The Daily Struggles

Hey Guys. This has been a long time coming to write down my thoughts since I last blogged in June. A lot of the time I just haven’t had time or when I do things seem to be in turmoil within the band or in life goings on that I just haven’t felt like it and at points I’ve felt the band may even split up before I get to write another one of these!

I left off in good spirits in June but my positive outlook didn’t carry on much best the last post. I think at that time we all had different ideas about how much time we should be spending on the band. For me im constantly thinking of new music, constantly writing lyrics and it’s the be all and end all in my life. I kind of expect us all to feel that way. I want everyone in the band to be just as passionate and dedicate as much time to it. I understand we all have lives but I felt that we were being unorganised and making the same mistakes over and fucking over again. This culminated in a massive falling out at the end of June when we couldn’t respond to a gig offer properly. We actually did the gig but the performance was awful. I left the gig that night wanting to throw in the towel and wondering what the point was of it all. None of us seemed to be anywhere near in the same place anymore.

We did however have chance to redeem ourselves. We had a big gig in August supporting Chantel McGregor. She is a fantastic guitarist and performer. We were thrilled to be asked to join the bill. We also did really well with ticket sales for the gig. This caught the promoter’s eye as it was an out of town show for us. He really liked our performance that night and has been in contact with our manager about putting us on more shows and in front of even bigger audiences. All in all that was a great night. We performed well and we sold a lot of our merch. It was great to have a new audience to play in front of and for them to appreciate our music and take the time to come and chat and support us. Signing CD’s is something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. My signature is terrible for a start!

After this I thought as I always do of trying to make sure I enjoy the ride. But things still didn’t feel right to me. Things still seemed to be slowly happening for us though. We played a great Leeds show in September at the Lending room. We headlined it and really smashed it that night. One of those gigs where everything is so loud and you just go with it. The audience were great too. Then…. After years and years of trying we finally got a BBC introducing live session! This was a great feeling.

We decided we would set ourselves a challenge of attempting one of our most difficult songs to play live for the session. It’s a tune that will be on the EP ‘Falling, Faster’ that is out at the end of the month. It’s called 616 and has a big progressive section in the middle with lots of different and intricate riffs and time signatures. Obviously we couldn’t do that for an acoustic session so we decided I would brush off my piano playing skills and make a completely different arrangement of it. We had a great time doing it and it was really great to play piano again. The session itself was really nerve wracking! We played ok I think, not perfect but overall it was a good performance. I was really chuffed that the DJ Alan Raw complimented my piano playing on air too!

We then had a meeting with Toby and Rob from lightening in a bottle. They help and mentor bands with their song writing etc. and we won a free session with them. They were really positive about our band and overall sound and were particularly interested in our song ‘Save You’. They went as far as to compare it to Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello song writing wrapped in heavy guitars. High praise indeed! Whilst we wouldn’t try write another 10 ‘Save You’s’ to try and have that sound all the time it did give me hope that we were/are doing something right and we have a bit of something different and unique. You always think you are but we are in the eye of the storm all the time. To have it verified by other industry professionals and musicians gives you that confidence in your own ability even more.

This was followed by another meeting with them and Water Bear down in Brighton. We really enjoyed it and picked up loads of cool ideas and tips on how to further progress. I love/hate learning about the industry and how best to go about it. I love learning new things and getting people’s advice who have been there and done it. I hate it because it seems like such a pipe dream a lot of the time and incredibly daunting. But if you believe in something you have to keep going and work really hard right? The one thing that I have taken away from these meetings overall is that you need to stand out and be worth checking out by people. No one wants to see a carbon cut out of someone else or someone who isn’t saying anything. This is something I believe we are doing. Im now not bothered about keeping things back in my lyrics. Im going to talk about everything. My Anxiety, my sadness at things im dealing with in my personal life, everything. It is a great outlet for me and something that I find easier to talk about through music than I ever would do just talking about it.

