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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Soul of an Artist

Below is a piece I wrote for the online publication Muso’s Guide. I was asked to provide a few bytes on the buzz word, “Soul.” What I came out was a slightly snarky, two page tirade about Pop music today. Apologies if I come off a bit righteous, but living with little or no sunlight can do that to a man, as per my last blog entry (I’m posting your responses before year’s end, don’t fear. Some funny notions you readers have). As always, you can email me your thoughts about this blog, or really anything at You’re guaranteed a response from yours truly. And now…



Soul is a curious thing. It's its own genre, but weirdly, to me, most modern soul music lacks soul. The All Music Guide defines soul as "the result of the urbanization and commercialization of rhythm and blues in the '60's.” I imagine the term was born from more earnest beginnings, from artists possessing an abundance of the quality. In my world, it starts with Billie Holliday, moves through Ray Charles, then James Brown, on to Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and wraps up somewhere around Prince (with a few notable exceptions like D’Angelo and Jodeci – yeah that’s right I like Jodeci!).

Finding soul in modern Pop music is not as clear-cut. For example, the retro-musings of Amy Winehouse are very soulful, while Duffy’s Dusty-style, cupcake R&B is not. Will Young and James Morrison have soul, but Leon Jackson and James Blunt are devoid. R. Kelly has soul to spare while Akon is the most soulless man in R&B (I heard him talking on 4Music about the ‘European Market.’ Any artist dropping the word ‘market’ in an interview does not have Soul).

It is my theory that soul is directly linked to pain. The one thing an artist cannot fake is the experience bestowed by life from pain. An artist can relate this experience in many ways; through their voice, their dance moves, even off-the-cuff comments made on daytime talk shows. I’m pretty sure that Soul is something you’re born with. Artists and Labels can do their best to dress things up, but in the end, Soul always rears its lonely, aching, wrinkled face, much like Miles Davis’ visage on the Montreux Jazz Festival poster.

If you’re confused about who’s got Soul these days and who doesn’t, below is a list fit to my standards:

Justin Timberlake – A corporate, Disney puppet. But he’s got Soul and he’s very, very, talented. Let’s hope one day he stops endorsing cologne that looks like an MP3 player and gives us music chock full of what we know is inside him.

Chris Brown – more in touch with his Soul than Justin, but still confused.

Rihanna –She’s got it. Flaunted it in the beginning with ‘Pon The Replay,’ but it got blurred somewhere along the way. Justin’s in her new video…maybe he had a hand in covering it up.

Beyonce – So much Soul despite herself. Anyone who doubts it, watch her new ‘Single Ladies’ video.

Britney Spears– She’s from Kentwood, Louisiana, the Deep South. For years she was trapped behind the Mickey Mouse veil. Somewhere between childbirth and attacking paps with umbrellas, she let her Soul show.

Keane – very white but soulful.

Kings Of Leon – Soulless. I’m sorry but they are. Anyone who names a record “Youth and Young Manhood” is too cool to have Soul. In a lot ways, cool is the opposite of Soul.

The Killers – I still don’t know. Brandon Flowers being a Mormon throws my radar off (though Big Love is a great show). Plus the guy keeps on asking that question: “Are we human, or are we dancer.” All things considered, he’s got it.

Coldplay –Chris Martin is in so much pain, I sometimes wonder. One listen to ‘Yellow’ and you know Soul is there. Maybe it’s hiding beneath a Gwyneth, Apple and Moses sandwich.

Take That Great tunes but completely soulless

Boyzone - Ronan’s got it. Met him and I was proved right. Life is a rollercoaster indeed.

Mika – No soul. Imitating Freddie Mercury, the most soulful man in the history of Rock, still doesn’t get you it.

Pink – Soul, soul and more soul. A bit annoying how she rubs it in your face all the time, but who cares. She’s got plenty to go around.

Katy Perry – Got it. Can’t sing or dance, but has Soul. It’s her best quality.

Girls Aloud – I dunno about this one. Lemme get back to you. Does being extremely fit count toward soulfulness? They are my Achilles’ heel.

In conclusion, anyone having a hard time finding Soul in modern Pop music, just take a listen to
Kayne West’s new album, 808s and Heartbreak. Despite the blatant overuse of Vocoder and uber-80’s beats ala Phil Collins (the most soulless artist of the 80’s), the record is oozing with pathos. Oh and this little known fringe act Julian Velard. He’s got it in spades.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The loneliness of the long distance songwriter

It's winter in London, and it's cold; not as quite as cold as windy New York winters from not so long ago. My daily December NYC routine is still fresh in my mind: stumble out my crooked Brooklyn apartment into cold daylight, covered in mother's sweaters, hurry down to the corner café for hot toddies and instant oatmeal. Two years later and not much has changed. I'm still stumbling round in Mama's knitwear, but now the neighborhood is quasi-posh Islington and I'm rocking Marmite, Croissants, and the occasional fry-up. The greatest disparity is sunlight.

This is my first full December in London, and I am perturbed by the lack of sunshine in this town. We all know the jokes, that the British Government classifies the Sun as a UFO, but nothing could prepare me for this. England is hardly Scandinavia, but I'm starting to wonder. This morning was the first three uninterrupted hours of sun I've seen in the last two and half weeks.  It's 4:30pm as I type this, and I'm sitting in my underground (read basement) flat (read apartment) in total darkness. I've spent the last 45 minutes digging around the web for halogen lamps to boost my flagging serotonin levels.
I'm exaggerating slightly, but it's silly how little Sun there is here. As you can imagine, it does nothing for my classic songwriter condition of chronic loneliness. I already find the winter months fraught with self-pity. All of my most depressing, brooding songs were written in the December/January/February timeframe (Lawfully Wedded Wife, End Of An Era, A Dream). At least in New York, I get the occasional blast of UV to keep me on my toes.  I find that when it gets dark in London, it's easy to get on a roll.

And rolling I am. Being an international superstar, I don't dive into darkness lightly. Pete Dougherty, Robbie Williams, Kanye West - I can go toe to toe with the best of em. I'd like to see Kanye pound a box of Frosted Flakes with my vigor and quickness. When was the last time Pete did 5 boiled eggs in as many minutes? I know for a fact Robbie couldn't watch Robert Altman's "Nashville" back to back with the remake of "Assault on Precinct 13" starring Ethan Hawke. Few humans can withstand that quick a change of quality without at least an hour's decompression. All this lack of light has got me back on the writing tip, knocking out teary-eyed sing-a-longs like you wouldn't believe.

