Things are excellent; I've just finished my latest project and am sitting down with a huge cup of coffee to answer this huge interview! It's raining also which can be nice.
It seems that you have been out of the media spotlight for the past couple of years since you toured the States with American singer-songwriter Henry Doss. What have you been doing since returning to Hull after the tour?
I have been working on a video project. When I came back from my tour with Henry I set about making my 'Directions Tour Film'. I had wanted to make a video for a while and thought this would be an ideal time to do so. Things were going well; I learnt how to use all the video editing software and had used the footage I had shot on tour to make the film.
Work on editing the film was almost finished and then in a freak incident the storage device I had used to save the video totally corrupted, even though I made sure to save everything and make copies, the original timeline of my film was missing and the video files had disappeared. All the work I had done was gone.
It took five months to put the original film together and it was April the 1st. I called my friend Steve Clappison; he had done the post-production for the project. I told him, 'The video has corrupted and disappeared'. He came round to my house shortly afterwards, and when he turned up he said, 'You must be joking, this is a joke, isn't it?' Because it was April Fool's Day he thought I was messing with his head!
So, the project had reached a difficult point. It was sad to lose so much work but at the end of last year I started planning what I would do with the tour video again and went about recreating it. I am really happy with the end result: the second tour video is much better than the first. It has taken another five months of solid work, I have learnt lots more about video editing, and it has been a valuable experience.
It did take a while to get round to thinking positively about the video again, especially after it had gone totally AWOL. I was disappointed for a while but I didn't want to let it go to waste. Because the film had been almost finished once already it would have been such a shame to see it just left to become nothing... 'coulda, woulda, shoulda' and all. I was determined to kick its ass yet again.
Throughout the editing of the new version of the film it became apparent that it was going better than before anyway so maybe it was just meant to be. The first video obviously wasn't meant to be released; the second one was, and will be, so in the words of none other but the great Alice Cooper: 'Vengeance Is Mine'. I kicked its ass; now all the tears and late nights have been worthwhile. I also have more backups than I know what to do with.
Now that the film is finished I am so happy that I had the determination to see it through. I have also been writing lots more new material including the songs 'Erika', 'In Suburbia' and 'The Most Beautiful'.
How did the 'Directions' tour with Henry go? Did it live up to your expectations, or didn't you nurture any expectations in the first place?
The tour was absolutely great; we had such an amazing time getting out on the road, taking our music to all those different and new places. We got to play at many venues that we'd never been to before. We made so many new friends and I got to meet more of Henry's family. I also got quite used to sitting on the side of the mountain at Henry and his wife Chris' log cabin.
It was a great time and when we did have time at the end of our tour to slow down we were really sad that it was over.
After all, what was anyone going to do every night now that we didn't have shows to go play and people to meet? Henry and I have been creating recordings and working on collaborations for a number of years but this was our first tour together.
Thinking about expectations, I guess when I went over to see Henry and began our tour I didn't really have many of them, I didn't envisage how it would be because sometimes life is all about being surprised or just letting things go their own way. My only expectation, I suppose, was that we would go out there and play to a lot of new people and get our music out there which is always exciting.
I didn't expect to meet so many people I'd already met before somewhere else. US singer-songwriter Neil Cleary left me a note on a listings poster at one venue and the band Practically Einstein stopped by at one of our shows in Virginia. They advised me to get to a Waffle House but I never did. It's on the list of things to do for when I go back though, along with visiting Indiana and California.
It's nice to think that these people that you met back where you live have crossed paths with you in some way again. I had supported Neil at The Adelphi in Hull years before, and I met Practically Einstein outside The Welly Club on Beverley Road. It's a small world.
Did you find it easy to adapt to playing on stage with another musician since you usually perform solo acoustic shows with only yourself and your trusted guitar for company?
It was great to perform with Henry. Playing onstage with other people is something I've always loved to do even though I have been a solo artist for the majority of my musical career. I didn't have my own trusted axe because I left it at home. I thought I would spare it the hassle of being smashed around on the plane some more because some of the latches from my guitar case had broken off so I borrowed one of Henry's guitars.
To be fair I would say I had more problems adapting to the new guitar than I ever could have done playing onstage with anyone. You know how you get that 'this is my one and only guitar' thing going on? I love my guitar, it is my one main acoustic guitar that I always play so I felt like I had left my accomplice at home in a way.
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