Neil C Young – Them Bones

To anyone new to your music, name 3 words that best describe your sound.

Gritty
Alchemic
Expressive

What’s your writing process like? Do you write the music or lyrics first?

I have to approaches when it comes to my processes, There’s the original work and the arranging work as in ‘ReWorks Vol. 4’. For my original work I always used to begin with the harmony first (I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to chords…), get a chord sequence that I liked and then work through some possible structures and then get into the melody after that. But, about 5 years ago I got tired of writing like that as I felt it was becoming predictable and so I flipped it around and started to write melodic lines and then create the chords and sequences using the notes of the melodic phrases themselves. I’ve also been using the ‘idea’ of Serialism and trying to write without a definitive key centre and move away from falling into established patterns.

For my arranging work, it is different in that I analyse and break down the different harmonic and melodic ideas and then look to find and use certain aspects of them to create new ways in which to play the track being arranged. It might be that the original chords are extended away from 2 note power chords to draw out some added tension (as in the chorus of ‘Them Bones’) or add an extra note to a riff to generate some extra grind when playing it. (as can be found in the final section of ‘Them Bones’). Finding small elements and re-using them so that they can have a big impact is what I love about the arranging process and at the same time, trying to find a new way to create and develop ideas away from an established or repeated idea is what I really enjoy getting into with my original writing.

Do you prefer performing live or recording, and why?

Good question and forgive the non-direct reply!

If I am in the middle of a recording project then it’s recording, if I’m in the middle of a run of gigs then it’s performing. The crafting that takes place in both of the these settings is what I become obsessive about I guess. Recording I see as being a process of a back and forth between creation and crafting or sculpting into something that will stand up to scrutiny listen after listen over a longer period of time. (Which does lead to tired ears though and I can’t listen to the music objectively for months/years after it’s finished…)

With performing it’s about being aware of details but not letting them get in the way of the performance at that moment. The delivery and intention of what you are wanting to play at that time takes over rather than accuracy for me. I am aiming to be able to play everything as accurately as possible but in the moment of improvisation that can’t always be possible! That’s where the practice comes in. I always try to keep a physical or mental note of those points during a gig where things didn’t quite work out and then go away and practice them either on my own or if needed with the band. All in all though, it seems that I’m pretty much addicted to the creation and then craft of music!

What’s in store for you for the rest of the year?

I’ve started to work on Pt.2 of ‘ReWorks Vol. 4’ which will include reworkings of ‘Crazy For You’ by Madonna and Elvis Costello’s ‘Almost Blue’. There are two more songs as well but they’ve yet to be decided. This is all due for a summer release.

And alongside that, there’s a couple of ‘DuoWorks’ releases planned, which is an improvised recording project I’ve been on with for a few years now where myself and another get into a room and record two tracks at that time and release it. No messin!

Along with the recordings planned there’s the live work which will be a continuous thing, so far I’ve gigs in Newark, Manchester, Watford, Lancaster and working on others elsewhere around the country for the year ahead.

Tell MoggBlog viewers about your latest release! What’s the inspiration behind that?

‘Them Bones’ (Originally by Alice in Chains) is the single release from a 4 track EP called ‘ReWorks Vol.4’. The other tracks are ‘Seven Days More’ (Originally by Sting), ‘(April) Spring, Summer or Wednesdays’ (Originally by Status Quo) and finally ‘True Love Will Find You In The End’ (Originally by Daniel Johnston. It’s the 4 th type of arranging project I’ve done with the first two being part of a commission for Ostereo Records for a Spotify playlist called ‘KNIGHT$’ which included tracks by Marvin Gaye, Gabrielle Aplin, Julia Michaels and Olli Murs and this is a continuation of that project. Vol. 3 was a solo guitar project I did for my YouTube channel and so Vol.4 is back to the band setting with the trio. I really enjoy getting inside a track and exploring the smaller, not so obvious features of it to try and build an alternative version of it, finding a way to add my own expressive self into the original ideas. We play these arrangements live alongside original tracks and as a trio are always keen to find new tracks to explore and ahem…’rework’. (ooof!?!)

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