Baby Dynamite

The iRig2 seems to be a good piece of kit. It at least does what it's supposed to in the recording stakes but you could spend a fortune inside the app adding effects. It would be easy to go down that road but that also sounds like wasting time when all I'm looking for is a way to record first drafts of songs. This week I'll be switching from their own apps to see how it fares with GarageBand - where I at least know which buttons are worth pressing. 

However... I found another use for this solid little piece of kit: 

Stuck in a tape deck here, because it's the safest place for it, is a tape of a tape of a tape - probably seventh generation - that has seen many better days that plays host to a Baby Dynamite four track demo from 1992. Baby Dynamite is of course, my band from what has very quickly become a 'few years back'. This is the first batch of songs we recorded. Somewhere out there is a second tape with another four tracks on it but I have hidden it so safely, I haven't a clue where that is. 

Thus, out of interest and for anybody trawling the internet for proof such a thing really did happen, I'm posting them here in all their detiorated glory. These were all recorded in a bedroom home studio pushing the tech we had as far as it would go with the intention of handing record companies a demo product so good, they would hand us bags of cash safe in the knowledge we would spend it wisely and come up with something like Hysteria that would make superstars of us all... or at least make us enough money that there would be something different for dinner other than cream cheese and Space Raiders inside a bread roll.

In hindsight, we were at gentle war with each other. Pete - whose studio it was had very set ideas about how we should sound and so, that's how it sounded. He's a great producer and I think might still be somewhere out there. Nate, my drummer, blood brother and housemate had similar tastes in music, so the multi layers were fine with him too. I don't recall Lee, our bass player having much of a say in anything because Pete was a control freak and recorded all the bass parts himself - but in fairness (so far as I know) Lee is the only one of us still out there regularly playing 25 years later, so he obviously didn't take it to heart... and at the only gig this particular line-up of the band ever played, he was the only one of us that didn't mess up.

For what it's worth, my fuck up was the worst. I misjudged how high my heels were and fell off the stage into a stack of amps, blowing all of the power in the building. Funny now. Not so much on the night.

Anyway, I was just pleased to be writing these songs, getting them out of my head onto tape and didn't think much about such things. We were riding a wave of self belief - no matter how misguided. The goal was to become a slick, well oiled machine of a band that outgunned the American wave of glam rock back then... and in hindsight it wasn't a bad shot at the target.

Then Nirvana came along and that was pretty much the end of the story for a bunch of guys living just outside of Liverpool with no cash.

Let me talk you through it:

WHITE KNUCKLE RIDE

Pete had some old riffs lying around and I came up with the lyrics for this while he was out walking his dog. This was to be the 'statement' of what we were about and it even had an intro you could walk on stage to based on the WWF Legion of Doom's catchphrase "What A Rush". Sadly this one has suffered most on the tape just because it's first...

CREATURE FEATURE

I wrote this song for Alice Cooper. True fact. Maybe I should have sent it to him. If White Knuckle Ride was a showcase for Pete being a guitarist, this was my showcase for hooks and lyrics. I loved this song and still do. It simply is what it is and yes, somewhere in there is a lyric about nuclear war which I stole from Duran Duran. If it was good enough for them and all that...

HOT CHERIE

This is an odd one. Back in the mid 80s I used to trade tapes with some guys out in California and I came into possession of one by a band called Brunette and because I was running a fanzine at the time, had some correspondence with Johnny Law from the band. A later tape from the band contained this song and Brunette disappeared from the face of the earth. For the record, they were a great band and all these demos can now be found as an album on Apple Music - and more than likely Spotify as well. 

Anyway, Pete wanted to cover a song to see how we stacked up against the real world. I was dead against it but submitted this to him as a great song from a band nobody would ever hear from again... and thus, people would think it was our own unless they looked really closely...  

Who could have known that the very same year, the guys from Brunette would get together with some guys from Journey (yeah, that Journey) to form Hardline and release an album on which this also appeared. 

Still, it was good fun to sing this... it pushed me right out of my comfort zone. 

Whatever you think of this version, it's a great song and if you like such things, the Hardline version is on their album Double Eclipse... but I still think the Brunette version is the best.  

The other song we recorded sucks diesel. I hated it then and I hate it even more now. You know when you get to the end of an album and you turn it off because the band had obviously run out of ideas? That's what this other song is like - it doesn't even have a good title, something I was massively insistent on then as much as I am now. 

The other tape had some much better material on it - I really found a groove after this batch. It had/has a couple of songs on it I'd love to hear again. One was called Paperhouse and the other, Naked With Jezebel. If you happen to be passing and own such a demo, I'd love to hear from you.

