops. It was a fantastic era for music and even the most commercial hit singles were well crafted. Long before the era of manufactured bilge, artists had to actually write their own material and do it well to get anywhere. One album which sticks out especially is Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” from 1984. Trevor Horn’s production work was legendary (in fact it was arguably more his album than the band’s) and the songs were brilliantly crafted. It was quite progressive in nature, featuring long form songs and remixes of the popular hit singles “Two Tribes” and “Relax” as well as a kick-ass version of Springsteen’s “Born To Run”. It has been some years since I listened to this record and writing this piece has inspired me to buy it again on CD.

My first favourite rock band and inspiration to start playing guitar was definitely Dire Straits. I can’t recall exactly how I came to originally discover them but I remember being 13 years old and immediately obsessing over them. I had all of their albums on cassette and played them all on constant rotation. The first one I bought was the compilation album “Money For Nothing” and so I guess I should say this is the one which changed my life. However, the Straits album I keep going back to is their eponymous 1978 debut. I guess because it’s probably a bit more miserable than the rest of them but the production is just sublime. In contrast to the huge epic production of Welcome to the Pleasuredome, it’s simple back to basics rock. Very carefully crafted and considered guitar tones just melt through you, complemented by Mark Knopfler’s evocative semi spoken vocal. “Sultans of Swing” was the hit of course but this album must be heard in its entirety and on vinyl.

In my mid-teens, many of my school friends were getting into the heavy metal of the day. It was the late 1980s and Iron Maiden, Guns n Roses and Metallica were the sounds of the day. Although I was to later catch up with them, I was on my own journey of musical discovery. My dad’s friend Paul had recommended an album to him which was to change my life forever. That album was “Trespass”, the 1970 album from Genesis. I fell in love with the band in a huge way and later bought their entire back catalogue, along with various related solo releases. It’s a significant body of work. Although not an obvious choice for fans of the band and progressive rock, Trespass was my first love and it remains to this day my favourite album of all time by any artist and unsurprisingly Genesis remain my favourite band of all time. Every track on Trespass is a masterpiece. The textures and soundscapes are beautiful from organic acoustic guitars to heavier rock passages and Hammond organ. Peter Gabriel’s amazing voice sits wonderfully in the mix taking you on a journey. From the opening line of “Looking for Someone” I was hooked. To the average Joe, the name Genesis tends to be synonymous with Phil Collins, yet he was not to join the band until the album after this and this was sadly their last with creative genius Anthony Phillips. I really can’t recommend the band enough. Every album has some absolute gems on. Fans of heavier music tend to favour the Peter Gabriel era which was pre-1975, up to and including “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” but I love all eras of the band. Genesis started my obsession with progressive rock, taking in music from Yes, King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator/Peter Hammill, Marillion and later Pink Floyd which leads me nicely on to my next choice.

I had not really paid any proper attention to Pink Floyd until around 1994. I was a regular in the Mannville Arms pub in Bradford and the legendary jukebox contained “Wish You Were Here” and their new release “The Division Bell”. I remember the first time I heard “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and I was blown away. I proceeded to regularly invest many pound coins in putting the albums on constant circulation in the pub.
For me, it’s difficult to pick between the two as to which one changed my life but The Division Bell has endured as my absolute favourite Pink Floyd album. Often derided by Floyd heads, I think it is their best work. Although I loved their earlier work with Waters, by the time they were doing the likes of “The Wall” and “The Final Cut”, the band was losing itself in Waters’ ego. “Animals” was their last great album with him. After his departure, it took the band quite some time to find its magic again with David Gilmour at the helm. “A Momentary Lapse of Reason” had some great moments but The Division Bell was on the money. Sadly it was to be their last proper album. I never tire of listening to it and watching David Gilmour play “High Hopes” live a couple of years ago reduced me to tears. Quite simply magnificent.

Throughout my life I have always been a huge fan of moody and atmospheric music and so discovering Fields of The Nephilim felt like all my Christmases had come at once. “The Nephilim” was my gateway album to goth. It was 1991 and my friend Adam introduced me to this music. His older sisters had been goths throughout the 1980s and he was exposed to it first hand. I promptly went out and bought everything I could find by the likes of The Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim and The Mission. I transferred “The Nephilim” and “Dawnrazor” onto a cassette, one album each side and it lived in my Walkman most of the time. There were never many of us who were into goth in our circle of friends and I guess in Bradford at least this largely remains the situation. My attention drifted onto other musics over the years and it wasn’t until much later in life that I rekindled my love for goth and formed a band of my own. It was really a toss-up between this album and “First and Last and Always” by The Sisters of Mercy and were I not limited to 10 albums, then both would surely be included. They both changed my life at around about the same time and in the same way.

Like many of my peers in the late 80s/early 90s I started listening to heavy metal. It took me a little while as I didn’t take to it at first but I eventually got into it at the age of 16/17, which is around about the same time I started going to the plethora of rock/alt pubs and clubs we had in our city. I guess my gateway album to metal had to be Metallica’s “…And Justice For All”, which I discovered just before the “Black” album was released. Of course the Black album became ubiquitous for many years and there are probably thousands of bands out there across the world who are playing a cover of “Enter Sandman” at any given time. I preferred the harder sound and progressive nature of Justice. I remember regularly rocking out to “Harvester of Sorrow”, “One” and “Dyers Eve” on the dancefloor of Bradford Rio’s on a Friday night. Like the obsessed music fan I was, I promptly went out and bought the back catalogue of not only Metallica but the “big four” as well as many many other bands. Out of the thrash bands, Slayer were my favourites with special mention to “Seasons in the Abyss” which is one of the few metal albums that I still listen to from time to time. That’s not to say I don’t still like metal and I particularly enjoy it live. Metal has introduced me to lots of my friends over the years and it’s a brotherhood that I still feel very much a part of even though I’m more on the periphery these days.

