It is finally here, but in no single way the way I imagined it...
We were giants is a new, 5 track EP, that, for the first time in my musical career, is fully self recorded, self produced, and self mastered. It has been a learning curve unlike any other I have faced.
And the REALLY strange thing about this? We have 5 more songs absolutely ready to release which we recorded down at Take 6 studios.
Don't worry, those songs are going to come out pretty soon, but looking back, I have to stop and wonder what the hell I was thinking.
I think in part, that there has been a relatively significant absence on my part, both in terms of releasing music, and generally interacting with the world, which is on me.
So, coming back from the cold, I wanted to make something absolutely personal, and absolutely challenging. I cannot think of a better representation of this than sitting behind the desk and in front of it simultaneously.I questioned every decision 5,000,000 more times than I would if I was working with a producer. Every guitar tone, every decision in the mix, everything was scrutinised.
One of the songs, 'magic in a world of infinite sadness', went through 27 mixes before i settled on the one you will hear. (For the record, everything from mix 5 onwards was about the same, these were micro adjustments).
So, what do we have now? Well it is already up online with the gods of the internet, pre-orders will start soon, and I am just really looking forward to sharing it all with you, there are 5 songs so incredibly personal. The first song, 'Just a show', I wrote over 10 years ago, and it never got played, it lived with me in the basement of my mind, and suddenly, in the moments of piecing this together, it just fit perfectly to what I was trying to say.
At the last minute I decided to add an acoustic b-side called 'brother', as really this EP marks a return after almost 2 years away, and for the first time, I am releasing music without my good friend who passed away. This song, was written shortly after that, and I felt it was incredibly important to finish this EP with my thoughts with him.
So stick around, enjoy the EP when it comes out, if it means this much to me, I hope it will mean just a little to you.
I mean, seriously, I know I should have a word with myself on a regular basis, because you know, and I know, the issues are getting diagnoseable at this point. But this picture comes with a tale.
Funnily, I have had this, and a few other masks, sitting around for a while now, but they have never seen the light of day. They are for a new series of music videos which we are gonna be getting stuck into making very soon. The reason these are only coming out to play now, is all down to a man called Chris Molloy.
For the uninitiated, Chris Molloy is the frontman of Chris Molloy and the Zang, who are very very worth checking out. (Seriously, remember yesterday I went bickies for not supporting local, independent music, here is your chance).
Anyway, I was in the Spaniard in Belfast, catching the Ciaran Lavery set at output. I got introduced to Chris through a mutual friend and we got to talking. It was clear he didn't know me from Adam, until my friend mentioned I played in Chase the River. Instantly he remembered the front of Infinite worlds, you know, the whole murder vibe we had going on. Now, like I said, these masks have been kicking around for a while, but honestly, my self confidence has never allowed me to go full metal jacket on some of the things I have wanted to do, living in a safe space, writing and playing music I think people want to hear.
But, seemingly, the first time I ever ventured out into the abyss of my own creation and ambition as an artist, is the one time it stuck securely in the memory.
So, I sunk the better part of a bottle of rum, found these and got creative.
The irony is now is the prefect time, they were designed for other tunes, but what we are doing now, is the perfect backdrop to the new theme we are going to be running with, and running hard.
Please, if you see me going back to being my introverted, safe self, kick me.
Also, a reminder from yesterday, support local music, Today's lesson is Chris Molloy and the Zang.
A sneak peak from the studio, and a rant about supporting local music, and drinking in a provo bar..
It is Monday, Monday's are kind of shit sometimes, particularly if you have had a brilliant weekend. I think ours was pretty fantastic. We were back to the studio, it was bass day, and the start of guitar day. It was a long day. I got up at 5am to run her indoors to work (starting at 6), and then went, walked the dogs around the forest for an hour before heading down to Newry for the session.
Not exactly bright eyed and bushy tailed (I had been up since 5), and had been gigging the night before (cover stuff, gotta pay those bills), getting asked to play wonderwall and galway girl until the idea of self-harm or mass murder became strangely appealing.
