INTIMATELY ENDEARING INDIE ROCK” - anrfactory

New album - Turbononsense - Coming 27th December 

 

On the 27th December 2019 I will be releasing a brand new album of all original music called “Turbononsense” on Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify and most popular digital music platforms. 

The album is a rollercoaster ride of 12 blistering rock songs which vary from guitar driven heavy rock leviathans right down to acoustic folk inspired contemplative ballads, with some indie and blues inspired flavours thrown in too. I am a great believer in the idea that an Album should be a listening experience of itself, that takes you on a journey through introductions, good hooks, highs and lows, to a memorable ending, so I took this idea back to its roots and made sure this album is built to listen to. 

I also realise that far more people are getting into playing music these days, so as well as including all the lyrics in the digital booklet, I have also included the guitar chords - so you can jam along to your hearts delight! The guitar chords also work fine on air guitar and the lyrics are backwards compatible with most showers. 

Highlights of the album include: 

  • Folk ballad “Knowing I am Knowing You”, an early acoustic version of which was borrowed by tech giant Microsoft to promote their windows software.
  • Blues anthem “Sweetie” which I wrote with my cousin Simon as a creative reprise a few years after our band split up. 
  • Heavy Metal masterpiece “Anosognosia”, the lyrics for which came about after my old drummer James dreamed of having his legs blown off during a fight with a landlord. 

The album can be previewed and preordered here

The album hits stores Friday 27th December, and there will also be additional pre-saves and pre-orders for other stores on the way out before then, so please follow me on my social media channels to be updated when these happen.

Interview with Allan Dawson on Exposed Vocals 

Independent music review website Exposed Vocals just published an interesting interview with me, on the subject of working as an Artist Producer in today's music scene. Read the full interview here:


Exposed Vocals: So tell us your story. Where did you grow up? What made you decide to become an artist? 

I grew up in Colwyn Bay, North Wales. I was always musical as a child and was lucky enough to get an early start playing in a busy high school rock band that gigged quite a lot and allowed me to learn about performing, recording and songwriting, from a reasonably early age. We were into just about everything, mostly doing covers to explore our own styles. I was the lead guitarist at that time, also a backing singer and band manager. 

I booked the band some studio time and indirectly ended up learning how to be a studio engineer - which although it wasn't the original reason for booking the studio, it was probably the most productive outcome! Several more band projects followed with more recording sessions along the way, developing my songwriting and production skills. The bands each ended up splitting as they usually do, but throughout this journey I amassed a collection of songs that I wanted to record and tout around as examples of my songwriting work. So, I invited a few other musician friends to participate, together with a very talented engineer friend, Martin Wilding, who co-produced the recordings with me. 

In particular, I had three vocalists lined up who I wanted to use on different tracks, each of whom had different styles and qualities that suited certain tracks well. Disaster struck when all three vocalists pulled out of the project due to illness, travelling or other commitments. This actually became the turning point for me, because I had no option but to sing the tracks myself, or else the studio time would have been wasted. Martin felt my performances had a unique rock voice character and encouraged me to consider continuing my work as a solo artist. I hadn't really thought about what I was doing in this context before, because I had always been a "band guy", but the result was that I took his advice and released the recordings as my first solo album Killing Time. 


Exposed Vocals: Since everyone was a start-up once, can you give any smaller or local bands or artists looking to get gigs and airplay some tips? 

Wow, good question! The world and the music scene in general have changed dramatically since I started out, so the tips I would give to any new act now are a bit different than the advice I might give my younger self if I met myself in some hypothetical time-cafe! If that makes sense? The biggest change is social media, which I think completely overshadows the changes in the music scene itself from internet/digital media etc. Some key things haven't changed and these are: 

Be good at what you do - practice hard and get your sound right - be impressive in front of your audience; and 
Getting interest from other people who want to work with you (venues/radio/etc) is driven by having a good loyal following (and being impressive in front of them) 

You can be a lot more individual now than ever before in terms of your musical style and/or image etc because we aren't all competing to be on the same platform like the old music biz where only five people could be in the public eye at any time - but you still need to be impressive to catch anyone's attention, maybe more so now than ever, so work on that always! 

