I just got off the phone to Kevin Gaughan from Music In Leicester and The Live, Local and Loud Podcast, and we had a great chat about Prime's past since mid-late 2014 to plans for the future now that Lockdown is coming close to an end. As many of you will know after keeping tabs on our social media lately, we played our last gig on March 7th at the Winding Wheel hall in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, so Kev kindly asked me about some of these shows. One other thing he asked me was "Why do you want to get involved in talking to other musicians on the scene?" ...
Well, my answer was simple. It's something I've always done. I was always into illustration and music fanzine culture, and in my early 20's after getting big time into punk and post-punk music such as Patti Smith, The Sex Pistols, Richard Hell and The Voidoids/Television, and Joy Division, myself and my good friend Richard Smith decided to start up our own grotty little magazine based in the East Midlands, and call it Night Flight (named after the awesome Scott Walker song).
At the time I was working on Maid Marian Way for the civil service (and a few months later at Castle Boulevard and then a couple of years later at Station Street DSS ... thankfully now bulldozed as it was one of the ugliest buildings you'd ever seen). So I had access to laminators, scanners and printers. The main part of my pointless role was laminating press releases and 'good news stories' for local MPs. And that's when the fun began.
So unbeknownst to the management I would sneak around late at night 'til the offices closed around 7pm and scan my hand cut and printed pages, graced by Richard's usually brutal and sardonic reviews of the local scene, including some interviews and reviews I would do under the pseudonym of Olly Wilson. My friend the local songwriter Lisa DeVille would talk to me a few years after Night Flight had finished and said to me "You used to print that? I would read it in anticipation just to see if they slagged me off or not in it...!" To be honest I don't think we ever did, and if we had, her music was quite good so it probably would have been saved a battering. Anyway, the magazine was printed regularly at the JobCentre (about 7 issues maybe?) before I got busted and caught with about 300 double sided magazine pages on my desk... An idiot that I work with who used to stay behind and look through people's drawers (oo-err) distracted me, and I made the fatal error. Luckily they didn't see the other thousand A4 pages that I printed that night and I kept my job. And Night Flight ambled on to a few more issues before it was too much hard work and we packed it in.
The whole purpose of being involved of course was to have a great night out and promote projects around the time of my first band Future (which was far from the future but we did have some alright funky rock and punk tunes, I might upload our demos at some point). It's weird how some people get into music journalism, some writers have far bigger egos than any Alex Turner type character, some want to share the word of some great music (I was in that camp a little bit), and others love the craic of being involved with the scene (Richard fell more into that camp).
Either way, if you want to write or get involved in online blogs or podcast I heavily recommend it, but if your main focus is to be a musician or make it in your band, I'd say stick to that, as music writing and podcasts are bloody hard work!
Big shout out to Richard, Will Kent and Trevor Ward, some lovely people I've met on the local scene during Prime's four year tenure playing live.
It's been all go this week, as myself and new Prime guitarist Chris D Bramley have just announced dates in Holland and Germany in around a month's time! Can't wait to perform some great acoustic sets to a new audience.
Also, if you wish to check it out, I've just begun a new blog, with the intention of having some 'real' music discussions with musicians of all backgrounds, ages and levels. Check out the first in the series, with Liam Doyle, a really nice guy and talented singer-songwriter from Glasgow, Scotland. You can read it here:
(For more updates, check out both the Prime and Chris Bramley facebook pages, @ukprime and @chrisdbramleymusic)
I sit thinking about things to write, and things to do. And my mind is a complete blank.
Then I remember the singer Bono saying if you have nothing to write about, write about the fact that you have nothing to say. Then I remember the great French film director Eric Rohmer saying if you can’t come up with anything new, re-write what you have already written then something will come.
The guitarist Noel Gallagher said had he lived as a young man in this day and age he might never have been on the dole and written the great Oasis songs back in the day, as daytime TV is too good. The internet is too good. Youtube is too good. Facebook is too good. Instagram is too good. Twitter is too good.
So exactly what is a boy to do?
This has been my first blog for a little while, as I’ve had a holiday and have been working hard on getting some new songs ready for shows in the Summer. So far we have booked a slot at the Tramlines Festival Fringe in Sheffield and also a show with at the Angel Microbrewery, Nottingham with our pal Connor from AC Audio. Anyway, I thought I’d talk theories on songwriting, as lately I’ve had a couple of really interesting interviews with online bloggers from far afield.
