Lost In Each Other

Hello! I am pleased to announce the release of my latest song in my song-a-month-athon for 2022: ‘Lost In Each Other’!

You can also hear this on these popular streaming services:

APPLE MUSIC

SPOTIFY

I am very happy with this one. It again features my new Faith 12 string, along with my Takamine G Series 6 string, cajon, percussion, bass and vocals. I’m particularity happy with the phased backing vocal harmonies in the bridges.

These are perhaps some of the most interesting chord sequences I’ve found and worked up in a long time – they just seemed to suggest themselves as I was composing it, a natural progression but with lots of augmentations and suspensions.

Lyrically, it’s quite a straight forward love song, but why not, eh?

I hope you enjoy and take a listen. If you do, please share on your socials and in the real world. This song is one that I will hopefully soon be playing live again with a friend, so one day you may actually be able to watch me perform!

Thanks

Garry

Advertisement

Kings of Nothing

Here is my February release for 2022 (a year in which I am attempting to release a song a month) – ‘Kings of Nothing’. Below the video is a bit more info about the song and links to other platforms:

‘Kings of Nothing’ was written in the winter of 2021 after I’d been listening to a news item about the state of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of troops and how no one wins and the ‘victors’, whoever they are, are left presiding over misery.

The music emerged from a riff played on my new ‘Faith’ 12 string, which seemed to elevate the fairly simple open string picking with moving bass note to a new level, and create resonance that flowed into the chorus changes and seemed to build up throughout. Because of this gradual crescendo through the verses and choruses, I have opted for an ‘electronic’ drum kit to cut through the mix, with the addition of live percussion to layer this up later in the song (Djembe).

This song is also the first to feature one of my favorite music toys, the Otamatone:

I’ve had this toy for years, but never found the right moment until now! You can hear it in the repeated chorus towards the end of the song, crying out over the madness!

This song also features the use of my new acoustic bass, doubled up from a direct input and microphone – allowing me to blend the deeper rounded tones of the DI, with the top end rhythmic fret and plec sounds.

I’m happy with how it turned out and looking forward to hopefully playing this live later this year in the new duet I am currently rehearsing with – the live version of this is sounding great!

Here are some more links to find this in the major places, but you can also find this on most platforms:

https://music.apple.com/gb/album/kings-of-nothing/1602014933?i=1602014934

Rusty Old World

My new song, Rusty Old World came out today. You can find the lyrics and all the major links for it below. I would love it if you would support my music by having a listen and liking, sharing, rating, reviewing – whatever you feel you can do.

This song was born out of something my 4 year old daughter said – she was playing some imaginary game in the back of the car and said something about ‘This Rusty Old World’, so, I had that.

The rest of the lyrics follow as a kind of a warning against a dystopian, synthetic future, where all our worst fears have come true, and the materials of the industrial and technological age are turning to dust.

This fairly epic theme lent itself to a suitably rousing musical style – so I went with a country, folk foreboding pathos, kind of thing – attempting in my own small way to conjure up that ‘Riders on the Storm’ kind of feeling. This gave me a good opportunity to use my new Faith 12 string, Stagg acoustic bass, and even bust out a bit of harmonica!

I hope you enjoy.

Rusty Old World

I don’t want to live in this rusty old world,
Where the wheels keep on turning and we are the oil,
No I don’t want to live in this rusty old world.

Sunlight can’t shine
Through oxidised skies
The Warmth can not reach,
Metal and minds.

Clouded by memories,
Of simpler times.
Falling to pieces,
Now dust in our eyes,

I don’t want to live in this dusty old world,
Where the earth’s good for nothing, it’s what we deserve
No I don’t want to live in this dusty old world.

Waters will rise,
Faster than our tempers.
The world will sink down
To no ones surprise

Will we be safe and dry?
Inside our computers?
Never again,
To open our eyes.

I don’t want to live in this silicon world
Where the people are plastic and so are our souls,
No I don’t want to live in this silicon world.

Can love survive,
Through six inches of steel?
Is there anything left
That we recognise?

Will the future provide?
What we all need to feel?
Not just numbers on screens.
That feeling inside.