Whilst we may not always see eye to eye and be on the same page something we always do is front up and bring it live. We could hate each other that day and have been disagreeing on everything but as soon as we hit the stage something changes. We played an awesome show at the 02 academy in Newcastle last month as support to the mighty Deever. The place was packed and we went down great. I actually took time to enjoy the gig too which was awesome. I wish everything was conducted out on that stage, it takes you away from the reality of things and allows you to really express yourself. I really love that about performing. I can be anxious right up to going on and feel physically sick but there is no better drug than playing your own music to a packed audience and them receiving it so positively.

So as we release our third single ‘Repose En Paix’ I have very mixed feelings. People keep saying to me “You guys are doing great, you are so solid”. Yes I guess we are doing great but the reality in private is often very different to how it appears. We are doing well but I want us to do better and reach more people. To do this we need to be a unit. 

I wish things were simpler and I genuinely have days where I think we will break apart because of outside differences creeping into something we created. Making music in a room together and kicking ass onstage is the simpler aspects and something I think we would be much better suited to concentrating on. Life is rarely simple I guess and if you haven’t suffered for the art it’s not worth doing is it? So we soldier on and I will keep pushing it forward as much as I can.

Thanks for reading again and thanks for your support as always.

Gav

X

 

 

 Performing at 02 Academy Newcastle

Performing at 02 Academy Newcastle

 Audience shot at 02!

Audience shot at 02!

BBC Beauty

Hello again, the last time I left off with this nonsense from my brain we were about to hit the music industry conference in Sheffield put on by Water Bear. Feeling a bit worse for wear after the gig the night before we set off to Sheffield with the usual Hijinks’. In true Stand Alone fashion after getting changed in a car park we arrived at the venue to be told it was under the name Gavin Harrison. A nice little combination of Gavin and Luke’s names making for one great drummer. (Yes a Porcupine Tree joke there!) Moral of the story is leave it to one person to book these things in, it’s a lot easier.

The conference itself was fantastic. So many people that we met were just as passionate about new bands and original music as we are. All of them genuinely wanting to help bands reach that next level and offering some expert advice. It’s a long game and they made us realise that just by being at the conference we were taking it up a notch by taking the time to try and build our band. We handed out our music to a lot of the people there and have picked up some nice airplay since. We also have had good advice on the social media and recording side of things too. It’s all so vitally important, you could have the best song ever but if your social media is shit or recordings suck then it could all go to waste and be for nothing. So to sum it up it was worth all of our Sundays and we left completely inspired.

 

 Do we know who we are?!

Do we know who we are?!

So inspired in fact that me and Tom were the next week jamming out loads of new song ideas while Luke got to work on more mixing and editing. I’m so excited by the new stuff we are working on. It’s melodic yet we are going in a more progressive direction on some of it, exploring time signatures and different feels we haven’t really done on our previous work. It will be awesome when we get to recording the next round of material.

April was a great month for the band, next up we went to have a chat with Alan Raw the BBC Introducing DJ at his new 360RAW event he runs with a great promoter called Richard Watson. We were lucky enough to play the first one but this time we just wanted to preview our new single for him. He played it and it sounded so huge through their PA! We then plucked up the courage to ask him if he would debut it on his show the next week and it be the first time everyone else heard it. He said yes and said come in and do an interview too! Amazing what asking can do for you! We had the advantage that he had seen us play live now as well. It’s about getting in people’s minds and then staying there! The session was awesome. Just walking into the BBC building was surreal for us. Tom was more interested about looking at the pictures of the weather reporters than getting our track played I think! We left in high spirits, the track went over great and we will be back to do a live set in the summer.

 Hitting up the BBC studio in Leeds!

Hitting up the BBC studio in Leeds!

The gigs also kept on flowing for us; some great, some fair and one absolutely fucking awful. We had a good gig at Ainsty Rocks in York, went down really well and we even started getting some online sales of merch from it which was a first for us. Hopefully the first of many. We then walked in to one of the worst gigs of our lives with an even worse set of people. I’m not going to even mention who we were supporting, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what they sounded like because after their attitude I will not be listening to them. Absolute prima donna pretend rock stars with a tour manager who wanted the gig to end by 10 because ‘our singer has flu’. Well maybe get to the venue before 7 o clock then when there are 3 bands on! We turned up and they had literally no idea who was meant to be playing before them, I felt really sorry for the sound guy who was really professional throughout. We made a point of thanking him and letting him know he did a good job. The band themselves couldn’t even be arsed to watch our set so we played and got out of there. The industry is hard enough as it is without dickheads like that. Bands need to stick together and help each other out through the hard graft we all have to put in. Anyway moving on!

