Moving Forward…

Nobody expected the 2020 we would all have. I am realistically suspicious that 2021 won’t be much better in terms of political drama, pandemics, and the cost of living for many of us.

When I wrote Surviving on Borrowed Time which released at the end of 2019, my aim was to compose a dystopian adventure that focused on the little things such as being followed, running out of supplies and being on the move constantly. There’s nothing I hate more than moving to a new house and I was producing SOBT during a time where I’d finally settled and yet wasn’t sure how long I’d be settled for (having moved to a new country, town, and city over 10 times in 10 years thanks to the rental property market and various life goals).

To put it into a few lines from Cataclysm in Winter:

No one paid attention to the warnings broadcast on the television...We just sat there waiting in our own personal detention.

Despite it being a generic concept, the album released worldwide at the beginning of 2020 and did not exactly age well. Empty supermarket shelves, people failing to take heed of warnings having lost trust in politicians, medical professionals, and authority. It is a cliche story that has been told endlessly in every media available – so I’m not claiming it to be a prediction of the year that would follow its release. The follow up album In Our Final Moments was completed with several tracks mixed and mastered before I decided to delay the project and start work on the wholesome and overall opposite of my Cask music, HELIXIRx.

Much of the album could easily be described as my heaviest and rawest effort, but I felt discouraged by the concept album idea – – with the albums set to be a trilogy – – and now it seems that I won’t be the only one to write about isolation and the way humanity responds to a pandemic such as Covid-19. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, I’m sure other progressive artists will capture things on a grander scale with more listeners but having the experiences I had in 2019; I decided it best to look at producing and developing my skills in other projects for a little while.

In October 2019, I was involved in a car accident that involved me losing control of my beloved classic Saab 900, rolling down a mountain and landing upside down underwater. To this day I don’t know how I managed to escape, but the life-changing events took place in the months that followed. I refused to milk the story or tell the world how close I may have come to death, but it’s extraordinary how many people would be blissfully unaware had you died. I guess in the world of social media it’s not uncommon to expect that you have far fewer friends than you thought. I often wonder how long it would take for me to disappear from the internet and my phone number until people start asking questions.

At the end of the day, 2020 taught me that I am more excited and enthusiastic about projects outside of the Cask albums and as a result, I’ve decided to leave everything on the backburner and continue my adventures elsewhere. Some of my best tracks feature on In Our Final Moments (in my opinion) and although it seems a shame to leave the mixed and completed tracks in the same pile as  partially mixed, I feel uninspired when I open the session files and begin listening. The tracks are likely best suited for a better voice and who knows what the future holds, working with HELIXIRx and keeping my vocals in the background has been a great experience, so maybe these albums will float on with a different singer. I have too many musical and non-musical projects to think about right now! The best thing I can do is continue doing what I enjoy.

So, what is the point of this blog post? Well, I have received a few emails from people asking when they can expect the second part of Surviving on Borrowed Time; and rather than say “the time isn’t right” or drag it out, I’d prefer to clarify that I’ve shelved my solo ventures for now as I feel that there’s little point in making music if it doesn’t satisfy the musician.

To carry on the cringe of quoting one’s own lyrics. I’ll end the post with the lyrics from Hourglass:

You’ve always wanted to leave your mark
But I can’t let you rewind
When you’ve finally achieved something
You’ve run out of time
I was always wasted by you
I’m no longer on your side

Checking in!

A photo of Stanley, just for attention. There was really nothing else one could put here.

It has been a while since I have been this busy (a.k.a not being a lazy shit)

I’ve been designing and working on a desktop/mobile application which will be revealed soon. I’ve also finally decided to push forward with the second album – the sequel to Surviving on Borrowed Time. I had written and recorded last year – and now the completed (in my opinion) tracks are off to Alan at IvoryFlyer in the Isle of Wight. I think he did a great job of the last release so I have entrusted him to take on the sequel as producer this time around rather than just mixing and mastering.

It’s a heavy album. That’s all I can really think of in terms of description.

The support has been incredible from everyone around the world. There are people listening in places I never dreamed of reaching and I’ve received some really cool feedback. I’m far from being known by the prog rock community, but those who have listened, purchased or pirated and contacted me have given me plenty of inspiration to keep going with the concept.

I’m also currently writing a screenplay for a video game that is in progress. Something I haven’t done before. It’s good to experiment with every little adventure.

Take care!

Be dark

I’d like to think that some of my lyrics paint a picture for those listening, reading, interpreting…

When writing a song, I often have a vision of what the song could mean to the person sitting on the train, the person I’ve given a copy of the album to, the person scrolling through various YouTube videos trying to find a new artist to listen to.

My lyrics were mostly always morbid. Maybe if I were just a little more experienced at the time, I’d have been penning words for an emo band during the big emo days.

When I was in high school, I loved doing English. I chose it as my elective subject and would often be tasked with writing short stories or poetry. Teachers would usually grimace and scold my poems for taking the theme of end times and jealous lovers murdering their spouses over misunderstandings, favouring fellow students who would write pleasant poetry about how beautiful the world is and how much they love their families. I could write that too, but I aimed to be different.