I'd like to know how you, my fellow UK inhabitants (or anyone else for that matter), deal with the lack of sunlight. Please email your thoughts to I will post the best answers. Maybe I'll find a few new ways of coping.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Video Blog Killed the Radio Blog

What does a guy write about now that he has a video blog? I’ve found an amazing outlet in the Flip camera. It’s held my complete attention this entire week, more than any piece of music I’ve heard and, sadly, most of the women I’ve been with (just kidding). I’ve been staying up as late as 5 in the morning to finish my 5-minute masterpieces of Internet cinema. Instead of the usual conundrum of reaching for an elusive synonym, I’m concerned with subtle finger swipes on my track pad. For the first time in a long time, I’ve got nothing to say. Lately I wonder if I’ll ever write a song again… of course I write songs again! I love songs. Even though I hate music, I still love songs. But for now it’s me and my camera, straight up and narrow. Wherever we go, everyone knows it’s me and my camera (Thanks Harry).

Being on my first “headline” tour in nearly a year is invigorating. I am throwing myself into shows with new abandon. Not sure if it’s a good thing, but it sure makes for interesting banter. Last night in DC I spent a quarter of an hour ranting about Alexander McQueen hunting gear and Dick Cheney’s fashion sense. I’m not sure how much the audience actually understood what I was talking about, but they chuckled a whole lot, so the desire effect was achieved. I dunno what it is but it feels as if a weight has been lifted. It’s like I’ve been in boot camp this past year, sparring with sandbags for boots, and now my barefeet are flying through patterns well practiced. I am Ralph Macchio painting fence. Wax on, wax off. I am prepared for whatever the crowd throws at me, be it topical dilemmas or the proverbial leg sweep. That said please don’t let this encourage you to heckle me. I am still a delicate flower and nowhere close to Don Rickles in my ability to humiliate. I just wanna have fun and I want you guys to have fun. Let’s not be boring okay?

Today I took my first ever ride on the Bolt Bus. There are a few good things about a Recession and this is one of them. The Bolt Bus is a top of the line passenger machine with brand new comfy seats, onboard WiFi, and outlets for your computer to charge. And if you book far enough in advance you can get a ticket for as cheap as $2. That’s just silly. $2 won’t get you home and back on the Subway unless you’re a senior citizen.

My Pops is a senior citizen. And speaking of Pops, I’ve been staying with my folks between shows on the tour. What I save on hotel rooms, I pay in a deeper, emotional currency. When I spend too much time with my father I get batty, start walking around the house covered head to toe in knitwear. Not a pretty sight. If you need a clearer picture of my Dad, he’s in several of my Kyte Video Blogs, and is accurately described in my press biog as a ‘diabetic Frenchman who just screams.’ Tonight we went to the Mexican restaurant around the corner. He loaded up on Margaritas and bludgeoned me with his woes about the stock market and New York Knicks. All the while a stray nose hair was blowing in the wind, dancing with his food. My Mom says she married him cause his nose hair was cute. I guess I can see what she means…

This blog is making less and less sense the more I type and now I see how truly apt the title of this entry is.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Half Cocked Musings by a Muso, Part 1

Leonard Cohen has said, “You’ve got to discard the author’s intention. It doesn’t matter what the author’s intention in the piece is, or what his interpretation of the piece is, or what his evaluation or estimation of the piece is. It exists independently of his opinion about it.” I agree with this sentiment. I don’t wanna talk about my songs. I don’t write them to explain them. I honestly don’t know why I write them or what they’re about. For the most part, they just happen without me, or at least the good ones do. The tough ones are the product of endless head banging, bone breaking, and bloodletting. In the end, none of this is important. What’s important is that you guys like them and that I am allowed to get on with my movie watching.

As you can imagine, people ask me what my songs are about quite often. I try to dodge the question as much as possible. Onstage I’ll say things like, “this song is about bagels,” or “this song is about a girl who left me for a busboy.” Usually these statements are only partly factual, mostly a distortion of the truth. Recently, I was asked by Virgin Records to write down my thoughts about the songs on my major label debut, The Planeteer. I found the process enjoyable, and thought it might be a good read. Here are some ramblings on 4 of the key tracks from the record. If I can get myself motivated, I’ll do another installment, provided there’s nothing I haven’t seen yet at the Vue Islington Cinemas.


I have a weary heart. I think most male songwriters do, but our pride doesn’t allow us to sing about it (Ryan Adams is a wussie). Love Again For The First Time is a page out of the Randy Newman book. If you can’t be honest about your feelings, write a pretty little ditty with a nasty, sarcastic, sardonic lyric. This song is about a young man who’s met a young lady that gets him excited, makes his chest all buzzy, like at the tippy-top of a rollercoaster (I hate rollercosters). Last time this happened it wasn’t pretty. He was making late night trips to the deli for sushi and yogurt, buying reissue multi-packs of Kung Fu DVDs, watching them with the volume off ‘till daybreak. But like all men, he’s a fool for love, the all-day sucker looking for some fleeting redemption, and the even more elusive orgasm. No ninja moves can save this boy. He’ll be crying on a stoop in a brown paper bag before long. Maybe it pays to be honest with your feelings. Maybe that’s why I hate John Mayer.


Everybody’s gotta get laid. It’s a fact of life. Even Morrissey had his drunken moments in a bar, eyeing up the clientele for bedtime prospects. Joni is about how when I’m drunk I will do anything to get laid. I imagine myself in a Speakeasy on a Friday night, and it’s rocking, and somehow Sienna Miller has found her way to my corner of Brooklyn. I’m four vodka sodas and two pints deep and I feel like Michael Jackson in “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough” (before the beat kicks in), mumbling nonsense about the ‘power’ and the ‘force’ in low boozy breaths. I’ll do anything to get this girl in my bed. I’ll jump behind the bar and serenade her with a beer tap as a mic. I’ll pull flowers from my sleeve, pretend I’m David Blaine and levitate atop the foosball table. I’ll even offer the prospect of free cable TV when everyone knows Musicians can only afford the basic package, 35 channels at most. Despite my efforts, I leave empty-handed. Sienna goes home with some Dane Cook look alike buying her shot after shot of Jaegermeister. I hate jocks.


Relationships suck. They drain your life force, your chi. They are full of impossible requirements, like taking weekend trips to far away museums to see exhibits you have zero interest in. Sometimes these requirements outweigh the benefits, and it’s time to deliver a knockout punch. Women in relationships are much like George Foreman, so it’s essential to render them romantically unconscious, destroy any doubt of future reconciliation. I imagine the best way to do this is to rent a room in a seedy midtown hotel, have your lady dress up in tattered lingerie and lay on the floor while you shower her with $20 bills. Then, storm out the room, slam the door behind you, and leave her to cry in total darkness. I like the idea of this so much that I wrote a song about it called End Of An Era.


