To me, life is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Individually the pieces are all different. Different colours, different shapes, and even though some look almost identical, they never truly are. But however disparate the pieces, assembled they make a beautiful whole.
The clock has started ticking towards the release of ‘Mass Hysteria’ and though the title denotes potential relevance to the current turbulent and hysterical political landscape, neither Lee nor I are especially driven by current events when it comes to writing music. It’s all about emotions and moods for us. For the most part anyway.
A New Jigsaw
As connoisseurs of our previous recordings already know, our albums always centre around a balance of emotions and styles. And each time we have had a theme to illustrate the opposing influences – light versus dark, new versus old, and how it can all work in harmony. We had the ‘box of chocolates’ motif for Upside Down World. Lots of different flavours in one box, each one representing a song. And for Eclectica we had the chest of drawers, each drawer filled with different things.
Keeping to the theme, ‘Mass Hysteria’ is a jigsaw of varying atmospheres and themes, each piece depicting different aspects of emotion.
Nerds and Cool Kids
Jigsaws hold a special relevance for me. Apart from being a whizz at putting them together, the idea that much of life is a giant tapestry of sorts has always appealed to me. Even my social circles have reflected this pattern.
From having led a solitary life in Vienna, I had a baptism of fire when it came to socialisation, by having been put into a boarding school in England when I was 12. I had no idea how to deal with so many people that I couldn’t get away from, and I made some interesting discoveries. Schools always have distinct groups – nerds, cool kids, rich kids, poor kids, etc – who generally hang out with each other. My school was pretty inclusive and the groups intermingled over all. But even then, I was a floater (no rude comments please) and flitted in and out of various groups whilst ultimately doing my own thing.
Punks, Mods and Rockers
My friends in London were all a few years older than me, so, during term time and later at Uni, I ventured into the local town to increase my social circles. I found these groups to be very distinct, totally separated and each had an associated musical genre, beyond which they weren’t willing to venture. And I hung out with them all.
I went to the chopper club dos and hung out with bikers who mostly listened to metal (I remember Judas Priest being especially popular at that time). I smoked spliffs with the black guys and was invited to house parties with thumping Reggae. Down the local pub it was cheesy pop music with ladies dancing around their handbags. There were the punks and the Mods; Irish nights and Folkies.
And each group had their own fashion sense, from leather, studs and denim, parkas, safety pins and mohicans, to caps and sports gear (even then). My friends in London mostly listened to dub Music and were a hippy punk hybrid. (I did manage to avoid the born again Christians and the Socialist Workers – there are limits..)
And calamity if people from one group ventured into the wrong pub! There was a good chance you’d get ejected with menaces or even beaten up. Some pubs were even avoided by the police as they would be taking their lives into their hands. It was a time of musical tribes, the likes we may never see again.
To me, each tribe can be likened to a different puzzle piece. Each different and unique, but all a part of the complete picture of my musical and social make-up. And once again this is reflected in ‘Mass Hysteria’, which aims to be a tapestry of the human psyche. The complete picture is, as ever, only a part of an even bigger one.
The Full Picture
And for those of you who have got to know me a little over the last few years will know, I’m a very positive person. This is reflected in the inclusion of ‘It Can Only Get Better.’ There are more major chords and the hints of humour are always in the background. Life may be serious, but it’s not THAT serious. For Lee and I there is a definite air of simplicity about this record. After 3 albums of blind corners and clashing styles, ‘Mass Hysteria’ feels more coherent and completes a full picture. The puzzle assembled.
We hope you will join us in seeing the big picture, one piece at a time.
With love, thanks and gratitude.
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I remember that at my 1970s era the band the Family were a good sound and played a lot at the time in the clubs and pubs Rodger, Chapman was there singer ,and front man ,and Janis Joplin , also Niel Young,C,C,R, ACDC,the Scorpions, there was even a rock club called the jig saw ,on the sea front of the town we then lived ,all different now but still poinient at the time
I remember aged 9 being asked by my Mums friend what musical style I liked the best. “Heavy metal!” I replied having bought an Iron Maiden single the previous day. “Who do you have most records of?” was the next question. I was forced to admit it was Musical Youth! Not very heavy metal at all!
I grew my hair and got into the heavy metal gang aged 16, all smoking and drinking. Then I got into the Indie crowd and then eventually as time went on my tastes have become a lot more diverse. I’m just as happy listening to Radio 2 during the day as I am knee deep in my collection of rock CDs and albums.
I love seeing music live and nothing beats going to a gig. The meeting up with friends, having a beer beforehand, and then the gig itself. I’ve got tickets to the Fish tour for Islington in February and I have everything crossed it goes ahead!
Fashion and especially music came into play during the early 70’s. A lad who lived oppposite us had a much older brother (he went to Woodstock).
He had a massive record collection and would let us borrow anything we liked. I used to get the p##s ripped out of me for listening to the the likes of Curved Air, Hawkwind, Camel and Tony McPhee’s Groundhogs to name but a few. For me this all helped in the jigsaw which became my life, and it is a puzzle I would not change.
I was a punk in my school days (when I went lol). The latter couple of years was the Mod revival which I didn’t really get into although I am a massive Paul Weller fan nowadays. First band I went to see were Uk Subs which was my first taste of live music which I now attend as many live gigs as I can with my better half. The mod revival as it was called along with the two-tone movement was what a lot of people I knew got into but about 6 of us stuck with the punk scene although it was dying off and I got into the football scene and the music that went along with that at the time which still had the punk vibe to it such as Cockney Rejects and Sham 69. Bit more chilled out nowadays probably with age lol.
Having been born in the mid 50s I’ve witnessed many different fads/trends and many types of music eras/genres.
My young life was much the same. School, I could be expected to be bullied almost every break time, every single day of school. I was one of those kids who was quiet, but I wasn’t shy or timid…my favourite lesson was music, only then because the teacher would spend much of his time talking to me about The Beatles and music in general.There were also the mix of kids, richer, poor etc and it showed but sadly it was the parents who seemed to egg their little brats along.
Upon finishing school and actually finishing off the bullies before I left ( I got in trouble for it though) I was off to London and Lamda, and part time job.
My off time, and evenings, were spent hanging out at Clubs, gigs and Cafes with people i knew from the music scene, i loved music even more and these people and friends went on to become heroes of many, I guess in a way mine too.
The pieces fit together and sometimes we lose a piece down the back of the sofa, and maybe sometime down the path we find it once more. But it all comes together in the end to fit in your own jigsaw of life, we fit in somewhere and either become happy with, put up with, or break out from. All my pieces have come together over the years, through working in films, following music, still being friends with those I had met all that time ago.
Life is one big jigsaw that you shouldn’t have to punch the pieces in, it all fits neatly together piece by piece.