“Flood says yes.”

It was the message we’d been waiting for. There’d been talk of Flood – one of the few contemporary producers for whom the word “legendary” isn’t an exaggeration – taking on the new Fink album for some months, but it was a cold February afternoon when my phone finally beeped with the confirmation. I’d been driving across town to pay some duty on a guitar I’d had shipped over from the States; I contemplated the grey flyovers of the North Circular amid the gusts of thin drizzle. “Yep, that makes sense,” I thought. “It’s about time Fink did a London album.”

2017-09-05-1504655262-272851-IMG_2276.JPG

We’ve always felt that music should resemble the place where it’s made. We recorded our last two records in Los Angeles, and it shows: it’s there in the slick power of the drum and vocal sound, the attention to detail, the haunting, almost tropical guitar melodies that recall cigarette breaks outside in the warm Californian night. I dearly love Perfect Darkness and Hard Believer, but this time we needed grit. This time, if Berlin planted the seeds of the songs, London was the greenhouse in which they thrived. And how London did we go. To achieve peak London in 2017 you don’t go to the East End or Lambeth, you go to West Willesden, a place so staunchly ungentrified that it makes Dalston look like Knightsbridge. It’s right here that Flood and his equally-celebrated-producer pal Alan Moulder preside over the Assault & Battery complex, part of a dying breed of “proper” recording studio and a shrine to a certain strain of British-influenced alternative rock that Flood and Moulder have enabled. Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and Killers platinum discs splatter the corridor walls, while the studios drip with history (“That’s the modular synth used on Violator“… “Oh, those are Curve’s flight cases in the chill-out lounge”… “You need a glockenspiel? Sure, we have Joe Strummer’s old one”). Faced with such richness of heritage, and with the equipment and live spaces being a dream come true, and with a generous seven weeks at our disposal, a problem entirely new to Fink presents itself. For the first time, we have absolutely no excuse to suck.

2017-09-05-1504655609-9436846-IMG_2258.JPG

Quickly, ground rules are laid down, as suggested by Captain Flood. Our songs are seen as merely sketches: anything can happen. Keys, tempos, time signatures and lyrics are all hurled up in the air. Where they land is often an unusual place. If a version doesn’t work, we do another. And another. Straightforward rhythm guitar, but for exceptional circumstances, is banned. Ride cymbals and hi-hats aren’t exactly welcomed, nor are layers of backing vocal. A swear box is installed, with a quid charged to anyone who utters a prohibited word: radio, rough (recording), single (“I don’t give a shit which song might be a single,” says Flood), demo (the demo is simply “the first recording” – and each recording counts). All designed to amuse us, open our minds and shit us up: a common technique of Flood’s. He makes sure you’re as comfortable as possible, then throws you a curve ball. Example: a few weeks in, I’m sat in one of the live rooms playing a conventional part on my acoustic guitar; Flood comes in, tunes all the strings to a different chord, puts me through a horrid transistor amp, hands me a slide and tells me to avoid E flat – difficult, seeing as it’s the song’s key. After scratching around like a rank amateur for a few minutes, I look up at him despondently.
“May I play it another way? I’m not very adept at this.”
“In that case,” Flood grins, “you may not.”

I develop a routine. I leave home, Overground it to Kensal Rise and settle myself in a nearby café, where I sit with a posh coffee, gaze at the traffic and listen to something inspiring. A favourite album, a vintage live session, an interview. Podcasts come in handy: Adam Buxton’s interviews with the likes of Jonny Greenwood, Spoon and the documentarian Adam Curtis all put me in the mood for profundity. Then I drain my brew and stride to the studio, ready to make a masterpiece. We work twelve hours a day, on average. Do I enjoy it? Of course, although enjoy is the wrong word. It’s addictive, compelling, stimulating… without ever being easy. Day follows day follows week follows month. Progress isn’t exactly slow, but it’s difficult to tell how well we’re doing until… we’re done.

2017-09-05-1504655810-2401923-IMG_2301.JPG

Flood is a visionary, a skilled technician, a joker, a raconteur and an utter gentleman. What you often discover when meeting people of his calibre – in any profession – is that they’ve reached their giddy career height largely on the strength of their characters. You don’t get to produce PJ Harvey, Foals, Warpaint and U2 by being a cantankerous, precious asshole. In many ways one of Flood’s greatest skills is in the ancient art of people management: from Nick Cave and his recalcitrant Bad Seeds to the undulating ego waves of Depeche Mode, there ain’t a single rock band dynamic Flood hasn’t encountered after forty years in the business. He knows precisely how to make every single person in the operation feel invaluable, from Fin, through Guy and myself, all the way to people who just dropped in to play percussion on one song, even the guy who fixes the cables and answers the intercom. This is how you become a world-renown rock producer, not from just knowing the right knobs to tweak. He’s also an expert in putting a team together: John Catlin the engineer and Richie Kennedy the assistant engineer (vastly underplaying titles both) are inspirational, making us feel that anything we wish to do is possible. I hardly hear the word “no” in seven weeks. Time and again I retire to some far corner of the studio to experiment on a certain track: within fifteen minutes, John or Richie magically appear with a mic on a stand and say, “Ready? Let’s put it down.”

