Making music

Inspired by a chat with my songwriting friend Elena Dana, I decided to actually put a new demo online on Sunday.

I probably should have written this song a while ago, but it kind of came lyrically/melodically and then I had to be bothered to actually get my guitar and work out the chords (which as always, aren’t complex, so I have no excuse…) and structure it.

I’ve played two open mic slots in London so far and I have to seek out more and be proactive, but I get so scared about approaching people so only have myself to blame. I always say I want to have a band – which is totally true – but equally, I shouldn’t just lay down my guitar and refuse to play it until I do. If I do.

So, if anyone knows of nights I could play, get in touch.

Here’s the new song, 12 Feet Under.

This set of demos kind of reflects the more recent sound. So Far Away was written when I was 20… it’s a bit scary to think that that was nearly four years ago! Escapology was the only song I wrote while in Newcastle, while Hard Candy is a product of the time I lived in Willesden Green in an odd living arrangement that made me decide it was time to aspire seriously for my own place.

Now firmly settled in the Get Flat, I have no excuse not to write, and so I finally wrote the song I needed to write about some of the things that happened in 2010/11. I kind of wish I could do it semi-acapella with accompaniment from one of those rhythmic cup players you see on YouTube.

12 Feet Under
I’m on a train
I’m gonna give my body to the Tyne and hope my soul
takes flight
‘Cos I’ve got plans to be getting on with

And oh
You laundered marbles ’til you lost control
Oh
Now they’re coming back to trip you, trip you
Oh
Resting on your laurels ’til the branches snapped
And the tree on the ground
How it felled you

They’ll have to bury me 12 feet under
For your six feet on top
cos I am
Taking you with me I am
taking you with me
When my neck’s for that drop

And your mother should have warned you to be superstitious
For you’ll be crying out
For her arms
When I’m gone.

Here’s a song from Elena Dana – I used to play this on my Amazing Radio folk show back in the day…

I Am Home

My favourite EP of last year was, without a doubt, Cut(s) by London trio Ex Libras.

I’ve played this to all and sundry, taken the CD on road trips, linked to it on Spotify and popped it on in my room for guests. The reaction is unanimous: people love them.

Cut(s), a five track EP (six if you include a cello interlude), reworks tracks from Ex Libras’s debut LP, Suite(s).

The album, more guitar heavy and loaded with angst and experimental affectations, has been broken down into menacing loops and ambient riffs for the EP. It’s haunting and beautiful – the vocals soar and the tense-sounding bass wraps you up, while choral vocals and sprinkling of piano seem to follow you around even after you’ve finished listening. It’s an addictive record – so obviously I can’t help returning to it. Live, it’s just as I’d hoped.

The above video is for Teenage Eyes from Cuts(s). I’m rather hoping they’ll be playing this when they return to London’s Cargo on the 15th March. On a past visit they were recorded performing tracks from the original release. Here’s Underachiever, a track that was reworked as renamed as ‘I Am Home’ for the EP.

This video from Cargo looks so flipping’ epic I can’t wait for March now!

I remember once when I worked for Amazing Radio we did a prerecorded interview for Amazing Afternoons and both the presenter and I didn’t hit the record button… whoops. I think it was Amit from the band who we spoke to and he was ever so nice when I called back and asked if we could do it all over again! They’re such nice, thoughtful people! (And clearly very patient). Plus they record in a converted shed. Kudos.

See you on March 15th?

Two and a half weeks

Any of you that follow my You Tube channel will be aware that I’ve made a video account of my time without employment.

I wanted to do this as a record for other people who, like me, have been made unexpectedly unemployed and have no idea how the system works. In some ways it was a difficult process and there were phone calls and meltdowns that I caught on camera but decided to keep out of the final edits. In the end the result was a simple vlog.

I probably come across and stubborn and ignorant in some videos, but I honestly did not know how the system worked for jobseekers. At the entrance to the job centre there’s a big banner that tells you that the idea of the place is to ‘find you the work you want’ but in actual fact they just want you in work. This is an understandable desire, but possibly one of the reasons people stick to signing on. If they are forced into a job that they don’t want and therefore have no time, help or resources to find their ideal vocation, they’re going to be even more adverse to steady employment.

Earlier this month I made the final of a competition held by Primula Cheese and Capital FM North East. The idea was to create a recipe for four on a budget using a variety of Primula cheese. I went for the simple, yummy bean enchiladas recipe I once made for my former Amazing Radio show. I knew I wouldn’t win the £1,000 prize but it was a fantastic day out that really made me feel ‘normal’ again. They even made a film of the event which is hilarious as I couldn’t stop laughing before they announced the winner. Priceless.

