Summer 2014 PART 2

Yeah so I forgot a bunch of things in that last post.

Firstly; GEAR. Thanks to the wonderful folks at Westside MI (especially my good friend and wicked guitarist Peter Honoré) I am now the proud owner of a beautiful Martin OM28e Retro. It’s the nicest acoustic guitar I’ve ever played and it sounds incredible. The Fishman F1 Aura system is brilliantly designed and every sound engineer I’ve worked with since getting this guitar has absolutely loved it! Here she is:

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Beaut.

This also leads nicely on to my next topic, which is GIGS.

I used this wonderful guitar for a few gigs and sessions with some other artists recently, one of whom was Nick Gardner. I was asked to play with Nick by my friend (not to mention keys player/sound engineer/MD extraordinaire) Steve Weston, who was given the task of MDing Nick’s first proper live show – which happened to be opening for Maroon 5 at iTunes Festival. I’m a big Maroon 5 fan so it was a special one for me to be able to open for them at the Roundhouse, and thankfully the show went really well (you can watch it here). Nick is a talented singer and a lovely guy, who will surely go on to do some cool things, so keep your eye on him! Here’s a cool shot from the gig:

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The other artist – or artists I should say – that I worked with this summer was a lovely group of girls who go by the name of Neon Jungle. I joined the girls for their Radio 1 Live Lounge session in which they covered X Ambassador’s & Jamie N Common’s ‘Jungle’ – which was a ton of fun to play due to it being super guitary. Check it out:

And that concludes my massively overdue update. Hopefully I’ll get to work with all these guys again in the future, but until then it’s back to business with Ella.

Summer 2014

I am a terrible blogger.

Since my last update 4 months ago I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled to some prettttty cool places with Ella. Throughout June and July we flew to Sweden, Switzerland, Amsterdam, Spain, Germany, and the USA – all for acoustic promo and showcases (which all went brilliantly by the way)! Her debut single ‘Ghost’ has absolutely ‘smashed it’, or so to speak – having spent 2 weeks at number 1, gone platinum, and been named the best selling single of the year in the UK.

Following on from our trip to the USA at the end of July, we then flew out to Sydney in August, where we spent 4 days doing more radio promo – as well as a showcase gig, a breakfast TV show, and a performance on the Australian X-Factor. We then flew to Auckland for a couple of days for more of the same, plus a live acoustic performance on New Zealand’s One News breakfast TV show (which you can watch here).

Despite it being winter over on that side of the world we still had an amazing time – I loved Sydney and I REALLY loved Auckland. We had a day off before we left and got go and see Minnehaha beach, which was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to in my life. Here are some pictures which will definitely not do it justice:

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Above: The walk down to the beach

Below: The team setting up for Ella’s photoshoot

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Above: Ross and co. contemplating a dive off of the rocks

Below: Meeeee

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As you can see it was pretty special. What was not so special was the 31-hour journey home. Auckland > Melbourne > Dubai > London with a few 3-hour stopovers thrown in for good measure, was absolutely insane…

BUT WE MADE IT.

And actually – for another trip that fun – I’d totally do it again.

On top of all that traveling we also found time to do a few UK shows here and there (Here’s a clip from Fusion Festival) as well as film some really cool live sessions at the amazing RAK Studios. The first one to come out is an acoustic version of Glow and soon there’ll be some full band performances of some as-yet unheard Ella tunes, so I’ll make sure to post them here once they’re out. Until then here’s Glow:

Next up with Ella it’s a BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge performance and another trip to Germany, leading up to the ‘Glow’ and ‘Chapter One’ (Ella’s debut album) releases in October.