2017-09-05-1504655395-9366617-IMG_2510.JPG

Seven weeks come screeching to a halt all too soon, and we have a record. Listening a few weeks later is an odd experience. Although true, I’m not going to dwell on statements like “it’s the best thing we’ve ever done”, because (thankfully) I always say that. But I think I can report that we’ve never been more honest on record before. Everything we wanted to try on these songs, we tried. Sometimes we were right first time. Sometimes not. But Flood has emptied the contents of our heads all over the vinyl grooves and the results are, if nothing else, fascinating. Fin has never sung better, accompanied by his own piano and Fender Rhodes prowess, which spins the songs at a totally new angle. Guy’s bass provides its usual unwavering support, but he’s also been tortured in completely new ways (on one track Flood gaffered a contact microphone to Guy’s neck and commanded him to hum for a couple of hours). And me? Well, if the 22-year-old Tim could hear some of the drumming and guitaring I’ve managed to slap onto this body of music, I think he’d approve; and that outcome is always at the back of my mind, I’ve discovered. Catharsis, vindication, and the creation of music: all simultaneously. See? Who needs a shrink when you can make a Fink record with Flood in London.

Fink’s new album Resurgam is out on September 15

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton

Ah, late summer. Dappled sunlight on half-full pint glasses. Unpicked blackberries rotting on scrubby bushes next to junction six of the M25. That endless “is it cold enough yet to wear a jacket?” debate. What better time to don a stout pair of headphones and shut out the rapidly autumning world with some new music. It still being sort-of summer, perhaps some rustic, acoustic-edged flavours might be the order of the day, but nothing too twee, or indeed too cider-swilling, and definitely nothing that could be Instagrammed next to David Cameron at the Wilderness festival. How about…

Sails by The Travelling Band (Sideways Saloon). There’s something incredibly refreshing about this record; I’d be a very lazy writer indeed if I used the phrase “life-affirming”, but hey, everyone needs to have their life vigorously affirmed once in a while. A conventional guitar band setup mingles with lapsteel, keyboard, violin and the occasional parping horn to conjure up a dizzying rush of melodic optimism. There are moments when the Manchester group’s music misses a small dose of originality, for sure, but the songs crack along with such a swing that, after a few, you’ve largely stopped caring. The best tracks – Into The Water, Mopping Forwards, Unlike You – call to mind what might happen if The Decemberists formed a supergroup with Elbow after kidnapping the singer from The Bluetones, and believe me, I consider that the heartiest of compliments.

2017-08-23-1503488776-5338695-TTB_Press_Shot_May_2017690x467.jpg
The Travelling Band. Keep the camera still, dude. (pic: Sonic PR)

When was the last time you bought a folk concept album about battles and various shenanigans in medieval Northumberland? Me, it’s been a while. I was steered (belatedly, I must admit: this record came out in June) towards Richard Dawson‘s Peasant (Domino/Weird World) when I started to notice that practically every time I Shazammed an interesting-sounding Radio 6 Music track in the late evening, it was one of Dawson’s. And the majority of this album is truly extraordinary: huge, bruised hunks of detuned acoustic guitar, ear-spinning riffs that sound like they’re being played on a broken Victorian children’s toy, zombified chants and bursts of random static and feedback; but the crazy thing is, it’s kinda catchy. Some of these melodies wouldn’t seem out of place on a Chainsmokers record, rendered by Dawson’s tortured but somehow full-bodied yelp: think Everything Everything’s Jonathan Higgs being forced to record all his vocal takes after a subterranean escape from Shawshank prison. My focus wavers towards the end of the LP, but then that could be just me – and in a sense, Peasant is a perfect antidote to these itchy, jerky, attention-deficit times.