Ready Steady Squeeze Final from Adam Troup on Vimeo.

Another thing that kept me occupied over the last two weeks was the wonderful UMT: Play course, run by North East music agency Generator. I met two fantastic girls, Mary and Harriet, and together we formed ‘Mary Sends Out Warning’ and wrote three songs for a performance to friends and family in a mere four days. We also recorded our mini masterpieces and hopefully I’ll be able to share those with you soon!

Here are some pictures from the ‘Big Day’ as taken by the wonderful Jazzy Lemon (who I shall miss very much when I head South).

An open letter to BBC Introducing

Please note that the following is strictly of my own opinion, and not that of my employer, the Amazing Media Group (AMG).

Dear BBC,

I produce and present for Amazing Radio, a DAB digital radio station that only plays new and emerging music. Should this make us rivals? No, of course not. We want the same things… possibly.

I’ve become doubtful recently as BBC Introducing focuses on flashy ‘Masterclass’ and ‘In New Music We Trust’ events. These are valuable for artists supported by the Introducing brand, but it seems that sometimes this focus to publicly celebrate ‘the next big thing’ can forget the smaller artists recently being discovered by local BBC Introducing programmes.

Local BBC Introducing shows have to be commissioned by the Managing Editor of the regional centre and I understand this. There are different budgets, schedules to fit the shows into – which explains why some shows are just an hour, some three and others expand outside of the show with regional tours. What I don’t understand is why the BBC cannot invest a mere smidgeon of time in publishing the playlists from each show. It’s incredible that you cannot find programme information for the regional shows.

This might seem like a petty quibble, but I promise you it’s not. What do new, emerging and unsigned artists need most of all? Gigs! You can’t build a fan base (and test their dedication) without building up a loyal following that will support you and your music if you begin releasing. A label will be unlikely to sign a band without a considerable following. Public faith should not be underestimated. Promoters will be looking to BBC Introducing to provide new acts for local gigs – or at least they could be, if the BBC decided to do the simple thing of archiving a list of played acts (with links) from each show.

The BBC Birmingham Introducing website is a good example of what regional BBC Introducing sites should be starting with. The site used to house a comprehensive A-Z of local acts, but I can no longer locate it. There are, however, local artist news articles which is welcome relief from my fears that BBC Online is completely failing to provide us with the information that we pay our licence fees for.

At Amazing Radio our music programming policy is that we only play artists who have uploaded their tracks to amazingtunes.com. This means that our listeners can easily find what they hear on the radio, either by searching for the artists that they’ve heard us talk about on the radio, or by clicking on the hyper linked playlists that we provide on our show pages. We’re also on hand to answer any questions that site users or listeners may have. I occasionally receive emails that ask me about a song or artist, and I’m always happy to answer them,
(complete with a link to the artist’s profile page). Artists can write what they like on their profile pages too, so if they want to direct users to a Band Camp or Facebook fan page, we don’t mind at all!

So BBC, what would I like you do do? Well I’d like to see more effort put into the regional BBC Introducing sites – some shows don’t even have them – and I’d like to see published playlists for each show. Surely it can’t be that hard can it?

All the best,

Frankie Ward

The first photos…

We have photos!

They were taken by the lovely Faye Green (guitarist Todd’s sister.) She’s currently studying art at the University of Newcastle. I don’t know if she has a blog but if you’d like to get in touch with her, leave a comment and we’ll pass it her way!

Yours truly: Frankie Ward

David Mabbott (bass)

Mark Edwards (drums)

Neil Andrew Smith (keys)

Todd Green (guitar)

Get Frank

If you’re interested in seeing us live please check out our Facebook page. You can get in touch about gigs by emailing me at frankiepromotes@gmail.com.

Behind the scenes of Awake, Not Drifting

This weekend was spent in the studio at the University of Newcastle with the rest of the Get Frank guys recording our debut EP Awake, Not Drifiting.

I realised after looking at the track listing that three out of the four tracks are connected to the theme of ‘bed’ so it seemed apt to name the EP after the line ‘When I’m awake/Not Drifting’ from one of our quirkier numbers, Next Door.

Here’s a short ‘behind the scenes’ video of us in the studio. It was shot on my Kodak Zi8 and my new Casio Exilim camera (final shot only). You can occasionally hear my voice, but I’m the one behind the camera.