Anyway, hammering through the tunes, we take a break for lunch and we go to the pub for a quick pint just down the road. Now, this is in the countryside of Newry, a place that is not exactly Metropolitan, to say the least. However, it is 2019, not 1975, we are good right? wrong. 2 minutes in, and we have a very well dressed man, approaching 60, come smiling up to us, asking us if we were from around these parts. That would be a hard no from us, but we are only in for 1 pint, so what is the harm. However, realising the dB shift since we first opened the door, we decide to finish the pints off and head back. As I get into my (English reg) car, I notice a couple of the locals have followed us out and are taking a photo of the car as it leaves. In the words of one of Ireland's most recognisable faces, 'We haven't gone away you know'
Christ the f-ing night.
(Side note: if any of our international readership want the hilarity of this explained in detail, hit me up)
Anyway, here is a really short clip from the studio. We are really trying to push out what Chase the River is and has been about, but keeping the melody front and centre. I have to give a massive shout out the Declan, Pat and Aisling at Take six studios, it is an absolute belter of a studio, and the vibe and the way they make you feel comfortable and at home is a real real credit to them.
OK, soppy shit done with.
What the actual f**k is going on with people these days? My experiences of local music has hit a bit of a low point. So, you know we have a show in Holywood in March? well I was speaking to a couple of guys in the bar we have the show on. And bottom line it is sinking my happiness a bit. Tickets are £15 including a buffet, so not 'cheap' but certainly within reason.
The conversation with the gentleman went along the line of 'why would I pay £15.... blah blah, we have heard it all before'
Fair enough. So here are some economics. This man, and many of the holywood massive, regularly pay £30 round trip taxi to belfast, to hear a cover band and pay £100 in drink. If they eat it is a LOT more. So, realistically, I am a cheaper option. And you are supporting some amazing music.Not just me, but next week I can name 4 shows I would love to get out to see, for a fraction of the cost of 'established' acts. And they are as talented, and you get to know them after, no backstage passes here.
Bottom line, stop being ass holes, support local music, it beats hearing the same tired shit day after day after pint after day after pint.
Insider tip, next week, MAC theatre Belfast, Rebekah Fitch and Reevah, just do it, don't ask questions. Just go, buy tickets.
It is the end of February nearly... How the actual f**k did that happen?
I mean, I have known for a long time that my grasp on time is, at best, at times, pretty shit, but this is ridiculous. So what has been going on? Well, in truth, I can feel myself losing a little bit of grip on things. Now, I am not actually sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. There is a load of writing, gigging, just generally being busy as hell. I have moved house, I quit/got fired from the part-time job I was doing (not sure what happened there, the guy was an asshat, but I will fill you all in on that at another time), so yeah, a LOT of shit has been up in the air.
Now, before you all get worried that Stuart is in need of an intervention, there has been some absolute awesomeness.
So, after the barge gig, we realised we had tried something really different, the songs were bigger, there were riffs, there was a lot of noise, and honestly, we had a blast, and more importantly, so did everyone who came to the gig.
But there was a problem, we don't have a huge amount of music that is like this for you to listen to. So, Stuart picked up the phone to Declan Legge, a man I have not been in a room with in a long time. Declan has been off doing awesome things with Jealous of the Birds and co. But shit needed doing, shit gets done.
So we have hit up the practice room, writing, practicing and recording. Now, I have read 'the secret', and for the record, I think it is to the power of positive thinking, what '50 shades of grey' is to erotic novels. In truth, it's shit, just dumb enough to sell millions of copies (looking at you Justin Beiber). But yes, work hard, focus, and good things happen, cue International songwriting competition, where Chase the River made the Semifinal, maybe the final (let's wait and see). But yeah, and we are hitting up the gigs again soon, 1st off in March at Alexanders in Holywood. Between now and then, we are gonna be back in the studio, making new, big tunes for your delectation.
But for now, here is a picture of me, looking kinda fucked up. Because the wider world is kinda fucked up, the matrix is breaking and we just need good tunes and good news, so keep that in mind.
Fronted by Northern Irish artist Stuart Lunn, Belfast-based folk rock act Chase the River has been bouncing around the scene for the better part of half a decade now and in that time has succeeded in spawning a sizable assortment of acclaimed material as well as putting on a plethora of well-received shows on both sides of the Atlantic and winning a nomination for “Best Irish Act” at our very own Pure M Awards in 2015.