My love of goth and my love of metal were both serenaded in about 1993/4 when I discovered the likes of Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema. They were the big three of the underground in the early to mid 90s and although I kind of stopped following their work in subsequent years, those early albums remain a big influence on me to this day. It is so difficult to pick one album from this era but Paradise Lost’s “Shades of God” was the first one I discovered. Their follow-up “Icon” was a Mannville jukebox favourite as was My Dying Bride’s “Turn Loose The Swans”. Special mention goes to My Dying Bride’s “The Angel and the Dark River” who’s opening epic track “The Cry of Mankind” was a firm favourite. I happened upon a bunch of guys one night who had been trying to get a band together for some time to play music of this style and I immediately got excited. They needed a bassist. I owned a bass. I ended up becoming the guitarist. I loved playing in Dark Embrace and my thoughts and playing often hark back to those days. 1994-1996 was an awesome time to be in Bradford and a great time for underground metal. It essentially came in three flavours, death, doom and black and any mixture of therein. My standout memory from this time was playing with Solstice and Anathema at Rio’s. It was an awesome night. We ended up taking the Anathema lads round the corner to the Underworld club for a late pint after Rio’s closed. We had to ask the tour manager’s permission and he said “don’t be too late, they have to play London tomorrow”. I think we ended up getting trashed and leaving them in there at about 4am. Great days indeed!

Many of my musical influences ran in parallel and round about the same time as I got into metal, I also liked indie. The standout album for me was The Stone Roses eponymous release. Where the metal brought dark and shade, the Roses brought light and I enjoyed many a night in Tumblers nightclub dancing away to the likes of The Stone Roses, Suede, Blur, The Smiths, The Wedding Present, Carter USM, PWEI, Happy Mondays and many more. Special mention goes to The Smiths “The Queen is Dead” which remains one of my all time favourite albums and one of those rare cases of every track being blindingly good. Much of this was before Oasis emerged onto the scene who I never really got into that much. They were a sort of poor man’s Roses in many ways with the personality of a road accident.

I have always had an appreciation of punk but it wasn’t really until about 2000 that it came to the fore. The musical style changed my life but it’s difficult to pin it down to a single album but for me I think it has to be The Adverts “Crossing The Red Sea”. It has a perfect mixture of melody, power and creativity whilst keeping it simple. TV Smith has a great voice which reminds me of Peter Hammill at times. I have an appreciation of punk in all its forms and I loved playing it in my band Wild Trash. I am more into the first wave, more melodic stuff than the hardcore stuff. Other notable albums are of course The Damned’s “Damned Damned Damned”, The Ruts “Grin & Bear It” and Adam and the Ants “Dirk Wears White Socks” as well as the most obvious example of “Never Mind the Bollocks, here’s the Sex Pistols”. Being a part of the punk scene was an amazing time and it’s something I intend to do more of in the future.

Bassist required for original alt rock band

Bass guitar player required for new and as yet unnamed original material alternative rock band.

We rehearse at Voltage Studios, Bradford on a nominally weekly basis.

We have a small number of songs so far, taking in influences from Rolling Stones, Smashing Pumpkins and Dinosaur Jr amongst others. We have a very wide range of influences between us and are still in the process of finding our sound. This is the ideal opportunity for someone who is itching to be a part of a new band, creating some original music.

Own gear essential, own transport preferred. Age not an issue. The rest of us are in our 30s and 40s but we’re not fussed whether you’re 20 or 60 as long as you are keen and can play.

If you feel like this is the gig for you, then please get in touch at one of the addresses below. We are very keen to get cracking!

Please help us by re-tweeting or sharing this message with anyone you feel may be interested.

https://northern-stories.co.uk/contact
http://twitter.com/alec_marlow

By Alec Posted in Blog

The work of Idle Hands

After some consideration, I have decided to create a new blog and Twitter account specifically to document my studio activities, essentially treating it as an entity in its own right. It’s early days yet with little content but I aim to expand as I go. It will be very Dawn of Elysium-centric for a while as the album is my main project but I will be doing more different things as time goes by. I have named it Idle Hands. Feel free to read/follow as you wish.

Web – http://idle-hands-studio.co.uk
Twitter – http://twitter.com/IdleHandsBD10

By Alec Posted in Blog

2017 – Order through chaos

This year has been about pretty fundamental life changes. All of them good and most of them hard work. I didn’t realise that settling down could be so chaotic!

We have relocated home twice this year. We made the move initially from the city centre to the area of Idle where we had a fairly troublesome 6 month tenancy. The owner of the property had some considerable problems which affected us directly and quite profoundly. It was a disappointing experience overall because we saw ourselves staying there for much longer but it simply didn’t work out in the end.

In the summertime, we found ourselves moving once again, this time on a much more permanent basis. Our new place is lovely and not too far away from Idle. Minor teething troubles notwithstanding, it has been relatively stress-free since we moved in. Moving home is fairly traumatic as it is and after having done it twice in such a short space of time, it’s not something I wish to repeat.