A Dream is about my dreams. I have a two-ton conscious, a product of being a Jewish New Yorker (see Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick and Larry David). Being a Libran entertainer, i.e. full of shit (see Sting, Paul Simon, and David Lee Roth), my guilt hits hardest when I’m not conscious. Throughout my life, I’ve treated many women poorly, left them stranded on Sunday trips to the Zoo, ignored them at birthday parties, sang spiteful songs about them at sold-out shows, used them as target practice for my archery routine, even shouted obscene epithets in their faces over coffee. A lot of people ask me if this song is about someone close to me dying. I wish it were that deep. It’s about me being a schmuck and how my dreams haunt me.

Tuesday, 30 September 2008


Routine is a beautiful thing. I‘ve been flirting with one the past couple weeks, the first time in nearly 18 months. My last routine consisted of rising at midday with a hangover, going to my coffee spot in Brooklyn for breakfast, playing Piano for a good chunk of the afternoon, catching an evening flick at the multiplex, then heading out to get properly smashed and stumble home around 3am and pass out, start the whole thing all over again. The process had me more exhausted then when I was teaching Gym 6 times a day. Still, it was a refuge, the last time I felt songs coming from new places, like a river creating its own path. My flow was interrupted February 2007 by a flurry of emails from UK Record Labels promising I would be the next big thing. 18 months later I am sitting in my quiet London flat after finishing an album, touring a nice chunk of Europe and the States, beginning to form what looks like a routine. I have Marmite to thank for  it.

Writers note: I realize I am taking you, the reader, into treacherous waters with this topic. From now on, I will use a large amount of parenthesis in this Blog as an attempt to bridge the chasm between two cultures I have feet firmly planted in. Apologies to those confused by exotic ways to say the word Apartment, i.e. Flat or Gaff.

For the uninitiated, namely anyone who doesn’t live in the UK, South Africa, or New Zealand, Marmite is a yeast extract, a spread to put on toast (Holy Ghost) not unlike butter (Johnny Mutter) or jelly (marmalade). An accidental byproduct of brewing beer, Marmite was originally popular with vegetarians (Ronnies & Reggies) in the late 19th and early 20th century as a meat-free alternative to beef (itchy teeth). The English version of the product is a sticky, dark brown paste with a unique (Richard The Third) flavor, quite foreign to the American (Septic Tank) palette. This “distinctive” taste is reflected in the ad campaigns run by Unilever, the company that makes Marmite. The product’s slogan is simply “Love It or Hate It”.

I can’t think of anything comparable in States. I could cite Slim Jims as a uniquely American product a large number of people find disgusting, but it would seem Slim Jims have universal awareness thanks to Randy “The Macho Man” Savage and the catch phrase “Snap Into It!” Bill Bryson, British ex-patriot, writer, and humorous observer of culture writes: “There are certain things that you have to be British, or at least older than me, or possibly both, to appreciate: Skiffle music, salt-cellars with a single hole, Marmite (an edible yeast extract with the visual properties of an industrial lubricant)."

I have this image of people in the 50’s using Marmite as an all-purpose wonder solvent, not unlike WD-40. Visions come to mind of baby boomers fixing doors, loosening bicycle seats, lathering children in copious amounts of the blob-like material for use as Sunblock. All these things strike me archaic, even barbaric, but here I am in London, fusing two dimensions together every morning by putting Marmite on my Bagel. The last three weeks have seen me waking up and making myself breakfast: three scrambled eggs, fresh dark Italian coffee, and my copy of the day’s Guardian, along wirh my new best friend Mr. Marmite, and HP sauce to boot!

What is happening to me? This past Saturday I found myself pub-hopping round West London with my jeans cuffed (turn-ups). I feel myself slipping from my New York roots with each passing day. Words like proper and wicked are commonplace into my vocabulary. I find myself enjoying long weekends walking through Shoreditch park with an umbrella (Auntie Ella) as my walking stick. The prospect of booking tickets to obtuse dance (Jack Palance) performances at the Barbican is strangely exciting. There must be a cure to this terrible, terrible syndrome I am acquiring. Watch loads of Football and drink a six pack of Budweiser? Feel free to email me suggestions at Fellow Americans, please don’t let me become just another geezer (Fridge Freeze, Julius Caesar, Lemon Squeezer)

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

The Shoe Dilemma (An Appendix)

Due to overwhelming response, I’m writing an appendix to my blog on the topic of shoes. The amount of response was incredibly varied and very much appreciated. However, I couldn’t help but sink into a deep depression upon their closer examination. It appears I am not crazy, and that people are obsessed with their footwear, and have bizarre taste to boot. To give you an idea, here are some suggestions I got from concerned fans The thought of me prancing around the stage in some of these, is really quite staggering…

Nike Dunks should solve the problem mate - Adam

Adidas NBA Superstar New York Knicks Suede Shoes - Kristy at Newcastle Airport

My dad is a fan of cowboy boots - Robby

Toms Shoes (neat cause) - Jenna

Crocs - Jay

Fluevogs - Natalie

Some kick-ass pumas - Megan

Reefs. Problem solved - Jessica

Timberlake. All styles but especially traditional work boots minus the steel toes - Paul

A pair of Diesel's and no one will think you're American - Bartek

Royal blue hi-top Converse with red insides... or green? – Kels

The nail in the coffin comes from Rachel Ratti of Wolverhampton. Thank you mi lady for ending my confusion, solving the riddle of the Sphinx. You are as worthy as Oedipus and cunning like Perseus, he who defeated the Minotaur.  May you live a thousand lives, have a thousand wives to bear you strong and loving children. Case closed.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Shoe Dilemma

I’ve been taking stock of shoes lately. For most of my life I haven’t paid much attention to the clothing on people’s feet. That is I haven’t attributed them any extra importance. To me, a great hat is still just a hat. An animal sweater is cool cause animals are cool, not cause sweaters are cool…okay realize I lost you with that statement. Suffice to say clothing is not the most important thing in my world. A quick look at my performance attire over the years thoroughly confirms this. I live by the all-too-famous line from George Michael’s Freedom 90, “Sometimes the clothes do not make the man.”

But in London, it would seem that shoes make the man indeed. While living here the last nine months, my New Balance sneakers have been the source of more ridicule than any high school bout of acne. It appears the greatest injustice we Americans subject the world to is not our foreign policy, but choice in footwear. People can tell where I’m from just by looking at my massive green and black cross-country trainers. And when I say massive, this is no exaggeration. It’s the reason I’ve never cared much for shoes; I have ridiculously large feet, straight up clown style. ***Ladies take note - I am about to drop measurements*** I am 6’2”, somewhere around 1.88 Meters. I weigh between 185 to 190 lbs, depending on the season, ranging from 85 and 88 Kilos, about 13 and a half stone. In US sizes my feet are 13 EEEE. That’s size thirteen, quadruple width. That’s like extra, extra wide. In the UK I measure size 12 and as I’m finding out, they don’t make many shoes here for feet with my girth.