Richard Dawson. A beard worth screaming about. (pic: Dawid Laskowski)

Finally, the return of Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls, the creative engine room and heart of The Wonder Stuff. I realise I bang on about the Stuffies with almost geriatric frequency, but hey, to me, the world will be a slightly better place with each new person that discovers what flipping ace songwriters they are. On We Came Here To Work (Good Deeds Music), the pair experiment in an area of their range I’ve always found particularly rewarding: the acoustic, introspective, meditative zone, from whence older tracks such as Sing The Absurd and Unfaithful sprung. And it’s a good move; minus the pressure to create their usual hook-laden stompfests, they find themselves heading down the sort of harmonic avenues and lyrical streams-of-consciousness that Hunt was free to explore with his “anti-Britpop” outfit Vent 414, but this time accompanied by Nockalls’ lush string arrangements and Cocteaus-esque BVs. The title track and Witnesses hum with longing and an undeniable sense of space, while A Matter Of Circumstance and If I Were You crackle with an edgy nervousness not usually found on so-called “acoustic” albums. Check it out – The Size Of A Cow it most certainly ain’t.

2017-08-23-1503488859-8325549-ScreenShot20170823at12.27.30.png
Miles & Erica. In a tunnel. In Amsterdam. (pic: Nick Sayer)

And the music plays on, the leaves gradually turn golden brown, texture like sun, while the bank holiday traffic eases and the schools finally, finally, go back. Autumn will be upon us, and the band for whom I hit and strum things shall also be releasing something. I’ll tell you about that next time; but for now, hit the download button on these three excellent records and get that glass of lukewarm cider down you…

The Travelling Band and Richard Dawson albums are out now; Miles & Erica’s is out September 9.

 

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton

During Adam Buxton’s recent, bloody brilliant podcast featuring provocative documentary filmsmith Adam Curtis, the pair spend an engaging few minutes discussing the changing nature of the Internet, agreeing that its dystopian nether regions are rapidly encroaching on the progressive, utopian ideals of its flagship Web Central area. “There’s a disenchantment growing,” says Curtis. “You can feel it.”

He’s right. In fact there’s so much disenchantment, paranoia and aggression cannoning about on the web, it’s managed to become an even more toxic place than it was a year ago, and crikey, that takes some doing. It seems to have morphed from simply poisonous to both poisonous and downright weird, and in a way that’s making me nostalgic for a time when the Internet was chiefly the domain of genealogists, hip-hop historians and people who wanted to see pictures of all the different houseboats on the River Nene. Quite what is driving this cybersickness – schadenfreude? The Daily Mail? A global dislike for Piers Morgan? It is a tricky question to tackle, but it’s reached a point where social media users are now quite ludicrously jumpy about even the prospect of something worth getting jumpy about.

Example? Andrea Leadsom accidentally describing Jane Austen as “one of Britain’s greatest living authors”. Now, I can’t quite believe I’m jumping to the defence of Leadsom, who’s never appeared on my Now That’s What I Call Nice Conservatives list, but the ferocity with which, and more alarmingly, the speed at which seemingly reasonable people leapt on what was obviously, and demonstrably, a slip of the tongue, indicates that British social media isn’t in the rudest of optimistic health right now.

Before I sound preachy, I ought to mention that I am far from perfect in this regard. Last week when the BBC published the salaries of its highest earners, I noticed that Lauren Laverne and Shaun Keaveny, both presenters on my beloved Radio 6 Music, were mentioned on the list. That day I found myself on a traffic-laden cab ride, assiduously examining Lauren and Shaun’s Twitter accounts to check they weren’t on the receiving end of any virtual muck-throwing. And what, you might ask as I now ask myself, would I have done if they had been? Would I have leapt on any would-be muck-thrower with some appropriately venomous riposte? Or was I just hoping, subconsciously or not, to witness some manner of Internet nastiness? Whatever the explanation, it was a colossal waste of time I could’ve spent doing something nice, like reading a book, and also a signal that, as Bacharach and David would have it, “what the world needs now is love, sweet love“ – or, to paraphrase, “what the world doesn’t need now is yet more spiteful tit-for-tat nonsense on the World Wide Web“, which doesn’t scan quite as well but you get the idea.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been particularly horrid on the Internet, although I’ve had my moments. I think I’ve successfully steered clear of outright abusiveness, but many’s the time I’ve looked back at a comment I’ve bashed out and wondered whether the recipient might have found me excessively sanctimonious, cutting, or just a little bit ranty. So I’ve had an idea. Each time I’m tempted to write something rude or controversial, I write it – but not on social media; on a page of notes in my phone. Thus, my thumb/brain combo has its little cathartic workout and the dodgy thought is expelled from my system – but it hasn’t been spat at anyone or anything except the palm of my hand. I believe this method is working. It’s been at least six days now, and I reckon I haven’t come close to pissing anyone off. You might like to try it too.