I don’t want to live in this rusty old world,
Where the wheels keep on turning and we are the oil,
No I don’t want to live in this rusty old world.
No I don’t want to live in this dusty old world.
No I don’t want to live in this silicon world.
No I don’t want to live…

You Tube

Spotify Link:

Apple Music

You Gotta Have A Slow One?

So, this is it, the 4th and last ‘lead’ single from the Bag Ratty Bro EP project ‘Chapter and Multiverse’ is now available for streaming if you haven’t already got the EP!

Just click on the amazing artwork below to get links to the various services available to listen on!

And if you like this and want the full 6 song EP for as little as £1, then please grab a copy at Bandcamp by clicking on the image below!

Thanks to all those who have supported this project so far. It’s been an interesting experiment, and one that I’ve learned a lot from.

Hopefully Bag Ratty Bro will be back at some point, with a slightly new sound and more great artwork, but in the meantime, I will be focusing on acoustic based tracks under my own name, so look out for them!

Thanks

Gaz

Right On!

Bag Ratty Bro

SHARES NEW SINGLE ‘RIGHT ON’
RELEASED APRIL 22nd, 2021

[LISTEN]

Pan-Reality Power Pop Combo Bag Ratty Bro released new single Right On on April 22nd, 2021. The single is the second release from the upcoming debut EP ‘Chapter and Multiversethat is available from May 13th, 2021.

Bag Ratty Bro are back again with more catchy guitar and vocal hooks that will have you humming ‘Right On’ in the dead of night, reaching for the earphones in a cold sweat and muttering, ‘just one more listen!’. You will lose your job, your sanity, your dignity, but it will all be worth it.

Lyrically, a theme of incredulous commentary on the constant outrage of the 21st Century condition continues. As Nancy, the bassist, puts it: 

“Right On is about the madness of moral certainty in an uncertain world, and the danger of deepening divides by taking a position of privileged superiority without trying to reach any kind of understanding of the opposite view, no matter how repugnant it may outwardly seem. Will that do you? Sound.”

About Bag Ratty Bro

Bag Ratty Bro met aboard the liberated Nargonian Cruiser ‘Monstromo’ during an unlicensed zero-gravity harmonic duel. 

Several time tours and dimension hops later, they’ve now decided to try and crack the home of Pop-Punk: Earth in the 20th Century. But they missed, so are going to try the 21st Century instead.

Bag Ratty Bro Socials / Contact

Twitter BagRattyBro@Gmail.Com Instagram Bandcamp Facebook

Songwriting Sessions #3 – The Age of Modern Living

Hello again. This session is about a song I wrote and recorded in early February 2021 linked below:

The Age of Modern Living

This song came about from wanting to record something on my new ukulele, a rather nice Tanglewood TWT 3 if you’re interested, hence the intro and chorus to this is underpinned by double-tracked ukulele repeating a 4 chord sequence that I think rings out nicely on the diddy instrument.

When I started to work around this chord sequence, I found quite quickly that putting heavy guitars and a simple thumping bass line over this made the same chords stand out as a chorus, so the heaviness crept in quite quickly. I am pretty happy with how you can still here the little ukulele in there even in the heavy bits.

Every now and again I will get a song where I think, can I really just loop the chords all the way through? It feels like a cop out, but sometimes it just works. However, you really need to make the rhythm and feel quite different between the sections if you are going to do this, so I dropped out the uke, added a bit of funk to the bass line (which is doubled with fx in the verses) and a bit of wah-wah guitar over it all.

Hopefully this brings the dynamics down and finds a new groove for just long enough for the return of the heavy choruses to have impact. In the second round of the verse, I also added an instrumental bridge that combines the two a bit, and reminds me a little of ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’, the excellent Beatle’s track from Abbey Road – that wasn’t intentional but their influence runs through everything I do despite myself.

I nearly didn’t finish this as I couldn’t find the right way into the lyrics. I got the Chorus line ‘It’s like something out of a dream…’ bit quite early, but I didn’t know what ‘it’ actually was! Nowadays, I need a theme/reason to write a song or I can’t get it finished. In the past I was happier to just string vaguely related words together, but I can’t do it now. I’m not saying that every word has meaning or is worried over, but I always know what the song is about overall, or what my ‘way in’ was.

