Interviewed by Mark Dean (Journalist/Writer/Contributor) Myglobalmind Webzine
Hi Nigel, How are you?
Nigel: “Yeah not to bad cheers mate.”
I won’t keep you too long as there’s football on that we both want to watch.
Nigel: “There is yeah. Unsure how much I’ll get to see as I’m still in the studio finishing off some writing. I’ve got that thing in my head that I can’t go ‘til it’s finished.”
That creative thing?
Nigel: “Yeah sort of (laughs) some might call it something slightly different. But Yeah (laughs)”
Is that for another Bailey album, 3 Lions or something different?
Nigel: “I’m writing some 3 Lions stuff but I’m working on something else that I really can’t say anything yet.”
Where have you been all these years? We hear nothing & then there’s 2 cracking albums come out in a short time?
Nigel: “Thanks very much. I’ve not really been anywhere. I played in cover bands for 20 odd years. Playing the pubs & clubs in the North of England & I wrote about 3 or 4 songs after a break of about 20 years. I used to play in an originals band when I was like 18-19. I wrote some songs purely & simply because I got some free software to work on my computer with a brand new guitar pedal that I bought. Did that. Steve Price liked it & played it on his show. Paul Nichols got in touch after hearing it on YouTube as I’d stuck it up on there just to see if there was any reaction to it. Paul Nichols got in touch who was Firebrand but now Platinum Rock Radio at the time he was at AR FM & he asked if he could play it on his show. Somebody heard it in America from somewhere & they got in touch, & from there I was sort of asked, well advised, to send it to Seraphino over at Frontiers Records. I didn’t expect to hear anything which you don’t really as they have a large amount of stuff to wade through. But literally after 15 minutes, or 17 minutes I think it was. In fact I still have the emails (chuckles) & I was asked if I wanted to make an album. Of course the answer was “Yes I do. Very much so.” It went from there. The Bailey album I recorded in June 2012 and just after that finished I was introduced to Vinnie to see if we could do some writing together.”
Was that a Frontiers introduction or a friend of a friend so to speak?
Nigel: “That was a Frontiers introduction. I was driving back home from a job in London & it was Vinnie, which was weird. So I called into his house for a pot of tea on the way home, which was bonkers. I had to ring my wife & tell her I was going to be late as I was having tea with Vinnie Burns. So we wrote a couple of tunes & straight away hit it off like a house on fire & decided that it should be a band so let’s get a band together. So we recruited Gregg and we started writing together. We went out to Italy and recorded the 3 Lions album after the Bailey album. But because of the way things work 3 Lions was released first.”
So the Bailey album was recorded first?
Nigel: “Yeah. Bailey was done, recorded & in the can by July 2012 & I met Vinnie in the September. I think that was at Firefest as well. That was also where I met Gregg for the first time was at Firefest 2012. So my album was already done by then. But because we had the momentum & impudence going & of course the interest as Vinnie was back in the band that one came out first. To be fair I think that was the right thing to do.”
You have the same producer on both albums?
Nigel: “Yup, Ally did them both. He’s a super super guy & very talented. He’s a man of many talents & a lot of it you don’t get to see. He’s a cracking little drummer, great guitarist, plays bass but he’s also a great producer. He was instrumental in getting me across and fully signed up to Frontiers because his English is incredibly good. We chatted & Vinnie knew him as they’d met a few times & he’s put me at the forefront for the time being. So we had no qualms about using him for the 3 Lions album at all.”
Going back to the Bailey album, are these all songs that were newly written for it?
Nigel: “The songs were all newly written with the exception of Spend the Night which was a song I’d had 25-26 years ago. It’s changed a lot since but that’s where that came from. It was one that was stuck in my mind from a lot of the originals that we used to do & that was stuck in my mind from then. It was a song I had written completely on my own so we could use it. But we updated & changed the melody slightly & went from there.”
Frontiers are considered to be a major label in the melodic rock genre. What sort of support does the label give you?
Nigel: “Frontiers have been phenomenal. They’ve given me the chance to do what I’ve wanted to do in over 20 years since I learnt to play the guitar. They’ve been brilliant. I have nothing but praise for Frontiers.”
Do they set up tours or is that something you do yourself?
Nigel: “That’s something we’ll do ourselves or we’ll sort it out with a management company. But right now we don’t have any management for either band. Most people that we’ve talked to or have expressed an interest seem to want a fortune to look after us, which seems a bit odd to me but its early days yet. The other problem that we have is that we couldn’t go out & do a headline tour because, quite simply, we don’t have enough material. 3 Lions don’t want to go out & fill a set with Bailey material & likewise with Bailey & 3 Lions material as they’re 2 separate things really. Bailey is playing with Vega at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham on April 4th and that’s the week before we’re in Milan playing at the Frontiers Rock Festival 2. We’ve been very lucky to be asked back after playing it last year with the 3 Lions.”
What about a tour with both bands? Would it work?
Nigel: “Possibly, I don’t know if my voice would hold up all night for 2 sets (chuckles). But possibly. We are looking at things. We’ve been talking to some other UK bands that are in a similar position to us; you know 1 or 2 albums in. Not really going to be able a headline tour. Not that they’re not able to, it’s just down to not wanting to go out & fill the set with a load of covers.”
