Tag Archives: titans & kings

Set Fire To The Night

15 Mar

Hello!

I’m sorry I’ve not been around much. Between the music, novel, and various other things I’ve not been able to write much by way of blog posts.

But, here’s a quick update. The novel is going incredibly well, and I’ve had some excellent feedback on what I have so far. There will be more on that in the future. I’m also recording an acoustic album this summer, which I am incredibly excited about.

Most importantly, though, is this. Titans & Kings, my rock band, has just released a music video. You can see it, exclusive from OurZone, here.

The song is called Set Fire To The Night. It’s set for release on the 24th March from all good online distributors, and we’re very, very excited about it. Give it a listen, and get ready to have a bit of a dance. It’s the musical equivalent of an 80s movie montage and you’re going to love it.

Looking Back On Our Debut Tour

31 Oct

Back in 2008, I was playing in a band in Exeter. We played the scene a fair amount, ticked off all the small venues in the city. We got to know a fair few of the other bands. One of them was called Ignorance of a Rival, and we played together several times. These gents repeatedly said to us “let’s go on tour together.” It never happened.

Well, until five years later. See, that band turned into Titans & Kings. Through a bit of luck, I happened to take up bass for them. Funny how life turns out.

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I’ve wanted to go on tour since I was fourteen years old. Playing music every day, a new place, new faces every night. It’s an ideal that every teenage musician has, the wandering entertainer, nothing to worry about other than putting on good shows, making sure the audience leaves the venue happy. I’ve grown older and wiser since then (well, older, anyway). But you know what?

The last week has been fucking wonderful.

London, Manchester, Nottingham, Birmingham. Three of those cities we had never played until last week. Thank God for Speaking in Shadows for asking us to tour with them. Thank God for Autumn Ruin, simply for being fan-fucking-tastic. We were lucky to have such a fine pair of bands to play alongside, not only excellent musicians and songwriters, but amazing people to boot.

I’ve always thought that bands should work together, to help each other not only through promotion but through offering genuine criticism and feedback to make sure that talented artists not only get the recognition they deserve, but become leaner, meaner rock’n’roll machines. Too many bands buy into the promoter ideology of band vs. band, of solely monetary goals, of petty rivalries that are really nothing more than fights over which petulant child has the biggest ego. In Speaking in Shadows and Autumn Ruin, there are two groups who put the music, the art, the entertainment first.

And quality merch to boot.

And quality merch to boot.

And that’s without even mentioning the other bands, the local support and out-of-town bands that played every night. Every single one of them was fantastic, every one adding a new variety of rock that complemented all the other acts. The soaring vocals of AvaGrace, the balls-to-the-wall anthems of Munkinpure, the absolute technique of Jar of Dirt, the wonderful hooks of Letters From Grace, the sheer pop-punk joy of Hello Tomorrow, the driving, whiskey-soaked rhythms of I’m A Model Baby, the deep, atmospheric rock of A Mouth Full of Matches, the intense energy of Bullets in Bowties. It’s not often you get one gig where all the acts are so damn fantastic, let alone four in a row.

Anyway, I’m rambling. It was an amazing four days. Some all-time favourite moments. Crowdsurfers and slow-dancers at the Barfly. Story time with Nicky Stixxx. Realising that I have a secondary career as a contortionist given how we were all able to fit in a Polo with all our equipment. Autumn Ruin absolutely destroying Dry Live with one of the tightest, most powerful sets I’ve ever seen. Spending an almost obsessive amount of time in Dawsons drooling over their left-handed Telecaster. Seeing the end of a rainbow on the drive to Nottingham. Going in to the Bodega not knowing what to expect from a gig with no home headline act, only to come across one of the most passionate crowds we’ve ever played for. Hitting the town with the Autumn Ruin lads, finding a glorious rock bar and hip-shaking-sexy-robot dancing to Slipknot surrounded by people dressed in Halloween garb. Singing a lament to doner meat at three in the morning. Getting given a personal bracelet for the band from Georgia and Teresa, being so touched that I lost almost all of my remaining rock’n’roll points. Playing the Flapper, dressed in onesies, sweating out our bodyweight. Fat Lip with Speaking in Shadows and Autumn Ruin. Speaking in Shadows then absolutely beasting it. Joining them onstage for Sweet Gemini. Lots and lots of sweaty hugs.