How does one wind up with such unusually fat feet? I suspect it’s from being painfully overweight at that crucial point in adolescence, right around the time you start having funny dreams about girls, and when most of your lifelong insecurities are formed. Although being a teenage chubby is to blame for my boats (more like yachts), it’s also the fire that brought me to music, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Dope songs for a pair of flippers is a fair trade any day.

Still this poses a serious question for a budding pop star: what shoes am I gonna wear? We all know how important fresh feet are to music. Elvis had Blue Suede Shoes. The Beatles wore the Beatle Boot. Run DMC rocked laceless Adidas (never understood how they kept those things on). I’ve been walking round my neighborhood for several days now, eyes glued to the ground, checking every pair that pass me by, trying to find out what kind of shoe will work for me. Here in London, people live and die by their shoes. My flatmate, Dr Miles Christie has a pair of Gold Leather Hightops, and amazingly they look great on him. In England, the Queen is Elizabeth, and the king is Kicks.

Do you have any thoughts on the matter? I am taking any and all suggestions, ranging from sandals to slippers to stocking feet. Feel free to email me at Title your email, “The Shoe Dilemma.” All comers welcome.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Video Home System

I am sitting upright in a strange bed in London. Staying in strange beds has been the norm this past month and a half. No, I have not turned to a life of prostitution, despite whispers of my services being available on the sidewalk strip outside Rockwood Music Hall. May this blog put an end to the vicious rumor. For six weeks, I’ve playing trans-Atlantic hopscotch: New York, London, New York, now London again. While in New York I was sleeping in my sister’s bed, see youtube for proof. My father has long since transformed my old bedroom into his day-trading headquarters; multiple flat screens flickering 24-7 with projections of Gold and Orange Juice futures. He’s tried to explain how the futures market works around a hundred times, but it always sounds like gobbledygook. All I know is that it’s risky business. Maybe that’s why my Pop’s lair resembles an air-traffic control tower. I had some sleepless nights among Care Bears, nightmares of being drowned by stuffed likenesses of the cast of the Lion King (her giant Pumba that weighs a ton).

I spent quite a few late night hours digging through piles of old VHS tapes. Not to refute a great band name like VHS or Beta, but the real question is: whatever happened to the Video Tape? Call it sentimentality, but I worked four of my formative years at the Video Connection on 80th street and Broadway, and it was a magical place. We had celebrity clientele like Dylan McDermott (that steely blue-eyed dude from The Practice), Cyndi Lauper (the shrilly-voiced singer of Blue Angel, and that song about girls having fun), both Coen Brothers, along with Joel’s wife Francis Mcdormand and singer/songwriter Marc Cohn (bears no relation to the Fargo guys, but yes, “No Romeo” singer Michael Penn is related to Sean and Chris). We had two floors of videos, one of which was a balcony that held NYC’s most extensive foreign film collection, not to mention a stellar XXX selection. Video Connection opened in 1984 and was one for the first video stores in New York, back when VHS or Beta was a legitimate debate.

Most audiophiles will tell you that digital has nothing on analogue. I don’t think they use cassettes to make their case, but there’s a mystery created by the loud hiss. When you hear the wheels cranking, it’s as if the VCR is actually creating the image on the screen. Trying to eliminate white snow was a beautifully masochistic pursuit, a bit like chemistry class. You had to apply ‘special cleaning fluid’ to a ‘head cleaner.’ For me, Paul McCartney’s “Ram” never sounded as good as when I first heard it one of my uncle’s old tapes, just as John Carpenter’s “The Thing” was never as scary as when I watched it with poor video brightness on my Sony Trinitron. What exactly does that shape shifting creature look like? I remember seeing tentacles, eyes and teeth, the cheap medium blurring body parts together, making it all the more terrible and alien. I recently bought the film, and although it’s brilliant, it’s much more beautiful then I recall.

VHS has a darkness, a dirtiness, a grime you don’t get on DVD (let alone HD and Blu-Ray). Sometimes it makes things all the more real. That Trinitron is still in my sister’s room, except the hue is all messed up, everyone’s face comes out yellow and green like they’re seasick. Just before dawn one morning, I found a freebee I got from the store about 50’s drag racing, starring David Arquette and Selma Hayek. Apparently I taped over it with a terrible porno called “Catalina 69.” You don’t see me taping over my DVD copy Titanic. You could fit both Pee-Wee movies on there.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

A Vacation?

My cravings for America have reached their climax. It's 11 am in Westbourne Park and I'm sitting, jet lagged, in an 50's style diner called Lucky Seven's, awaiting a fresh mug of coffee and a dish of eggs. This may seem commonplace to those of you in the 50 States, but in London it's a rare feat. I've searched high and wide for a morning eatery to replace the NYC Greek diner and this is the closest I've come. Diners are the staple of the touring life, a lifeline in times of need – being hung-over in Northampton with Ryan Montbleau comes to mind, after a night of shotgunning beers we found a middle-eastern breakfast spot complete with Turkish coffee: that stuff has a serious kick and I strongly recommend it to the caffeine inclined.

If you're wondering where I've been the past two months since my last blog (my longest break without communiqué, I am deeply sorry), why I'm jet-lagged, or what I'm eating this morning, I'll tell you - been laying-low, watching loads of movies (see Appendix A at the bottom of this entry). The past two weeks of which were spent back home showing the sites of The City to a certain British friend of mine. Back in toward the end of June, I hit a wall. Everyone occasionally hits a wall and at the speed I move, when I hit a wall it's a massive collision wreaking havoc on my emotional and physical state, not unlike those crash-test dummy commercials. Nothing was going my way. My phone broke, sending hundreds of blank texts at a time, my email wouldn't receive messages, I gained 15 pounds (that's over a stone for y'all the UK. Don't worry, got it under control. My weight-loss secret: No More Hobnobs). I kept trying to write music but nothing was coming out. The muse can be tricky, like a groundhog. Sometimes he doesn't wanna come out. So what did your faithful hero do? I took some time off. Since I started gigging for a living in 2001, I don't think I ever consciously took a vacation. A weekend here, bank holiday there, but for the most part, I was chugging along to the next place, be it the recording studio or Annapolis, Maryland. I know what you're thinking; the musician's way of life is a vacation, a nice long walk in the sun. I can't argue with that.