We barely had chance to catch a breath when in late summer, Emma and I got married. Of course us being us, we simply had to do it in Las Vegas with an Elvis impersonator. It was an amazing and full-on experience. The autumn was taken up with a couple of parties which we arranged in October and November respectively. It was so lovely to share our experience with so many family and friends, some of which we hadn’t caught up with for a while and some who had travelled some distance to be with us.

Since then, the chaos of wedding and parties turned to the chaos of Christmas. Not having much chance to plan, it has felt a bit more rushed than usual. We are looking forward to our first married Christmas together in our new home.

So amongst all of the above, music has been much less prevalent. I started the year with Man Down but ultimately this did not work out, which I have talked about in other blog entries. Looking back, Man Down was a short flash of something which seemed to appear very quickly then disappear just as quickly. We recorded and released the Christmas song “Man Down the Chimney” around this time last year and had one fantastic gig but despite having some strong material, the project didn’t work out as we had hoped. It lasted about a year all told, starting in May 2016 and after I left in April 2017, it lasted another month or so before the remaining members went on to do other things. If truth be told though, the bottom really fell out of it in the new year. I still have all the rehearsal recordings and there’s some great material so perhaps we can do some proper studio recordings at some point. Mikey has expressed an interest for the two of us to work together again and I have missed him dearly since the band, so we’ll see what time will permit.

Dawn of Elysium has still ploughed along in the background. We played just 3 gigs this year and released a single in April. Our profile has been lower for a while as we’ve been trying to write and record new material. Given the upheaval described above, this has not been easy. Of course Emma and I are in the band together so music has not always taken priority. We were hoping to release a second album or at least an EP this year but it just hasn’t transpired. Don’t get me wrong though, there’s some fantastic material being developed, which may take listeners of our music by surprise. However, there is much work to be done before it’s a releasable entity. I think it is ultimately time to take a step back and give it some space. You can lose yourself in the writing and recording process at times and I think we have all missed actually playing our songs and doing gigs. So, in 2018 we have decided to do just that. We’ve a couple in the pipeline already and are on the lookout for more opportunities to play.

The frustration of Man Down not working out and lack of live activity led me to start looking for a brand new band in September. My intention was to steadily get something together with a view to starting in the new year. As it happened, it came together quite quickly and we kicked off in October. It’s still early days and we don’t yet have a name but ideas are flowing. Most of us had never worked together before and barely knew one another so we are still very much getting used to playing together. I suspect it will be a little while before we’re ready to get out there but we’re enthusiastic.

Since we moved into the new house, I have finally achieved a bit of a personal goal which was to set up my little home studio. When we lived in the apartment, there was never any space to set it up properly and there is only so much you can achieve with headphones. I began setting it up in the house in Idle but when it became apparent that this would be temporary, I was reticent about doing much with it in anticipation of packing it all up again. It’s only a small space but it’s reasonably comfortable and very usable. I have recorded and mixed bits and bats in there and I’m improving each time. There is a whole host of activities and projects I want to do. I have toyed with the idea of starting a new blog to describe the studio in more detail and document my progress, I just need to apply more focus, which is something I’m hoping 2018 will bring.

My immediate plan however is to enjoy Christmas in my new home with my new wife and look forward to a bit of relaxing winter sun in the new year as we take off for sunnier climes for a few days. Have a great Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Riding the cloud again

I have always been an over-thinker and over-worrier. I don’t know the root cause of it but it drives me insane at times, especially during the darkest days of the year. I guess some aspects of my childhood were not straightforward, particularly in my school days. I always think people think the worst of me or are mocking me (even some people whom I consider friends). Common-sense suggests that they are not but it’s difficult to focus on that when your head is in a dark cloud.

It’s a self perpetuating exercise to seek reassurance because I believe that comes across as needy, which is seen to be a socially negative trait and so the anxiety continues. Most of the time, it seems to make the most sense to simply say nothing. Although in contradiction to that, some might see me as emotionally expressive anyway. Believe me, there is a lot which I keep to myself.

I suppose being creative exacerbates this, where often work goes ignored or uncommented on. That’s just the way it is, the nature of the beast. Although music is something which should be a personal expression done for ones self, feedback, be it positive or negative is not only reassuring but very useful. You know where you stand to some degree. Absence of feedback, especially from those who’s opinions you value the most contributes to the crushing self-doubt, which most musicians or artists will recognise. It’s not that one seeks approval so much as seeks a frame of reference from which to move forward. Silence and indifference are so much more a cause of anxiety than anything negative and because I consider music to be an extension of the self, it feels to me like being physically ignored at times. It’s never been about recognition or popularity, it’s more about connection or lack of.

As I said though, superficially it’s the nature of the beast when being part of something musical and will always be thus. I just keep on keeping on, doing what I believe in and for those kind enough to take the time to connect, I am truly appreciative. As for these low ebbs, I just sit tight and ride the cloud.

10 years on – the more things change, the more things stay the same

Ten years ago, I once again started frequenting an old haunt of mine called The Mannville Arms. It was called The Head at the time and had been subjected to a great many changes since The Mannville of old had closed in 1995. Located just across the road from Bradford College, it was very much a student pub with a student vibe. It hadn’t hosted anything particularly noteworthy until my friend Tom started there, apart from some DJ nights with Steve, the manager at the time. There was a general feeling that a change was going to come. Mick Dunn was working the bar and he decided, in conjunction with his brother Billy to buy the lease on the place with a view to restoring the pub’s name and vibe. Tom booked the bands and I jumped onboard as a DJ, primarily doing monthly nights but also the odd additional session. I’d been a DJ since 1996 at the Smithy and Empress pubs.