Anyway, the final piece of this song lyric came form a news article about an appetite suppressant drug, and I just thought how miserable it would be to psychologically not have the joy of looking forward to food and satisfying that desire, even if it does stop you being fat. Then I linked this to how antidepressants suppress extremes of emotions (so I am told), and imagined a world where the ‘new you’ is a chemically altered none-feeling model of conformity. That’s not to say that I’m down on diet or mood pills – I’m just exaggerating the ideas for effect, kids.

Lyrics:

Suppress your appetite, and then you’ll never get fat.
May also never have fun, but don’t you worry about that.
Keep having restless nights? But won’t change your life?
Just listen to my voice. Will see you right it’s like…


Something out of a dream. Something you’ve neve seen,
Shiny Happy and Clean, The age of modern living.
It’s like something out of a dream, And you can get it for free.
If you’d only listen to me your doubts will be forgiven.


Can’t take the highs and the lows? Well then we’ll flatten you out.
Just another straight line, nothing to shout about.
You head full of ideas? Just take another deep breath.
Go and find some blue light .There’s nothing left. it’s like… (repeat chorus)

And there we go. It’s quite short and fast and bordering between my rocky and punky/garage sensibilities. I don’t know if this song will find a home outside of this demo, so show it some love if you like it. Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think in the comments! Cheers.

Songwriting Sessions #2 – The Monster of All

The songwriting sessions are a series of blogs taking a quick peek behind the curtain of my songwriting methods to accompany my new songs and look back at some of my old favourites.

I’ve been writing songs for over 20 years now, but still feel like I am finding my stride, my voice, and my audience. Hopefully, someone will find these blogs interesting about the craft of songwriting, or connect with my efforts, or at the very least, the process of writing it down may hale me to figure a few things out.

This week it is a brand-new song, ‘The Monster of All’ written and recorded over 3 days at the end of January 2021. You can hear it here:

Soundcloud – The Monster of All

I tend to write very fast once I have an initial idea I want to expand on. In this case, the lyric came first, with ‘The Monster of All’ being one of my 3-year-old daughter’s characters in her make-believe world!

I think it’s a fascinating turn of phrase, and I am gathering up some of her ideas into notes to adapt into a possible fantasy fiction story eventually (I’m also a writer – see the sidebar for my published books). With this, however, I also thought it was a great starting place for a lyric – loaded with possible double meaning about the monsters inside us all etc. so I set to work looking for the music to go with it.

The music was then written over the next hour on acoustic guitar and refined during recording which was about another 2 to 3 hours, so probably about 5 hours in all to get this initial ‘demo’ version together (I rarely ever believe these songs to be finished as such when recording them all myself).

Once again, a recent episode of my Beatles Podcast had influenced me and I wanted to write something in triplets timing, along the lines of ‘This Boy’ and that general ‘do wop’ feel. So, I started with a pretty standard progression that you will hear in hundreds of 50s / early 60s songs, and then deviated on the 3rd and 4th chords to minor key and diminished variations, which hopefully breaks it out of that natural expectation of a major resolve.

The chorus emerged out of a natural change from the verses, and originally was half the length of the recorded version. The challenge with this came in the recording, trying to make this feel more pushed, lively, louder than the verse, and not just a variation on it. I tried a few things, including string backing and a distorted guitar. In the end I found that dropping the piano out of the verses and bringing it back for the chorus and links gave it the boost it needed (possibly – this is all open to interpretation).

Arrangement wise, I didn’t want this to go on too long with it’s quite steady 98 bpm tempo, so there is a pretty standard verse/chorus/verse/chorus pattern, with no mid 8 or solo section, a couple of repeats of the chorus bridge at the end and then a fade out.

Altogether, I am quite happy with it, and quite excited about possibly turning more of these fiction fantasy ideas into songs and creating a concept collection along with whatever I end up writing. Genre wise, I like the idea of ‘Dungeon Rock’! A blend of prog/rock/folk/fantasy themed songs? What do you think?

Anyway, I hope you had a listen and found this remotely interesting. If so, let me know using the contact form below or via my podcast or SoundCloud page, all linked in this article! I am always open to opportunities and collaborations too.

Songwriting Sessions – Don’t be Scared

This is the first in, possibly, a series of blogs explaining a bit behind my songwriting process, on a new song by song basis, with visits to some old favourites.

I hope someone might find a ‘glimpse behind the curtain’ interesting at least, but if not, maybe I’ll learn something by writing this down!