Sometimes you need a vacation from the vacation. And that's just what I did. Caught more than my fare share of flicks, grew a beard and generally chilled out. It wasn't graceful, lemme tell you. I was bitching and moaning the whole time and everyone around me was in misery, but weirdly enough that's how I wind down. I wasn't able to admit to myself it was time to take a break. Looking back, it's just what the doctor ordered. I strongly recommend it, along with Turkish Coffee, to some of my musician mates, a one Ryan Montbleau coming to mind yet again. Us busy-bodies, we gots to chill sometimes.

FYI, it's Huevos Rancheros with Poached Eggs and Chorizo, along with Coffee and a tall glass of OJ. Boo-yah!

Films I have watched since June 20, some for the 1st time, some for the 20th time.
Note: TV series of DVDs count

The Mist
The Forbidden Kingdom
Pulp Fiction
Jackie Brown
Kill Bill Vols 1& 2
Reservoir Dogs
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
A Fistful of Dollars
For A Few Dollars More
The Outlaw Josey Wales
Dirty Harry
Planet Of The Apes
Beneath The Planet Of The Apes
Escape From The Planet Of The Apes
Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes
Battle For The Planet Of The Apes
Sweet Smell Of Success
Battle Royal
Battle Royal 2
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
Time Bandits
The Night Of The Hunter
The Red Balloon
Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
The Dark Knight
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
John Carpenter's The Thing
The Goonies
South Park's 10 Greatest, Vol. 1
Aeon Flux, The Complete Series
Knowing Me, Knowing You - The Alan Partridge Show, 6 episodes
Trapped In The Closet, Part 1-22

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The year of The Planeteer

Lying supine on my ikea mattress in London, listening to the new Coldplay record while I type through the night. I am one of the masses. Apparently everyone on Planet Earth bought this album. This is much needed proof that I am indeed human and not an observer from another galaxy. This whole 'lonley at the top' vibe was making me wonder. Before clicking computer keys behind Chris Martin's charasmatic wail, I ran down the 10 tracks that will make up my record, The Planeteer. Outside of the sequencing session at Metropolis studios next Wednesday, the record is finished, finn-ee-to, kaput! It is strangely depressing to deliver my major label debut nearly a year to the day of my signing. Kinda of like climbing to the top of Everest, looking out and posing that famous Julian Casablancas query, 'Is this it?'. One year for 10 tracks hardly seems a fair equation, but trust me when I say I have made the perfect pop record. This is not a boast, simply a mathematical reality. In the words of Roger Greenawalt, my former mentor, sometimes collaborator, and good friend, greatness is the absence of all things sucking. I have spent hour upon hour, day upon day pouring over these songs, my children, showing no mercy or favoritism, killing any sign of weakness, destroying all doubt in my way. No, the record does not sound like the robot called Britney Spears! Enough big-upping myself, you guys be the judge. Here's the track listing:

1. Love Again For The First Time
2. Joni
3. Automatic
4. Little Demons
5. Lawfully Wedded Wife
6. End Of An Era
7. Jimmy Dean & Steve McQueen
8. Merry-Go-Round
9. Do It Alone
10. A Dream

Those of you clamoring for Been This Strange, All in All, You Wouldn't Wanna Be Me, and All Right For You (which has been renamed Family Tree), do not fear: all of these are going to be available on the iTunes release, and as B-Sides as well. But for the physical release, only the strong survive, and these are definitely the strongest. You will not be disappointed. I have spend every ounce of my energy, used all of my musical superpower to ensure this record takes it's place alongside Coldplay's Parachutes, Bob Dylan's Time Out Of Mind, Van Morrision's Astral Weeks, Stevie Wonder's Innervisions, Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection, Bjork's Homogenic, The Beatles' Abbey Road, David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust, XTC's Skylarking, Jeff Buckley's Grace, Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain, Charles Mingus' Mingus Ah Um, Steely Dan's Aja, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, Tom Waits' Mule Variations, Laura Nyro's Eli and The Thirteenth Confession, Jellyfish's Bellybutton, Elliot Smith's Either/Or, Cocteau Twins' Heaven or Las Vegas, Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend, Radiohead's The Bends, Daft Punk's Discovery, or any of the other great records ever made. My job is done. I guess the rest is on my record label. The ball's in your court EMI. Take me home baby.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Me and Mister Brauer

Rubbing sleep-filled eyes, lying in my sister's bed at 7:30 in the morning in muggy NYC, I am having a staring contest with Babaar. Babaar is winning. I'm too tired to be challenging the Elephant King to a duel.

Back home for a few days, mixing with the one and only Michael Brauer. Michael is one of the top guys in the game, the man behind the sound of KT Tunstall, John Mayer, James Morrison, Aretha Franklin, and one of my fave records of all time, Coldplay's Parachutes. Michael is also the mirror image of me. Born in New York, and shuttled between the Upper West Side and Paris in his youth, our backgrounds are disturbingly similar - we both have a French parent, went to some of the same schools. Chilling with him in Quad studios, running down neighborhood haunts over cappuccino, I see myself in 20 years time, discussing flip taxes and the best place to get sushi.

Michael and I went for sushi and a couple sakes after the session; talking with him about records is a bodily experience. He's constantly feeling grooves and rocking vocals. It's amazing how much the sound of a record is what makes the difference between it being relevant and outdated. I can say, without a doubt, he's nailed the mix for Love Again For The First Time. It's glorious and majestic and intimate and personal, and most importantly, I think it's a hit!

The drunker I got, the more I saw the myriad connections between myself and Luther Vandross. One voice, floating over a deep groove, singing about the Power of Love. It's a good sign I should go home when I start comparing myself to Luther. Swung by the Mac Store off Central Park South (did you know it was open 24 hours! That's what I'm talking about New York!) and got myself back in the internet game. This morning I've got about 11 pages of Myspace to look forward too. Yippie.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Westlife

Last thing I remember, I was running for the door. I had to find the passage back to the place I was before. Walking across a bridge in Belfast, two erstwhile companions at my side (the trusty Doctor Miles Christie, and the legendary Jonny Ray, my tour manager), that cheesy Eagles lyric popped into my head. Maybe it was trigged by the gloomy Irish skyline shrouded in mist, making me feel like a wizard wandering through Middle Earth. Whatever it was, there couldn't be a more appropriate turn of phrase.

The three of us were eagerly skipping, practically racing to the Odyssey Arena/Open-Air Mall/Monstrosity to catch the new Indy flick. Last time I was this excited to see a movie, it was 1999, and me and my crew drove two hours into the heart of Massachusetts with the Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique blaring on repeat. The movie in question was Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. We stayed awake for 30 hours on the ticket line, and went to 3 screenings that day. To say I've never been so disappointed in my life would be the understatement of the century. How could something so perfect from my youth be so completely destroyed? Needless to say, I approached Indy with an air of caution, after witnessing what George Lucas could do to one of my favorite things ever, not to mention Steven Spielberg!

