In Täby, just north of Stockholm in Sweden, I grew up raiding the record collections of my sister’s friends until I was old enough to get pocket money to buy my own. Childhood was spent as much as possible with the headphones on listening to every detail of the recordings and studying album covers over and over again. Totally fascinated by every aspect of what I heard, I soon decided life in the real world just wasn’t as interesting as in that of Ziggy.
At this point my parents decided to pack up and move us from the lakes and forests to England where my sister’s boyfriend thought my intense fascination for music was really sweet and gave me my first electric guitar which I promtly wired straight into the hi-fi. After the inevitable result, a guitar amp was bought. Instead of getting a book or a teacher I would just put on albums and “jam” along with absolutely no desire to work out what was actually being played, instead just making stuff up that I thought fitted. I remember one day having to go to my neighbour’s only for the woman who lived there to take one long look at me, pause, and then with a slow smile say “you are definitely getting better!”. It was a loud amp.
I joined my first band at school in SW London on the simple strength of loving the right stuff and owning the equipment. Having been shown the basics of the barre chord and the joy of a fuzzbox, I never strayed. A while later I bought a computer to write with and found myself intrigued by the possibilities that existed just as the dance scene was everything. My first proper attempt included a Nina Simone sample which got signed and I invested in more gear. Time was subsequently spent releasing records with a very good friend from school, Adam Salkeld, for Stress Records as well as the obligatory white labels with others and eventually teaming up with an outfit called Bleachin’. This last adventure resulted in a couple of years spent in front of a screen, increasingly on my own, only to one day look up and find that the people I had worked with had happily taken all the credit and despite the deal with BMG, the large recording budget, the highly expensive videos (including one with Gavin Rossdale of the band Bush), the Radio 1 playlisting, the live Lamacq broadcast, the top 40 debut single and the promise of endless support after the “in-company” showcase in Cannes (thanks for the limo, Dom Perignon and the suite at the Carlton!) things soon fell apart as egos around me spiralled. I guess the album title “Everyone loves you, Everything’s free” should have rung some alarm bells!?….. It’s amazing what can happen when you take your eye off the ball.
A transitional period was then spent doing re-mix, writing and production work, even somehow putting out a record with Mica Paris. The highlight, and the moment that I discovered just how much I’d missed playing guitar, came when I found myself in my home studio in the spare room of my flat with Mick Jagger who came over to work, followed by an appearance as part of his band in front of a TV audience of around 14 million in Germany. All definitely slightly surreal for a little boy who once used to cycle to a tiny school in the forest.
With rekindled love for writing on the guitar I ended up working with a girl whose manager persuaded me that I really should be part of the band and not just studio bound. Having spent many months writing material we set about putting the band together. A second guitar player was found in Matt Gleeson who I’d remembered hearing play as he was fixing my guitar in a shop in Kew, the drummer was the amazing James Irving from a band that had exhausted itself by over-touring (22-20s) and on bass we had Cass Lewis who was on a very long break from Skunk Anansie. After a further few months and a stint in a studio in Riga, Latvia, with the producer Greg Haver we suddenly lost our manager and funding to rehab. On his re-appearance he announced that he had to reduce all his activities and focus on the one artist making him money. That artist wasn’t us.
Matt and I had by this stage become very good friends and formed a band called Dirty Amps with a girl who moved over from Norway. Having spent a lot of time writing we finally released our first single only to realise that she had become more interested in “Camden life” than music so parted ways as frustrations grew.
Having shut myself away in the studio with ideas that had stuck in my head over the years the debut album “Nothing Here the Drugs Can’t Fix” was released in 2012. It was recorded entirely in my home studio with strong coffee and patient neighbours.
Now the trip continues with the second album “Never Tear This Out Of Me” which features Jason Cooper on drums. Not only is Jason an old friend but also one of the best “feel” drummers I can think of and recording him at State of the Ark studios in Richmond with the engineering skills of Cameron Craig was a real moment. It transformed the way I approached tracking the rest of the instruments and has opened up a new way of me looking at writing and production as being able to work with someone of Jason’s calibre changes so much in the way I can write and produce.
So much yet to come.