After Mike left the band, it was a stressful period of change in my life and I had to make my own way and find a new direction. In my time away from the music world I still kept writing songs but only playing for close friends and family. I have to thank my wife Christina who encouraged me to move forward with this project. I had written 10 new songs in one go and she encouraged me to go into a studio and record them acoustically to see how they sounded, so I did just that.
Why record them acoustically? We always had a principle that served us well in the Alarm. If the song sounded good as an acoustic version, then the chances are the song was strong and would work, so we’d continue. Using that methodology, I used to work up the song and bring to Mike and then we work on it together. This is how the majority of songs were created. Funnily enough, I came across a box the other day with all the acoustic versions of early songs on cassette that later became Alarm classics and some of the titles were really out there…
“New band, new sound and new energy.” I love this quote! How you would describe the band’s sound?
There is one thing for sure, you can’t beat performing in a band – I am so lucky to have friends like Paul and Charlie – they are such good and honest guys and keep me in check and down to earth with ideas. When I played the songs to Paul he gave them the thumbs up but there was still all lot of work to do and having known him for ages it occurred to me that we should work together, as I’ve never considered myself a singer. Paul has a great voice and having watched him live he always delivers. Both he and Charlie had played in a covers band but with original material they set themselves apart and showed their true potential. It sums up how I feel, whatever it is in life, health permitting, you’re never to old too try something new and give it your all.
Regarding the sound of the band, that has been dictated by the songs. I have always believed this is the right way to go and can’t see any reason to change.
Who would you say has influenced your direction for Smalltown Glory, have your influences changed much since you first started out?
The one addition was that of 12 string guitars, I’ve always been a fan of the Byrds, Beatles and The Smiths and it really suits our sound.
You have always had a “social justice” element to your lyrics, with everything that is going on in the world currently can we expect this heritage to continue?
That’s true, I now have the experience to write about subjects close to my heart – some writers travel and scan the world in search of beliefs and subjects to write about but personally we write about things that move us and things we experience, whether it be love, loss, dreams, aspirations – and subjects close to my heart like protecting our older generation.
The band features Paul Evans on guitar & vocals and Charlie Fowler on Bass, what can you tell us about them?
I have known these guys for years and actually put them together in a covers band – Charlie also played with me in Westway (Charity Clash Band), both being Clash fans growing up, that was like going back to school, great fun and we raised a few quid!
Paul is a talented songwriter in his own right and it will be really exciting watching him develop new material now we’re up and running. Paul is a massive Small Faces and Weller fanatic but also liked the Alarm, although he never admitted to owning any albums, I will keep digging on that one.
Nigel “Twist” features on the EP I believe, were you worried about asking him and indeed having a fellow Alarm member on board for a new project?
Twist is the nicest guy in the world and a kick-ass drummer plus he was into the songs, what is there not to like about our mini reunion?
Have you found a permanent drummer for STG now?
Not yet, I think the next record will dictate what drumming style we are looking for, always on a first record you are getting on your feet and feeling things out – Dan Buskell played a great part on drums as well and we mixed up a few takes to get the best out of performance.
Why have you chosen to play guitar rather than bass in Smalltown Glory?
It may not be common knowledge, but when I got together with Mike to form Seventeen I played guitar and he played bass, and when Dave joined it stayed the same. When we had done a few gigs it was suggested that Dave and I should toss a coin and decide who should take over bass to free Mike up to front the band. Believe me when I say this, thankfully I lost and Dave won the six-string prize. But, this time round you’ll have to fight me to relinquish the 1/12 strings.
Is there a set release date yet and are you planning anything special for the launch?
We launch today (January 5th 2016), via our PledgeMusic campaign and the EP will available to download from January 22nd 2016. There are lots of items that people can view and purchase and after two years from outset it’s finally here. I am proud to say we have made our own record, produced it ourselves, funded it and even launched our own record label to release it, Birth Records.
There is talk of live dates in 2016, I’m not sure at the moment, don’t want to be presumptuous but hopefully as momentum grows there will be some demand for gigs and we can augment our line-up accordingly. We have Dave Blackman on keyboards and we’re looking to add more musicians as we expand.
To make and record and play gigs that I would be proud of, I have always had a fan’s viewpoint as the reason I always wanted to be in a band was cemented at the age of 12, when I ran away from home to follow Slade. That band changed my life, and when the Clash and the Jam came into my line of sight the future was written.