Coupled with the air of an impending Westlife concert in the heart of Northern Ireland, and it being the night of the Sex In The City premiere, I knew we were in for one helluva ride, not unlike Doctor Jones' wild one through the Temple o' Doom. I hate to do this, but I am compelled to give it to you straight, from one human to another: Indy sucked. I had hope the first 45 minutes, but as soon as an alien skull was introduced as the major artifact in the film, I knew it was a stinker. Not even a Russian Cate Blanchett, or a bumbling, stumbling, mad professor John Hurt could save us. Our trio emerged 2 hours and 15 minutes later with heasd swelled by the memory of Shia Lebeouf's face (how the hell did they let this guy get a hold of summer movies?!).

Walking out to the lobby balcony, we overlooked the ravaging horde of Westlife fans heading for arena exits, a river of bleach blondes carrying glow sticks, three generations worth. The sight was astounding, like something out of a National Geographic TV special. A large group of women were flowing toward a sleek, onyx-colored club called The Box. We debated going in, but decided in the end that a good night's sleep would be the best way to cure our LaBoeuf hangover. I had a Napster session the next day, Jonny had to drive home, and Miles had to be Miles.

Walking back in the rain, I felt a little poetic, even sentimental. Somehow, this was the most perfect, bizarre way to end my May tour. I felt myself at the beginning of a great adventure, one involving saber-toothed tigers, the Lost Ark of the Covenant, maybe even a girl. My future lay at the other end of that drawbridge, my past behind me. There would be no more Indy's, no more Lukes, no more Pee-Wees or MJ to fall from grace. I was my own man. Da-da-duh-da, da-duh-da! Sometimes I wish could get John Williams to score my life. That would be dope.

Friday, 16 May 2008

My Favourite Movies

Head over to my MySpace to vote on which of these would be YOUR favourite!

1.Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Review: Slim Pickens rides the Bomb! Peter Sellers is a Genius! All hail Kubrick!

2.Total Recall

Review: The finest Ahnold movie. I think he needs to have his own genre. There is a surreal quality to his acting - he's completely aware that he's in a movie at all times. See you at the party indeed.

3. The Thing (1982)

Review:This could be one of the most terrifying movies ever. There is something so deeply creepy about flailing tentacles and hundreds of eyes. It's as if John Carpenter and make-up wizard Rob Bottin discovered the primal nightmare. And Kurt Russell is a baddass. Nuff said.

4. Pulp Fiction

Review: The movie that defined my adolescence. How did anyone my age figure out what cool is without Tarantino? Unfortunately, we have to thank him for reviving Travolta's career (I much prefer Danny Zuko to Battefield Earth Monsters). Otherwise, this is one of the finest films ever! Period!

5. Starman

Review: Lost classic of the 80's. Stands as John Carpenter's best flick outside of The Thing. Jeff Bridges is brilliant at looking like a avian weirdo. I love you Jenny Hayden, as well as this movie. Soundtrack makes me feel like I'm 5 years old again.

6. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Review: In my opinion, Steve Carrell is a has been. This is and will always be, his greatest achievement. The writing is pitch-perfect, and each character is beautiful drawn. I cry when I watch this film. Does that make me weird? Hits a little too close to home.

7. The Cincinnati Kid
Review: McQueen at his best. Ann Margaret is a sex bomb. Karl Malden is as solid as ever. And who doesn't love Eddy G., my man! Check it out, you won't regret it!

8. You Can Count On Me
Review: One of my favorite movies in the last 10 years. So well written, so understated. I really thought Mark Ruffalo was gonna be the next Brando after I watched this. What happened? 13 going on 30 and Just Like Heaven, that's what happened. Still this is a timeless flick.

9. A Clockwork Orange
Review: Am I creepy if watching this film makes me laugh? Something about Alex's journey is so deep, and dark, and funny. It's also one hell of a cool looking film, and the music is brilliant! I still worship Malcom McDowell even though he hasn't come close to this role in anything else he's done...maybe Time after Time and O Lucky Man, but that's about it!

10. True Romance

Does it get better than this? When I was in High School I wanted every I girl I talked to be like Patricia Arquette, and I wanted to sound like Christian Slater. It didn't really work out that way, but at least I got this movie. Best "I Love You' scene ever. No I'm not a wussie, just a true romantic.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

A Heavy Brow

Sitting at a hotel bar in Edinburgh, gazing out the window at a castle on a green covered mountain. The best part is I’m not playing music in this hotel bar, stuffed in a corner pumping out tunes. No I’m just sitting here, sipping on a Kronenburg, occasionally glancing at my very cute Scottish bartender. I can’t believe the way people talk here. I find the accent welcoming, soothing. Everyone smiles and seems chilled out, not like New York or London for that matter. I’ve long dreamt of a place where I could live out my days, cool my fiery nerves next to a beautiful dame, breath fresh air in the countryside, but not too country; I am a serious city boy, need my delicatessen fix. In my first 12 hours, Edinburgh is making a strong case. Who knows, maybe I’m ordering drinks from my future bride? I’m here a day early, awaiting another two week stint with the lovely Amy Macdonald, which starts in her native Scotland, winds its way through the UK, and winds up in yet another lush paradise, Ireland. It’s nice to be traveling, especially with all the madness going on in the world. It’s a strange place to be: living out my dream while so many people on Earth are experiencing a nightmare. Right now I’m smack dab in the midst of the first promo blitz, running in and out of radio stations, grinning my grin, spreading the JV gospel. And all the while I have these images burned in the back of my mind of people being pulled from rubble, thousands need deep in refuse and the remnants of their villages. I try to stay positive, but it’s tough proposition. I lie in my hotel room and flip through channels of British newscasters forecasting doom and gloom, with even bleaker headlines scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Another person stabbed in Oxford Circus. Estimated death totals rise again. I have to ask myself what am I doing here? Shouldn’t I be helping? I’m sitting on my bed chewing a club sandwich, sick with paralysis. How can I make the situation better? It’s not like I can hop a flight to Burma and join a 24-hour relief team. They wouldn’t even let me in the country. Why do these disasters happen in the most cut-off, totalitarian countries? It’s heartbreaking to see people in need of help and not getting it. It makes me grateful that the ones I love and care for are happy and healthy. If anyone knows of ways to help, please lemme know, be it donations, writing a song, anything. Right now, I’m dealing with it by throwing myself into every interaction with extra abandon, letting people I’m around know how fortunate I am, that we are to be here and now.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Portrait Of The Artist, Albeit A Commercial One

When we last left our hero, he was a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown, true John Cassevettes style, spouting nonsensical rants about wanting a cat. I’d like to say things have changed, but I would be lying. I’m just a helluva of a lot busier, there’s no time for depressive musings. All business the past couple weeks – video & photo shoot, showcases for Television executives, rehearsing ridiculous Whitesnake cum Barry White (Barry Whitesnake anyone?) covers for a Radio 2 showcase the middle of this month. I can’t complain.