The more I used the place, the more I got involved. It was very infectious. It had always been my favourite pub of old and it was amazing to see the resurrection unfold. I eventually became ents officer for the place, overseeing the entire roster after Tom left and loads of people got involved in the burgeoning scene. At one point, there was some form of entertainment on every single night of the week, be it live music or DJs and punters flooded in.

It was awesome. There was also a real sense of renaissance in the Bradford music scene at large as more and more places turned their attention more to live music and DJ nights. We tried to establish a collective called the BMC (Bradford Music Collective) to attempt to collaborate and cross promote. This worked to varying degrees and most folks were very helpful towards each other. However, despite pleasantries, there was often an ever so slight underlying air of territorialism as quite understandably, everyone wanted to make sure they had their fair share of punters. There were only so many people to go around after all and bills had to be paid. It’s this territorialism which has plagued Bradford over the years, sometimes more than others, which any landlord or manager of one of the city’s venues, past or present will testify. It can be a tough and at times political game.

It gave me many a sleepless night and caused a number of mini-breakdowns as well as self-doubt and doubt in the trust of others. Friendships were tested as I got too close to what I was doing and I became defensive in the face of criticism. Tensions were high.

After the closure of the Mannville in November 2009, over the course of the next 7 or so years, I was to be involved in other venues, each time running myself ragged. I stepped down from regular involvement in 2014 and organised my final event at the beginning of 2016. By this time, the landscape had changed considerably. Old places had closed, making way for new places and new faces. Things seemed on the surface to be very convivial.

After 20 years of being involved in Bradford music scene events in some capacity, I did my last DJ gig on the New Year’s Eve of 2016. My lifestyle was changing. I was ready for the next phase of my life which involved moving away from the city centre and settling down a bit. I’ve still had my bands and I will always be involved in creating and playing music but the events game is not for me anymore.

So far in 2017, I have relocated home twice and my trips into town have been sparse. However, I have kept in touch with people and keep my ear to the ground as much as I can. I sense that between some parties, the politics is still ever present and with it the ill-feeling, mistrust and territorialism which have for years plagued Bradford. I have no reason to not remain neutral and I do hope that differences can be rectified for the sake of the customers above all else. When I was in the thick of it, we were stuck in the middle of a major conflict between venues. It was all very uncomfortable. The punters voted with their feet, ultimately away from the city centre and everybody lost out. The people who learned from that lesson are all now out of business or have moved away and it took a while for things to improve again. It would be a real shame to see things deteriorate again. The traits I recognise from myself of that era, I have noticed in others in more recent times. For those still involved, I would urge you to take a step back from it once in a while, settle your differences, try and cultivate a culture of support and trust and above all else, be positive. People really dig that!

A hunger still unsatisfied

Last Friday, I came to the decision that I would like to start a brand new band to commence in earnest in the new year. I have come to the realisation that there is something missing for me in the musical things that I do and life is passing me by at an increasing rate. I want to be more active in a band and have more fun.

That is not to say that I am not happy with Dawn of Elysium by any stretch.

I love what we do and what we do is good in my opinion. However, in order to get the material to where it needs to be is not the easiest of things. It can be laborious to create, especially with the absence of a drummer and I also struggle to write the lyrics a lot of the time. Then I feel restricted in my guitar playing because I am also singing lead vocal.

When the material is ready to gig, opportunities for the more appropriate gigs seem to be limited, which I can maybe attribute to the nature of the size of the goth scene versus the number of bands that promoters have to accommodate. Despite some very encouraging and very appreciative audiences, progress is positive but comparatively glacial in pace.

We have tried additional (non-goth) gigs where possible and on the occasion where we can get the bookings, there simply doesn’t seem to be the audience. Perhaps people are simply not taking to it, perhaps it can be attributed to not enough promotion. In reality, it’s probably a bit of both. Although there have been those who have really enjoyed it, I have heard the phrase “I think you are great at what you do but it’s not really my cup of tea” a number of times. I’ve given CDs to people to listen to hoping for some feedback only to be met with silence. It simply is what it is and unless I am really missing something, it can never be anything else.

It has a whole lot yet to offer creatively and I will continue with it enthusiastically. It’s five and a half years since we started up and despite my sounding a bit negative, I am loving it more than ever and not about to let it go any time soon. I still believe in what we do, despite feeling a little disheartened at times. There’s no objective right or wrong when it comes to creating music, only what you believe is right for yourself and Dawn of Elysium is certainly right for me within the confines of itself.

However, what I really miss is jamming and creating music organically with a like-minded bunch of people, including live drums. Being able to relax behind my guitar and have some real fun.

Reflecting back on what I have done over the years. I think the last time I was truly happy in this type of situation was pre-2013 Suicide By Cop and the Wild Trash days. Grafting the rehearsals, getting out and playing gigs and perhaps having a bit of a decent following in my home town as well as playing a little further afield (something I have always, always wanted to do more of).

