Ever determined to minimise the internet in my life... and failing miserably, I seldom use this blog to publish my thoughts, but here I am, compelled, momentarily, to have a word, spew a little text. Hard Rock Hell AOR Festival was another reminder how much fun this rock game can be. It’s always nice spending some time on the bigger stages, literally and figuratively, not having to dodge Damien's wacky waving inflatable tube arms the real bonus.
The band keeps evolving... as do the people it consists of. When I look back to 2013 and the day we released Chapter Zero on STP Records to a packed out Tache Music Club in Blackpool, I remember also announcing mid-set we’d found out earlier in the day we'd be having a baby girl in a few months’ time. Five years later how life has changed - priorities, responsibilities, perspectives.
I didn't realise the size or power of my ego until I became a father and I've spent some solid time taking an Indiana Jones sized bull-whip to lasso that motherfucker and bring it down to size. The hedonistic lifestyle of teens and twenties keeps you self-focussed on the fun you’re having and parenthood requires eradication of that mode of thinking. I've been systematically eliminating my errors like a code correcting virus killer, in the hunt to be the best person I can and earn the respect of my children. The theatrical mask... the persona we wear to the outside world isn’t easy to self-analyse after years of creation - but taking a long hard look is the only way to see it for what it is. To see 'who we are' is something I'll be singing about on our new album.
For some time, when we step off stage, people have been regularly enquiring "Which album is that country song off?”, “Does this one have ‘Lights Over Phoenix’ or ‘Nothing Quite Like This’ on it?". Its reassuring people still buy physical music, there’s just no money in the digital version for bands at our level. It was time we printed up some physical copies of these records again. Back in 2013 the Chapter Zero cover featured the glyph of a man holding a guitar, as if handed to him by the gods. In 2018 the glyph has been replaced by Anubis, Egyptian god of the dead, head of the 'Jackyl' (a call back to one of our older records for those in the know), wielding a more expensive looking flying V, adorned with the ankh, symbol of life.
Chapter opened a lot of doors for us and was the first record which allowed us to straddle both the punk and hard rock scenes, still perennial misfits in both. Phantom High followed in 2014 and continued a hot-streak of song-writing, gaining some national exposure for the first time and strong feedback to boot. When I look at the band objectively the two key things we have are song-craft and synergy. We're not the best individual players... but as a unit we produce beyond our ability on-stage and in the studio. It's a true brotherhood and the years that followed these releases made us stronger, running parallel to real-life depleting our remaining energy bars.
The two extra tracks we're releasing on this combined re-issue come from different album sessions. ‘Going Out’ is from the CZ sessions in 2012 and was roundly booted out at the end of production for being ‘too weak’. My wife telling me it's the worst lyrics I've ever written. I was shooting for a Hellacopters style song, always keen to model on bands I’m listening to knowing it will sound Senton by the time we’re done. This one didn't make the cut, but I always had a soft spot for it - so it's back. Yes, I am singing about going on a night out, that is all, no cryptic metaphor and easily the most shallow of my lyrical catalogue, but you can still have fun at the surface.
The final track is Resonance, fallout from the Mass Vendetta album. From hearing it you'll know why it didn't make the record. Lyrically it fit the bill and was deep in my occult/secret searching phase, but for some reason it didn't quite finish right. I think I screwed up the vocal leaving it half chest voice, a la Darkest and half Dave Mustaine-wannabe raspy voice. Anyway, it's back and I'm glad for it. I love 'em all like children... well ,not like my children... but lesser important creations I am still extremely fond of.
Honestly didn't know what I was going to type when I sat down to this... and you're probably getting that vibe. Anyhow, the Black Chapter is here, it's black because we’re cheap and we wanted to save money on the printing. It looks cooler because Dean Reilly is an amazing artist and I throw my ideas at him and he makes them awesome and real. It's a strong hit with 18 songs, full of variety, heart, wide-ranging lyrical themes and most importantly - hard fucking rock n roll. I hope you enjoy it. It's nice to look back, it's even better to listen back... now, eyes back forward!