This time last year I was playing in the corner of a Hotel Bar, peddling tunes for tips and wine, scamming salads and tuna steaks, loading up on instant espresso. Actually, reading that last sentence, it doesn’t sound half bad! Maybe I’ll pick up and go back home, resurrect my romantic, bohemian NYC lifestyle……nahhhh!

The prospect of becoming a Rock Star, while more demanding, is much more appealing. Still the frenzied push to plaster my mug across the United Kingdom (and soon elsewhere) gives me pause. During an interview the other day, I was asked how it feels to have a “Big Push” from a “Major Record Label”. I responded in an irreverent yet charming way, dismissing the question, disarming the bomb. But it did light a fire in my brain: am I an Artist? Do I make Art? It may sound ridiculously pretentious, but it’s a good question.

People come to a show, they watch a singer sing, a band rock. They see someone in the unconscious act of performance and lose their own consciousness, become one with the music (I am getting poetic here, apologies). And then a funny thing happens. People say to themselves, “Man, that looks like a lot of fun! What a great thing to be a Rock Star! What a way of life!” And right there they buy it, hook, line and sinker. They embrace the illusion. People are blending the wonderful selflessness that is music with a lifestyle that simply does not exist (note: some acts do live the life, but those are few and far between, and don’t tend to last long. Keith Richards is a legend).

Until signing to a major label, I was one of these people. Now each day my reality is redefined. Rock Stars don’t get up @ 5:30am. Rock Stars don’t have to stick to Cranberry and Soda cause they have 5 gigs in a week plus 10 promo appearances. Rock Stars don’t go to the Mac Store and buy copies of Civilization IV because they crave total mindlessness (okay most Rock Stars don’t do this. I am a nerd). Being a Rock Star is a job like any other, whether it’s playing Piano in a club, to running IT for a large investment-banking firm. Well maybe not like any other job. It IS a lot of fun. And you get a lot of free cabs. And, it’s the only job I was ever cut out for. Though I think I woulda made a good video store clerk. Rent Turkish Delight sometime. It’s one of Paul Verhoven’s first movies, Rutger Hauer as well. Saw it last night, raunchy but good.

Thursday, 17 April 2008


The pixels on my computer screen are dead. There are a million and one things swirling round head, but all I care about is how the pixels on my computer screen are dead. I can count at least 30 in the upper right hand corner. Thankfully, my black Mac is still under warranty. This is where being a staff favorite of iTunes UK has it's advantages.

Some weeks back, right around my last blog entry, I remember telling myself, "Get to New York and you'll be fine." NYC has come and gone, and as David Byrne infamously says, "Same as it ever was."

I'm becoming intimately familiar with terms like product manager and media training. Next Tuesday I play three sets of three songs each to the biggest movers and shakers in UK television. Good morning, good afternoon, and good night. This past Tuesday I abused a London audience, telling them I wasn't "in the mood," serious evidence I'm in need of a girlfriend or a cat. I know a grown man with a cat is a sad affair, but a kitten is good for cuddling, and cuddling is proven to be good for the heart, not unlike red wine. Despite bouts of supreme confidence, propelling me to extraordinary feats of Piano-tastic greatness, I have found, through serious self-examination, that I am not the metahuman, musical mutant with melodic super powers I sometimes think I am. The occasional pat on the back or high five does me good, so next time you see me, give me a hug; I will not protest.

On a more positive note, The Planeteer is nearing completion. At the close of Saturday I will have finished all overdubbing, leaving one more string session, my absolute favorite part of the recording process, and definitely the best part of being on a major label. Live strings may not be better than sex, but they're certainly as good. I'm also in the process of gearing up the band, adding a fourth member to the troupe, Mr. Tom Richards - A young, fresh face who sings, plays keys, guitar, percussion, saxophone, clarinet, and even polishes shoes. May will be the biggest month of my professional life, by far. I'm bouncing all around Europe, will have my face on TV, my voice on Radio, even my secret nude photos on the Internet.

When do I find time to breath? Yoga. More evidence I need a woman. I am doing Bikram Yoga. I am willingly subjecting myself to 100 degree heat (40 for you Europeans) for an hour and a half at a time, attempting to put my head between my legs and kiss my own butt.

SWM seeking a kitten to play with, soft fur and amiable disposition a must.

Saturday, 22 March 2008


It’s snowing in London. That sounds unbelievable, but it’s true. I thought it only snows in Europe when you’re headed toward a ski resort, but guess I was wrong. Been a minute since I blogged, bet you were thinking I’d settled into a proper English lifestyle, dating some third-rate party girl, gracing page six of News Of The World every couple weeks, and didn’t have much time for online love. You were wrong. It’s still the same old Julian, working, writing, watching movies, waiting for who knows what. The more I live here, the more I am aware of the fickleness that is London. Life here reflects the weather. One minute it’s all doom and gloom, Heavens brooding like an angry kid, and then the Sun blasts through, drowning everything. At times I feel like a cockroach running for the drain when the apartment lights get flicked. People are prone to strange emotional outbursts here, unpredictability characterizes this town. I walk down the street trailing young thugs caught up in iPods, intermittently vouging while rapping, urban whirling dervishes. Eastern European construction workers bump into me constantly. I finally realized they aren’t trying to start trouble, that’s just how they walk, I might as well be a lamppost. Last week I saw a car towing another car with a yellow rope. It’s surreal, medieval and magical all at once. Something about how all the women wear boots makes me scared, like they’re prepared for something I’m not. Next week I’ll be back in New York and that’s a good thing. A weeklong reprieve will put my nostalgia into perspective. Maybe hot dog vendors don’t sing in tune. Maybe cabbies aren’t omniscient oracles. Maybe pretty city girls don’t grow on bars. I feel like Atreyu standing on the edge of a great adventure. Could be cause I’m working on a cover of The Never Ending Story by Limahl. I’m easily influenced.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Un Jour A Paris

