03 October 2015

Finding A Voice, Finding My Feet

There had been talk for some time within the band of making a charitable contribution, but there was no definitive plan as to how best this could be achieved. It would – obviously – involve music, but we were unsure how best to direct our energies.

After much (email) debate, it was agreed that it would need to be global in the sense that whatever we chose to do had to have meaning – or relevance – to as many people as possible. The one issue that – unfortunately – touches many of our lives – directly or indirectly – is cancer. As Craig and Jake had previously done some stuff for the local hospice in Sault Ste. Marie, we hit upon the idea of extending the idea to the hospice movement in Northern Ireland.

The initial idea was a gig in Canada and putting out a song to raise funds on my side of the water, but the problem was getting a suitable date for the show and – sadly – generating any concrete interest in Belfast.

We are not a group of guys that gets deterred easily so we started to think bigger. Globally, in fact. A little bit of Google-based research threw up the World Hospice and Palliative Care Alliance. ‘World’. Can’t get much more global than this, right?

I approached the WHPCA with the idea of producing a CD with the aim of raising funds. Their response was positive and came with the promise that any monies raised would be directed towards their programmes in under-resourced countries. We felt this would chime with the majority of people that might be interested in buying such a CD.

However, a CD needed artists/bands and some music! Whilst there were no naked Indians or spirits of dead rock stars involved, I simply approached those in prog rock that we – as a band – admired. The list ranged from the famous to the unknown (to the majority, at least) and the responses were equally diverse: usually unanswered requests, often a polite ‘no’ and – on occasion – a personal note to politely decline and say why (Fish, for example).

Nevertheless, there were enough positives (includes a ‘yes’ straightaway from Steve Hackett – and how awesome did I feel when I got his email) to make this a feasible project, which is when the learning curve went through the roof. Suddenly, I had to learn about mastering, dithering, limiting and other technical studio stuff. I had to coordinate an undertaking across several different countries and time time-zones. I had to keep on top of everyone good enough to be a part of this without being too pushy. I mean you cannot hassle Steve Hackett. Can you?

Of course there were mistakes along the way. And some things slipped in the schedule. And others I simply forgot to do (website/record label). Let alone the stuff I didn’t know how to do! But I got there in the end with the help – and patience – from good people.

Now there is a 12 track CD from 12 exceptional exponents of prog rock and I am humbled to have my name on a disc with such fantastic musicians and even better human beings. It will be out in the world 10 October 2015 and is available now to pre-order from here.

I’ve had to learn to stumble before I could walk in this business, but I feel steadier on my feet now.