I must have been about 6 or 7 when I was called into the school counsellors office to discuss the teachers concerns over a short story, I wrote about a murderer who had taken the Chief investigators family hostage. When reprimanded on possible inspirations from watching too many inappropriate movies (which I insisted was not the case. Thrillers and horrors often bore me) I would simply quote my Nan “that boy has got a wonderful imagination”

It wasn’t about being dark, edgy and offensive for the sake of proving I was harder than others nor were it to shock and entertain. I just believed that there was enough lovey dovey out there but not enough dark evil stories with twists and turns. When it came to music, art and poetry; I insisted on being different. Why paint a beach when you can paint a graveyard? In high school I was scolded for drawing a pirate ship battle where legs and fingers had been blown off. I’m terrible at drawing and painting, so I let the smudges and splatters of red paint cover up my dodgy drawings. Rather than be commended for having my own artistic style, the very essence of art and the objectification of art was squeezed into a simple line I remember my art teacher saying word-for-word “your style is dubious and your attitude towards art is disrespectful. This is not art. This is just gore and you’re showing off”

Cool.

Music class was always the same. People would write songs about peace and love and the things they enjoyed. I’d write “emo” stuff like “Your funeral is the best one I’ve been to. Every other person I never even knew” which was intentionally a combination of edgy and humorous. I was taking the piss, which made it even more irritating when my mental health would be questioned. When I had to perform the song in front of the class, some students were disgusted and shocked which was great but those who ‘got’ my ironic lyrics who’d laugh and grin as if they were witnessing some over-the-top video game played in front of them made it even greater.

I didn’t have conservative school teachers or peers. Just ones who weren’t used to somebody taking art and making it unpleasant. My graphic design exam involved me taking Da Vinci’s Last Supper and spicing it up by including all sorts of aliens and famous criminals on the table with Jesus. Thankfully my digital arts teacher loved it and said something along the lines of “it stood out in its own way when presented next to the other submissions from other students”

Anyway, my point is really simple: don’t let your legacy be tainted and changed by those who don’t see it as appropriate or fitting their system. You’ll only regret it. If you’re into dark, morbid, evil shit then use it creatively.

Amusing Occurrences in Spain

I’ve been here yearly for the past three years and I think it’s safe to say I’ve adapted to the wonderful Kingdom of Spain, but there are some crazy facts and things I’ve noticed that need to be shared:
 
  • Their is at least one night a week when fireworks will go off in a local town for a few hours.
  • Each little suburb essentially chooses its own rules. It’s a bank holiday in one town and a normal day in the next. It doesn’t matter where you go,  chances are you’re going to get there and all the stores are closed for fiesta.
  • They build airports in no fly zones, causing outrage at its uselessness and melt down over it despite the fact that at least one or two airports exist per area. (Sydney would have like thirty airports by now but we’ve been struggling and pondering over a second major airport for years)
  • (A point I’ve made several times before but is worth covering again) Australian imported alcohol is 75% cheaper than in Aus and yet still considered ‘premium price’
  • If you make an appointment to see the doctor at 8am,  you’re best taking the day off as they’ll see you closer to 1pm.
  • The postman is trained to learn the location and people only to be replaced a month later by a new guy. The cycle never ends.
  • Raising the speed limit in part of Valencia on the motorway from 110km to 130km actually brought the road death toll down. 
  • If you venture through old houses (ruins) from the early 1900s, the lack of evidence to suggest toilets or showers were installed is quite obvious. Don’t ask…[Josè, my grandfather, tells me that in the 60s he gave a gift of flowers to someone who put them in the toilet bowl, oblivious to the idea that toilets are not actually vases connected to the plumbing]
  • Lined paper essentially does not exist: this is something I noticed a few years ago. It’s graphing paper (those maths squares) or nothing. To get lined paper I actually had to visit a British supplies store.
  • There’s a popular brand of cigars called “Tampax” so you can literally go out and smoke a Tampax with your friends.
  • Workers will whip out their private parts and hilariously piss near the construction sites without considering that it might be better to do so with a bit more privacy.
  • Peacocks, for no apparent reason and at any time, will appear in bizarre places such as hanging off the edge of an apartment block.
  • Snakes have no regard for traffic and will cross without paying respect to the laws of the road and the rules that us common pedestrians are forced to follow.
  • Saying you’re from Australia is like admitting you have traveled from outer-space to visit. Most villagers have yet to leave the village let alone leave the country.
  • If you’re as white as I am and you speak Spanish to somebody, they’ll give you a response in English.

    And with that aside, I have been approved for a home loan to purchase property and relocate to Alicante later this year. 

 

 
 

Bucket List: Amusing Budget Flight with Strangers? Check

It was the 14th of April and the Ryanair flight departed at 6am. Edinburgh to Alicante. 
I was sat on the aisle seat beside two middle age Scottish women with their daughters behind on the opposite side.

Within a few drinks (they spent a good £50 in the first go) they laughed and bantered with me until one of the daughters convinced me to draw a beard on her mum’s face as she slept.

As word got around, half the passengers laughed as we all took photos and the other half death stared.

When the plane landed, I shot off to exit the terminal with a smile. The family was en route to Benidorm, their holiday must have begun amusingly.

Ryanair is an extremely cheap airline with a reputation for being terrible and scamming customers but it was pretty good and ahead of schedule. The landing into Alicante was bad though. Really painful.