There were some bad moments, too. One-way systems, Pizza Hut queues, the unfortunate lack of a queue for Buffet Hut (my insides still hurt), probably being dehydrated because of wearing a frickin’ onesie onstage, getting back at one in the morning after a train ride being nattered at by a drunk woman (rightly?) questioning our rock credentials and (correctly) comparing Nick to a young Bryan Adams. Going in to work from 9AM to 10:30PM on three hours’ sleep the next day.

But was it all worth it? Damn right it was.

And personally, it’s been an achievement. It’s been a tough couple of years, and I still worry about the chronic fatigue that put me out of action, forced me to effectively restart my life. I was terrified about this tour, about whether my body could cope, over whether I could do it again. And I could. If it was possible, I’d do it again right now.

In fact, I think we should start planning the next tour, lads. There are too many cities we haven’t hit, and I think it’s time we showed them what our trio can do.

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One Hour Stories and Half Hour Shows

26 Oct

I’ve got news! It’s time for another update on what I’ve been doing with my silly life, and it’s time to make excuses for why there may not be too many blog posts for the next month and a bit.

First up, I have a big announcement. I’ve started a podcast! Alongside my wonderfully talented friends Paddy Johnston and Rob Sherman, I run a podcast called One Hour Stories. The rules are simple: for each podcast, we are given a theme. We then have one hour to write a short story based on that topic. No editing is allowed, and after sixty minutes it’s pencils down. It’s a very fun challenge, and the first episode went really well. You can give it a listen here.

Meanwhile, you can find it on iTunes here, YouTube here, Facebook here, and PodOmatic here.

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Secondly, I’m off on frickin’ tour! As of tomorrow, Titans & Kings are hitting the road as part of a rotating headline tour with Speaking in Shadows and Autumn Ruin. We’re playing the Camden Barfly in London tomorrow, then hitting up Dry Live in Manchester on the 28th, The Bodega in Nottingham on the 29th, and finishing off with The Flapper in Birmingham on the 30th. If you’re free, please come on down, we’ll all massively appreciate it.

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Finally, it’s the start of NaNoWriMo on Friday. Even though I am stupidly busy with other things, I’ve decided to give it another go. My novel is divided up into small, bite-sized chunks written from a variety of perspectives, which hopefully will mean that I am able to get through it without it feeling like too much of a chore! If you’re taking part as well, drop me an add here.

I think that’s everything! Hopefully see you at a gig very soon!

Titans, Tumbleweed and Temporary Employment

22 May

I’ve not been around much, and for that I apologise. EyesAreOut has been accumulating dust at an alarming rate, but I swear it’s not a permanent thing. Anyway, I have some news!

First up, Titans & Kings are set to release our debut EP! It’s called Hold Your Tongue, and it looks a little something like this:

holdyourtonguecover

Plus, it sounds a little something like this:

 

If you like the sound of it, then it’ll be available on Amazon MP3, iTunes, off our Bandcamp page and also available in a limited edition CD print. Get them while they’re hot! It’s set for release on the 27th May, but you can order a physical copy from our BigCartel page and order the MP3s over here on Amazon on the day.

Not only that, but recording for my other project, White Birches, is going well. Just heard back one of the finished songs, and it’s sounding rather darn lush, mainly thanks to the wonderful production that Paddy Johnston has added, as well as some lovely work from Rob Sherman. Three songs have been recorded, with three more to go. It’s going to be all very nice and chilled, too, which makes a change from my usual grumpy solo stuff.

It's coming, and it hopefully will be good.

It’s coming, and it hopefully will be good.

That’s pretty much all I’ve had time for recently. I’ve been working a temporary contract earning sweet, sweet cashola. The work is not the most glamorous – cleaning cameras and data units that were used as part of the 2012 Olympic games, repackaging them and databasing them for storage and whoever uses them next – but it is strangely satisfying. I’m also working with one of my bestest best friends, which means there is always an opportunity to argue over which Indiana Jones movie is the best one.

There is, however, one major flaw to the job: the storage crates we’re working out of are full of gosh darn poisonous spiders. Us Brits aren’t used to things that definitely look like they’re meant to hurt us. The closest we get to dangerous wildlife in this country is the odd mythological beastie and the occasional angry badger or daddy long legs. The crates, though, appear to have come from abroad, and are full of eight-legged monsters that just look mean. Having wikipedia’ed our nemeses, some of them are definitely dangerous – although thankfully none are fatal. That said, we’re still double-checking our hard hats and jackets before putting them on and incurring the wrath of any spider taking a snooze.