The second big thing comes back to my first comment about Social Media - it's very new, its constantly changing, but in this day and age you're exactly nobody unless you learn how create a "pulse" around your projects. The secret is "little and often" - keep regular, two liner snippets coming though - don't be silent for weeks then suddenly blast out a 50 page blog, its an audience killer! Cut up the points from that mega essay and just drip-feed them out over the next few weeks until the next interesting new stuff comes along. There's lots of advice out there so keep trying new things, but don't exhaust all your ideas quicker than you can think up new ones! 


Exposed Vocals: Do you ever make mistakes during performances? How do you handle that? 

Oh hell yeah! Haha! I am terrible for forgetting lyrics - especially my own, but I have a reasonable skill for ad-libbing which sometimes makes up for it. Other kinds of mistakes like screwing up a performance by playing the wrong chords or wrong part etc are quite rare but when they happen you are best laughing them off and carrying on. Occasional wrong chords etc are annoying because they play on our own minds heavily as performers even though sometimes the audience didn't even notice - so just carry on and don't worry about it! The key is to rehearse enough to minimise mistakes to a level where they aren't going to be memorable enough to ruin the overall show, but be able to shrug them off if they do happen. Quite a useful tip when soloing - I am quite experienced as an improvisational soloist because it's where I started from when I learned to play guitar - but sometimes you can be caught up in the middle of a big schwing moment when you land on an awful bum-note that really sticks out. In this sort of situation I have found the easiest solution is to simply repeat the same mistake - then it stops sounding like a mistake and starts sounding like some kind of artistically intentional discord!!! At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Hahaha! 


Exposed Vocals: Do you tour? Anything interesting happen on tour that you think our readers would enjoy hearing about? 

I love gigging although recently I have been more involved in the studio side working on the next album, plus the other work I do outside of music is also very demanding, so I tend to do gigs quite sporadically these days, rather than structured touring, but I am sure that will change at some point. Four or five of my gigs recently were out in Russia, which was quite an eye opener - they just love rock music out there and are great audiences. So the best tip I can pass on from that is don't let other people's preconceptions about potential audiences colour your willingness to explore them and go play to them - it's relatively cheap to travel to other countries these days and you can start building connections with your audiences that extend beyond what you can do in your local town. But you don't need to go nuts, you can be frugal - I just took my acoustic guitar and a capo, that was it! 


Exposed Vocals: Any planned studio upgrades? What are you working with now? 

Oh yeah I am a real techie when it comes to studios, but what interesting now is that the "upgrades" I make these days are actually more like simplifications. My first album Killing Time was recorded on an Allen & Heath mixing desk into reel to reel tape, with dozens of bits of outboard gear, the second album Start Again was started off on ADAT tapes with a digital desk, by by the time it was mixed it was digital outboard hard disk recorders mixed from a Power Mac. These days the latest album is all happening inside an iMac - the Mac has been upgraded but I use very little extra - I am happy with most of the stock plugins in Logic Pro X (now that I finally got my head round the jump from Pro to Pro X) and other than that I just use a Focusrite preamp unit - I hardly ever use my outboard for anything and generally speaking I don't even use a guitar amp any more - just plug straight in and capture the performance. I find this gives much more flexibility in the production/mixing stage. 


Exposed Vocals: How do you find ways to promote your music? What works best for you? 

Well this is the million dollar question at the moment - I think the best answer is going to keep changing month by month for years to come, but I think the main thing is to focus on reaching individual people and forget about trying to emulate some Rolling Stone magazine 1990's pop star idea of mass marketing to some imaginary audience - market to the people you already know care about what you do and let it grow from their. Dare I say it, targeted marketing in platforms like Facebook is very effective at doing this sort of thing, but you can be clever, you don't need to pay for everything all the time. 


Exposed Vocals: If you could perform anywhere and with any artists (Dead or Alive) where and who would it be with? Why? 

Pink Floyd live in Pompeii. Even though there was no audience, that event was like a sacrificial offering of music to the cosmos! I'd probably invite some people to come and watch though! 


Exposed Vocals: So, what’s next? Any new upcoming projects that you want to talk about? 

Yeah, my new album Reflections of Your Face is  gradually nearing completion. It's a big project musically and it has taken a few years on and off to work on - I released a preview EP on my website Reflections Sessions EP which contains some taster tracks, although some of these have already changed quite a bit since then. I don't want to put a date on it, because I don't work that way these days, but it's definitely has good momentum now and should be finished soon! 

