“This is great. A big dollop of proper pop. A slice of singalong hooks, followed by the rest of the cake. The earworms you didn’t know you needed until they wiggled down your eustachian tube and wrapped their little bodies round your cochlea….”
Recently I was at Jordan’s, recording his bass parts to an ep of Murder Ballads.
It was lots of fun, and very productive. We got bass parts down to three songs that will definitely be on the record. The whole point of the project is that it’s supposed to be a bit rough and ready, a bit weird. Jordan was really up for that and played some creative, odd stuff.
But one of the songs didn’t work.
‘A bloody way to find yourself some peace’ it’s called and lyrically it does fit with the other songs for the EP. It’s all about killing someone as an act of revenge, and how that actually feels quite warm and right (according to the character in the song. I wouldn’t know. Honest.).
But musically, it didn’t quite. The chords are a bit too 80’s ballad, the melody a bit too straightforward, the structure a bit too simple.
It was written several years before the others and I wasn’t entirely confident with the whole thing going in, but thematically it seemed to fit, so I through it into the mix. It was only as Jordan gave it a go that we realised that the double bass didn’t really work – and the reason it didn’t work was that the song doesn’t belong on this EP.
Is the song really dead forever? Maybe, I’m not sure. but for now, this isn’t a song I’m going ahead with.
Is there nothing salvageable from it? Yes. I really like the opening section with the arpeggios and pedal E note, so maybe that section survives in another piece further down the line.
Here’s an MP3 of the guide vocal and guitar lines, plus Jordan’s double bass. Rough and ready, but you get the idea.
I think it’s a perfectly competent song, but not one of my best and not for this murder ballads project. What do you reckon? Did I make the right call?
As you know (unless you don’t. You probably do. I assume it’s only people who like my music who read this. One or two of you. Hi! It’s probably Andy. Hi Andy. Thanks for reading) I’ve been working on an EP of murder ballads. Here is video proof.
This video is the first run-through. It’s a nice cheery tale about a bloke who murdered his wife, regrets doing so and now is trying to contact her using a spirit box.
Another first run through.’Butcher Boy’ is about a butcher who turns his talents with a knife on some of his customers.
I headed over to Jordan’s to record his double bass. This proved a little more difficult than I was expecting…
Here’s a thing to listen to. Alun and I recorded a little chat about the Murder and Parliament album. So if you like hearing musicians whitter on about music they made, you might want to click on this. Also includes a ‘bonus’ track in the form of an song from Alun‘s latest album Humankind (or just kind of Human).
It is February again (as usual. January then February every year. Why must we always stick with the same routine. Dull) so I’m doing February Album Writing Month for something like the 11th year.
At the time of writing I’ve got three new tracks up, all of them nice cheery murder ballads.
- Butcher Boy is about about a butcher who decides to kills some of his customers.
- Ashes is about a guy who killed his wife and is now trying to contact her ghost through use of a spirit box.
- A Bloody Way To Find Yourself Some Peace is about how lovely revenge is.
You can hear all my FAWM demos over on this page.
Murder and Parliament Track by Track blog series
Over on my Murder and Parliament site I’ve been writing a series of blog posts about each track. You can read the first few by heading over the murderandparliament.com
There will be more FAWM tracks, and more rambling about Murder and Parliament over the next couple of weeks, so either stay tuned or avoid my site and social media, depending on what you think of all that.
The winter period contained two relatively last minute gigs for Gareth and I.
On the 3rd of December 2017 we played a set at Masquerade II, a one day festival organised by The Gift’s chief luvvie, head crooner, and good egg, Mike Morton.
It was a bit last minute. We were stand ins for a band called Preacher who had had to pull out at short notice. David Elephant, my label boss, vehemently denied that there was any foul play involved in getting us onto the bill, although it was him who suggested us to Mike (David, is that vague enough to keep you in the clear while maintaining your air of menace? Don’t worry, I’ll take this comment out in the edit).
Graham, the indefatigable stage manager told us to get there at 10am. Being an ex-teacher, I took that to mean we should get there at 10am. What a fool I was. In the end, by the time doors opened in the early afternoon only one act had sound checked and it wasn’t us.
