As I type this, we are quickly approaching the end of October 2019. Halloween just around the corner, a Christmas card through my letter box, climate change deadline, pulled pork off menus, moving mountain burgers on menus. Neon lights and the ‘80s not cool anymore, all about the 1990s. Game of Thrones plus The MCU has come to an end, cinemas releasing biopics. Vinyl’s are set to out sell CDs for the first time since the 1980s and I’m sorry to mention Brexit like everyone else; but this time last year, we thought it would never happen; now it is a case of whether will be bit messed up or a lot messed up as a result of it.
Politics, fashion, society and pop-culture aside, we may have changed collectively; but I’m sure things have changed for us all independently since October 2018. I cannot help noticing how much I have as an individual. So please keep reading while I take you on this rabbit hole of self-indulgence, however, I’ve just heard a noise down-stairs so I shall go and investigate.
Not an axe-wielding murder, just a cat in the garden. So October 2018 – I was Broke. I mean, properly broke. Money doesn’t buy you happiness but neither does being skint. I had finished my PGCE in the summer and yet no jobs had come along, or at least I was applying and not hearing back.
For the previous two years, at this point, I was off the live performance thing too. I was sick of the whole £5k worth of gear, into a £500 car to travel 100 miles for £50 meme you have no doubt seen floating about “face-ache” or “instagrab”.
That was until I had a call from good friend Beth, a local guitarist in the nearest city and founder of a band called Shanghai Hostage. The band had a Halloween gig booked in a beautiful, centuries old, former grammar school/monastery. Unfortunately, Beth had fallen unwell on the week of the show and asked me to step in. I thought, for Beth, I can do this one off. Beth sent me some voice memos of the band playing the songs; I learnt them within an hour or so. The next day was Halloween; I’m dressed as a nun, as we all were, playing funky songs and perhaps over using my fuzz pedal. A week or so later, I was playing another gig with a recovering Beth, a further gig later and I was in the band. Beth was over the moon; she had spent the last 18 months trying to convince me to join.
November/December. These months are kind of a blur to what happened when; but I got two jobs. We shall call them job no.1 and job no.2. I wouldn’t hail hallelujah but I was no longer skint which is great. Just poor instead. From the off, job no.1 was looking like a bad move.
For the last few months leading up to this point, I was quite adamant that, being an extremely introverted character, I would probably be best off just being single. The “one man and his music” sort of thing. Late December/January, I started dating the singer from Shanghai Hostage, Sophie. In Sophie, there is a kindness that is exceeding. I shall not say anymore because it will only embarrass her if she reads this.
The kindness is relevant though, as at this time, I had surpassed my levels of Jung’s “bitter INFJ” to become a full-blown misanthrope; I had lost all faith in humanity.
It would be fair to say, my already troublesome mental health was becoming worse. I suffer from the usual depression and anxiety, with a good measure of OCD for fun; the full on clinical diagnoses and at this point, it was hell and partially why my resentment had got to such heights. I can’t give Sophie all the credit, stoicism and medication also helped; yet compassion was something I really needed.
The one man and his music is still a dream, yet there is also one woman too. Since I’ve mentioned the music, should probably talk about that.
January to march. I started to mix and master Bohemian Hymns, my second album and true creative outlet since the first album in 2016. Although at the time, Bohemian Hymns was to be chosen from thirty-eight songs. What I should probably tell you is I like to write songs. I write a lot of them, instrumentals too. They’re ever so precious to me.
The deal with the songs I made myself is they will all get released. They had to; but I had to narrow down the songs for Bohemian Hymns. The others to be released as singles. The album is about anti-capitalism, living a non-conformative lifestyle, omitting the daily grind in exchange for nature and simple living. Although there is more to bohemianism: truth, beauty, travel, love and peace, I chose the songs for the album based on the songs that flipped the bird to conventionality.
April, Sophie and me go to visit the Forest of Dean. Trees have such a peaceful power on calming my mind. There is probably a great deal of science behind it. I could be mistaken, but I believe it is around this time Shanghai Hostage changes drummer; the new drummer is an old uni mate called Dom McAvera, a considerable improvement all round. The turn around was phenomenal, old drummer gone Friday, playing Earlsdon Festival with Dom on Monday.
May. It’s Sophie’s birthday. We got to see the comedian Catherine Boghart, testing out material before she heads to the Edinburgh Fringe. I recommend seeing her live but don’t get talking to her about the ninja turtles!
June, July and August. Bohemian Hymns is out! Kirk Hastings plays Saxophone and some backing vocals too; Emilia Monisko creates the beautiful artwork. Both are from the company Blunt & Brave. You can purchase a CD from this link here: <https://www.mriantodd.com/store-1>
Or you can listen to it on Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube.
I notice the sales are not as good as I hoped. So decide to release each song from the album, as a single, with a video, weekly. This did not work.
I continued the practice though into my 18 other singles still yet to be released, this gives me enough material being released to see me into the New Year. I hope, so much, that this gets me some interest for my songs other than me. Although I shouldn’t moan because I would do it regardless.
My thinking is, no one has the time, money or patience to stick an album on and with social media, so much stuff goes out every second, a song or artist can be forgotten about within a day or two. So, I guess I have to release a song a week, every week, and make it as memorable as possible.
I turn 29 while at Deerstock festival. Shanghai Hostage plays the next day. Despite some hick ups with alternative forms and structures in our heads, it was a stronger gig.
September. I quit job no.1; I only have income from job no.2, which is not enough to live on. There is no official reason why I quit job no.1 according to them, I had my reasons. I slowly build up the hours with job no.2.
Sophie shows me around Brighton, she used to live there and I had never been before, I fall in love with the place, especially the beach, snooper's paradise and this pizzarea called “Very Italian Place”. We happened to be there when it was the labour conference; there was also an extinction rebellion march, which we joined in with.
And now we are back at October 2019. This month. I find myself pretty much penniless, like last year. Yet I don’t feel so much badness as before, I changed my mind about being a single hermit, I am creating music and performing again and hopefully people will catch on. As this year comes to a close, I slowly set course to become a man with his music.
If you have made it this far, I thank you and if I choose to do more of these blogs, I hope you enjoy those too.
Now there has been a power cut.