I was born in Hightown, Merseyside in 1980. I sang in the choir at Saint Jerome’s Catholic Primary School in Formby. I remember the words and melodies of Christian songs such as ‘My God Loves Me’, ‘Colours of Day’ and ‘Lord of the Dance’. The first instrument that I learned to play was a Hohner recorder. I attempted to play the acoustic guitar in primary school but found it too difficult. When I was thirteen years old I heard ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and shortly afterwards sold my Super Nintendo to finance the purchase of a Hohner Rockwood LX90 electric guitar which I bought from Bell & Crane Music in Liverpool. The first song I learned to play on that guitar was ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’ by The Rolling Stones – I taught myself from a ‘three chord’ songbook and my rendition sounded little like the original.
I benefited immeasurably from having older brothers with record collections. Hearing ‘Starman’ by David Bowie was a life-turning event and I will never forget how hearing that record made me feel. I formed a three-piece band with my two best friends from secondary school. We called ourselves ‘Dot Dash’ after the song by Wire. I sang and played the guitar. Our first gig was at The Tudor House Hotel in Wigan on 22nd December 1995. We played songs by Ash, The Who and Bowie – and an original song of mine called ‘The Haunting of the House of Orange’. My brother Sean used to title his lovingly made compilation tapes and this was a reference to one of his idols, former Orange Juice singer/songwriter Edwyn Collins, whose image adorned his bedroom wall.
I feel grateful to have been a teenager in the mid-90s. Bands, songs and gigs were in abundance. Brilliant single after brilliant single: ‘Metal Mickey’ by Suede, ‘Girls and Boys’ by Blur, ‘Caught by the Fuzz’ by Supergrass, ‘Babies’ by Pulp. I bought my first copy of the NME in December 1993 (Bjork and Evan Dando were on the cover). My older brothers took me to gigs and free festivals. My first ‘proper’ gig was the Heineken Music Festival in Preston on the 11th June 1994. I saw Oasis perform two days before the release of their second single Supersonic. On the 10th February 1995 I saw Radiohead perform a secret gig at The Liverpool Lomax to kick-off ‘The Bends’ world tour.
In the summer of 1995 I began work at The Liverpool Music House recording studio as a Tape Operator. Soon afterwards I was employed by Hug Management as office boy/guitar technician/gofer. I worked there until the age of eighteen, touring with bands, spending many hours in the studio, exploring all aspects of the music industry. During that time I worked with many bands whose music I loved. At the time I was convinced that many of these bands would achieve great success. At the time I did not know that having great songs was not the only effective indicator of success in the music industry.
I turned 18 and travelled to Alderson, West Virginia where I worked at Camp Greenbrier for Boys as a soccer (football) instructor. I spent five consecutive summers working in West Virginia and travelling around the Eastern United States.
I played drums in a heavy metal band called ‘Debaser’. I wrote and recorded songs with my dear friend Phil Pattullo at Pinball Studios in Liverpool and on my Tascam 4-track recorder. I started playing acoustic gigs at the age of eighteen. I played at The Jacaranda Open Mic Night and at venues all over Liverpoool including: The Lomax and Lomax 2, The Masquerade, The Zanzibar, The Picket, The Magnet, The Cavern Club and The Caledonia. I supported Tom Hingley from The Inspiral Carpets at The Lomax on Cumberland Street. I sent a demo of a song of mine called ‘Tonight We’ll Sleep’ to Spencer Leigh at Radio Merseyside and he played it on his show. His invited panel of guests (one of whom used to play in The Quarrymen with John Lennon) said it wasn’t very good, particularly compared to the latest release from The Blind Boys of Alabama which had been played just before my song. I remember smarting from the sense of humiliation and injustice, although Nick, the ticket man from Hightown Station, told me the next day that he had enjoyed listening to my song on the radio.
I tour managed Liverpool punk pop band Pinhole who would later become The Dead 60’s. I formed a band called The Late Developers with The Pattullo Brothers and Ste Murphy. We gigged extensively in Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester. I moved to Spain in 2006 and ran Open Mic Night Madrid, just off Plaza de España. Two years later I moved to Bergamo in Italy and spent three years touring a music workshop based on the lives and music of The Beatles around Italian primary and secondary schools. I became an honorary member of the Beatlesiani d’Italia association. I moved to Napoli in 2012 and met some fine Neapolitan musicians at Be Quiet Night. In 2015, after nearly a decade abroad, I returned to England where I now live in Oxford with my Argentinian wife.