I Am The Manic Whale played a blinding set, and then we were on with just a line check that didn’t identify the slightly dodgy guitar lead I had picked up.
Our set, while generally good and well received, did involve some slight technical issues which I find slightly annoying.
But thankfully there was a very appreciative audience who could forgive a few crackles and we got away with it in the end.
Here’s a review of our set, which is very nice given the reviewer admits to my stuff not necessarily being his cup of tea:
“Self Made Man stands out and particularly shows Gareth Cole’s skill on guitar. Tom Slatter also displays a surprisingly soulful voice … and they deservedly received a very positive response…” Read more.
Here’s the penultimate episode of my silly podcast, which is all about what happened after the gig. It also contains a recording from the gig which includes Tony Colvill’s rather interesting intro, and a track from our set. Every word I say is true.
Nice ‘n’ Sleazy
Also at Masquerade were the quite awesomely awesome Big Hogg. Big Hogg can groove, which isn’t the sort of thing you expect at a prog event to be honest. They played a great set and turned out to be lovely people as well. A few days after the gig, Justin, Big Hogg’s head honcho (actually I have no idea if he’s the head honcho in that band. He’s one of the honchos certainly. Why do you only ever hear about head honchos? Why not Second Honcho? Minor Honcho? Co-Honcho?) asked us to come and play a set in Glasgow on Jan 6th.
Travelling most of the length of the UK to play a gig with people we barely knew, in a city we’d never played, on the off-chance of possibly breaking even? Of course we said yes.
Turns out Glasgow is still one of my favourite cities in the UK. We watched the rather fabulous singer-songwriter Marcus Doo perform a set of confessional, honest songs of the sort that I never could, and then we played our own set.
I’m rather annoyed that I forgot to change the batteries in my trusty old zoom recorder because I have no evidence of the fact that this was our best gig yet. We played well, but that was surely down to the energy of an engaged and receptive crowd.
The best gigs aren’t the ones where you get all the notes right and remember the words. That bit of it is a given really. The best gigs are ones where you act and the audience responds. You make a joke and they laugh, you play the quiet song and they shut up and listen, you finish a song and they burst into applause, rather than just clapping politely.
This was like that. It was good.
Orion’s Belt were the headliner. They’re a bit folk-rock, a bit psychedelic, and a lot good. They played a set that was a mixture of songs and improv. It went down well with the crowd and I really loved it.
The Glasgow trip was great fun and we’re already thinking about how we can get up there again. Justin and Julia’s cats were great hosts (the humans were really cool too) and Gareth not only played a blinder, but did a ton of driving for which I am very grateful.
So, so far this acoustic rock duo thing has been a great success. We’ve got to the point where we can play some songs without messing up too badly and played some great gigs.
Next step is to get some more in the diary and have more live-music-related fun.
Erm…. do you want us to play a gig? We will. Almost anywhere.
2017 is coming to a close and we’re just about to begin what I assume will be the final year ever, at least the last one given a number by humans.
6 to 9 months longer then we can all pack it in and hand over world domination to whatever hardy creatures are still left alive after the Trumpian apocalypse. I assume it’ll be the cockroaches or the tardigrades.
With that note of impending doom, I thought I’d say thank you for being so supportive over the last 12 months. 2017 has been one of my most successful years, from both a creative and financial perspective. I released two albums, Happy People and my instrumental album Murder and Parliament, both of which have just about squeaked into breaking even more or less (still need to sell a couple more of the latter if you don’t yet have one). That’s two albums of not exactly the most commercial music in the world selling enough to at least mean we can keep on making more.
This isn’t a profit making exercise, it’s art and every person who buys a download or a CD is helping us make a bit more art. I am genuinely grateful. Thank you!
Here are my highlights of the last twelve months:
- Happy People
My 5th solo album was finally released in March 2017. It’s loosely a concept album about a near future dystopia, my first album length foray away from the steampunk aesthetic, and the first of my albums not to be an entirely solo affair. I was aided and abetted by Jordan Brown, Dan Bowles and Michael Cairns. Of course I’m biased, but I think it’s bloody good.