One other thing I sort of pioneered with in he last few weeks is I have upgraded my most recent album offering Start Again so that the digital download includes a Busker's Guitar Chords book of every song on the album. At the moment this is only available with downloads from my own website allandawson.com although I hope to roll it out to the other platforms soon and maybe even make it a standard feature of all my releases in future. 


Exposed Vocals: If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing? 

I would likely be delving into some of my other creative projects which include video editing and CGI and I suspect I would also be carrying on with my other main job as an Airline Pilot.


Exposed Vocals: What should fans look forward to in the next year or so? 

Keep an eye on my website, follow me on Facebook and YouTube where I will be putting out snippets of work on the upcoming Reflections of Your Face album. As soon as that's finished of course, I am itching to get out there and play live again. I love working in the studio but it gets a bit claustrophobic at times and I can't wait to put my new music ideas in front of live audiences soon. 


Exposed Vocals: Any Shout-outs? 

Yeah completely off the top of my head I'd like to thank the following people who have focussed my interest in recent times to keep up the good work: Trevor Tweedy, the band Shrödingers Strings for their support and interest and Mark Markin from Tactica Concerts and most importantly thanks to my family for putting up with my broad ambitions!

New Album Start Again - OUT NOW! 


Allan Dawson's new album Start Again is out now in all digital music stores.

You can listen to the full album for free right here, and you can also buy individual tracks or the whole album (in any format). Buying from direct from this website also gets you some cool additional bonus material not available elsewhere:
  • inlay card sleeve notes
  • lyric book
  • official video to the title track start again

 

Unscheduled live appearance in Kazan, Russia 

Okay so the funniest thing happened last week. I'm on holiday at the moment exploring Russia so not really thinking much about music  On Monday we arrived in our second city Kazan, so on Tuesday we went out for a wander without any real expectations of what the city would be like.

I found the city to be a surprisingly exciting place and would thoroughly recommend it to any global travellers looking for a character city that's a bit different from the usual list. The city has recently been spruced up for Universityaid 2013, which is a major sporting event almost as grand as the Olympics, so there's a sense of overhaul reminiscent of Liverpool's recent City of Culture revamp, or Manchester's tweakings for the Commonwealth Games a decade earlier.

Anyway I'm not a travel agent so back to the story... in our wanderings we came across a curious establishment just a block away from the central Metro station at Turkay Square, called the Museum of Soviet Lifestyle. On closer inspection it turns out this place has a dual identity and is also known as the Soviet museum of Rock n' Roll, which has been passionately compiled by owner Rustem to include just about any kind of rock music memorabilia from past visiting rockstars. On display are everything from guitars signed by Rainbow or Garbage to Sting's pants. Its a cool insight into just how connected Russia's youth were to the international Rock music scene during the Soviet years and in the couple of decades since the reforms. 

Despite a bit of a language barrier, and with the help of my lovely translator, I made the effort to introduce myself to Rustem and discussed his impressive collection. This struck a chord with the guy and unexpectedly a few minutes later I was invited to play an impromptu live appearance to the small audience gathered at the museum. There was only an amp available for the guitar, so I had to make up for it with some loud singing! Rustem caught the whole thing for posterity on youtube! In fact he only announced he was filming a few seconds before hitting record, so I played the first thing that jumped into my head, which was Angel. Here it is, hope you like it:



Special thanks to Rustem and his staff for such a fun afternoon! I'm in St Petersburg now and hoping to maybe catch Black Rebel Motorcycle Club live on Wendesday night!

Jam in Soho with Trev Tweedy, Jason Cordero and Melanie Turner. 

 
 

Wow I had such an awesome day last Sunday (17th April).

As I have previously hinted, I'm putting together a new band with bass player Trevor Tweedy from VLB, the idea being that we will take my existing material out on the road and start to work on new material. We are currently drummerless and rehearsals thus far have been accompanied by my Mac, lol, so Trev arranged a fun Jam with Jason Cordero, drummer from the band St Louis and the Beat Up Mustangs, visiting from Los Angeles; and Melanie Turner, vocalist from the band Lineburner.