Anyway, 2013 onwards saw SBC grind to a halt. We attempted to reinvent and reboot the band with Echofire and despite us writing some great material, it never regained its mojo and lost momentum to the point where I felt unable to continue with it as it stood. This was remedied for them by getting a new line-up together and continuing with a fresh resolve, the results of which have been fantastic.

As an antidote for me, I set about getting a new band together, which became Man Down. Despite the odd flash of the old spirit returning in the latter half of 2016, it also ultimately suffered from lack of momentum which coupled with a bout of ill health led me to bow out of that project too. On reflection, I maybe threw myself into that too soon. It certainly wasn’t a waste of time for me because I had some great times with some great friends and it did let off some steam. Musically it lost its way in the new year of 2017 for me and that coupled with all the personal challenges that this year has presented me with led me to realise it wasn’t for me at the time. The by-product of it however is that there is still a band of sorts in existence with a new line-up so it hasn’t been a waste at all. I have not heard much of their progress but it all seems very encouraging.

So that brings me to here, the latter half of 2017 with many of the recent personal challenges out of the way and space to think properly.

Have I been fickle? I don’t think I have. In the last 8 years since 2009, I have left two bands, the former of which I stuck with for 6 and a half of them. Much has changed but much has stayed the same. I still have that hunger, that need to create and bounce off other band members. I have done some bits and pieces with friends in a home studio situation but I got stalled with that too. I need to get into the rehearsal room, make some noise, rock out, get sweaty and get excited then get out and play my bollocks off on stage.

To that end, I have put feelers out and am in communications with a number of people. There is a singer/lyricist who is itching to get going with something and a keyboardist whom I have been talking with for months about doing something. It sounds very encouraging. We have yet to get together and talk properly but I think the sound we produce might be of an alternative/indie/rock/punk vibe, judging by common influences. We will need a like-minded drummer and bassist to get things going properly and as such we’ll be actively looking and I will put a more concise advert together.

Musicians wanted for brand new band/project

I am looking to start up a brand new band to commence in earnest in the new year of 2018. I have many influences, covering a wide range of musical styles. I’m a rocker at heart and like riffs but also a well constructed song. Over the years, I have touched on a few different sounds from punk, metal, prog and goth but I prefer to see where the music takes me.

Initially, I am looking for a drummer, bassist and vocalist/lyricist and maybe a keyboardist but very much an organic approach throughout. I am equally open to working with new people or people with whom I have worked before and I’d like it to be democratic from the get-go. Let’s leave the egos at the door πŸ˜‰

I would prefer to play predominantly original material and would be looking at a nominally weekly but flexible rehearsal schedule at Voltage Studios in Bradford with perhaps monthly gigs to come when the band is ready.

If this sounds like the kind of thing you’d like to get involved with, then please get in touch.

By Alec Posted in Blog

2017 so far – restless frustration

We’re halfway through the year so I figured a round up of 2017 so far was appropriate.

It’s been a year of changes and frustration in the main, a very different animal from 2016.

From the get go, we had decided to terminate our tenancy at our old place and relocate. It was time for us to move on. We had been in our city centre apartment for a number of years. It had served its purpose and we had a lot of happy memories there but we wanted somewhere we could have a quieter life with a garden. City living has its advantages but it’s not a place to settle down and as time went on, its shortcomings and limitations became all the more evident.

Moving home was a big upheaval. It’s not something I have done very much in my life and it’s not something I want to do many more times to be honest. Finding somewhere was stressful due to the market being very active. It seemed as soon as places came up, they were taken almost immediately. So January was taken up with finding somewhere and after we found somewhere, February was taken up with sorting and moving.

We were in our new home by mid-February, situated close to the village of Idle, which is where much of my family are from and where I spent most of my young life growing up. I noticed a very swift improvement to our quality of life. Less air pollution, less light pollution at night, generally fairly quiet and a real sense of community. My social life started to change and I stopped venturing into the city centre as much and started spending time with friends and family closer to what I now called home.

In the early part of the spring I experienced some health problems which rendered me immobile for a few weeks. My knees were causing me great pain and so I was unable to go about my day to day life. It gave me some time to reflect on a few things and in April, I came to the decision that Man Down was no longer working for me. We’d had significant line-up issues and not much rehearsal time and the more time I spent away from it, the less I felt like returning to it. It was no reflection on anybody else, It’s just that being in two bands was not something I felt able to continue with at the time and if I’m honest, the music wasn’t quite what I wanted to do. I wasn’t giving myself the mental space to think and concentrate on anything creative properly.

Dawn of Elysium rehearsal time was also fairly limited for a number of reasons. However, we started on some new material and have now got 5 definite pieces to contribute to our next album. We released the single track “Drown” at the end of April to co-incide with a couple of gigs we had booked. We have not done much since due to equipment problems and external commitments. However, we have plenty to be getting on with and hope to commence the writing process in earnest in the very near future. This year is especially gig-light for us, which is a welcome thing at the moment.

May has seen a number of further complications as far as our home is concerned. Without going into details, it has resulted in us needing to once again find somewhere to live. This is very much a work in progress. One that we don’t need at this time but one which is necessary. It has been a tough period to say the least.

With all of this going on, I haven’t felt able to settle or feel inspired to use my home studio very much with knowledge of the imminent further upheaval. I had not finished unpacking and arranging it properly as it stood and presently see no point before it all has to be packed and moved again. I have been doing some bits of studio work elsewhere with a couple of friends, though not much has come of it as yet. With a bit of luck and a fair wind, everything should be resolved in a few weeks and I’ll be up and running with my relocated and properly arranged studio. There is certainly plenty on my to-do list and I hope to be in a position by late summer to begin formulating plans properly.