We headed into the first weekend in May with a trip to London to play 2 gigs. A warm up date with a band called Colt 48 and then Dementia Awareness festival. We hired a converted tour van from our friends from the band Furian and away we went on the fun bus down to London. Me, Tom and Luke have a very tight knit bond. We can say and do basically anything in front of each other and no one will judge or be offended. It makes for some of the biggest laughs and great times. The first gig with Colt 48 was a success. We played in front of a new crowd and got to see and become friends with a couple of great guys. They make quite a noise for a 2 piece, crushing riffs and melody, just the way I like it. They came back for a beer on our ‘tour bus’ after the gig and we chatted music, the industry and just general shit. That was before me and Luke had too many beers and decided it would be much better to start singing and screaming shit at them. I don’t think they were too offended as Adam the guitarist showed up early to see us take the stage at Dementia Awareness at the ripe old time of 3pm.

 Hanging out after the gig with Colt 48!

Hanging out after the gig with Colt 48!

The drive to the second gig was an interesting one. It was sweltering 30 degree heat outside, Luke was navigating, I was driving whilst trying to see how many crisps I could get in my mouth at any one time and Tom was in his bunk throwing the entire weekly contents of his stomach up. A migraine apparently…

We arrived in one piece anyway with enough time to catch a couple of bands before we took the stage. We played great. The energy in the room was great. Sometimes you just pick up a vibe early on and this was one of those. The audience reaction was great and we fed off it. I came off stage thinking that it couldn’t have gone any better. The organisers even made us a personalised key ring with our band logo on, it looks ace! There was a great moment where Luke jumped up and hit the speaker stack with his bass to put the bottom string miles out of tune. Watching him tune it back up in a split second whilst harmonising had me creasing myself laughing. Those light moments are what it is all about. Making sure we are enjoying it as well as taking it seriously. A brilliant weekend and I can’t wait for us to go back later in the year to play again.

 Stand Alone key ring anyone?

Stand Alone key ring anyone?

After our London trip we were on the road again up to the Lake District to play for the MT Heads festival. We were promised the strangest gig of our lives by one of the organisers. We played in a converted barn and were put up in a yurt for the night. By the end of the night we were drinking rum round a fire and knocking the beers back. Loads of our favourite rock tunes were on, I was barbecuing everything in sight and we just had an absolute blast. We managed to take our wives and girlfriends for once too which was great to have them with us. Maybe not the strangest of gigs but instead one of the best! We made a few new fans along the way, sold a few CD’s and merch and played a nice heavy set of rock n roll. I was still drunk until the afternoon the day after! A good time had by all.

 Jamming with TIL members!

Jamming with TIL members!

 Rockin' the barn in the Lakes!

Rockin' the barn in the Lakes!

When we got back it was time to finally officially release ‘Never Stand Alone’ to the unsuspecting ears of everyone. We had filmed a music video for it quite a few months before and were sitting on it with a lot of excitement. The song touches on a lot of delicate issues that I have dealt with personally especially over the last 18 months. It is also a war cry to everyone that has ever suffered in silence or thought they couldn’t speak out, whether that be mental health or anything else in their lives. As personal as a song it is to me I like it when other people can take another meaning from it and interpret it slightly differently but still enjoy it and get something out of it. I feel that the video highlights this issues well and the story line that it follows is really touching. I definitely think this is the reason why it has been our most successful song to date. A lot of people are relating to it though the lyrics and the video. It is also just a great anthem I think. All 3 of us get to do some lead vocals on the track as well which I think was really cool. We focussed a lot on the harmonies and it came out great.