We recorded the EP live with me singing guide vocals behind the screen in the control room. I then rerecorded the vocals the next day. The trickiest track was Next Door as it features a variety of tempo changes – unlike the rest of the band however, most of the vocals used in the final mix were done in one take (which can’t be said for the other tracks!) We only used a click track to record ‘1 minute 20 second wonder’ It’s Not You.

We haven’t got an order yet but the EP will feature.

1. It’s Not You

2. Bedspread

3. Next Door

4. Vacant

I think one of the biggest surprises about working with the new lineup is that Vacant (formerly known as Untitled), which was the first song I wrote as ‘Get Frank’ back in Summer 2008, has become a firm favourite to play with the band. Having a real piano (and an expert musician in Neil Andrew Smith on keys) makes a real difference to the sound. Neil and Todd Green (guitar) both have solos at the end of the track and they both sound gorgeous.

The guys with Producer Rob

There have been multiple incarnations and lineup changes of Get Frank (I still feel that core member James Chester from the last couple of Birmingham lineups is present in the form of his friend, bassist David Mabbot), and it’s quite surprising that our current group has only been together for about six weeks.

More studio pics over at http://www.facebook.com/getfrankmusic

I always feel slightly overwhelmed when I hear what other people bring to my songs. I love that feeling of realisation – when you hear the track as you imagined it, with extra flourishes (such as David Mabbot’s ‘sensual bass-line’ in Next Door that felt like the natural progression from the ‘orgasma-bass’ of former player Richie B Brookes in Brum). Our last Brummie lineup felt quite ska in nature, whereas in Newcastle we’re heading towards a more organic, acoustic jazz feel. The unmixed recordings sound chaotic, but very much alive – hopefully our producer Rob Blazey will have an idea of what to do with them!

It was always a dream to record – I don’t think it’s set in that we’ve done it yet!

Now we need to find some Newcastle based gigs…

Hairy times for Holy Mammoth

I had a little spare time before going out to tonight’s Cult Image, Holy Mammoth and Fang Island gig so I got a little silly with my Macbook camera

Tee by Urban Outfitters, skirt by Zara, tights by Topshop, shoes by New Look, belt by Primark

Trying to get the shoes into shot...

Hair flower by Accessorize

Hair; a product of genetics and a bit o' serum

I really need a camera, some ‘this season’ clothes and some sense of dignity.

I also need these shoes in a size smaller as I can’t wear them without tripling up socks – so I won’t be wearing them tonight I don’t think… boo.

Although I could layer up the trainer socks and hope no one notices…. I’ve done that with my ballroom shoes before… except the judges weren’t so impressed!

See you there.


Kate Hindley artwork

Artwork by Kate Hindley

My friend, filmmaker Alex Buckmaster was kind enough to commission me some artwork as a birthday present.

Kate Hindley is a Worcester based artist who has illustrated for Okido magazine and Girls Who Draw (a more extensive list can be found here.)

I’m rather excited as apparently more stuff is coming soon! (Check out them purple glasses and the little uke…)

Unfortunately this is a bit of a short post as I’m in the midst of Winter break essay writing, but I’ll be back soon with details about my new radio show on Amazing Radio, a new digital radio station that only plays unsigned music.

We’re also looking for a bassist for Get Frank, so if you’re interested or know anyone who might be please GET IN TOUCH, frankiepromotes@googlemail.com.

Happy new year!

Gearing up for Get Frank

The news in briefs (aka bulletpoints)

  • I’ve just finished my last bit of work for uni and now just have  a dissertation proposal meeting (weds) and a 9am-5pm audition on tues to go.
  • Am about to launch a podcasting project on Burnfm.
  • Have been offered (and taken) the position of Generation Next Future Media Production Assistant for Channel 4 (more on that later.)
  • Have a featured open mic slot at The Phoenix, Coventry on Monday
  • Am preparing for my first gig with a full band at The Rainbow on Friday 29th May…

So firstly the ‘big gig…’ I’ve been dreaming of playing The Rainbow in Digbeth for over a year. It’s literally my favourite Brummie venue so I can’t believe I’m getting to play there. I’m playing with the wonderful Dan Smith, who I played at the Yardbird with in March. You can check out my myspace or my youtube if you’ve not heard my music before. All tracks on myspace are available to download for free! I’ve got five extra people helping me so expect glockenspiel, keyboards, guitars, drums, bongoes and a saxophone…

Also big thanks to all the lovely tweets about the Channel 4 internship I was very pleased too! I’m going to be focused on the Big Brother website and a few others I’ve not been told about yet. It’s my first proper paid internship so hopefully I won’t be too overdrawn at the end of summer like I was last year.

 

Hope to see you at the Rainbow on Friday!

Frank x