The first track I’m going to write about is called ‘Don’t be Scared’, and you can listen to it here:

Don’t be scared

I wrote and recorded this in late 2020 after discussing Paul McCartney’s ‘Put it there‘ on my Beatles podcast, and wanting to try something that captures the same feeling of simple, pleasing cadences but with augmented finger picking and that emotional minor shift.

Naturally, I started on the open D chord which lends itself to this style of acoustic, resonant, song. However, I eventually needed to change key so I could hit the high notes slightly more comfortably, so the guitar is tuned down a tone to C so I could still play it in open chords for the main part.

It is still a little high for me on the ‘Now go back to sleep’ lines, but it’s better than it was in ‘D’. Ah well, the singing is always the hardest part for me, but I like to stick with it so I can get songs finished at least.

Instrumentation wise, I kept this to a double tracked acoustic guitar and single vocal. I am still considering doing a fully arranged version with bass, a Cajon, and maybe some other bits, but we will see. I learned it on the Ukulele and that sounded quite nice!

Lyrics:

CHORUS

Don’t be scared of the world. Don’t be scared to sleep. There are people here who will always love you, now go back to sleep.

VERSE 1

The dark nights seems lonely only if you let them in. The sun might seem low we know somewhere its shining. Waiting.

VERSE 2

Dark corners, where secrets greet us in the shadow light. Are empty, there’s plenty love to keep us in plain sight. It’s alright.

This is part a lullaby for my daughter, part advice to me. With the anxiety of the current situation, my mind races at night and has a tendency to imagine the worst. So, this is a self soothing song mixed with a lullaby.

Lyrically, I am quite happy with it, especially the inner line rhymes in the verses: lonely/only, low/we know, secrets/greet us, empty/theres plenty. It’s satisfying to find and see through a consistent pattern when writing lyrics.

Overall I am happy with the song, though as always the home recording has scope to be improved, and the arrangement layered up in this case. I may revisit.

If you have read this and listened to the song (and liked it) please let me, or preferably someone else, know! And if you are an artist yourself and are interested in working with me, or my songs, get in touch! I’m open to ideas and would love to collaborate or just hear what someone else does with my music.

Back to The Shadows.

pump2018

The cat dashed past Gerard’s legs and up the stairs in a black, scrabbling blur. Moments earlier the backdoor had crashed open, squeaking and clattering noisily in the frame.

He ran to the backroom and wrenched the door closed against the resistant wind and whipping rain. Gerard locked the door, leaving the key slightly turned. He took a final glance through the frosted pane into the garden, weakly lit by a neighbour’s security light, and returned to the living room.

The family watched as he knelt on the sofa under the front window and peered out into the street. They sat across the room, on the larger sofa, huddled together in the far corner.

‘I take it that’s the last of you?’ Gerard said without turning from his watch.

‘I told you, we’re all here’ the father replied.

Gerard turned his head and grimaced.

‘You didn’t mention the cat. I don’t remember a cat. I don’t remember any of this. Thought I would. Any other potential visitors I should know about?’

Of course I didn’t mention the cat! The father wanted to scream at the intruder. You break into my house, threaten my family, and you think I give a damn about the cat? But instead he just nodded and simply said, ‘No. Why does it matter?’

Gerard turned to the window. The family watched the leathery curls on the back of his neck wrinkle as he spoke.

‘Nothing matters now. Everywhere is locked. No getting in, no getting out. Now it begins.’

Despite her husband’s hurried appeal for calm when the intruder was out of the room, the mother struggled to hide the frustration in her voice.

What begins? What do you want?’ she snapped, clinging to her son tightly.

‘I don’t want anything. I’m here to save you from what’s out there.’ Gerard peered into the gloom between the streetlights.

‘There’s nothing out there’ said the mother.

Gerard turned, smiled, and sat facing them. As he crossed his legs the mother noticed how he repeatedly toyed with the laces of his gnarled boots. A nervous tick? Obsessive behaviour? She’d seen it before somewhere she couldn’t place.

‘Not yet. We’re in for a long night. You might want to get some bedding down for the little one. Looks like he might need it.’

The son, despite the adrenalin and confusion, was nodding into his mother’s armpit, the whites of his eyes rolling up under flittering eyelids.

‘I’ll go’ said the father.