Most recently though, Lunn unveiled an enlivening new single that’s said to deal with the existentialism of life in the 21st century and the absurdities witnessed in modern society. Recorded at Snug Records recording studio in North Carolina and titled “Which Way”, it commences with a captivatingly cool riff which establishes a stirring atmosphere ahead of the hushed but haunting harmony of the mellow introductory verse.
The music and melody grow considerably more vigorous going into the grippingly energetic first chorus, after which the torch is passed to another alluringly light stanza. The ambience remains affecting moving forward from here as the whole thing trots thoughtfully towards an enticingly pleasant yet powerful instrumental exhibition that starts at the end of third minute and goes on to guide the proceedings to a suitably introspective stopping point.
The result is a remarkably moving and amiable folk rock offering from Chase the River that’s full of feeling and fervour. Its accessible combination of cordial yet impactful instrumentation and engrossingly slick and spirited vocals is likely to seduce a large listenership
You can find the song on spotify by clicking the picture below:
Saturday the 17th November, We played the Belfast Barge in Belfast. It was our very first time in the venue, but by god, it will not be the last. we wheeled out a whole bunch of new Chase the River songs, trying to give you gives as much of an insight into what 2019 is going to sound like with us as we can. Robb Murphy did an as ever fantastic job (he is just off a European tour so he was tight that a ducks a**. But special mention needs to go to one Mssr Daryl McCabe who was having his first ever original gig. And what a show it was, you would swear he had been doing it for years.
Thanks to Stuart McChesney for shooting one of our latest tunes, a wee song called split, have a listen to it here and let us know what you think in the comments. And big thanks to all you guys for coming, we just had room for a bit of dancing by the end of this, so that made us feel all warm and fuzzy that the Chase the River family is growing. Until next time.
So yeah, I am pretty shit at updating this blog thing, I just realised in 2017 I did not post once! well, that was awful of me, especially considering how many quite frankly awesome things have happened to me, and Chase the River as a whole.
In any case, I am back now with quite a big bit of news! So I went to America (No biggie, but plenty of stories to tell you, because it is a fucking big thing in my career). There I was supporting Bassh (who are awesome, go look them up, I will tell you tales later) and doing a bit of recording. I met my brother from another mother out there, the one, the only Leonardo Solis. We got to work and we managed some rather spectacular stuff, some of which I am releasing this April for you to wrap your ears around.
Forgive my bragging but it is sounding awesome, seriously fucking awesome, I could not be physically happier if I wanted a pony and one of those little bastards was sitting under a Christmas tree for me with a little bow on it.
When we were out there we played with some music gear that I have only ever actually seen in pictures, retro moog, wurlitzers, rickenbackers, you name it, i got to play with it (google omnichords, and be amazed). But the fun bit was, this stuff is not 'chase the river' stuff, it is electronic, it is synth, it is different. And what we did in America was very different. Anyway I am going to be launching this in Belfast at the Black Box on the 6th of April. This is being released in conjunction with my good friends over at Pop Up, who are massive supporters of the local music scene, you can check them out here.
I am being supported at the Launch by Wanderers and Brash Isaac who blow me away every time I see them, so it is sure to be a good night all together. You can buy tickets directly from me by clicking here, and I would be obliged if you would. We are GIVING AWAY the single for every single one of you who arrives, plus £2 from every single sale goes to charity. So in summary, fucking awesome music, for charity and you get your music sent to you for free..... awesome.
Anyways enough of my bullshit for now, I will return presently with some tales from the road, For I have many. Until then, don't kill anyone.
Northern Ireland I always view as a bit of an enigma, well probably all of Ireland of I am honest. Per head of capita I have no doubt we are one of the most talented little congregations on the planet. We built the Delorean, in Dunmurry, which is tiny. We have amazing film studios, responsible for Game of Thrones and loads of Blockbuster films, STAR WARS for god's sake! We have leading IT companies, it is everything really, and there is barely anybody here.
Music is the same, the sheer volume of (serious f-ing) talent on this island is unreal. But venues have always been lacking. Going back in the day, there were loads, and it was too prominent. Stiff little fingers, Snow patrol, Foy Vance, Silences, Jealous of the birds, SOAK, Bap Kennedy (R.I.P). It is unreal but the fight to be heard has been real.