I’m not exactly sure where my musical journey is going to take me next. Dawn of Elysium has certainly got plenty left in it and I can see it continuing for some time to come. There are a number of pieces of unfinished business to attend to regarding projects past but this will be casual and studio based. There’s a certain part of me that wants something but I’m not exactly sure what that something is at the moment. This is the thing that keeps me keeping on, despite me not appearing to be very active.

My stand down from Man Down

2017 has proven to be a challenging year for me so far with personal circumstances and commitments taking centre stage. Consequently, band activities have been thin on the ground. After a recent episode of ill health which rendered me immobile, I had chance to reflect, take stock and think about what I’d like to pursue and where I need to concentrate my energies. I came to the decision that being a full time member of two bands was no longer working for me.

Even when there is lack of activity, being mentally committed to too much full time can be draining and the pressures we impose on ourselves in wanting and planning to improve things take their toll. For 5 years I have been in two bands at any given time which have nominally had weekly rehearsal schedules and I guess in that time it has slowly evolved from wanting to explore different sounds to doing it for the sake of it and I have found myself a little burned out.

It’s no reflection on anybody, I have really enjoyed what we have done with Man Down but being honest with myself, it wasn’t ultimately what I wanted to do musically. This was exacerbated by the fact that I was open to ideas so kept trying to make it fit but it was somehow not quite gelling and it was difficult to focus. That said, I am very proud of what we achieved with the Christmas single and some of the original songs we wrote sounded great. It’s just a shame they were never properly committed to tape. Mikey and Lyndon are talented guys and it’s been fantastic to work with them. I wish them both the very best in their continued endeavours.

The drummers we played with – Warren, Rick and Kallum are also top players and it’s been great to have the opportunity to play with each of them.

It has been a fun journey if frustrating at times and I have been glad of the experience.

For the foreseeable future, there are a few things I’d like to do but I intend on primarily concentrating my efforts on Dawn of Elysium and perhaps tinker with some casual studio based projects. With my recent moving house, I have a much improved home studio setup and I’m keen to use it more.

Whatever happens,Β I need to mentally regroup before I make any more plans. I think it is important to try and keep a clear head-space and not spread myself too thin.

The Underground – the best Bradford venue that you may not have yet been to

Up until fairly recent times, I had been involved in some capacity in the Bradford live music scene other than as a member of a band or punter. For years I was anything from a DJ to venue promoter to events officer and even did a little live sound engineering. I was passionate about everything I did and I tried my level best to make a decent contribution, occasionally to the detriment of my state of mind or health. Nevertheless I soldiered on until I became disillusioned and simply felt I had no more steam left in me for it. It’s a disheartening path to take at times and very difficult to stay positive in the face of doubters and occasionally people who are downright nasty. Anyway, my lifestyle and priorities altered with age and I found myself wanting to concentrate more on making music at my own pace.

I have utmost respect for anyone who is involved in any way in making live music happen and take a keen interest in what’s going on, even though I don’t manage to come along to events as often as I used to.

There have been many ventures in the Bradford area worthy of mention over the years, featuring people with varying intentions and outlooks.

However, I must say that one particularly notable venture in the last year has been The Underground. The Underground is located on Duke Street towards the top end of Bradford and it opened in March 2016. It appeared on the scene at a time when there were lots of other events going on and consequently uptake on the place was not instant.

The building itself housed a music venue and nightclub about 10 years ago, which was fairly successful at the time but the tenant moved premises and left the building in a severely dilapidated condition. It was left empty for years. Nigel and Matthew Booth rebuilt much of the venue from scratch, pouring their hearts and souls into something which they self-admittedly did not know much about at the time. Their intentions are amongst the most genuine and pure I have ever come across.

This attitude and passion was very much synonymous with local sound engineer, promoter and superstar Jim Mitcham, known to us all as JimDog. It was a perfect match then when he hooked up with the guys and since then has worked tirelessly to make it the very best venue it can possibly be. Constantly brainstorming ideas, constantly looking for ways to do things better and all for the love of the music. Although I am not involved, I have done my best to make people aware of the place and point bands, DJs etc. in their direction. I love the versatility of ideas and the fact that the stage is open to any forms of music. From a band point of view, we played there last August and everything was perfect from the hospitality to the sound engineering and the professionalism in which the event was executed by promoter Steve Hamilton.

I would urge everyone to please give this place support and spread awareness as much as you practically can. It’s not very often a team of this caliber come along and give the live music scene at large an opportunity like this, which very much warrants grabbing firmly with both hands. However, don’t just take my word for it. I would welcome everyone to pop along and see for themselves. There are some great events coming up and they are always up for new ideas.

Bradford nightlife is currently enjoying somewhat of a resurgence with new bars opening up at an increasing rate. This is great and there are many different things on offer. However none are quite like the Underground. It’s physically larger, can house touring bands comfortably and the team behind it are very inclusive, going above and beyond to not only accommodate customers but also work with other businesses in the area to improve the wider scene. It deserves you and you deserve it πŸ˜‰

2016 – Marching time and changing tides

After a number of years of keeping this blog and especially writing my annual reviews, it has become apparent that each year has its own character.