It feels like we are in a great position and head space as a band at the moment. We seem to be constantly reading positive comments about our music at the moment. It’s very humbling and it’s nice to see all our hard work pay off even if in just a small way for now. The momentum is steadily growing. I now have a bit of a music room/studio at my house now too so I’m getting stuck right into writing as much material as I can. Then we can sift through the shit and pick out the stuff that will be great and that will set well on a record together.

So on the eve of Download Festival it’s great to be in Stand Alone and as I watch loads of my favourite bands this weekend with all my friends and dream about one day playing it, maybe it isn’t such a ridiculous dream!

Gav

x

Keeping the momentum going

Hey guys, what an up and down month this one has been! It has epitomised exactly what I was saying in my first blog. I’ve gone from been on it every day with the band to not giving a fuck about it the next. I do annoy myself sometimes. I spend my days in school teaching music and telling students that if you keep positive and don’t let frustration boil over you improve much quicker and see results. Why don’t I always follow my own advice then? I keep positive and things are going good then the next something happens and it makes me question everything again. I think it’s because it means so much to me, I don’t want anything to be half arsed, I don’t want us to make stupid mistakes and I want the opportunities to develop our band. There is so much potential there.

Anyway, at the start of the month we got the video back for our next single ‘Never Stand Alone’. It looks awesome! It is such a step up from our last one. The subject matter is really close to my heart and the way Adam has portrayed the story in the video is absolutely on point and incredibly impactful. It was a great day filming and flowed great. We also had 2 great actors who were incredibly professional and delivered quality performances. I can’t wait for everyone to see this and the word from the people that have seen this so far is that it could push us up that tiny bit to the next level.

 

 Who gave me the camera?!?!

Who gave me the camera?!?!

While we wait to sort out when the single and video will be released our first single and video ‘Save You’ is starting to rack up the YouTube views. We are pushing nearly 5k now which is great. I feel grateful that it’s been seen by anyone but this is a nice bit of momentum that we are picking up now and it is driving us on to that next step. So to anyone that has watched it, shared it or commented on it; thank you so much.

Now to a frustrating week…

We wanted to take part in a competition to play download festival. (Obviously, who wouldn’t want to play there?!) In order to do that we needed a live video of ourselves in order to enter. We had phone recordings but wanted to go a bit further and have a better mix of the audio. Luke is really good at mixing our stuff so he was hands on with the idea. It was a great idea in theory but we filmed it in our practice space and not at a gig. We didn’t have long to film it because the deadline was a quick turn around so it was really our only option. However, It took us 3 hours to set all the shit up and then after that we couldn’t really get the energy going in the room that we would have liked, we were all knackered and getting pretty pissed off with the whole situation. It was all too rushed and it was one of those nights where I felt nothing was accomplished. We entered with a phone video after all that!

The night after we went to Doncaster to play an audition gig for JM promotions. Jimmy is a good guy and is very enthusiastic about his music. This was the second time we had gone to audition though so we were hoping this time we may catch his eye and he might put us on one of his gigs. There were some good acts there especially one band called ‘Palmes’. They were so tight and had great songs. I really enjoyed their set and hope to play some gigs with them soon. You should definitely check these guys out!

We felt that we put on a great performance just as we had done the first time we played. The gig was aided by the fantastic sound in the venue. This is so important when we are playing as we are harmonising a lot so if we can get them on point it makes for an all-round better show from us. However it was not to be. It can’t always be your band that gets picked obviously but how often can you play for free with nothing to show for it? Sometimes I think certain promoters just don’t fancy your band and that’s fine. No point flogging a dead horse as they say, we don’t have time to waste as we all work day jobs and need to use our time wisely.

So, a frustrating week all in all but as usual you have to pick yourself back up and carry on. And what better way to do that than to have a band ‘meeting’. A nice few drinks out and a relaxing evening where we can discuss other things as well as the band. I think it is vitally important to have time together just as friends and to remember you are friends and not just band members. It made me feel a whole lot better and inspired. I played Tom some new demos on my phone and he was shouting his excitement in my ear which anyone who knows him knows that is just about as animated as he will ever get! It meant a lot in all seriousness though, I love creating the music but the first play to anyone always fills me with nerves and anxiety so to have that feedback was important to me.