There is also a happy by-product. When viewed later and with the could-have-been comments comfortably out of context, the page of notes makes for bizarre and quite entertaining reading, almost like the script for some weird mid-1970s expressionistic radio play. Hardly any of the sentences look particularly offensive, but it’s an interesting conundrum of human conversation that perhaps the least offensive-looking line might have actually been the most controversial remark when emblazoned next to the original post: a fact that only I will ever know. Read on.

– No it’s not. It’s a moon.

– Yeah. He was beginning to smell.

– I think there are actually two.

– Why would playing a semi-final prove you are capable of winning a Grand-Slam final? Surely only winning a Grand-Slam final would prove you are capable of winning a Grand-Slam final.

– Use punctuation.

– But it doesn’t connect with anywhere.

– Shit teeth.

– Next thing will be the occasional word.

– The light on your profile picture makes you look like you have a receding hairline.

– It certainly will if you put your mouth like that.

Neat, huh? So I’m going to carry on. I can’t wait until I have about a thousand of them. Then I might sell the whole thing to a newly-signed indie band for them to use as lyrics: it’ll probably be better than whatever garbage they themselves… Oh, nooo! I’m being horrid again! Quick! Where’s my phone?

 

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton

Matthias Hombauer, as well as being a great photographer, a jolly nice chap AND a Felix-supporter (and a very generous one at that) has also made his own excellently put-together PODCAST… and this time he’s featuring ME as the subject of the hour-long special… I discuss the new book, the old book, Fink, the music world in general, and how my musical career began with hitting cushions in a back garden in 1976.

HERE is the link to the podcast! Enjoy!

T

x

Here’s a fourth excerpt from my novel, in which stuff starts getting a little strange for Podge. Enjoy it, and please pre-order/support the book right here… we’re at 74% funded, with just over a month to go…

To cheer myself up after Felix’s rant I take the long way round, via the Main Stage. The staging and equipment are all housed in a huge plastic blob that looks like a cross between an alien mothership and a giant, elaborate balloon animal. I trot up the ramp towards where Maggie our monitor tech presides over the sound desk and glance at my watch as the deafening din increases: it’s half ten so the Small Faces will be building up to their finale. The already three-quarters full crowd are hollering out the words to ‘All Or Nothing’ while a nice gaggle of swinging-60s backstagers – Oliver Reed, Peter Cook, Cilla Black, among half a dozen others – frug about at the side, happily witnessing the thunderous spectacle of Keith Moon on drums. He effortlessly pulls off his party trick of holding aloft and then downing an entire pint of beer, all while performing, with his other hand, a hummingbird-like drum fill that would shame his earthly self. Maggie turns from the sound desk and gives me a cheerful wave: all is as it should be. I hurry back down the ramp, across the grass, around the corner and back along the main drag, noticing a bit of a kerfuffle around one of the dressing rooms – I think Lux Interior and his band are arriving, I’ll probably have to go and deal with that later – then continue straight on towards Lennon’s private region. His band are still hanging out, sunning themselves and drinking in the outdoor area, but I can see a concerned-looking George Harrison hovering by the maisonette door. I give him a friendly smile as I arrive.

‘Podge, isn’t it?’ he says.

‘That’s right. Help you with anything?’

‘You’re in charge of John for the whole day, right?’

‘In theory,’ I laugh.

Harrison doesn’t laugh back. He looks away, frowning.

‘Do me a favour, will you? If you notice anything… unusual. Let me know?’

‘Um… yeah, sure! Will do. Anything you have in mind?’

He narrows his eyes at me and flares his nostrils.

‘Just anything, man.’

‘Got it. Anyway, I’m gonna take him through security right now.’

‘I’ll come along,’ Harrison says, lighting a cigarette. ‘For the ride.’

I pop inside and find Lennon still parked in one of the armchairs, Ray Bans on, the same drink in his hand, which he doesn’t appear to have touched. I invite him to come with me, he rises without a word, and the three of us begin the walk back down the main street. Again, I keep a few paces behind the two Beatles as they amble along, mumbling quietly to each other, stopping occasionally to shake hands with someone. As we pass Robert Palmer’s dressing room, drummer Tony Thompson, in a perfectly pleated leather jacket and huge round glasses, bounds out and gives them both a hearty, backslapping hug. They chat for a couple of minutes, and then with promises to hook up later, we continue walking.

And that’s when everything goes still.

No, I mean really still. You know those nightmares when you can see and hear the world around you, but you can’t move? That.

It’s really quite weird. I can’t move any part of my body, but I’m still standing up. Every single person nearby – the Beatle pair, plus a few passers-by coming the other way – has also completely stopped, as has all the music. Even the flags on top of the marquees have paused in mid air, ditto the blades of grass on the ground, and the folds on the dress of the girl coming down the steps of one of the dressing rooms. Remarkable how they’ve achieved it. Then I suddenly hear a calm, English-accented voice coming from somewhere behind my left ear.