Then my good friend Declan Legge made an announcement. Help Musicians were coming to town to set up shop. And they have just finished their 9 day launch. They help fund musicians, they chair panels addressing the real issues in the music industry, from venues, to protecting your hearing, offering support and advice on (basically) everything that a musician could need help with. They have a large focus as well on mental health, which I am over the moon about. As you know I have explained my real struggles with this and it's need for musicians to address this problem, which is part of life for so many artist types, just read the articles around this here So during the launch I was fortunate enough to get along to couple of the panels, the gigs and be involved in the #hmnitakeover where stages were set up across the city to expose people in a BIG way to the fact that we are legion, for we are many in this city. I set up in Castlecourt shopping centre with a 360 degree PA and an ever growing crowd. It was great as well to get some of the songs off the yet to be released album out and sound boarded again. I want to thank all the staff at Help musicians for investing in our wee country, for all the volunteers, all the photographers, sound guys, everyone. It is great to see local music making its long overdue return to the centre stage in the hearts and minds of the Northern Irish, outside of our yearly culture night.
Go to help musicians website as well to see how you can get involved in a most worthwhile of causes. You can find them here, but until the next time, you guys just keep doing EXACTLY what you have been doing.
Many of you I know have read through my recent post about how I have lived with depression and anxiety these last few years and probably have a good understanding of how my head works from time to time. This new record is something very close to home and I think that is going to come through.
As I have said many many times in the past I never give out the specifics of what exactly each song I write is about, I am a firm believer that a person can take something entirely different awn from a song and I would hate to jeopardise this, I do like people to know where I have been during the process of writing it.
I am just out of a reasonably long relationship, it happens, things go wrong. Now this is always a time of heightened emotions, you can fill your day thinking about what you did right, what you did wrong. There can be an almost constant cycle of playing things out over and over again and it can almost be fun to fantasise about how things would have been different.... If only.....
But again, I have always been reluctant to get into specifics of a relationship in a song. It is not fair to anyone. Imagine I start naming and shaming bad dates, lies told, I think as a song writer you have a vicious power to hurt people and I never EVER want to do that. That being said these songs are a collection, and they are (bar one on the LP) almost unanimously using this (now broken) relationship as a grounding. Of course I have not written them all during the break-come-breakup and some of them have been put together whilst we were together, and I really think this will give a great arch of a relationship, from middle to end anyway. If you want the 'start' I would strongly suggest you listen to the very FIRST EP, particularly 4am, where distance and time were keeping us apart.
I would stress by the way that this is not a vengeful work I am looking at producing, I want to show just how some of my emotions flared, how late nights turned into all night writing, and how regret can mar otherwise happy memories.
In recording it, Declan and I have had some really good chats about where we want this to go. We don't want 'basic' and this is certainly going to be the biggest Chase the River product since the project began (there will be cellos, fiddles, real old pianos, a double bass, and then some more) but we also want vintage. We want this to be an LP that people can reminisce over, can take and hear and have it resonate within them. We are getting some seriously vintage pics, instruments, and making it as warm as we can and I am truly the most excited I have ever been to get this ready for you.
There will be loads of updates and photos and everything as the journey progresses but in the meantime, take care and we will speak before long.
Ok so a little bit off the normal theme of the page.
I have been seeing a lot of posts recently regarding mental health in people these days, in particular around handling depression and anxiety and I have decided now is a tip-top time to share a wee bit about me.
Over the past 5 years I have been diagnosed and treated for depression and ridiculous amount of anxiety, from panic attacks upwards and I wanted to share a little bit about what that actually has been like to live with, and dealing with it on a day to day basis as I thin it is an incredibly unknown issue amongst young people today, and a growing issue, if my experience or thoughts on the subject help one person than this has been a worthwhile thing to have done.
Firstly I want to talk about what people ‘view’ depression as being. There is this Hollywood picture of it as being ‘withdrawn’ and unable to socialise normally, and crying whilst looking out a window watching the rainfall on a lonely night. Now I am not saying that these things do NOT happen, but that is not the reality that the majority of people I know, or I, have faced whilst dealing with our own depression. Some people call what I have as ‘highly functional depression’ or ‘normalised anxiety’ and I think this is something a lot of people deal with.