Every year has its ups and downs, its endings and beginnings. 2016 has seen the closing of a few fairly long term chapters for me and some new beginnings too. A lot of this was covered in previous entries in more detail so please excuse me for repeating myself a bit. It’s not in chronological order.

Dawn of Elysium has seen a great year of progress, playing 13 gigs in total, making lots of new friends and most importantly finally completing and releasing the full length debut album Time and Tide. The album was almost two years in the making. Despite the majority of the music having been written, we recorded it ourselves. We started from scratch in many ways, buying the equipment and learning to use the software as we went. My friend Martin Hawthorn was along for the ride, doing an outstanding job of the producing and mixing, giving the songs a new dimension in many cases.

It was a proud moment for me when it had been completed and we had CDs in our hands. A huge personal milestone indeed. I have been involved in bands for many years and had always wanted to do albums but aside from anthology type albums from Dawnraiser andΒ Suicide By Cop which were made up from collections of EPs and extra tracks, none of the projects ever reached the point of doing a full length album. Up until this point, it would have been a relatively expensive goal to use a professional studio to record so much material in one go as I simply did not have the equipment to achieve it. A few of my friends had done so in their past and present projects and I had always been in admiration of their being in a position to. It takes the full band to be 100% committed, wilfully and financially to achieve it and it’s not always possible for everyone to be so focused. Since finishing the album and becoming more familiar with the hardware and software, we have commenced a number of recordings which will form the basis for our next releases. We’re looking forward to a period of further writing and recording in the new year, the latter of which will probably come a whole lot easier.

In May, I took the decision of leaving Echofire. After a prolonged period of no momentum and a few internal issues, I had simply had enough. We gave it a good run but unfortunately it never got off the ground as it stood. There are some recordings for a planned EP which I did quite a bit of work on in the first half of the year but we never got round to finishing them properly. Perhaps one day they will see the light of day but for now they are parked. My leaving was ultimately the best thing for all concerned looking back. Echofire continued and after a few line-up changes, found a new enthusiasm. They will hopefully be ready to do something next year. They remain some of my best friends and seeing them socially recently and looking so happy about the band has made me smile. Fortune did not favour Echofire for many reasons until I left and they really deserve a break. I sincerely hope 2017 will be their year.

After my departure from Echofire, I formed a new band with my friends Mikey May and Lyndon Birchall and we decided on the name Man Down. It has not been without its teething problems but we managed to get a bunch of songs together and play our first gig in December. We really enjoyed it and it seemed to be well received. We’re planning to spend some time adding to and refining our material in the new year with a view to getting out playing towards the spring time. In and amongst all this, we also wrote, recorded and released a Christmas song. The song is called “Man Down The Chimney” and is in aid of CALM. More information about it can be read here.

In August, there was a brief, exciting and strange episode where a number of planets aligned and I was taken down a path of deep nostalgia. I had met up with some old friends with whom I was in a band called Dark Embrace many moons ago. The topic of a potential reunion was discussed and put to the wider band membership but it was not clear exactly what shape the potential reunion would take. I wrote about this in this blog entry. Shortly after, the embryonic talks broke down and the idea floated off as suddenly as it had appeared. Not everyone was up for it and those who were each had slightly different ideas about what they wanted from it. My conclusion was that too much time had elapsed and we had all changed so much in the intervening 20 or so years. There were certain aspects of the situation which I did not personally want to revisit which I won’t elaborate on and although it was wonderful to catch up with some old and still very dear friends with whom I would very much like to maintain contact, I was relieved when it became apparent that the project wasn’t to be. Who knows, something may come out of it in the future but evidently not at the moment.

For many years, in addition to my band activities I have been involved to varying degrees in events and DJing. The former had all but finished in the last few years and in February, I organised my last event. It was called “Somebody Else’s Problem” and was in aid of PAFRAS. More information can be found here. It is of course a very worthy cause and the night itself went well but it wasn’t without its headaches. As anyone who has organised an event will tell you, it takes a fair bit of mental energy to keep things together for this type of thing and I would rather focus my energies onto my musical projects. Of course I am more than happy to play as part of charity events as I have done for years and I will pitch in where needed but my days of putting events together are at an end.

With regards to DJing, I have had some enjoyable DJ gigs at The Black Swan over the last year or two, playing alongside Matt Kula as part of the Trap Door pre-party for some months. I have been asked to do New Year’s Eve of this year and I decided that I would like to make it my last one. I have been a pub rock/alt DJ since 1996 and 20 years seemed like a nice cut-off point. I don’t have the enjoyment that I used to for it. I have sacrificed a fair few weekend nights to it but also have had to cancel a few due to gigs with my band, which is not really fair on the venue. I intend to enjoy this last one as much as possible and I am really looking forward to it. I guess it’s just a case of changed priorities ahead.

Special mention needs to be extended to the passing of our friend and colleague on the Bradford scene Harry “Scouse” Roberts. He really was a stalwart and worked many a music venue, mixing the sound and being a general nuisance. He was many things to many people but to many of us a very caring friend and he shall be missed. I wrote this eulogy about him when he passed on in April. In true Bradford tradition, we got together and had a big shindig in his honour with a few bands and we were positive he was with us in spirit.

It has been very much a year of changing tides as the old makes way for the new and it’s fitting really that the DOE album title wraps this up so well. It’s almost like fate has somehow coordinated things. Not to mention the plethora of significant celebrity deaths 2016 has brought us. I definitely feel like 2017 will be a year of new beginnings in many ways. In my personal life, I am planning to move home and also get married to my beloved Emma and we’re looking forward to all the new adventures it brings.