‘The security check will be missed.’

‘Jesus!’ I exclaim. I can still speak, then.

Two men appear, walking around the side of me and coming to a halt in my direct field of vision. Which is just as well, because I can’t move my eyeballs. They are both of medium height and wearing white lab coats. One is bald and wears glasses, the other has scruffy black hair and, if I’m not mistaken, quite a lot of dandruff. The bald guy carries a clipboard that he rarely looks up from, and seems to be the one in charge.

‘The security check,’ he repeats calmly, flicking between two pages and jotting something down in one of the margins, ‘will be missed.’

‘Who are you?’ I croak.

‘Who we are is irrelevant.’

‘How have you stopped everything?’

‘We’ve stopped nothing, buddy,’ says the other guy. American accent. ‘The only thing stopped is you.’

I think for a few seconds. I can’t really breathe, but nor am I struggling for breath. Bizarre. If this had happened back the old days I’d be screaming blue murder right about now. But at the moment, frankly, it’s just another odd suburb of the whole Weird City in which I dwell. Also, Felix has mentioned men in white lab coats to me before, so I’m not a complete rabbit in the cosmic headlights.

‘So,’ I begin slowly, ‘You want me to…’

‘Come on, Adrian,’ says the American. ‘Do we really need to say it three times?’

He called me Adrian. If this has been calculated to get my attention, it works.

‘I’m not allowed to miss the security check,’ I offer, finally.

‘Not allowed? Says who?’

‘My boss.’

Bald bloke looks up from his clipboard for the first time, his grey eyes peering at me through little gold-rimmed spectacles.

‘Er… your “boss”? Do you describe what you do as a “job”, then?’

‘Of course I do.’

‘But there is no money here, Mr Jones. How can it be a job when you receive nothing in return?’

‘I receive plenty in return.’

‘Oh?’

‘Friendship. Guidance. Fun. Music.’

‘Peace and love, man,’ comments the American.

‘That’s right. And it gives me something to do. Anyway, why do you want Lennon to skip security so badly?’

‘We have our reasons, Mr Jones. None of which I am afraid either of us has time to elaborate upon.’

Stand firm, I remember Felix saying. Don’t fall for any of their shit.

‘Well, then,’ I reply. ‘I can’t do it.’

‘Oh, but you will.’

‘No, I bloody well won’t.’

‘You will. Believe us… we know all about you.’

I say nothing to this. After a moment the bald one sighs, then consults his clipboard.

‘Adrian Jones, born 1973… Bedford, England. Local school, university in… Plymouth…’

If a shiver was capable of running down my spine, it would do.

‘… became a… disc… jockey…’

‘A DJ, for goodness’ sake.’

He looks up.

‘Very well… a DJ-for-goodness’-sake.’

He pauses, as if expecting a laugh. He doesn’t get one.

‘Worked for… a marketing company in Wandsworth… lived with a Miss… sorry, a Ms Saffron Bailey, never married…’

‘Okay, okay, you’ve made your point.’

‘Died of… ooh, renal cancer. Nasty. In 2008.’

‘All right! Enough!’

The American is leaning against one of the dressing rooms, closing his eyes, pretending to sunbathe. Baldy continues.

‘If you agree to help us, Mr Jones, we are able to offer you certain… rewards.’

‘What rewards?’

He consults another page of his clipboard.

‘Well… let’s see… we could have a look at certain problems you might be experiencing… certain deficiencies… certain, as your friend Mr Romsey would doubtless put it, death defects…’

‘Like what?’

‘Ah… feelings of anxiety… depression… loss of appetite…’

‘Loss of appetite? I don’t fucking eat.’

‘Exactly, Mr Jones, loss of appetite… overactive mind… and… ’

‘A protruding belly,’ concludes the American, fixing me with a smirk and prodding me in the stomach with his pencil.

‘Fuck off,’ I respond. ‘I don’t want any of those things fixed.’

Baldy sighs again and turns away, scribbling something on his clipboard. American takes over.

‘I’ll say it another way, Adrian. If you don’t help us, maybe we can talk to our friends from the Minus zones… see whether they can accommodate you.’

The Minus zones. Luckily, Felix has also briefed me about these. He didn’t tell me much, only to dismiss any mention of them as total bollocks.

‘Total bollocks,’ I dutifully retort.

‘Oh, yeah?’ leers American bloke. ‘We’ll see about that when you’re strapped to an electric fence for all eternity.’

‘Bullshit,’ I leer back. ‘Which fucking comic book have you been reading?’