No lie, this is basically our reality.

No lie, this is basically our reality.

Anyway, that’s all for now! Haven’t done much writing as I haven’t had a permanent base of operations for about two months, but there is more of that to come soon. Looking at my list of New Year’s Resolutions, I’m doing pretty well on them so far – although Porkins here still needs to lose a bit of weight.

‘Til next time!
(PS – here is MY suggestion for the Titans & Kings artwork. I wonder why nobody liked it…)

titans and kings ep 2

Update! Or, An Apology for Why I Haven’t Been Posting More Blogs about Dinosaurs

8 Feb

Crikey, it’s been a while. Sorry folks! I’ve been extremely busy recently. So what have I been up to?

For one thing, I’ve been in the studio with the band, recording our debut EP. I can’t tell you much: the name, the artwork, or anything like that. But I can tell you this: it’s going to sound lush. We’ve recorded with the absolutely ruddy fantastic Antonio Hanna at Freefall Studios. He’s based out of the old Fortress complex by Old Street and is monstrously talented. I’ll be sure to share around the EP when it’s finished, but it’s safe to say that it puts all our other recordings to shame.

Notice the fear in my eyes. Tor is just out of view with a shotgun aimed at my face.

Notice the fear in my eyes. Tor is just out of view with a shotgun aimed at my face.

I always enjoy going into the studio. For one thing, it makes me feel like a proper musician, as opposed to playing onstage where I think to myself ‘if I shake my hips a bit then people will ignore the bum notes I’m hitting’. There’s something so unbelievably satisfying about it as well, particularly when you’ve done a clean take, or beasted an awkward breakdown section.

Bass it up a notch.

Bass it up a notch.

There were plenty of slow moments, though. My bass was done within an hour and a bit one morning, and aside from that all I had to contribute was some backing vocals (being the mooching, unimportant bass player that I am). So I kept myself busy by working on my writing projects. Well, I say that, but I forgot my laptop for the first day so instead spent a frankly obscene amount of time working my way through Scribblenauts.

The short story collection is, thankfully, going fairly well. I foolishly decided, in one of my bouts of punching above my limited ability as an author, to write a timeline-jumping, strangely-structured post-apocalyptic short story and it has taken far too long to complete a first draft. I am now leaving it for a while, sickened by the sight of its bloated paragraphs and awkward emotional moments. It needs a good streamline, but for now I want to write something a little more in my comfort zone, so I’m back to writing internet community-themed horror. After only a few hours of concentrated scrawling I’m already 3000 words in and I suspect the new story is going to be completed very easily. There will be an extract up online fairly soon.

So, what else? More gigs, working out another musical project (I am a band whore and I am proud) as well as putting the groundwork in for my own solo EP, potentially sorting out some interesting stuff for March and April (secrets! Ooooh!) and, unfortunately, not playing much of the huge stack of videogames I got for Christmas.

Anyway, more blog posts soon, I promise! I’ll actually write something, I swear!

Creepy Cellars and Killer Riffs: Making a Music Video

27 Nov

This weekend I have spent a large amount of time in the cellar of a Chichester pub called Hole in the Wall. The cellar is the kind of place that ghosts would be too damn scared to hang out in, in case the possessed little girls who normally live there come back. It’s the cellar equivalent of the strange, large house in your neighbourhood where that reclusive man who may be a serial killer lives. The floor is uneven, the ceiling is covered in cobwebs, and has numbers scrawled on the walls. In short, it looks like the kind of worst sex dungeon imaginable.

Who wants to hang out in a cellar with these lovely gents?

No, this is not my usual Saturday hangout. I prefer a lie in, looking at hilarious photos of animals with a cup of chai in my hand. This Saturday, though, I was making a music video.

I have a ridiculous number of musical projects. My own stuff is called White Birches and is pretentious ballbaggery, falling somewhere between post-rock, industrial, ambient, and singer-songwriter stuff. Then there’s Paddy Johnston & The Love Explosion, where I croon vocal harmonies and play not-very-good-guitar parts smothered in delay so they sound passable. I am thankfully held up by the fantastic work of everyone else in the band. There was Wood Ghosts as well, which will hopefully reappear soon and wow you all with Rob Sherman’s unbelievably good lyrics.