I wanted to go into a theory that not only do I think that songwriters often adopt their heroes’ vocal mannerisms and songwriting themes but they also adopt their Ways of writing too. I’m into the likes of Bowie, Mark E Smith of the Fall and David Byrne of Talking Heads, so when I started out, my ‘style’ (and I couldn’t sing back then) was adapting jams from the band, cutting and pasting their music into what fit with the - mostly improvised - vocals. I never used the cut-up technique (used by the author William Borroughs and adapted by Bowie - you can watch him using it in the film Cracked Actor on youtube), but as my words and phrases were stream of consciousness, they had that vibe anyway. I’ve still tried to keep that looseness to how I write and I think that’s what makes Prime songs different to the norm. Let’s face it, we aren’t Flaming Lips or Radiohead when it comes to musical experimentation, so there has to be something else to make the ears prick up.
At the same time I was starting out I was involved in a local magazine, Night Flight, and one of the bands I would talk to regularly were the local Mansfield indie rock madmen Lucky Bullet, and their singer Daz’s hero was Jim Morrison of The Doors. So his way was getting notebooks full of lyrics and as soon as he got a feel for what his (very good) band were playing he would adapt a particular idea to the song. And put his soaring sixties/seventies style vocal to the music, along with some very deep lyrics.
His other bandmate, Roger Portas, who is known as DaDD and remixed the Prime song Bye Bye (feel free to have a gander on youtube too), is a stereotypical studio boffin, and as he grew up with bands like Erasure, Yazoo and early Depeche Mode (in which Vince Clarke’s vision dominated the project - often at the expense of his relationship with his band-mates). Roger’s songs with his duo Video Tape Machine are constructed from scratch by him in his home studio, even down to vocal melodies which he will sing (badly in his opinion) on the demos. Then his singer Tom will take the vocals to the next level when the finished track is almost ready.
Whatever your way of writing, and how those early influences stick around, it doesn’t really matter. I think it’s important how you adapt and grow. Hopefully, you’ll always improve and get better technically. But don’t be afraid to hang onto that early experimental thing you have, as it keeps things fresh. Listen to different new (or old) music, but also remember when listening to your heroes just why you want to do this. It will stand you in good stead.
As I write this I'm getting ready for our show tomorrow night at the o2 Academy in Leicester. My last time there was Prime supporting Electric Six, which was great fun (there's pictures online of me sporting my fabulous metallic gold sports jacket ... I bought it from a sports store in the Canary Isles with my buddy #HeelJon. Anyway, this time I'll probably be looking a little bit more subtle, playing alongside Chris Bramley and his band of merry men (all of whom are lovely lads). TRAPS, the Leicester dance/indie band are responsible for the booking. Having enjoyed blasting out their music on the way back from Cardiff with Chris last month, they clearly deserve this showcase.
I had a great time performing last Saturday at the Leicester o2 Academy. It's been a while since we performed supporting Electric Six, and this time the pressure was off as local band TRAPs took the headline slot for this, and did a very good job too. Delighted for my buddy Chris Bramley and his band too, for their first gig together, and on a stage like this, I was very impressed indeed. Lovely lads and it was a pleasure to get to know them on the run up to the gig. Guitarist Cassius is a ball of energy and stood out! It's not hard to get up for a show with people like that on stage... But beer and Jack Daniel's helped too. It was a nice audience too and they can carry on stroking my ego as much as they want! (Leicester always is, nice people, they tend to be far more approachable than Notts audiences). I also enjoyed chatting to Derbyshire/Notts band the Lapels, and I shall go and hang out with them at their show at Alberts on 21st March for a beer or two. They had a very slick, professional edge, and a 60s mod sound and style to boot, for once I felt underdressed, rocking the latest Prime UK Band t shirt in mercurial black and white (available from prime4.bandcamp.com).... I've also had a f***ing shave since, and it was about time.
I am really very pleased to give you the first of the blogs on this page, along with the primeband.co.uk site itself.
It's been a long time coming but I feel that now, with our music collected on Spotify, apple music, googleplay and more, and an incoming CD and online collection which includes our first three singles, it was about time, if not long overdue. (Against any rational thinking person's advice, we actually recorded and released a mini-album about a year before we released a single. Lol. We like to do things a little differently this end... still, it's another achievement that I'm proud of, warts n' all.)
This site will, over time, as we continue to build it's content, hopefully give you an insight into a fair few years of us playing live, recording, working with different musicians, and, the nice thing for me, highlight some of the very f**king cool people we have met in the first 4 years of me and the Prime lads being in this music game.
Have fun, and feel free to leave your comments and feedback. We always appreciate it.
Yours, Lee. (Notts, February 2019)