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 one somewhere down the line.
Here are some shots from along the way:
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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:
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…
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 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:
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:
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.
The UK leg of Ne-Yo ‘s R.E.D. tour ended last Friday at the O2 arena in London and it was FUN. All in all we did 5 shows with him (we missed a couple due to Conor having other European commitments) and it was a crazy experience to play in such huge venues full of thousands of people. Conor got a really good reception from the Ne-Yo fans, especially when he went back on during the big man’s set to perform ‘Turn Around’ with him. After London we actually went straight to Belgium to play a showcase gig and perform at ‘Jimfest’, which was loads of fun – I’m hoping we’ll get to go back and play a proper show there soon! Speaking of proper shows in Europe; next up for me is a short European tour with Conor in April. At the moment we’re going to be playing in Paris, Lyon, Rome, Milan and Modena (hopefully some more dates will be announced though!) and I cannot WAIT.
Until then I’m going to focus on a few other projects with some different artists, notably my boys Tommy Ashby, Adam Double and Tim Watkins – who I’m now kind of in a band with. We’re playing a show under Tommy’s name next Tuesday at the Bedford in Balham and should have a few more in the pipeline.
Oh yeah one last thing you gotta go check out my friend Conor McDonnell’s work here - he’s a photographer who does a lot of work with Rita Ora, and he came on tour with us to do some video diaries and stuff, my favourite of which can be seen below…
So this has kind of come out of nowhere but Conor”s been billed as a support act for his mentor Ne-Yo”s upcoming run of UK arena dates, and the first one is in Newcastle next Wednesday! Pretty excited about playing a bunch of arenas, as well as getting back on the road with Conor, Emlyn, Drew, Tonez casino jameshallison and all our lovely crew members. In between two of the shows we”re actually making a quick trip over to Monaco to do a radio show (I think?) and then we head off to Belgium straight after the London show to do some stuff over there for the weekend, so all in all a very busy and exciting March lies ahead. I”m gonna try and do a cheeky blog while out on the road but if I don”t get around to it I”ll just tweet my goings on like a madman.
A few weeks ago my good friend Matt Vowels asked me if I’d record a solo for a cover he’d been working on, of an old song by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. He wanted something a little whacky and theatrical so I really went to town with effects pedals on this one, in fact I think I had about 6 or 7 on simultaneously at one point.. It was possibly the most fun I’ve ever had recording a solo. Matt’s a talented guy (he played most of the other instruments on the track) and a great sound engineer – he’s already asked me to do something on his next cover so I can’t wait to get stuck in and then upload it on here. Check it out:
(You can hear the full track on mine or Matt‘s soundcloud pages)
A couple of weeks back I was asked to play on a live acoustic session for Mercury’s recent signing Bo Bruce (a previous contestant from BBC’s ‘The Voice’). We played a few stripped back acoustic songs in a really cool location and the whole thing was filmed, so once the footage is edited and released I’ll stick it up on here. Bo’s a lovely girl with a great voice and some really strong tunes – her album comes out later this year so keep an eye out..