In 2007, I was a pretty unhappy bloke. I’d laid all my hopes on a few things, one of which was that my band, Freeslave, would get the big break I thought we deserved, and was beginning to be suggested by people who heard our stuff and in the press. This, along with all the other things I was hoping for at the time, did not come to pass. It’s easy with hindsight to look back and say that all things work for good in the end (they do actually seem to, and seem to have done here) but at the time, it seemed like the band, and my vision of what it meant, and what it could mean for my future life, was falling apart. Of course, I realise now I made a whole lot of mistakes, was very difficult to be in a band with and had a very warped view of myself and my own importance (2 parts amazing songwriter to 1 part failure deserving of all the self-loathing depression and self-sabotage I could muster and experienced).
And so it was that I found myself in the house of my good friend Harun Kotch for a week, in the run up to a big Freeslave gig in Trafalger Square, which would be the high point and virtual end of that band, working on some songs for something completely different. Harun and I were both enthralled with Aqualung at the time. I loved Stateless and was obsessed with an album by As Tall as Lions. In Freeslave we were making indie rock songs with riffs, and trying to be taken “seriously” outside of Christian circles. I wanted to make a singer-songwriter album as a solo artist, feel like I was freeer to write about whatever I felt like, and to work out some personal issues. As you’ll gather if you listen to the album, it’s quite serious. It was, though, probably the most fun I’ve ever had recording. We worked very fast. I remember writing and recording one of the instrumental tracks, Opus, whilst Harun laid his new driveway. Up until recently, this was my favourite document of my songs and my voice that I’d ever put down. As a snapshot of who I was and how I felt 7 years ago, this is pretty spot on. In terms of who played what, it was virtually all Harun and me. I played all the keys (I think!) and sang all the lead vocals. Harun played bass, some guitar and supplied backing vocals and probably a lot of other stuff I don’t know about. He and Ross Gill worked on some loops, and Ross then mixed the album beautifully
Harun begun a small label, Knuci, which put out the album and we toured a fair bit in small venues, having a lot of fun – my first experiences (good and bad) of backing tracks. This album rekindled my love of writing and recording music just for the sake of it. I learnt a lot from the process and some of the seeds of my more grandiose (or pretentious, or preposterous) later endeavours in song writing and vision for arranging and so on were born in the process of writing this album. Heaven on Earth and Lost My Heart would go on to be big songs on my own journey towards wellbeing and asking, and letting, God put me back together. Nothing in life is ever wasted.