After these sessions, we took a break to write some more songs, do some other things and never quite got it back on track. For my part, I wandered off in a solo direction and put a project together called SPIRITWALKER which was about as far removed from this as I could get. Maybe I'll post those songs here later this week - I was a lot more careful about looking after those. 

One final thing on this. Back then, it was hard getting your music heard. Nobody gave a damn and every band had a demo of some kind. So far as I can see, since then, the whole world went digital but nothing much has changed. I know lots of bands that had a record deal that went on to do nothing and I know lots of bands who never even got close that should have. There were more opportunities to play locally but there were less opportunities to connect and do something on a larger scale. Such is the music business then and now.

You get what the previous generation left you.

Which means it's a lot like writing. You do it because you love it and not because you 'might get somewhere'. You make music or write because it's what you do.

The world owes you some water and some oxygen and that's about all. End of story.

A Hard Day's Night

Jesus. It's a few days into July already. How did that happen? I put the next issue of Skin Deep to bed this afternoon but it only seems like a week since I strapped a rocket to the last one. The 300th issue will be knocking on the door before I know it. This one was #279, so in the real world, I guess we still have a couple of years before that happens, but still... it sounds pretty close from where I'm standing.

I won't be taking my eye off the ball. 

Anyway, with that off the desk, I shall be turning my attention to other things for a few days, namely, songwriting.

Last weekend, I messed around with some different ideas for a logo and settled quite wholly on this. I've looked at it for a few days now and it sits well, so it can stay:

Then I bought myself an iRig2 for simple, on the spot recording. I haven't road tested it yet but that's on the cards for tonight just as soon as I've finished this post.

It had better do what it's supposed to. I have high expectations and lots of material to pull together before I go anywhere near a studio. I haven't been in a recording studio for so long, they have likely changed beyond all recognition... but that's OK. That's why I have friends who know what they're doing - but that's way down the line.

I am not averse however to loading up demo material here when it's ready. If I tell you up front that what you'll get on that front will be more like Marc Bolan messing around at home in 1973 than Def Leppard making Hysteria with $100m at their disposal, you won't be too disappointed.

Or maybe you will. 

Mostly though, it feels good. You know that thing you do when time disappears because you're so preoccupied it loses all meaning? That's how this feels. Not sure what took me so long to come back to it but I'm here and pressing on regardless.


On my quest to waste nobody's time but my own watching great crime shows in the darkest hours of the night, I've stumbled upon a fantastic beast. It's called The Night Of and if you're in the UK, it's skulking around somewhere on SKY/NOWTV. A brief synopsis would go something like: 'Imagine you borrowed your old man's car for a few hours in the middle of the night... and then everything that could ever go wrong, did'

That pretty much sums it up. I'm hooked. It's a slow boiler though, so if you like you're drama edited like an MTV video from 1990, you'll be out of luck here, but if you have the attention span for shows like The Killing, it's might be right up your street...

The Great Outdoors

As something of an appendix to the last post about dropping material on Medium, my buddy Mr Wayne Simmons has also taken up residence there and made his first post about his workspace. I'm reasonably sure I've dropped some things on here before about where I like to work but no harm in rolling through it again.

Some of the time, I work at the kitchen/dining room table which is nothing special. Just a flat piece of wood with four legs. Unlike Mr Simmons, I have no man cave, no posters, no action figures, no paraphernalia at all and with good reason. I get distracted easily. Thus, in front of me sits a blank wall. I even moved all of the pictures that were on it to the wall behind me so I couldn't see them.

Which all sounds a bit dull... unless you've mastered the dark art of using the wall like a screen on which you project the film running in your head - which I do. It's a little more complicated than that, but that's all you're getting on that front.

However, the rest of the time, I write using a pen and notebook and I like to work here:

...or somewhere close by. There are many places to sit, write and watch your dog run free. There are also buzzards, hares, ravens and occasionally (sadly) other people with dogs but you can't have everything.

Believe it or not, I can get a lot of work done here. Words flow and that's what counts. It's a good feeling too because it never feels like work but neither am I averse to writing on trains, in the car... I guess the point I'm trying to make is I don't mind where I write, so it may as well be pretty. How disabling to have be in a certain place before you can get any work done. Thus, I have learned to be ready because it comes when it comes.

So there you have it. That's my day. If you're looking for pictures of sexy desks and workspaces - much like this one occupied by Bruce Springsteen - you're shit out of luck...

But this below - featuring Al Gore - is my idea of absolute hell. How can you focus and get anything done somewhere like this:

Where's the blank canvas to be filled? From the look of all this stuff, it looks to me like it's already been completed by other people, which is pretty much the story of Al Gore - apart from An Inconvenient Truth which is excellent and obviously made before he collected all this crap.