I cut my musical teeth listening to classic 70s rock and folk bands then went on to play keyboards and acoustic guitar in his own rock and folk bands as well as being a solo performer. I now focus more on songwriting and recording, and my sound tries to capture both the acoustic and rock flavors of my musical upbringing. (Alan Garmonsway)
For this project, I wanted to work with some long-standing friends in the Northeast of England, both musicians and a watercolor artist. That’s where my home town is, so I contacted them a couple of years back to discuss ideas. We settled on some of my songs that told stories, so we could work on bringing the music and visual art closer together.
My school friend Ali Davis painted a watercolor for each of the songs and also the main cover while Franky, Al and myself were bringing the songs to life in the studio.
Franky & Al are well connected in musical circles in the UK, so they also invited a few additional people to contribute, including Martin Peel, who plays saxophone on ‘Our Heroes’.
I’ve brought together three experienced and inventive musicians to explore and record my songs with the visual artwork also being very much part of the story.
Franky Gibbon joins the ‘Northeast’ ep on bass, guitars, keyboards, percussion, and production. Franky is much respected and well known in UK music circles, having played bass originally with Northeast bands like Beckett and working with many established names such as Rod Stewart, Paul Weller, and Roxy Music. Coincidentally, Franky and I had the same music teacher — my Grandfather, who was church organist, choirmaster, and music teacher par excellence!
Al Harrington also joins on vocals, providing a unique vocal style and approach. Also a guitarist, he plays many rock, blues and jazz gigs, both solo and with different bands, and has worked with some top artists such as Paul Rodgers.
Interview Now playing:
(Alan Garmonsway — songwriter, keyboards, acoustic guitars, lead vocals on Our Heroes)
(Franky Gibbon — bass, guitars, keyboards, percussion, producer)
(Al Harrington — lead vocals, guitars)
(Martin Peel — guest saxophonist on Our Heroes — I should have mentioned that on the other form as well)
Ali Davis — artist and friend who painted all of our cover art for this project.
Song name: Our Heroes
Music Genre:: Rock Ballad
We all have our musical heroes, whatever our age and tastes in music. ‘Our Heroes’ celebrates this and reflects on the innocence of being in your early teens (or younger) and experiencing your first rock concerts with your friends. I wanted the song to appeal to everyone, whatever their age, wherever they live, but for me, it is about being early teens and experiencing my first rock concerts in the Northeast of England.
I also wanted the feel of the song to be such that you could imagine it being played on stage with the audience singing along, almost like an anthem to those times.
The second verse talks about hanging around the stage door — and for me that evoked memories of bumping into Marc Bolan (then of Tyrannosaurus Rex before they became T Rex) and a famous UK DJ, John Peel, and having a 20-minute chat with them outside the stage door before one concert. I was fifteen at the time and still have the concert tickets and an autographed program!
The first time I played the song to my collaborators, it hit the spot for them. Franky, in particular, was keen as he played in a couple of good bands at that time and has shared the stage with many of the ‘heroes’ — Captain Beefheart, Rod Stewart, Paul Weller, Supertramp to name a few, and Al has also worked with Paul Rodgers.
I spend most of my time Newbury in the South of the UK and also our house in West France.
Who have been the most influential in your music?
I’ve always liked great songwriters who write a range of diverse, well-arranged material and make it all sound real, so the list is really long. But the ones that spring to mind are Steve Winwood, Carole King, Bruce Hornsby, Mark Knopfler, Randy Newman, and Jimmy Rankin.
When did you know that this was the right path for you?
I’ve been writing songs almost as long as I remember, so doing something musically has always been the right path. However, I was also good at science so I took a degree in Microbiology, worked as a scientist and then eventually HR and Operations for biotechnology companies. Since that finished, I’m back to full-time music, so I’ve had two ‘right paths’ so to speak!
What do you like most about what you do?
The variety and the buzz of being able to build on things day-by-day and watch my songs and commercial approach grow side-by-side. Maybe, like many others, the challenge can be spending too much time on a laptop keyboard and not a musical one but I’m learning to apportion time a but more sensibly as I get to know the commercial ropes so I can balance the musical and commercial sides.
What do you most hope to accomplish with your music?
I hope to keep writing and recording memorable songs that engage and inspire people, and passing on my experience to others.
What is the biggest obstacle you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?
Managing the ups and downs of biotech companies — often funding was influenced more by investor sentiment, so keeping long-term scientific projects and staff protected from the slings and arrows of the investor world was a constant challenge. In music, it’s not so much an obstacle, but the sheer amount of effort required to market your music — all the channels are available to do this, but each one needs a different approach and I’m learning all the time.
What do you want people to remember most about you and your career? Some great songs and providing a positive and supportive environment for people to develop.
What are you most looking forward to this next month?
Seeing how the new ‘Northeast’ album is received and marketing it at every opportunity, either individual songs or as a whole album. Also, getting back in the studio to try out some new material, some for a possible follow-up album and also other ‘single’ projects.
Website & social media links:
Article created by Jacqueline Jax
More by this artist can be seen at:
Behind The Music with Garmonsway, Gibbon & Harrington on 'Our Heroes'
My songs and music have... a vibe of mixing together acoustic and rock styles, often led by either keyboards or…
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