I may have said before that, for all its faults, the brave new digital world we live in does have its advantages. Musically, of course, it means that any idiot with a half-decent home set up can record his or her own album: which means that pretty much any idiot does, including this idiot, right here.
I suppose on the basis of the monkeys and typewriters myth it does mean that, somewhere, one of us idiots is churning out the musical equivalent of Shakespeare: I’d like to think it’s me, but, I suspect, it’s someone else. If so, will they get discovered in the internet jungle of sounds, scribblings and plain dumb brain-farts that surrounds us all? If digital music didn’t exist, and we had to rely on an agent from some big record company coming to hear us play at Henry’s dive bar and signing us up, handing us the keys to an old-fashioned recording studio, would the chances of Shakespeare being discovered beyond the narrow ambit of her friends and her Mum be greater, or less?
Of course, the DIY ethic isn’t completely new in rock and roll. Punk and new wave bands, shut out from the commercial pop world, did it themselves long ago, often mortgaging Mum’s house to find a way to pay for that vital first pressing of the single that was going to break America. Some of them made it; many became, ahem, collector’s items.
Which is a long winded way of introducing my latest digital release, which has been done with a little help from a friend. I’ve basically acquired two lots of musical acquaintances and collaborators in the past few years: one centred around singer-songwriting, most notably my friend and mentor Norman Lamont; and the other a bunch of punks of roughly my vintage who’ve been in bands for decades with each other – in fact many of them seem to have gone to school together: I’m still trying to work out the dark childhood secret they all share, like the plot of one of Iain Banks’s mainstream novels.
Meantime it’s a blast to be in their company, even if I went to school in Fife. Many of them have punk noms de guerre: Isaac Brutal; Murray Ramone; Jeff Sniper. The last of these recorded a part for this song of mine in Lasswade, some forty miles from where the rest of the recording was done – another advantage of the digital age.
The result? Well, I think you’ll agree this track wouldn’t really amount to much without Jeff’s digits flying over the electric guitar the way they have. In a couple of weeks’ time, we all assemble in a secret location in Lasswade for Jefffest 007, the sixth-plus-one incarnation of the music festival the eponymous Mr Sniper organises in support of Scottish Association for Mental Health. It’s invitation only, but you can donate here!
Ignore all plugs below here. Focus on the one for SAMH.