May = Acoustic Promo

As the title of this post suggests; May has been a month of many acoustic performances, all with the wonderful Ella Henderson. I travelled all over the UK on a two-week regional radio tour with her and her team, performing some stripped back tunes and promoting her debut single ‘Ghost’. It was loads of fun and everyone at the radio stations seemed to love having Ella in, not to mention hearing her sing in such a bare, intimate setting, where she absolutely shines. Have a listen to this recording of us performing her cover of Gorgon City ft. MNEK’s ‘Ready For Your Love’ and you’ll see what I mean.

On top of that her Vevo DSCVR acoustic version of Ghost just came out and it looks and sounds awesome, so check it out:

Next up on the acoustic hit-list is a couple of sessions for Sounds Magazine and The Box – but not before a few TV performances we’ll be recording with the full band this weekend…

Ella Henderson

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to begin playing for the wonderful and incredibly talented Ella Henderson. Many of you will likely recognise the name from X-Factor, as Ella was a contender in the 2012 series, who has since been working away writing and recording some seriously good music. She’s just released the video for her debut single ‘Ghost‘ off the back of two awesome showcase gigs we did earlier this week, and the official single release is on the 8th of June (so get pre-ordering!). As well as the showcases we”ve also done an acoustic session for Vevo which I’ll post here once it’s been put up.

It’s only been a couple of weeks but it’s been so much fun, largely because of the amazing singer and her great songs – but also because I get to work with some of my favourite people again; my two Union J bandmates, Ross and Joe, and our favourite MD, Mr. Kojo Samuel. Really looking forward to some more Ella stuff over the coming months – I’ll be sure to keep this blog updated but until then here’s a shot of me lurking in the background at one of the showcases earlier in the week…

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Post-Tour Blues

It’s January 2014 and the Union J tour finished almost two weeks ago, which sucks, because it was awesome. 22 shows with a bunch of really great people: from the UJ boys to my band bros, to the amazing crew and our lovely tour and production managers – I am genuinely really sad it’s over. It was the best tour I”ve done so far and I’m already really excited about the possibility of another tour one somewhere down the line.

Here are some shots from along the way:

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Moving forward there will definitely be some more Union J stuff going on this year, and once Mr. Maynard pops his head up again hopefully I’ll get to reunite with my boy to play some of his sick new tunes! On top of that I’m hopeful that I get to meet and work with some new artists this year, but we’ll have to wait and see. Anyway happy new year from the nerd playing air guitar in that last picture. He’s happy and you should be too.

Union J Magazines and TV Screens Tour

This week I played two warm-up shows with Union J to mark the start of their UK & Ireland winter tour. The crowds were great and the shows ran really smoothly – and on top of that everyone involved is incredibly cool, so I’m feeling pretty excited about getting on the road properly this weekend.

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In the run-up to this tour I’ve been fortunate enough to strike up relationships with a few of my favourite companies – which I’m over the moon about. Firstly, Gibson were kind enough to give me an SG to use for the tour, which sounds amazing and has been so much fun to play so far – I don’t know how I’ve lived all this time without one! Secondly, I got in touch with the folks at Duesenberg and they managed to sort me out with a beautiful Fullerton TV (pictured below), which I am completely in love with. And finally, I’m thrilled to announce that I’m now an Elixir strings endorsee. I’ve been using Elixirs for as long as I can remember and I really cannot stand to use any other strings, so a huge thank you goes out especially to Andy Palmer from Elixir for making that happen.

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Now it’s on to Oxford this Saturday with all my shiny new gear for the first proper date of this tour. More updates soon! (Maybe. But let’s be honest – probably not.)

R U Crazy

So Conor’s new single ‘R U Crazy’ debuted at number 4 in the UK charts, which is pretty awesome if I do say so myself. But what’s more awesome than that? Well that would be the five of us dressed up in suits, playing a swing version live on Xtra Factor:

On top of that we also recorded a live acoustic version (of the swing version..) which is available on iTunes, so definitely check that one out.

Up next for me is a big ol’ UK Tour with the Union J boys – 18 dates across the UK and Ireland and I cannot wait! Rehearsals start in November so I’m busy getting my guitars and things in order at the moment, will post pictures of new gear soon…

I ♥ Hyperlinks

..I haven’t posted here since May, boooo.

