Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blog-Royale July 28

Age 16 I started a band with my two best friends in the world. That band's name was Les Incompetents.

Here are the facts: We didn't know what we were doing. We loved what we were doing. We listened to the Strokes. Daniel Radcliffe was at our first gig. We played at the club night White Heat a lot. We wrote a song about Kriss Akabusi. We supported Babyshambles and Mystery Jets and it was the happiest I've ever been. We did our best to play to under 18s. People helped us out. Band members came. We never got signed. Band members went. We released two singles, and finally people only started to really care about us when we split up.

Age 19 and a half, I started a band called Ox.Eagle.Lion.Man. I formed it with my friend Shaun, who'd also been in Les Inc.

Here are the facts: We made lots of different styles of music. People got confused. We listened to prog rock. We got confused. We settled on the style that was most popular with us. It was the style least popular with everyone else. A label called Transgressive found us and nurtured us. We released a 7" and then started work on a trilogy of half hour 'opuses'. People thought we were pretentious. Nobody played us on the radio. We toured with The Scare and Lightspeed Champion and made some of the greatest friends in the world. We played live less. We didn't split up. We're not splitting up. Two thirds of our trilogy are released. The final part is ready to record.

Meanwhile, just over a year ago I was offered a job at MTV2. It was an honour, as I had been 14 when my parents first got cable and it was MTV2 in 2002 that (more than anything else) gave me my love of guitar music. I accepted the job. I met Zane Lowe. I realised that it was a TV channel built on the love of music. I was inspired. On the first day working for the channel I interviewed my teen idols Interpol and Kings of Leon. I didn't know what I was doing, but I've never had a day like that again.

I've always written songs and recorded them on the computer, whatever else I've been doing at the time. Late last year, whilst staying in New York, I played a few tracks to my friend Dev and he convinced me to have the confidence to start taking it a bit more seriously. The next day Obama won the US elections and I left the city enthused for myself and enthused for the world.

2009 started and whilst on holiday with my family, I realised that I had to reevaluate my songwriting process and get in touch with what I wanted to do and why. I listened to the Strokes again. I realised that this time, I wanted to make music that could really connect with people.

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As Ox.Eagle became more part time I came to terms with not having much real money. Instead of worrying about this too much, I stayed at home and spent the occasional money from MTV2 on cereal, milk, water and bananas. My mum bought me some vitamins and I didn't get ill. I spent everyday writing and recording music in different ways.

I started with guitar and keyboard based demos on Ableton then started sampling directly from vinyl and making tracks out of unrecognisable loops of other peoples music. My friend Caius introduced me to the music of J Dilla, and I soon realised my beats would never be as good as his.

I didn't finish a lot of the tracks I started, and the freedom of sampling, beat making, midi plugins and real life instruments pulled the music in loads of different directions.


Then, a month ago, Michael Jackson died.


And the world seemed a different place. I realised then that we were six months away from the end of the decade, and when it came to music, 2001 - 2003 seemed to have delivered a promise that 2004-2009 just couldn't really keep. Yes we'd been given The Strokes, Arcade Fire, The Walkmen, The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys, The Mars Volta and a few other brilliant artists, but overall, things felt slow.

Especially in Britain.


I mean I, love Klaxons and The Horrors. I actually love Kasabian...but it seems like America is coughing up another Vampire Weekend or MGMT every week. When are we going to catch up?

On the year anniversary of the day I started work for MTV2, I returned to the Oxegen festival in Ireland as part of the team once again, but this time it seemed different. Although I still felt completely blessed to have been given the opportunity, it dawned on me that there were people out there who'd get so much more out of it, and probably do a better job.

On the final day of the festival I watched The Killers play five classic pop songs in a row...and realised once and for all, that what they were doing, was what I wanted to be doing.

Completely entertained, I watched the crowd ascend into pure euphoria as they finished with 'When You Were Young' and I suddenly felt like the biggest music snob in the world. Who am I to always discount and criticise the music that makes so many thousands of people so happy?


On the way back from Ireland I met Dave Navarro at Heathrow.


This plays no part in the story.

Once home, I started discussed putting together a group to play my new songs with my friend Christopher. He was into the idea and asked me if he could play drums. I asked my brother Fabian if he would play keyboard and he's sort of still sitting on the fence. But I think he's up for it.

A week later, Christopher and I were at Latitude Festival. We watched Pet Shop Boys play 'Its a Sin' and 'Always on my Mind'...


...and our plans were solidified once and for all.

This week I'll be going into the studio to roughly mix home recordings...and group rehearsals are starting soon. If you're ok at playing the guitar, youngish, and might be interested in joining the live band, email me at my old address: (email now removed, thanks everyone who replied!)

So, some of the music is nearly finished, and soon we'll be thinking of a name. In the mean time, we've realised that the internet is a different place to what it was a few years ago. But this doesn't really worry me...I think we're just going to upload stuff when it's ready.

If you want up to date coverage follow twitter.com/bloodroyale where about five times a day I'll say something...probably irrelevant. In truth though, I've come to really value Twitter. People dismiss it as yet another social networking tool, but I think it's quite the opposite. It genuinely feels, at least for now, like an ever-flowing conversation in a river of information and inspiration. And I'd hate for that to stop.

Anyway I've gone on way too long, but I really do look forward to you all hearing this music, and hope it's as enjoyable to listen to, as it has been to make.



(thanks to flickr.com/photos/heardism and flickr.com/photos/devleppard for letting me steal the photos that aren't mine)


StephenBody said...

You actually don't understand how excited I am about this, will you be playing guitar live as well? Still, hope it doesn't delay the third Ox.Eagle opus.

G** said...

really enjoyed reading this fred. at the end of the day, good pop music is good pop music, whether it's lady gaga or =w= or the killers or the strokes or whoever... wait, they're all american! but there are too many snobs out there agreed. and whilst 'considered music' like mars volta and muse etc is great, you can't beat harmonies and claps. that's what i think anyway.
i am indeed youngish and ok at guitar but i'm going travelling at the end of the year so it's bad timing.
i look forward to opus iii, fuck the radio, you're on the best indie label making music you like so rock on! greg

Tarr said...

Really solid, quality and encouraging post Fred. Genuinely anticipating what's to come with great excitement. Rx

Jackie said...

I was starting to worry that all that talent would go to waste over on mtv 2. x

JackCC said...

Really looking forward to hearing this. Sahil.com says it's great. J x

word_fashionista said...

really enjoyed reading this post. total blog envy.

Lucy said...

Nice. Many epiphanies.

SeanDiS said...

like, technically, you were offered a record deal. the offer letter will be on record somewhere. i should probably frame it, i suspect phil probably did and has it hanging in his loo.

hit me with your new shit ay es ay pee.


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