For starters I rarely cry…. When I was diagnosed I had been fighting for years with a lot of issues, the death of my father, difficult relationships at home, a divorce, but I was also doing my day job, every day, without fail. Many of my friends view me as the joker in the room, the real energy that could lighten up a room, and I loved that… But it was not strictly true.
My highly functional anxiety took the form of a little voice, we all have them (hopefully not just me) who forms your internal dialogue… Mine was, and is still, a vicious little bastard who gets in the way of everything I tried to do.
It is a constant dialogue in your head, circling round and round telling you that “You are worthless, you are not good enough, you are a bad friend, why would anybody love you?, you are pathetic, whatever you do will be terrible, so why try….” The list is fairly endless, and the above is some of the nicer ones…
Now you have to understand what this dialogue does to your day to day life… Simple things, like really basic, easy things, become impossible. You keep yourself eternally busy to not have to deal with things and in the end get nothing done. You fill your day with anything, running, training, writing, showering, tv, you lie to yourself and tell yourself it is for fun, it is for productivity, it is what you want. The saddest reality is that it is nothing more than an itinerary designed out of desperation to distract your brain from the noise in your head, the 200mph never ending noise.
And on the outside, I am calm, nobody else hears it.
These are 24 hour panic attacks, hidden so well behind smiles. Anyone close to me who you spoke to would describe me as busy, so busy working towards my dreams. And yes, to a point that is true, but a lot of it is merely misdirection.
Whilst I am busy I also avoid so much, so many basic things. Emails, easy friendly ones, can take weeks, and to this day I do not know why, I just sometimes can’t deal with them. I rarely answer my phone, very rarely actually, even if I am sitting on the sofa, don’t get me wrong, I will phone you back, but when I am ready, 30 minutes later. I will let things pile up rather than reach out for help.
Part of it is a fear to say the wrong thing, and I do occasionally, I think we all do. The problem is when I do, it wrecks my head for days, weeks, years. Now my father died 12 years ago this year, and I can still vividly recall arguments, things I said etc which still feel as raw as when he had only passed 6 months before. When I am in conflict with something, work, a friend, family member, I play out the worst case scenario over and over and over again until I can feel my heart pounding in my chest…. It is relentless.
So how do I deal with this?
I don’t all the time.
Sometimes, like whilst I am writing this, it is hell, a genuine hell. The difference is that I sought the help required to help me deal with it. I have control mechanisms in place to help me through things and if anything, I have learned to channel it and retieve a sense of normality in my life.
For those of you who are not ready seek ‘professional’ help or don’t think it would help in any case, let me break down a few of the lessons I have learned, hopefully it will help.
You need to admit, if only to yourself what you have depression or anxiety, call it out for what it is, there is absolutely no shame in it, none, nada, you will find out soo many more people you know have struggled with it, or indeed are stuggling with it. It is the validation of your feelings that will prove to be a massive help. You may not feel you are enough, or will ever be enough, admitting you need help doesn’t confirm the inner voices opinion of you, if anything it strengthens you to shout back at them that YOU ARE worth it.
I know that one of my biggest struggles is social media. Everywhere I look, everyone has it together, doing brilliantly, better than me anyway, their shit is locked up tight and I know I am a blubbering mess… I want you to realise though that is the futility of Facebook, of Social media. Everything we read is a projected persona of a reality we want to convey. Instagram filters hide the spots, holiday photos and inspiring quotes are not peoples deepest, darkest secrets, it is not the voices. God knows I do it all the time, because ‘why the hell would anyone else want to hear about how I feel today’.
We can get out and talk about this, and speak to friends, family, and you will be amazed how far you can come out of this.
Depression and Anxiety are silent killers, they ruin lives. The “bad” news is that it is rarely a fight you are ever ‘done’ with, anxiety is not the flu, it takes willpower, it takes daily fighting, however when you give it it’s real name, and find a place for it in your existence, and stop letting it ride rough shot over your life, it can get awesome…
I do hope that this is relatable to at least one person, please leave a comment or share it for other people to read, you just never know who you might help by doing it.Thanks for reading. Feel free to message me here and I will be happy to have a chat.