Picking up from where I left off; I am still very much in love with my new amp (see below).

But more importantly some cool new things have happened: I’ve started playing for a couple of different artists alongside Conor, AND I’m in a band now with some of my buddies from Uni. Nice.

So as well as continuing to play guitar for Mr. C-money Maynard, I’ve also started working with X-Factor favourites Union J. We’ve only done a handful of acoustic performances so far as the boys are still putting the finishing touches on their debut album, but in the meantime they’ve scored a top 10 single and have planned a sweet-looking tour for the winter, which I’m excited about.

On top of that I’ve also recently started working with the wonderful A*M*E, who’s name you might recognise if you’ve heard Duke Dumont’s Number 1 single ‘Need U (100%)‘, as she is the insanely talented young singer who laid down the vocals on that very track. Been doing some acoustic stuff with her too and am looking forward to a trip to Ibiza with her in September!

Stepping out of the pop world for a minute – as I mentioned I’ve also formed a band with some close friends of mine, which I’m really excited about. Stepping back into the pop world for a second – two of those friends are actually session musicians like myself: our bass player Adam plays for the awesome Lewis Watson and our singer/guitarist Tommy is playing for the lovely Nina Nesbitt! Ok, step back out again now. It’s in it’s super early stages as we are yet to even decide on a name, but the music exists and it’s sounding pretty cool if I do say so myself. We’ve been lucky enough to record at Real World studios in Bath which was insanely cool, and were even luckier to meet the incredible Guy Garvey of Elbow, who was doing some writing there, and gave us some really positive feedback on the music. That’s kind of all there is to say about that right now, but expect more. Because there will be more.

Next gig is in Lancashire with Conor for the Lytham Proms. Here’s a short snippet from Wireless for some reason:

New gear!

Ok so I’m so excited about my new amp I have to blog about it, check it:

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Is that not the coolest looking amp ever?! It’s a Divided by 13 FTR 37 and it sounds incredible, I’m so excited to get this thing on the road and put it to the test over summer.

Massive thanks to Fred Taccone from Divided by 13 for hooking me up with this beauty, he’s a pleasure to deal with and he builds one hell of an amp.

Taking the time to type this out has been the longest I’ve been away from it since I’ve had it, and I’m getting withdrawal symptoms, so I really need to go and play with it some more. GAHHH

European Trampolining Tour

I arrived home last weekend from Conor’s mini European tour – we were only out there for 7 days but it was a total blast; we played to a bunch of sold out crowds in Paris, Rome, Milan and Modena and had loads of fun. The European Mayniacs continued the awesome tradition we’ve seen from the UK fans of showing the band huge amounts of love – which I’m super thankful for. As well as playing some shows and traveling across France and Italy, we also got to behave like kids and muck around on trampolines at one point – which I have to say was probably the highlight of the tour for me. Outside the venue in Modena there was this big cage of trampolines and we convinced the people running it to let us lock ourselves in and jump around for half an hour, while Mayniacs surrounded it and screamed at it. Here’s a sideways video of it (check the air high-five at 0:13):

 

 

The show in Rome was probably the craziest, just because the venue was the biggest – it felt like we were playing to a festival crowd or something, here’s a shot from that night:

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One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that this tour featured Mr. Steven ‘GLegend’ Gaman on drums – Steve was drafted in pretty last minute and got up to speed with the set in a really short space of time, and he played great – so hats off to him. He’ll be joining us on our upcoming summer dates too.

This tour also featured a machine instead of our keys guru Emlyn, as he was at home getting married while we were away! Massive congratulations to him and his wife – looking forward to getting him back for the next set of shows!

Speaking of shows I think the next ones are going to be in Spain towards the end of May, so Spanish Mayniacs prepare yourselves, and point us toward the trampolines.