The session was booked at Enterprise Studio's in Soho, just off Charing Cross Road. I didn't really know what to expect, I'd met Mel once previously but had never been to the venue before and hadn't met Jason. This was also the first time in a loooong time that I have trekked across London with a guitar on my back, but what a great feeling! It was a glorious day, I had my cool sunnies on and had cued up some relevant listening on the Android phone to get me in the mood for rocking. As I rode the Central Line tube to Tottenham Court Road I wondered how the session would go. We had a fixed booking of three hours, we've never played together, hmmm. I wondered what we could do with three hours at hand. I'd brought my SD camera with me and wondered whether we'd get anything on it. Last time I used rehearsal studios in London we all used our own equipment, it was a logistical nightmare - carting amps, guitars, drums, stands, cymbals, pedals and "stuff" back and forth each time we went - but at least we knew what sound we were going to get. This time I had just packed my Les Paul in a shoulder case and that was it, I brought a guitar lead, oh and my own mic... I get really squeamish at the idea of singing into a "rental mic" used by hundreds of other germ ridden gozzers. So I was a tiny bit apprehensive about whether the equipment at the venue would work for us, having never seen it before.

I continued pondering about these things right up until I got off the tube. Trev had suggested we go ahead and jam some of my tracks and some VLB tracks, and a few of our regular covers, so I tried to pick out a few that were jammable in my head before getting there, thinking time would be of the essence, we needed to make the most of our three hours!

 
Getting off the Tube was a surprise, my smartass idea of jumping out at Tottenham Court Road station and heading south on Charing Cross Road was slightly scuppered by the road being closed for some major building works, so a little detour was needed to take me where I needed to be! I still ended up getting there well early so I loitered aimlessly until Trev arrived and we headed into the studio. I was surprised to see that we were only a few doors away from the 12 Bar Club - which was the last headlining gig I played in Central London, this gave me a little kudos boost! The studio was everything you'd expect, it had seen better days, the walls were emblazoned with "art" paying homage to past/current regular bands, some of the equipment was a little dilapidated, the toilets were condemned, but everything worked and we were able to set up in minutes. They had a decent stock of refreshments which was very welcome in the heat. Jason and Melanie arrived in good time before our booked slot so we had a good chance to chat and get to know each other while the previous band finished up their session. Trev brought one of his many cool Status basses, Mel brought her own mic too and Jason just brought sticks!
 
Setting up was nice and easy without having to bring anything, we had a PA for our two mics, guitar and bass amps and Jason had a reasonable kit set up ready to use. We continued getting to know each other while tuning up and discussing what to play. Jason announced that he had listened to quite a few of the tracks off the web which was cool. Even more cool, he announced that he had brought a bottle of Makers Marque Kentucky Bourbon, so we mutually embarked on getting to know that also, which oiled up the jamming fingers nicely! 
 
For the next three hours we just played, Jason is an awesome drummer, he just picked up whatever Trev and I threw at him and just played by feel. Melanie opted to be camerawoman for most of the session, but she did join in singing towards the end, which was great, she has a fantastic voice! Within a couple of tracks we totally gelled as a unit and just got into it! It was such an awesome experience to step into that room with a line up of musicians that had never worked together before and just "click"! The session was a high-energy jam and we were all totally buzzed! Trev as always was on blinding form, churning out some awesome bass riffs. A lot of my own guitar work was improv and I busted three strings in the session, in some clips you can see them hanging off and I'm improving around the gaps. We captured about an hour and a half of footage on camera and I have attempted to edit down some of the highlights into a YouTube friendly ten minute clip. In places some of the instruments get a little buried, which is understandable in such a tiny space, but overall the sound is surprisingly clearer than I expected it would be.
 
Alas, the session had to end so we wound the evening down with a nice curry and a few bottles of Cobra in a Soho Indian restaurant. Sadly, Jason's visit is short and he is due to return back to California within DAYS of this blog being posted. We are however working on ideas to see if we can get him detained by customs and refused permission to leave. That would be perfect for us as he'd make an ideal choice of drummer to complete our lineup! In all seriousness huge thanks to Trev for organising the jam and to Jason and Mel coming along to take part. Kudos to all, I couldn't imagine a first ever jam between musicians going better than that!
 

Al :)


 
Video Setlist:
 
Gotten (Slash)
When The DJ Calls Your Name (Allan Dawson)
Turbononsense (Allan Dawson)
Anosognosia (Allan Dawson)
Sweet Child O' Mine (Guns n' Roses)
Rawk Crash & Roll (VLB)