My initial plan for January is to have a period of abstinence from the drink and quit the smoking (which I have cut down on a lot in recent years). I am also planning to go “off grid” for a bit, particularly from Facebook which I will be deactivating for a while. It’s just a time to catch up with myself for a bit and to concentrate on what’s important.

Until then, I plan to enjoy the festive period. I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

“Man Down The Chimney” Christmas single released today (02/12/16)

By Alec Posted in Blog

2016 – home stretch

As we enter the final couple of months of the year, I look forward to the last three events I’m involved in for 2016. It’s a mixture of firsts and last.

On 26th November, Dawn of Elysium is playing its final gig of the year. It’s as part of Goth City Festival. We’re on at the main event at Wharf Chambers, Leeds and will be onstage at around 7.30. It will be our 13th gig of the year and our last one in the calendar as it stands. We’re taking some time out certainly in the early part of 2017 to write and record some brand new material following our debut album release in October of this year.

On 10th December, my new rock band Man Down plays its debut gig at the Black Swan in Bradford. We started at the back end of May of this year and have been spending time putting our first batch of songs together. We are all looking forward to making our first noises to the world. To coincide with this, we’re releasing our charity Christmas single. More details of this can be read here. There are further writing and recording plans to commence in the new year.

On New Year’s Eve, I am spinning the tunes at the Black Swan as I do my final DJ gig of the year. I have decided that it will probably be my last one. 2016 has been my twentieth full year of being a pub rock DJ. I’ve had a lot of interesting and fun times. Everything from verbal and physical abuse to people having the time of their lives. I’ve done wedding receptions, reunions, birthdays, punk nights, metal nights, prog rock nights. I have DJ’d using vinyl, CD and even cassette as well as the now ubiquitous laptop. The gigs have been more sparse of late, due in the main part to my band gig commitments. I have found myself enjoying it less so these days and I’d rather leave it to the many talented folks out there who have more of a passion for it. I will still be doing the odd favour for friends at private functions but I’m not going to be seeking any more pub/club gigs. There’s a lot I want to achieve with writing and recording with my bands and I’d also like to get out to watch more gigs. I have sacrificed a lot over the years and I’d like to alter my priorities a bit. Emma will still be doing it without a doubt and I might jump in for the odd half hour when she needs it. I’d like to thank all the people who have given me a platform to DJ over the years and of course everyone who has helped and supported me.

So, three fairly different events. I hope to see a few folks at each. They’ll be the last ones I do for a little while.

Time and Tide

Anyone who has been following my blog or updates of what I’ve been up to may know that for the last 21 months, I have been working on a full length album with my band Dawn of Elysium. I am very happy to say that it has now been completed to the point of having physical CDs delivered. The album is called “Time and Tide” and contains 10 tracks of original material. I’ll cover the contents and details of the album itself in more depth on the Dawn of Elysium website. This is more a personal reflection of the process of making it.

Despite being in bands for many years, it is the first time I have made an album in the sense of setting out to make an album from scratch and completing it. OK, in the last couple of years there has been the Suicide By Cop album “Zeitgeist” and the Dawnraiser “Blow By Blow” album but these were pretty much compiled from various separate EP and demo recordings. This was the first bona-fide “album”.

It was quite a milestone for me as well because I recorded it myself on my own equipment. Obviously this could not have been done without the fantastic performances by Emma and Charles and the production ear of Martin Hawthorn but essentially this was a DIY project for us.

The idea to record the album was conceived over the Christmas period of 2014, since we’d not recorded anything for 18 months at that point and there was essentially just one song released which reflected what the band had sounded like since the drummer left in February 2013.

I bought the equipment needed in the first half of 2015. There was a learning curve due to not having really worked with the software and hardware to this extent before. After establishing an effective workflow, the recording went down slowly but surely as and when we had the time to do it.

Music and vocals had been recorded by the end of the summer of 2015 and our aim was to get it finished by the autumn. In hindsight this was ambitious as it did not take into account any further learning curves required to develop the mixes to our satisfaction or limited availability of time together. We managed to release the “Trust” EP in October 2015 but there was still a large amount of work to do.

Over the winter of 2015, studio time together became very limited and even non-existent for a time due to unforeseen external circumstances. We carried on as and when we got the opportunity and by the summer, it was virtually complete. It was then a case of listening through mixes, making notes and tweaks when we could and when we were happy with it, Emma put together the artwork and the project was finished.

I am extremely happy with the results. There are always going to be things with any project which you think could have been done better and many many lessons have been learned. I’m sure there will me many more to come but further recording work should be swifter. I must give special mention to my friend and mentor Tim Walker at Voltage Studios. Although I had effectively “flown the nest” for this one, it was the many years of working with him which helped me develop the skills to do this.

Quite literally, blood sweat and tears have gone into the making of “Time and Tide”. The lyrics are very personal to me and I decided to dedicate it to my late mother. I just wish she’d have been around to hear it but then again, had she been then at least two of the songs would not exist.

The official launch date is 1st October, with the launch party at Carpe Noctum, The Library, Leeds with Berlin Black and The Danse Society. However the more keen eyed may have spotted that it is already available via iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Spotify and a plethora of online stores. Have a listen, I really hope you enjoy it!