 

 

 

 Tom completely sober as usual...

Tom completely sober as usual...

Over the past few months we have become really good friends with a band called Deadlock Saints. We have played with them a few times and after feeling how passionate their fan base is and how mental they are we jumped at the chance to play Leeds with them for a Good Friday special! This gig felt different to normal for me before we even took to the stage. People I didn’t know of were telling me they had come out to see us and just giving out general good will gestures for the gig. Then while we were playing everyone was singing the words to our songs! Even songs that aren’t released yet and have only been performed live. That felt incredible and made me feel like at last we are growing this band and people actually give a shit about the music. It’s those moments there that make all the hard work worth it. I’m really grateful to the guys in Deadlock Saints for giving us the opportunity and hope to play more shows with them in the future.

 

 Rocking out in Leeds!

Rocking out in Leeds!

I don’t think it’s a secret that it is really expensive if you take your band seriously and want to put ourselves forward. You need promotion, videos, recordings, merch, gear etc. The money has to come from somewhere and none of us are exactly rolling in it. We have houses, bills to pay and Wags with extremely expensive tastes! Well maybe the last one isn’t completely accurate but you get the picture. Basically we couldn’t do this on our wages alone so we do a lot of covers gigs in between all of this in order to be able to fund the band. God knows how we all put up with each other seeing each other that much, it’s a miracle we are still friends sometimes! The gigs can often be fun but I’d much rather just play our own stuff all the time. However, it’s allowed us to be able to do all of this so far and without it we just wouldn’t be able to so needs must for the time being. Just seeing the new video and listening to the upcoming EP makes me realise that it is and will all be worth it.

As I finish off writing this second instalment we have just come back from a music industry conference in Sheffield where we got to listen to a few industry guys give talks on their perspective and how to make it work in this day in age. It was a great event and gave us a massive insight into how to go about the next stages of our career. It’s not just about the music anymore, it’s the full deal. Everything has to be on point, playing the right gigs, having the right team around you and promoting yourselves in an interesting way that will stand out and get people involved. It’s a long process but it doesn’t have to be an instant hit anymore, you can build this for years and it’s what I intend to do. We met some great influential people there that have now heard our music and have offered to help us out in any way they can. This could be a game changer for us who knows? What I do know is that we are moving in the right direction!

Gav  x

26654584_10159762639610023_1097621031_o.jpg

The first one

Hey guys, I’ve been contemplating writing a monthly blog for quite a while now, so rather than think about I thought I’d just jump in and give it a go. Obviously it’s a great way to interact with people and let them know what’s going on in the band but also gives me (and maybe the other 2) a chance to reflect and look back on what we have achieved and maybe what we can improve on. Being in an unsigned originals band can often be a hard slog, especially with all other work and life commitments. You can be left wondering if there is actually any point or worth to doing it. On my worse days I never want to play music again but it is also one of the best things in the world and I know my life wouldn’t feel complete without it. I love writing music and I would feel pretty empty without it.

2017 couldn’t really have been any worse as far as personal lives go and it left us standing still at best, at worse I reckon we took steps back that halted our progress quite dramatically. It was incredibly frustrating especially after starting the year the way we did. We got to play to a packed house at Leeds 02 academy in January 2017 and it was honestly one of the most incredible performing experiences of my life (even if I did stand on my guitar lead and pull it out during the second song!). The crowd reaction was unbelievable and it left us feeling that we were going to push on and really make a name for ourselves. It never panned out that way though.

 

 On stage at Leeds 02 Academy

On stage at Leeds 02 Academy

Without going into too much detail there were many events beyond our control that left us wondering if were even in the right place in life to carry the band on. It wasn’t really any of the band members fault but I guess there was a bit of resentment creeping in from us when things weren’t getting done that in my eyes needed to be. It felt like one fuck up after another with us seriously taking our eye off the ball. This wasn’t what I signed up for and it wasn’t even enjoyable at that point, it felt like work, like a job and that was the worst feeling of all.

