A little bit of history
I have always been surrounded by pianos. We had two in the house when I grew up in Somerset.
My dad is a talented, self-taught pianist and taught me to play using my ears
rather than always relying on scored music.
I first started writing music with my friend Neil Muttock when we were about 14 years old. We formed our first band, ‘12 Midnight’ and recruited a bass player whose mum, we swear, had three breasts. We sold 75 copies of a home-made album on tape around the school. Although the music was of dubious quality I formed a song-writing companionship with Neil that has lasted for over 25 years now.
Throughout my 20s, I performed with bands, generally using an electric piano or keyboard. Although the electric sound suited the music of Brontosaurus and The Zennor Project, the sound always felt thin and lacking depth when I performed solo.
Sitting at an upright or grand piano, the sound surrounds and engulfs you making it a very comfortable place to sit in and sing. When you perform on an electric piano the sound comes out from speakers, sometimes a few metres away and, to me, this lacks the warmth and vibration of a real piano and inhibits the live performance.
So. Due to the lack of real pianos in venues these days, I went on a personal crusade and bought a small upright piano for live gigs. I borrowed a pig trailer, got a good piano dolly and performed solo and with The Home Fires using this upright piano. This venture lasted a few years until I fractured the sound board on the piano which began causing problems to the tuning everytime I moved the instrument.
Although I now have a good electric stage piano for venues without pianos, I am most comfortable and most excited about playing venues with the real instrument…even if it is a bit battered.
A few years ago and after several years of letter writing and patience I purchased a Hang made by Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer (PANArt) in Switzerland. This instrument still feels new to me. I saw one on the walls at a friend’s house and was instantly drawn to it without playing it. Playing the piano is surprisingly percussive and I instinctively new that I would be able to make the instrument sing. My hang playing has now become an additional angle to my solo work and performances.
In recent years my musical highlights have included recording a solo session (The Wood Room Session) and an album with my band, ‘The Home Fires’ (This Too Shall Pass) at Real World Studios in Box. Real World Studios felt finally accessible thanks to old friends from ‘The Heavy’ after I had the wonderful opportunity to rehearse with them there and tasted the sound of a beautiful grand piano in a wooden room.
Following a couple of seasons busy with The Home Fires at folk and acoustic clubs and festivals and successfully recording and funding our debut album, my attention is currently turned to my solo piano work. I am focussed on performing at choice venues with in-house pianos and have developed a strong live set, inviting musical friends to join me when possible and appropriate. My first solo album is in the pipeline and I am excited about the adventure that still lies ahead in the musical side of my life.
I hope to see you at a gig soon.