‘Let’s calm it down a little,’ Baldy instructs. ‘It’s really very simple, Mr Jones. The gentleman you’re escorting is a Mr John… er… Lennon, who I’m given to understand is a trusted, beloved and most prestigious entertainer. No one would think it at all strange if you waived the security check on this occasion. And nothing calamitous is going to happen as a result. Why would we want to cause an outbreak of panic? So… please. If you have any value for your current existence whatsoever. The security check. It will be missed.’

I say nothing.

‘And nor will you mention this to any of your… ah…’

‘Work colleagues,’ sarcastically concludes the American.

Baldy wanders off, still studying his clipboard, as if already reading up on his next assignment. American gives me another poke in the belly.

‘So long… Podge.’

I struggle to formulate a corresponding insult as I watch them go. I’m just drawing breath to shout ‘Up yours, dandruff man’ – or something similarly sophisticated – when they disappear round the corner and everything unstills itself again. Apart from me, in fact. I’m standing there, rooted to the spot, trying to process what has just happened. Lennon and Harrison walk on for a bit, then Lennon realises he has no idea where we’re supposed to be going. He turns around.

‘You okay, man?’

I stare at him for a few seconds, then shake myself out of it.

‘Yeah, sorry. I just thought I might have forgotten something. We’ll, er… we’ll go round to security.’

Please pre-order/support the book right here…

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton

So my crowdfunded novel has just hit the magic 70% mark, and then some… 72% to be precise… and more supporters are coming on board all the time. It’s so flattering, I can hardly believe it.

You can jump on board too, just follow this link.

Anyway, check out our poster, beautifully designed by Dawn Kelly.

Even festivals in the Afterlife need a bit of promotion. Below is a fabulous depiction of what a Felix Romsey’s Afterparty poster might look like… based on the line-up for the year in which my novel is set.

Amazing, right?

Here’s the profile picture version… feel free to make it youyr profile picture…

Hooray…

T

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton

Once again, a very large and Easter-chocolate-filled THANKS to everyone who has sent their hard-earned pounds/euros/dollars/etc virtually winging their way towards the Unbound bank account in support of Felix Romsey’s Afterparty. As I write we are hurtling towards a nice fat 60% funded, which – just after the end of the campaign’s first month – I’d venture is a pretty rocktastic result.

Backers are from a fascinatingly varied pool of backgrounds, age groups and professions: singers, actors, drummers, comedians, TV presenters, screenwriters, carpenters, financiers, tour managers, teachers, academics, scientists… and that’s just casting the briefest glance across the 88 fantastic names emblazoned over our supporter page.

I’ve just posted a third excerpt from the novel, this time with the wonderful added bonus of MY VOICE. Yes, you can pretend I’m an audiobook and listen to my twangy tones reading the bit about the Numbness. What does that mean? Have a listen to find out.

(By the way, if you missed the second excerpt, it appears on my website here.)

My wonderful band have Facebooked our ten gazillion followers about the campaign, check out what they said about it HERE…

Coming soon… some fantastic new visual assets, being produced as we speak, a podcast interview with my superstar Austrian photographer/podcast presenter friend Matthias Hombauer, and many more nuggets… all at the same time as recording a new Fink album… yikes… happy days…

Thanks again!

Tim xxxx

Follow me on Twitter!

Like the Felix Facebook page!

Here’s the second excerpt from my crowdfunding novel. Hope you enjoy it. If you like what you’re reading, now’s the time to support the book, by pre-ordering/pledging via the link underneath. Thanks!

 

The first famous person I saw here was Ian Curtis. He wasn’t just the first famous person I saw here; he was the first person I saw who I’d previously known in any capacity whatsoever. Via some curious twist of fate, nobody that I’ve ever known personally has died. My parents are both still alive, as are my aunts, uncles, brother and all my friends. I wasn’t old enough to remember any of my grandparents, so I’ve never bothered to look them up. The only funeral I ever attended was my own, and whether I even went to that is open to metaphysical debate. I spent my whole life thinking I was so lucky that no one close to me had died, and now I spend much of my time thinking the precise opposite.

So, consequently, of all people: Ian Curtis.