‘We’ll both go’ insisted Gerard, pulling himself up to his intimidating six and five, wreathed in his long, worn leather jacket.

The father ran another mental bout against the monster before him. There was no way he could beat him in a fair fight, and he guessed there’d be nothing fair about it. When the intruder had first appeared in the house just twenty minutes previously, having casually just walked in from the street through the unlocked door, he had quickly subdued the father’s attempts at retaliation with little more than a sturdily outstretched arm and a firm grip.

So far the intruder had revealed no weapons, but that coat could hide a small armoury. There was nothing in the house the father could use anyway, save a sturdy walking stick in the storm-porch, but that was locked away like everything else.

He got up and walked to the corridor and was signalled by the intruder to go first up the stairs. As he reached the top he realised there was one weapon that was available to all, given the right circumstances. He stopped and waited for the footsteps behind to catch up.

‘What are you waiting for?’ said the intruder, one foot half on the landing, his knees bent and arms spread to the walls.

The father turned, planted his hands firmly on either side of the stair walls, lifted his leg and kicked the intruder squarely in the chest, putting his whole weight behind his straightening knee.

Gerard instinctively reached forward to grab the assailing leg, but was already toppling backwards as he did so. His hands flayed pointlessly into the void between them. He hit the steps hard, with the weight of his body on top of him, and then tumbled through all the angles to the foot of the stairs.

The mother came running out of the living room, in an instant seeing the contorted intruder and closing the door behind her.

‘Stay in there darling, just stay in there a moment’ she called back, holding the handle to stop her son from following. The handle wobbled and then fell still.

‘That’s it,’ she said, trying to hide the shake in her voice, ‘just have a little lie down, we’ll be there in a minute.’

The father descended the stairs quickly, lunged and landed purposefully with his knee on the intruder’s throat, figuring he could at least hold him down him while his wife and child ran to safety. All the heap below him could manage, however, was to turn his head slightly to meet his eye.

‘I came to save you’ Gerard moaned, pushing back against the waves of pain and cold numbness that phased across his being.

‘Don’t move!’ the mother yelled. ‘I’m calling the police.’

She thrust her hand into the intruder’s pockets and pulled out the keys he had stashed away earlier after bursting into their home and overpowering her husband. She felt a guilty pride now as all the intruder could do to try and stop her was strain against unresponsive muscles and limp limbs, thanks to her husband’s besting.

She unlocked the storm porch and retrieved the mobile phones the intruder had sealed away.

‘Close the door’ he whispered through strained breath, but the mother didn’t listen, busy as she was frantically checking each of the devices.

‘No signal?’ said the father. She nodded.

‘Use the landline. I’ll be okay.’

She ran to the kitchen.

‘Don’t go out. Don’t let anyone in. Not till light. Please!’ Gerard’s eyes bulged with the effort of speaking.

The father twisted his knee. He could barely force out words through the anger.

‘You come into my house, you say we will die if we don’t do what you ask, you threaten my family and now you beg me not to call the police?’

‘They can’t help you!’ Gerard pleaded. ‘They can’t help anyone! Not tonight. Only me.’

‘Why? Because there’s something ‘out there’? There’s something in here, and you’re done, man. You’re sick, you’re a sick…’

The father was interrupted by the sound of his wife’s cursing from down the hall. He called out to her and she returned, clutching the telephone handset.

‘There’s nothing’ she said, handing it over.

The father pressed fruitlessly at buttons, listening to the silence.

‘You cut the lines? Why would you do that?’

The intruder seemed to be coming to some kind of peace. His breathing slowed, his features calmed, his eyes looked past the father and to the ceiling.

‘They’re all down. Everything’s down. I came back to stop it from happening to you again. I failed.’

‘Damn right you failed. Sarah. Go next door, now. Get the police, and an ambulance.’

There was a loud scratch from behind the living room door.

‘Darling?’ said the mother tentatively.

‘I told you. They’re here. But how can… How did I make it? If…’ the intruder babbled weakly. There was another scratch in the wood of the door, deep and jarring. And another. It grew louder, furious.

‘Mummy!’ the son shouted from beyond.

‘Get him out!’ she yelled at her husband.