This video, though, was for Titans & Kings. We’re a rock band. We do riffs, and distortion, and double bass drum pedal, and downtuned guitars. We play crazily great songs, some of them soft and some of them heavy. The one we were video-ing up a notch is one of the heavy ones. It’s called Freedom, and it goes a little something like this:

So, what better place to play a song with a riff so heavy that it makes your belly rumble than an old, scary cellar?

The guys making the video for us were Shep and Mol, and can be found here. They were awesome, quite simply. They’d sourced the location and set up the totally badass lighting rig. Oh yeah, the lighting rig. Multicoloured lights, shifting. Absolutely amazing.

Their idea was fantastic as well. Part of the video was filmed in real time, the rest in half time. The idea? To speed it up, therefore making our movements erratic, energetic. Add that to the already creepy location – a cellar that used to be a 17th Century prison and has also been a crypt – and we were on to a winner.

As awesome as it will be when the final video is seen, there were some difficulties. First up, it turns out that playing a song in half time is a pain in the ass. We kept drifting in and out of time, but we made up for it with levels of movement that, when sped up to regular speed, are likely to give the impression of a hyperactive child given a mixture of caffeine, sugar, and cocaine.

We’ve got Tor. Bruce Banner can shove it.

The lights, too, were a distraction. Not because of the colours – although damn it looked pretty – but because of the heat. The cellar was, obviously, fairly damp. In between then being heated up by the lamps and the addition of the smoke machine, it felt as though we had walked into a primordial jungle. I was half-expecting velociraptors to jump out at us at any minute.

Smoke machines are fun, though. There’s no getting around that. The feeling you get as smoke flows around your ankles is absolutely amazing, somewhere between a rock star and a comic book villain.

Other highlights of the day? Well, our band luncheon at Greggs (very high society), the amusing looks the regulars gave when seeing six people come simultaneously out of the floor and appear behind the bar, and taking a break to watch a bit of the rugby was quite good. The best of the lot, though was the fact that due to a miscalculation when bringing equipment, we were missing a drum stool and snare stand. We found, replacements though. No snare stand? Well, nothing beats an empty keg. No drum stool? A suitable replacement is, apparently, a broken chair with a toilet seat put on it for extra height.

Also works as a pimpin’ necklace.

So all in all, a damn good day. A big thanks to everyone at Hole In The Wall (you were awesome) and to Mol and Shep. I am tentatively saying that the finished product is going to be absolutely fantastic. I may have lost half by body weight in sweat, covered everything in dirt, and caused blisters on my fingers, but it was oh so worth it.

I’ll share the video around when we get it back, along with some wonderful photos and other neat stuff.

Until next time!

Shameless Music-Promoting Blog Post #1

26 Aug

Yes, it’s time that I force my music upon you, like a mother getting her child to eat broccoli. Only I don’t think my music is quite as good for you in the long run.

 

First up, here is a new EP from White Birches:

 
Unfortunately I’m calling hiatus on the project for now, due to a mixture of wanting to focus on my writing for a while, job-hunting, things picking up pace with my less anti-social bands, and not wanting to set up my new laptop for recording after the last one went to the great repair shop in the sky. Because of this, I’m putting up the final recordings we made as a pay-what-you-want EP. Don’t worry about paying anything unless you’re feeling particularly generous; if you like it, it’s more than enough satisfaction that you’ve downloaded it. The project will probably get going sometime soon when I have a bit more time on my hands.

 

Speaking of my other bands, I have been playing bass for Titans & Kings for a while now. It’s super-awesome-fun-happiness getting up on stage with them, and we’ve been playing gigs aplenty recently. We’ve been offered the chance to play with the fantastic Hornet by SED Records and Mean Fiddler. The gig is on the 27th September upstairs at The Garage in Highbury. So, if any Londoners are about then, it would be great to see you there. Tickets are available online here.

Aside from just us, both Hornet and Black State Highway rock more than a geologist’s personal stash of favourite igneous and sedimentary samples. If you’ve not heard us yet, here’s a quick sample:

 

My other band, Paddy Johnston & The Love Explosion, is going into the studio soon. We’ll have a four-track EP out, complete with six-way vocal harmonies and lovely choruses, before the end of the year.

 

Right, I think that’s all for now. Up next, I’m starting a new series called Rob’s Rockin’ Retro Reviews. The title, thankfully, will not reflect the quality of the writing. It will be much worse.