At the end of 2017 I decided that I was really going to try again. We finally released our music video for ‘Save You’. It has received a lot of positive feedback which I really appreciate and feel proud of. I love playing music with Tom and Luke, we have a connection I haven’t felt with other musicians. We are honest with each other too about song ideas, even if it does sting sometimes! I started writing pages of lyrics again for the first time in months and demoing loads of material. I set myself a target of getting some music out of me on a weekly basis, regardless of what it was or If it would ever be used. I just wanted to feel creative again.

I entered 2018 in a much more positive mind set and have tried to keep an ongoing motto of 'Putting the hard work in for it to eventually pay off'. Little baby steps and little achievements to tick off and carry on on the road to the next one. Weirdly the year started the same, we played at the 02 academy in Leeds again. Again it was amazing to play on such a stage and in front of such a big crowd. The momentum then started to pick up.

We were asked to play a new event called 360RAW which is a combination of Leeds promoter Richard Watson and BBC Introducing DJ Alan Raw putting a new night on to showcase the best up and coming bands and to give them a bit more a platform. We were honoured to be asked and said yes straight away. Then it was time to rehearse for it and decide which songs we would put in the set to give a true representation of our band. This took quite some time and some disagreements but we got there in the end and put together a great set.

 Me and Tom rocking it at 360RAW

Me and Tom rocking it at 360RAW

The night itself was awesome. We were the second highest selling band in terms of ticket sales which was really pleasing and humbling to have so much support from people old and new to the band. The place was packed and the reaction while we were playing was fantastic. We had a great show and I felt really good about it. However I always have little things that I think could have gone better. We played a new track called ‘616’ which has a few complicated sections. It was going great and I started to relax into it, big mistake! I ended up losing the plot a bit at the end of the solo. This really frustrated me as I had practised so hard. I tried not to let it bother me too much though.  I think the moral of this story is to never think ‘I got this’. Always be on your toes as you don’t know what is going to happen next. Practicing at home and in the rehearsal space is all well and good but it doesn’t prepare you for rushing to set your gear up in between bands, monitor issues, not being able to warm up, all that kind of stuff that you don’t always think about. Gigging is the only way to iron out these issues and gigging regularly, something which we hadn’t been doing as much. Other than that and leaving my pedal board at the gig (dickhead) I looked back at the night and thought ‘We smashed that gig’ and that’s all you can ask for. We can make the improvements next time and give it even more.

The 360RAW gig was also good because we were on a ‘rock’ line-up that showcased various bands from the scene. This weekend just gone (March 3rd) we ventured up to Stockton on Tees for a show. We braved the weather and had a little road trip. Unfortunately not many other people did so it was very quiet. It felt different this time though, no getting down hearted and no in fights about it. We embraced it. We had a laugh and a right good old piss take and just played to the best of our ability.

 Luke enjoying the cramped journey to Stockton.

Luke enjoying the cramped journey to Stockton.

The reason I bring up the line-up at the previous gig is because we were totally not suited to the bill in Stockton. Loads of different styles can sometimes be a good thing but not always. It really does frustrate me to see people still trying to rip of Oasis. I suppose it’s the old ‘you just don’t get it’ kind of thing and I don’t but I can always see value in music when it is done well and there is heart and soul poured into it. I just don’t see that in those bands, it feels cynical and seems to be all about the look (yeah I know you need an image) and getting pissed.

Anyway, it’s safe to say that we have made a great start to 2018 with ‘Save You’ still slowly but surely grabbing people’s attention. We have a new single called ‘Never Stand Alone’ coming out very soon with a video to accompany it. I can’t wait to get it out, it is the best sounding production we have got so far. We do it all ourselves at the moment with Luke mixing and producing it. I’m really happy with it and feel really good for him and us that it’s just all our own work. It’s something I think we are all really proud of.

 

 'Never stand alone' coming soon.

'Never stand alone' coming soon.

We will be releasing a brand new EP in the middle of the year too. It’ll be about time, it’s taken a lot of work but it will definitely be worth it. We have a lot of good gigs lined up this year so I’ll keep you updated as we go along. I plan on writing this bollocks every month so until then thanks for reading and i'll hopefully see you at a gig soon!

Gav x

standalone_fulllogo.png