It was the first time Felix invited me to the Afterparty; out of pity probably, for I was still moping around like a wounded donkey although I’d been here a good eighteen months. Felix said to come and hang out backstage, but I didn’t feel like socialising so I just showed up at 4pm when I knew Curtis was scheduled to play. He’d assembled quite a good little band for himself – Hole’s Kristen Pfaff on bass and the guy from Lush on drums – and as you can imagine there was a pretty big crowd even for an afternoon slot. But fuck, it was weird. So many weird things about it, I didn’t even know where or how to begin. I had about three panic attacks just getting into the site. We’re not supposed to get panic attacks, but of course I get them anyway. I’d stopped off at a Social on the way there and downed a whole bottle of wine to calm my nerves, but I was practically sober again by the time Curtis started. I got a brief grip on myself and managed to weave my way to the front, but then he came on – and I froze. I suppose I was expecting him to look like the dude who played him in the Anton Corbijn film, but, well, he didn’t. He didn’t even look like Ian Curtis. He looked like Ian Curtis after living in Los Angeles for ten years. Tanned, vivacious, prosperous, muscular… healthy. Albeit with a cigarette in his mouth. He sported that odd pentagonal guitar from the ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ video and greeted the audience with an exuberant ‘Good afternoon, zone T109!’ All wrong. Then they started to play, and when I realised it was ‘Dead Souls’ I just couldn’t handle it. I felt like I was going to be instantly sick, although as I’ve found out many times, there’s never anything to be sick with. I had to leave. I turned and started to push my way out again before he’d even started singing. And when he did, everyone around me – smiling, pretty, perfect young faces with their unfeasibly spotless indie uniforms – shouted out the lyrics with him (‘They keep calling me!’) as if he were playing a Bon Jovi song. I had a harder time getting out than in, but people were so enthralled by what they were watching that no one noticed the desperate, heavy-breathing twat trying to make a run for it. Halfway out I started yelling at people. ‘Why’s everyone so fucking cheerful?’ ‘This is so fucked up, does no one realise?’ ‘This is not a happy song! Why is everyone roaring it out like a football chant?’ – that kind of thing. At one point I was so deranged, I thought I saw Saff standing far away in another part of the crowd. I screamed out her name and then piled over to try and talk to her. When I got there of course it wasn’t her at all, just someone who looked vaguely sort of nothing like her whatsoever. I finally broke free from the mob, ran all the way back to my house and lay on my lounge floor crying for about a week.

But I got over it.

 

Support/pre-order the novel here!

Read the first excerpt here!

Like the novel on Facebook here!

 

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton

 

 

 

I’m crowdfunding my third novel with UNBOUND right now! Felix Romsey’s Afterparty can be pledged for in digital or paperback formats on its very own webpage here.

See a video of me yapping about it BELOW.

Felix Romsey’s Afterparty is a rock festival with a big difference. Put it this way: this year’s lineup includes Elliott Smith, Minnie Riperton, Serge Gainsbourg, Kurt Cobain, Whitney Houston, Michael Hutchence and, making only his second live appearance since his death: John Lennon. It’s the Glastonbury of the Afterlife; the place where dearly departed music fans can let off steam to the sounds that soundtracked their lives, and where late rock stars can be rock stars again. Flamboyant, acerbic promoter Felix Romsey and his amiable assistant Adrian “Podge” Jones frantically ride the anticipation among the capacity crowd and a backstage area chockful of celebs; with the stakes this high, they’d be anxious even if everything were running smoothly.

But lately, things have most definitely NOT been running smoothly. The recently-arrived David Bowie has been snagged by a rival promoter, and Felix has reason to believe that a plot to oust him as the Afterlife’s preeminent rock impresario is afoot. And when headliner John Lennon, just as he’s drawing breath to sing his first note onstage, vanishes – no, I mean really vanishes – Felix and Podge have no choice but to find out who’s behind the sabotage, and to try and rescue their star attraction – and their festival’s reputation – before it’s too late. Early in their search they run into the inscrutable Jane Brown, who at first encounter seems little more than a Lennon superfan, but proves to be invaluable, introducing Felix and Podge to the chilling possibility that their quarry mightn’t be up here, but in fact, down there…

Felix Romsey’s Afterparty is a novel for anyone who’s ever heard the cliché “the great rock festival in the sky” and spent a few fleeting moments wondering what said celestial festival – and indeed, the reality it inhabits – might really be like.

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton

What do you do when you’re a quirky, post-punky guitar band who once upon a time sold out Alexandra Palace? What do you do when you’re the second most successful noughties indie band from Leeds, forever in the shadow of a strangely named mob who turned to the pop side after their singer became a TV star? What do you do when you were born into the age of MySpace and reasonably healthy CD sales, and now find yourself releasing a new record called Broken Glances into a world where attention spans are shorter than this very sentence and vinyl is sold as a lifestyle item in Tesco? What, oh Gods of British meat’n’potatoes indie rock, do you do when you’re The Pigeon Detectives?

