It's funny how circumstance can impact your life...how the seemingly random and inconsequential can often turn out to be quite the opposite. Such was the case for the genesis of my latest musical collaboration Monks on the Moon and our new album "When Worlds Collide"
About two years ago I got a call from Alex Blake-Milton, partner at a big PR firm here called Brunswick, asking me to speak at a staff event that they were holding on Yas Island near Abu Dhabi. I gladly accepted and quite randomly took along a few CDs from the first album I recorded - "Penny Earned" - with stereotypes. I had a whack of them left (you always tend to over order CDs) so wanted to share the joy. It ended up being a good decision as upon handing one to Alex, I learned he was a musician...a guitarist for a local band called Suburban Voodoo. As it turned out he had just left the group to set up a new band. Two months later I got a call from Alex, asking me to jam with his new group "Tundra". The try out went well enough and soon we were playing every couple of weeks...rock covers. This all happened while I was recording and playing with Mileage 51. One night we all went out as a band and had a few too many. I ended up writing a song (lyrics only) based on conversations snippets from the night. (It's actually completely mad but cool song although I don't have music for it yet.) Yet again, I digress...
In any case Alex then shared some original music he had been working on. We started writing together and quickly discovered there was amazing synergy. We churned out songs very quickly, laid down scratch tracks using garage band and soon had an album's worth.
We then set about to record the album at In the Mix studios, the same place we jammed. Nash runs the place and gave us a good deal to record so we were off to the races. Marc Tondera, our drummer from Tundra, laid down the percussion. Alex played guitar and bass. A young recording engineer, Dathi (who I then knew as David and now work with quite a bit as he runs the board at Red, Hot and Chili) joined in the fun as we laid down the album over the course of a couple of months.
When it came to producing the album, we turned to my friend and talented producer Roy Bolwede, who produced both Penny Earned and Stone Unturned. Roy put in months of effort, juggling his job and buildling a house in Thailand in between and really brought out the best in the music.
So here we are, almost two years later, launching Monks on the Moon "When Worlds Collide". We have pulled together a band to trot it around Dubai including Olivier Berroud on bass and Dean Butler on rhythm guitar, Marc again on drums and Lauren on back-up vocals.
I have learned that getting indie music heard is a lot like trying to flag down a jet aircraft while you're stranded on a desert island in the middle of the Pacific. It ain't easy. But you have to give it your best shot, within the budget you assign. We opted for Tunecore as the aggregator. It turns out, they have a great package and interesting options for distribution at reasonable prices. So we are out there...everywhere. iTunes, spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon and 25 other online stores. We have a website www.monksonthemoon.com and facebook page etc. We didn't have much budget for video but Alex's friend John was flown in from Muscat to film us playing to the album in one of Nash's studios. So we are now on youtube as well.
Speaking of the music, I'm quite proud of this album. The more songwriting I do, the more I learn. And the more I can contribute. As part of the tunecore package we had 6 of our songs reviewed by 100 people...from all walks of life, largely 18-24. A few of the songs rated very well so it was nice to get that positive feedback from people who have no idea who you are...not that I don't value feedback from friends, colleagues and family...I absolutely do!
The highest rated song was "Lockdown", have a listen and let me know what you think. (the summary of feedback/rating is also below)
The music is done, CDs will be printed on Thursday featuring some amazing artwork from the very talented people at Mojo. All that's left to do now is to start flagging down some planes. Wish me luck!
Thanks for reading as always!