A bit about me
I do a lot of my song writing in a remote 400 year-old former Carthusian
Monastery high in the Swiss Alps. It is owned by some cousins who are
kind enough to indulge me once a year for a couple of weeks so I can escape
the telephone and get down to some creative work. You can hear some acoustic
demos I recorded at La Part Dieu here.
After getting lots of positive responses to a song I had recorded called
"Valentine" (produced by Tim Bradshaw, at the time guitarist with Fat
Lady Sings and now with David
Gray), I decided to get a bank loan and put out a promo CD EP on my
own label. With the aid of a small music company, Invisible
Hands Music, and a professional publicist, I managed to blag my way
onto several regional radio stations for interviews and sessions. Offering
myself as a guinea pig for a make-over on UK Living's "Live at Three"
national cable TV broadcast, I took the opportunity to perform a live
acoustic version of "Valentine" with Tim.
Taking a grass roots approach, I have tried to play as often as possible
to sell my CDs and build up a Mailing List, which currently consists of
well over 500 names and addresses. I was particularly well received in
Scotland, where Mary-Ann McKinnon, a fan turned brilliant hustler, has
successfully organised several mini-tours for me and my band in clubs,
pubs, and record shops around Glasgow.
Good sales of the "Valentine" CD meant I had to go for a re-press and
inspired a small record label, MMaD to help cover the costs of pressing
a second CD EP "Every Precious Second". I used this to make raise my profile
in some regional
"Every Precious Second" recouped so quickly that I was able to press a
third single "Me! Me! Me!". And then the frivolous "Topsy Turvy Xmas"
single in December 1988 featuring the legendary punk
Cooper Clarke as the "Fairy In The Tree".
In 1999 I recorded my first album "Firehorse" with producer
Tim Bradshaw in my then 16-track analogue home studio, Summerisle. I have
spent the best part of two years working to get it distributed and promoted.
It is being officially released on October 14th 2002.
Also in 1999, I married the fabulous Karen (AKA "Pop Girl"
to those in the know). Our rock'n roll reception included two excellent
sets from Peter
Bruntnell and his band, a performance of David Essex's Hold Me Close
by Lop-Lop featuring Jason King look-a-like drummer Martin Gregory's debut
as vocalist, and a short performance from the great John
Cooper Clarke. (Select Magazine covered the wedding in their re-launch
issue in March 2000 - this didn't do them much good because they disappeared
off the shelves soon after)
I cut a special wedding CD single Destination Vegas, once again produced
by Tim Bradshaw, co-written with Tim and wife-to-be Karen. Copies were
handed out to all the guests. A few were made available for sale but are
now sold out.
Random Past History
I studied Philosophy at University and started an M/Phil in Psychology
of Religion, studying what the press would call "Cults" and
why people believe in all manner of strange gods, UFOs, Astrology, Voodoo,
Magic, etc. Personally I have no time for any of this - I'm a Rock 'n
Roll fundamentalist - my gods are John, Paul, George and Ringo...
I first formed a band at school with best pal Neil McCarthy and recorded
about 10 "albums" by the age of 13 by bouncing sounds between
cassette machines to build up multi-layered tracks. Ok so they're pretty
I attended Wilson's Grammar School in Surrey - I had the same headmaster
as Michael Caine, (who was expelled for smoking many years before I got
there.) I kept my head down to begin with but lost the plot by the age
of 16, paying little attention to lessons, spending my time writing bad
poetry, reading William Burroughs, Ken Kesey, Rimbaud, and the great Irish
satirical writer Flann O'Brien and listening to as much music of all types
as I could - Sinatra, Sex Pistols, Beatles, Dylan, Zappa.
After school I briefly went to Epsom College of Art and Design. I was
kicked out for being unable to draw - this was not news to me - I thought
it was their job to teach me how to draw.
I stumbled into the kid's music business a few years ago - I'm now teaching
music to over 200 babies and toddlers a week in venues around South London.
I've even recorded a nursery
rhyme CD with Alex Heffes. It's available from amazon here
if you're interested.
Alex and I co-wrote and sung the theme for prime time ITV drama series
"Stan the Man", starring John Thompson ("Fast Show"
and "Cold Feet"). It first aired in November and December 2002.
Alex also arranged the Fat Les football song "Jerusalem" - I
got to sing on the finished record and might even be in the video for
a second or so. You can't hear me of course because I'm part of the huge
football crowd. It’s my only top ten hit to date - ironic really
because I'm not into football... I did get to record at George Martin's
Air Studios which was fun.
I've done a load of student jobs from CD buyer at HMV Records, to sandwich
maker, hospital dish washer, roadie, sound engineer, DSS clerk, Charcoal
Burger cook, Amnesty International volunteer. After college I worked for
a while in the film industry as a sound recordist, and dubbing mixer working
on several short films made by students of Panico, a training company
founded by Monty Python's movie soundman Bob Doyle.
I've recently been doing some songwriting with Rory Fellowes, (brother
of Julian Fellowes, winner of the 2002 Best Screenplay Oscar for "Gosford
Park".) Rory makes a living as an animator - his early work included
the original Wombles (he built their newspaper burrow single handed).
He's recently been head of CGi for "Harry Potter 2". Other credits
include "Hellraiser 2" and the video for "In Between Days"
by The Cure.
I used to crash the celebrity jams held on the "Dreamhouse Club"
acoustic nights at the Waterrats on the Gray's Inn Road - I got to rub
shoulders and sometimes play my little percussion eggs with the likes
of Marcella Detroit, Amy Mann, Shriekback, various Waterboys, Robyn Hitchcock,
and David Gray.
My biggest gig to date was supporting Abba Covers band Bjorn Again at
Aberystwyth Arts Centre in Wales - trying to fit in in with the 70's vibe
I bounced on stage on an original orange spacehopper - this went down
very well with the 2000 strong audience, but not with the band who were
not amused and never asked me back!
As a scam to promote my single "Valentine" I persuaded UK Living
Cable TV to have me on their makeover show, the angle being that I was
a scruffy popstar-to-be and needed a radical overhall to wow the fans.
So that's how I ended up with orange hair. I got to sing a live acoustic
version of the song as the show went out which was good publicity.
I was born in Barrow-in-Furness but grew up in Cheam in Surrey - famous
as the fictional home of the late comedian Tony Hancock. (Oh and they
filmed Terry and June down our road.) I had an pretty idyllic childhood
and have a wonderful family.
In 2000 I sang on the Vegas strip in front of Caesar's Palace with an
elderly Elvis Impersonator with a huge karaoke set-up on the back of a
shopping trolley. I happened to have a copy of another single I put out
called "Destination Vegas" which he put in his machine so I
could sing it - a large crowd of tourists gathered as did a number of
mounted police officers - mounted on Bicycles that is in funky cycling
shorts and helmets - I kept playing because I had no idea that these people
were cops and nearly got arrested for my efforts. I was rescued in the
nick of time by a gentleman of the road who took me off to a bar where
he said we could get cheap Margheritas. I had to pay...
I once gave a copy of my debut 7 inch single "Liberty Street"
to Neil Kinnock backstage at "Have I Got News For You". He politely
enthused about the merits of vinyl and suggested that he was one of the
few people in the country who still had a record player.
I've played all over the country, but have been especially well received
in Glasgow - as the ancient Chinese proverb says "Home grown ginger
is never sold" - you've got to travel to be appreciated!
I have an enormous collection of classic Black and White Monster movies
as well as a load of classic British cult TV - one whole room at home
is devoted to my "Video wall".