The father jumped to his feet and quickly but cautiously eased the door open. His heart pounded violently as the cat flew past him and down the corridor to the kitchen. The son followed soon after, sniffling from the fright of the dark living room and the sound of animal claws. He stood blinking in the doorway.

‘Just the cat!’ the father said furiously to the intruder, but the intruder said nothing. His eyes twitched urgently, but the words wouldn’t come to his lips, his breath failing in his throat. All he could do was look to the top of the stairs.

‘What?’ said the father. ‘What’s up there?’ He peered up, trying to follow the intruder’s line of sight but could see nothing on the dark landing.

‘It was me!’ the intruder croaked suddenly and violently. ‘I let it in. But why send me back here if… Oh dear.’ the intruder choked on the end of his sentence.

There was another scratch, and a deep, rattling growl, this time it came from upstairs.

‘But, Claw just went to the kitchen?’ said the mother.

‘Probably a stray’ the father said. ‘I’ll go and have a look.’

‘I’m coming too’ insisted the mother. ‘What if he wasn’t alone?’

The father looked at the dazed son in the doorway.

‘We can’t leave him. Not here, not with,’ he nodded at the intruder who had closed his eyes, and was very, very still. ‘Oh god. I think he’s…’ the father stopped short of saying the word in front of his son, even the sound of it in is head made him shudder.

The mother turned the boy by the shoulders and stepped him into the porch.

‘We’re going out soon, so you put your shoes on, Mummy and Daddy are just going to get some things. I’m going to close the door. Only for a few seconds, I promise.’

The son sat down on the cold tiles. The father winked and rubbed his hair before locking the door behind him and heading upstairs with his wife.

That was the night the shadows came in from the darkness and waited for those who went looking. That was the night that changed everything.

Gerard fiddled with the laces of his shoes while he waited for his parents to return.

THE END

A note from the Author:

Thanks for reading! I really appreciate it, and it would be great if you could help me reach more people by sharing this on social media by using the buttons below, or copying and pasting the web address far and wide.

If you’re feeling really generous, you can support my writing by buying any of my books from Amazon, or donating £1 (or whatever you can spare) using this link:

https://www.paypal.me/GAbbottAuthor/1

Thanks.

Garry.

Restoke – Man Up

Last night I watched ‘Man Up’ from the wonderful ‘Restoke’, a group of artists and collaborators who work with the local community to craft music, dance and spoken word performances in various unusual locations around Stoke on Trent.

This was the first year I was able to watch a performance purely as an audience member, having previously helped out with the technical crew behind the scenes, and regrettably missing last year’s performance due to baby duties!

What a year I chose to come and watch.

‘Man Up’ was pitched as “A gritty, humorous & revealing performance from the frontlines of masculinity & mental health.” (https://www.restoke.org.uk/man-up/), a strapline that is entirely accurate, but could not possibly convey the emotional heft and punch that we felt in the audience.

Almost radiating from the stage, there was a palpable energy in that room as the cast shared interpretations of their struggles with the concept of masculinity, identity and mental health.

And for what reason? Well, that was made clear early in the night: Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50. The prison and homeless population is predominantly male. These facts are the surface reality of deep, social questions that we need productions like this to ask.

The received image of masculinity is that men are not great at talking, at sharing their feelings, at ‘connecting’ with their emotions. At worse, it is almost as if we should purposefully avoid doing so. Yet I just watched a group of men from all walks of life, who started this process as strangers, literally perform their anxieties, their stories, their hopes and fears, together, to yet more strangers.

If that’s not talking about your feelings, I don’t know what is.

This was exceptional in many senses. It was an exceptional production, but it was also an exceptional opportunity for those few who chose to share and see the process through. The hope, I would think, is that focussing on these issues will help conversations happen more regularly in ‘real’ life, whatever that means to each of us.

I certainly heard a lot of stories of audience members inspired to check in with friends, family, or even colleagues who might be needing an opportunity of their own to share, to reach out, to be heard, to be helped. And although these stories came from men who had experienced the extreme edges of mental health, there are none of us immune to the possibility of finding ourselves in those same places.

Mental health, like physical health, is a scale that we can all move up and down, and if society’s preconceived notions of gender identity are causing men to not seek the help they need, then we need to challenge and change society, in whatever way we can, even if that is simply telling someone that it is okay to talk about it.

Find out more about Restoke and their work here: https://www.restoke.org.uk/