Maybe the idea of a tour package. Bands like Whitesnake are going out as a tour package so maybe that’s a better option.
Nigel: “We’ve been talking about a 3 band co-headline tour so over the course of say 3 days each band has headlined & opened. That’s one of the nice things, there doesn’t seem to be many egos, well not with the amount of people I’ve met over the last couple of years. They’re just guys who play in bands & just want to get out there & play. Hopefully there will be some festival dates. We’ve nothing firm yet for 3 Lions only a couple of Bailey ones. Hopefully there will be more live dates. It’s not for want of trying.”
As you indicated earlier you have a job. To make a living you obviously need a job & it can’t be easy to fit live shows around working for a living.
Nigel: “I’ve got a full time day job. It’s difficult to make a living out of the industry hence why a lot of the people I talk to in bands have all got day jobs. I’m lucky that I don’t work weekends so everything gets done then.”
Obviously there’s less money in record sales etc. It seems that the only way money is made is from touring & the sales from merch. Would you say that was right?
Nigel: “I hope so (chuckles) I think that could be a way to supplement the income. But for me it’s never really been about the money. If suddenly I have a nice new flash car then fantastic. I don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon (laughs) but it’s just about playing music and I’ve been doing that for years & years & years in pubs & clubs to people, playing covers. It’s fantastic to be able to get up on stage & play your own songs. It’s even more fantastic when people know them too. When we played at the AR FM gig with Bailey at the end of January, so the album had only been out just over a month & the people there were clapping & cheering as well as singing & bopping along. That’s the reason why we do it.”
You’ve recorded the songs in the studio so it’s a natural progression to want to go out & play them live.
Nigel: “A couple of the songs that we do from the Bailey album they sort of take on their own identity when we do them live. It’s like they become something different. They still stay fairly true to the album it’s just they take on a life of their own. That happens when you have 5 guys pounding on their instruments. It gives them a bit more energy.”
Can you pick out a couple of tracks from the Bailey album & give a bit of background on each?
Nigel: “Long Way Down was a strange one. That was an error in tuning is how it started as that was in drop D. Which is something I don’t really play in. I fiddled about with it a bit & then wrote about a female celebrity who was in the press at the time that appeared to have everything & then blew it all away. Lost the lot & filed for bankruptcy so that’s the sort of back story for that track. ?Somewhere in Oslo was about my wife visiting some friends in Norway & she had her phone switched off & I couldn’t get hold of her. Someone asked me if I’d spoken to her & my reply was “nah she’s probably lost in bloody Oslo somewhere” & thought hang a minute that’s an idea so I wrote the song around the idea of just that phrase. It just felt right. I’m a huge fan of bands like The Eagles and I was a bit dubious about putting that track on the album but it seems to be well received. I don’t really have a set formula. I may start with a chorus or a melody or maybe a guitar riff or whatever.”
We touched on how difficult it is for musicians to make a living so how is the social media aspect of promotion helping?
Nigel: “People can go onto YouTube to watch &listen to your music when they want without paying which is par for the course now. Which is why you make a video to get known & hopefully people will then buy the album. Similarly with Spotify, iTunes or whatever. I would rather have people listening to the music but with the whole piracy issue is making it harder for people to make money or not. When the album was first released I wanted to go onto the internet to see where I could buy it from but there were more links to where I could download it illegally than where I could buy it legally.”
That must be so frustrating for you guys?
Nigel: “It’s just a sign of the times & the way that it is at the moment. I think the younger generation seem to think that music isn’t an art form that’s worth paying for. You wouldn’t walk into an art gallery & just take the painting off the wall & walk out with it without paying. I think that all things being equal is going to be difficult for record labels to sustain it. There’s a lot of cost involved in making a record what with producers, musicians, studio time that all needs to be paid. Then there’s the artwork & covers to be made, the label has to invest money into it & if they may not get the return back on their investment. You know I’m very very lucky to be given the opportunity to put this album out as another 5 or 10 years down the line I think it’s going to be even more difficult. I feel particularly blessed. I’m not a religious man but I do feel blessed with the last couple of years as it’s something I’ve always dreamed about doing & it’s just as good as everyone said it is.”
It must be very satisfying to be in the studio writing for 3 different projects.
Nigel: “I’m always writing different bits & pieces anyway. I’ve got a couple of songs coming out on Veronica Freemans solo album(Benedictus vocalist) that I’ve written. I had a song on Fergi Frederiksen,s album. Even before any of this happened I used to sit for 2 or 3 nights a week & just play the guitar for a couple of hours. Since I got the recording software it’s sort of unleashed my inner song writer which is fantastic.”
Are there any dates as to when these new songs will be out in the public domain?
Nigel: “Not as yet as the Bailey album came out in December 2014 & the launch party with a couple of gigs. We have a few songs that we’re almost there with for 3 Lions & we have a writing session in the next couple of weeks so we can write in earnest now that Christmas is out the way. Vinnie has had a bit of a chest infection so he’s been out of action for a few weeks. So we’ll hopefully get a 3 Lions 2 album out. Plus there’s another project I’ve been asked to work on that I can’t say anything about as yet as it’s not been mentioned.”
Thank you very much Nigel for taking the time out to speak to me as I know you’re a very busy man & have other interviews to do.
Nigel: “Thank YOU for taking the time too. I really do appreciate it. Thanks bud & take care.”