- Not The Tom Slatter Duo
Gareth Cole, who I first played with on Mike Kershaw’s album in 2016, joined me for this year’s gigs. We got to the North East for a prog gig, the North West for a biker event, and London and its environs for a few other gigs. It has been marvellous to play some of my songs live with a few more of the parts included.
The next gig, for those of you who can get to it, is 6th Jan in Glasgow. Here’s a link.
There should be plenty more in 2018 too. I’ll let you know. As ever, if you know somewhere that you think I should play, please get in touch.
- The Sunday Bootleg is finished!
In late 2015 I decided to amuse myself by telling absurd stories about what had definitely really happened after gigs as a way of sharing some ‘bootleg’ gig recordings. I intended to do one a week for a year, but real life kept on getting in the way, so I never quite go it up to a weekly thing.
I’ve bought it to a close after 47 episodes in which I’ve accidentally told a truly ridiculous story involving the evil creatures who live in London’s financial district and tend the sky-scraper eggs and their war with the metal insects created by a machine that turns sound into monsters.
It is ramshackle and mad and I love it. Here’s a playlist with all the story episodes.
- The Immoral Supporters
Perhaps this is a lowlight, eh? The denizens of The Tom Slatter Immoral Support Group on facebook have bullied, teased, cajoled and complained, posting videos and photos, codes and comments, and endless, endless puns. I’d like to say I’m grateful to them, but of course that’s not true. I hate them all, each and every one. The fact that they were thanked in the Happy People booklet is simply a clerical error.
Nevertheless, I do find the Immoral Supporters motivating, in a strange, masochistic way. I am motivated to succeed in spite of their bullying. The bastards (Aside= Thanks guys and gals, you’ve made my year).
If you want to join in, here’s the link.
What will 2018 contain? I’m planning for a new full length album to be released in early 2019 (if there is a 2019), so 2018 will contain all the production for that, as well as a few other smaller releases and various shenanigans.
As already mentioned, it also contains that January gig in Glasgow, if that’s your neck of the woods.
Thanks for listening/downloading/buying cds/heckling at gigs.
See you in 2018
The first gig of the year is sorted. Gareth and I will be playing at Nice N Sleazy in Glasgow. Here are the details:
Nice N Sleazy
421 Sauchiehall Street, G2 3LG Glasgow, United Kingdom
If you’re in/near/have heard of Glasgow I expect to see you there.
What began in late 2015 as an attempt to put out something out a bit of audio silliness once a week for a year, turned into an off-and-on mess of lies, interviews and dodgy live performances that no-one made me stop.
But now I’m making myself stop. Here’s the penultimate episode of the Sunday bootleg. It includes a snippet from the Masquerade 2 gig Gareth and I played last week, as well as the entirely true story of what happened after the gig.
In that first podcast I told you about Tarquin and the City-egg I saw him and some of his cronies pushing through the deserted London streets. Now we come to the culmination of the war they have been fighting with the metal-music-insects.
It is all true. Every word.
My new instrumental project is out today.
Here’s the BEM press release message thingie.
MURDER AND PARLIAMENT – OUT NOW!
Bad Elephant Music is excited to announce that preorders for ‘Murder and Parliament’, the new instrumental project from Tom Slatter, are now open, ahead of a December 8th release.
Think you know Tom Slatter? Think again! Murder and Parliament’s instrumental soundscape showcases a side of Tom that may surprise you.
Enlisting the talents of Alun Vaughan (bass guitar) and Chrissie Caulfield (violin), Tom has realised this vision of layered, complex but tuneful noise. Make no mistake: this is a rock album, fitting neatly into the BEM instrumental zone also occupied by the likes of The Fierce & The Dead, The Brackish and The Bob Lazar Story.
”The songs on Murder and Parliament have been running around in my head for a decade or so,” says Tom. “And I can’t wait for other people to hear them too.”
‘Murder and Parliament’ is available now from the BEM webstore, both on CD and as a high quality digital download.