I’m back on the Eurostar, my second trip in little more than twenty-four hours (as per my newsletter if you get it – I know the sequence of these things can be confusing, like looking at timeline plot holes in Back To The Future II). On the way down to Paris, I was facing forward, but now I’m flying backwards through the French countryside. My life this past year has been like watching a movie on super speed rewind or fast-forward, can’t tell which direction. I can’t tell if I’ve experienced it all before or if it’s brand new, not unlike Guy Pierce in Memento, The Time Machine, or 60% of characters he plays. There are landmarks – Eiffel Tower means Paris, Big Ben means London, Katz’s Delicatessen means New York, the inside of a car means L.A. and pretty much everywhere else (for those of you keeping track that’s 5 countries, more than 15 states, 4 centers of culture, and something like 8 recording studios). I could have stayed in Paris till Tuesday with my friend Florence Curet, the queen of English-to-French subtitles (she translated Raiders Of The Lost Ark into French for chrissake). But I felt an urgency to get back to London, like I left the hot pot on. This urgency led to a near breakdown on an A&R man’s phone in the Virgin France office. My emotions are like a time bomb – yours would be too if you’d dealt with customs officers as much as I have. Yesterday on the whole was a bit of a nightmare: got booted from the Sebastian Tellier show @ the Pompidou Centre for being American, and was denied a Louis Vitton Fashion Week party. It’s enough to make a baby Rockstar cry. Thank god for Florence. She took me out, got me a belly fully of wine, and treated me this morning to a breakfast complete with Croissants and Eggs cooked in this bizarre French way. The bread is so good in Paris, it tastes like water. I know that sounds strange but think about it. Have to say I’m relived to be headed home. Sleeping in my own bed is one of few luxuries I have (please don’t think dirty thoughts), along with pouring myself into Facebook. I can’t stop, I dunno what’s wrong with me. My mind craves mindlessness. I am determined to review every movie I’ve ever seen on this frickin’ Flixster thing, as if watching all these movies wasn’t bad enough. Warning: under no circumstances are you to go see Jumper with Hayden Christiansen and Samuel L. Jackson! I liken it to operating heavy machinery on anti-psychotics. It’s all fun and games till someone loses their brain, which is very much what I’m after these days.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Meet The Band

Oh yes it’s check-in time from Starbucks. I’ve been to Ireland and traversed much of the British Island since I last wrote, only to find myself smack in the same seat, drinking the same bad coffee. One difference this time being I have an NYC original sitting across from me – Mr. Ari Hest. Ari’s been kind enough to visit me here in London, more than I can say for you lot. I made my record company fly him out on account of my terrible loneliness, which you’ve noted in my blogs. Mr. Hest has been my traveling companion the past few days, accompanying me on a karaoke adventure this past Friday, along with the rest of EMI/Angel, my label. It’s gratifying to know no one at my label can sing as well as me, even more assurance I’ll have a job at year’s end. Ari also rode down to Portsmouth last night for my last show on the Amy MacDonald tour, which has been an absolute blast - she’s a gem that Scottish lass! Portsmouth is a funny town, feels like an old seaside resort from 1920’s. I imagined myself strolling down the boardwalk, side by side with beanpole gentleman in striped bathing costumes, twirling their curlicue mustaches. I’ve seen a good bit of the UK this past fortnight: Newcastle, Sheffield, Liverpool, Exeter, Bristol, even Wolverhampton. It’s completely different yet surprisingly similar to touring the States, only with shorter drives. I’ve been in the company of beautiful cavalry, my brand new UK band. Three completely distinct characters I’ve been wandering the British countryside with in a splitter, which I call a van. Let’s meet them:

John Calvert a.k.a. Major Singon Smythe: John is a beautiful lad, proper gentleman, and a bass wizard moonlighting for Roison Murphy and yours truly. He’s London born and raised, skinny like a whip with the metabolism of arachnid. He can eat anything anytime of day and I applaud him for it. He‘s also had the same sneakers for 6 years, which he thinks is a sign of genius. He’s been my guide to British culture, introducing me to it’s many wonders such as Delia Smith and Alan Partridge.

Sam “Blue” Agard: Sam is a curious fellow, member of Corrine Baliey Rae’s band, and a monster of a drummer, or he likes to refer to himself, “head of the percussion department”. He’s obsessed with PSP, Nando’s (a gourmet fast-food chicken joint) and Tango (kind of like Tang). His favorite band is Mint Condition and he insists on putting absurd polyrhythmic fills in my songs. He’s also one of the best drummers I’ve ever played with. Sam brought his two kids to our show last night, Rishon and Kieran. They are the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a long time, have made me give up my vow of never to speaking to children again, as per my years as a Pre-K Gym teacher.

Francois Pare a.k.a. The Canadian: Francois is the first Canadian I’ve toured with, hopefully not the last. Believe it or not, they are just like Americans. If I can judge by Francois, they also love Burger King, KFC, and the band Toto. Francois is a front of house god, choosing the work me after a year long stint with the Hoosiers. We both agree on a love of Phil Collins and are working to re-create the vibe of “Something In The Air Tonight” for my live show. He refuses to call me buddy, for which I respect him greatly.

So yeah, that’s my crew. Next time yerr at a show, come say hi and share some of these personal details with them. They will welcome you with open arms. They will also beat me later on in the van, er splitter.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

What's a Super Bowl?

Yes ladies and gentleman, I’m in a foreign country all right. This time last year I was downing chicken wings and gulping draft beer on 33rd and 8th with birthday boy Tommy Merrill, eagerly awaiting each mind-blowing commercial. Now I’m writing you from a Starbucks in Queens Park, wearing a scarf and sipping espresso. Times have indeed changed. I know I’ve been bad at keeping in touch, please don’t think I’m one of those lousy boyfriends (even though, in truth, I am). This past month was a hectic one: finishing the record here in London, doing photo shoots, planning a music video, renting an apartment, err… flat, finding a band, and perfecting my Rockstar pout. From all accounts I have arrived. I walk into rehearsal rooms now to find my gear setup. A far cry from lugging 88 keys up 4 flights of stairs, stepping over sleeping derelicts along the way. Some things are the same. I feel as confused and bewildered as ever, maybe even more so. Crossing the street is a dangerous proposition here, pedestrian etiquette nonexistent. People constantly step on your heels in overcrowded bars. And I’ve seen enough asymmetrical haircuts to last a lifetime. Women are pretty much the same – moody, brooding, and way more interesting than men on the whole. But I’ve made mates here for sure, one of which is my fellow Friday night solider Miles Christie: suave Ear/Nose/and Throat man by day, voracious master of ceremonies by night. He’s a great companion to have in London, knows every pub, club, and hotspot like the hair on his chin. I keep telling him to start a series of travel books, setup a nightlife information booth or something. Rolling with Miles is like having a walking, talking copy of Time Out at your side. You should definitely look him up when you come to town, he’s well up for it. Am I having a good time you ask? I guess. It can be rough and lonely, but so can NYC. I’m starting to think I’d be rough and lonely wherever I am, even in friendly places like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Indianapolis. Plus rough and lonely makes for good songs. God forbid I get settled and satisfied. What the hell would I have to look forward to then?