Now, before we continue, I ought to admit I’d be lying if I said much of my time and brainpower had been spent pondering the travails of The Pigeon Detectives since Take Her Back dropped off the XFM playlist in 2007. It’s possible that when I last heard a note of their music, Twitter had only just been launched, Spotify was but a cyber-itch in some Swedish techie dude’s pants, and even Facebook was still something teenagers would occasionally be seen dead using. To be perfectly honest, I’d more or less assumed that TPD – if I may call them that – had probably jacked in detecting pigeons and started looking for something else, like maybe a day job. Turns out they’ve released three further albums, the fortunes of which I won’t dwell upon. Let’s all just pretend the last ten years haven’t happened and freshly examine the silver disc, sorry, I mean cluster of megabytes cannoning out of my knackered JVC speakers as I write. For what reasons, then, should you waste your precious bandwidth on The Pigeon Detectives? I counted at least seven. Let’s go:

1. They write real melodies. It’s one of my pet peeves that when most people observe “ooh, they’re so melodic” about such-and-such a band, what they really mean is “ooh, they harmonise really nicely with the chords”. Not so Matt Bowman and chums. Broken Glances is stuffed with proper, carefully constructed, independent melodies, and that can only mean one thing: earworms. My whole trip to Shoreditch and back just now was accompanied by the chorus to Lose Control, and the refrain of A Little Bit Alone squirmed around my head all morning until I had to play an entire side of an ELO album to purge it.

2017-02-24-1487966519-4256738-unspecified690x459.jpeg
The band had been waiting for their breakfast so long, they were starting to sit on the table. (photo: Sonic PR)

2. Enemy Lines is the indie-stomp comeback single of your dreams. Don’t be fooled by the tranquil guitar intro. It soon builds into the kind of roaring anthem Steve Lamacq still has wet dreams about. Oh, and hats off to the guitarist for ripping the shit out of the arpeggio from Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants To Rule The World and making it his screaming, overdriven own.

3. The drummer is awesome. Yeah, yeah, I know… one drummer sniffing another drummer’s arse, and all that. But Jimmi Naylor (nice name, by the way) actually performs a function other than driving the beat along. Wolves, for example, was a – dare I say it – slightly plodding opener before the counter-intuitive beat started. He gives it some top-notch Bloc Party on Stay With Me, and stamps some credible reverse-authority on Falling In Love by staying out of the picture entirely, save for a few cymbal flourishes.

4. They wear influences on their sleeves. They’re clearly a band of music fans, and aren’t shy about showing it. But far from recycling the predictable Who and Small Faces moments they’re obviously capable of, their range extends to more recent, unexpected fayre, with lashings of electronica and post-rock. Sometimes I find myself behaving like a wine expert while listening: “Ahh… I’m getting flavours of Teleman… and maybe a hint of Daughter and… yes! The XX. What vineyard is this? Would this go well with bourguignon, sorry, I mean hotpot?”

5. They’re not afraid to experiment. While the album sounds admirably coherent, they’ve managed to stuff several different sonic ideas into each song, from the progged-out trippiness of Munro to the flanged-out noisiness of Postcards. This was evidently an album TPD had fun making, perhaps the better for not having the fear and pressure of hit-making dragging them down.

2017-02-24-1487966615-7478702-PDALBUMCOVERSHOT.jpeg
(Sonic PR)

6. There’s emotion in them there hills. For all their laddish exterior, the Pigeons aren’t averse to showing the cracks in their armour. A Little Bit Alone sees Matt Bowman coming on like a humble Ian Brown, with genuine yearning in his voice as he calls for the one he’s missing, while Falling In Love delivers a convincing slice of death-of-the-party gloom: “Go out every weekend,” Bowman croaks, “repeat all the things we did before and all the things we did the time before.” Know how you feel, buddy.

7. They haven’t completely forgotten where they came from. I don’t mean geographically – although to be frank I’m pretty certain they haven’t forgotten that either – but that they bubbled up from the happy, guitary, shouty indie rock constituency. True, there’s no Take Her Back on the record, but with the crunch of Sounding The Alarm and the Charlatans-esque lollop of Change My World (the record’s sole conventional indie track), they betray an honesty and a welcome lack of pretention that certain other noughties bands from Leeds might do well to heed. (Miaow! Did I say that out loud?)

So what do you do when you’re The Pigeon Detectives? Well, you don’t doggedly attempt to recapture past glories. You don’t ill-advisedly go for the corporate pop jugular. You certainly don’t phone it in, and you don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. But you do energetically strive for something new and something better, and, by the refreshing and engaging sound of Broken Glances, you do the only thing you can do: make a bunch of songs that you yourself most definitely want to listen to. It may not be the most startlingly original album released in 2017, but you’ll be hard pushed to find another indie rock record that so relentlessly believes in itself. Here’s hoping many people out there believe in it too.

Broken Glances is out now

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton