It's been a busy six months and there have been many revelations. Where to start? I have started a label called 359 Music with my old friend Iain McNay from Cherry Red. Iain has been around since the start; he signed my songs as a publisher 33 years ago. There had been talk of my new label for a while and I had the option of running 1123 Records for Warner's Japan but when it came down to it owning half of the company is a lot more sexy than a 6 figure salary and no shares, 359 Music it fits my mindset better.
I have 21 acts that I have signed or currently in talks with and we will put a release out by each of them by Christmas Day 2014 (the 359th day of the year). If you are wondering where the name came form, and most people ask, I chose 359 because it's one degree before revolution. Christmas Day is the 359th day of the year and it's also a reference to Aleister Crowley in The Book of the Law.
It's actually been great fun so far. You can run a record company from Wales by a Blackberry and a MacBook as technology has made where you are based irrelevant - well as long as you have the right partner and Cherry Red are a brilliant one. So first singles will be out in September and the first albums will be out in October, and considering we launched on May 7th big respect is due to all the artists and Cherry Red for moving so fast and being completely on the ball.
So my time at the moment is packed with 359 stuff - last week I did the Janice Long show with Pete Macleod which was great as I love her and we have a great musical history together. She played all the upcoming releases and then the following day I travelled up to Liverpool to see another signing Chris Grant and also do Bay TV who are the local internet station.
It's exciting times as we release our first 3 records pretty soon. John Lennon McCullagh (that's his real name not a showbiz one i invented his mum and dad named him not 359) who is 15 and is influenced by Dylan and Robert Johnson. He does love Jake Bugg who he get's compared too as it goes, and so do I, but John doesn't write with a songwriting team like Bugg did on his first album. John Lennon McCullagh writes his own songs himself for better or for worse he's 100% himself. I think it's great that the new young talent are coming through like Jake Bugg, The Strypes and John Lennon McCullagh. My friend John Robb thinks it's a teenage revolution - lets hope so.
The second record is by scouser Chris Grant who I met in 2007 when I had no record company to sign him to. So obviously with the launch of 359 I signed him. The album was recorded in his garage for absolutely zilch as in zero on an £80 computer. The outcome is a brilliant record, you really have to try and give it a listen.The statement of no recording cost and the musical alchemy we used to make it sound great is our secret but it proves the days of going into a recording studio are almost over. If you are smart you can make a record in a garage on a crap laptop and still compete. Try it - we all have the technology.
The third album we have coming out is by Mineral. A Parisian electronic band. It's a beautiful brilliant album think of rock'n'roll people playing dance music and it strangely works really well. That's all you need to say on that one.
Weirdly I am enjoying 359 to the hilt. In the five years I have been away the music industry has changed almost completely but that only fascinates me as the changes all seem to have been for the better. The best thing I ever did was pack it in on 2008 to come back five years later as thanks to Cherry Red and the artists I am left to choose the bands and work with the bands and logistics are done by the Cherry Red team. It works so far and I am loving getting the music ready to get it out. My aim is to sign 20 artists by Christmas 2014 and for 359 to be a launch pad for young and ignored talent.
Anyway, as happens in life, just before we launched the label I managed to get ill for two months over February and March and allowed myself to drop off the grid of social networks and realised they are designed to just waste your time. If you have no job don't worry Facebook and Twitter will sort that out and make you feel as if you are achieving something. But for me life is a lot easier and productive without Facebook, for a start I don't have to look at people's cats or what they're about to eat.
My book Creation Stories now has a release date of 7 November on Pan Macmillan. I have sent it out to some friends to have a read and feedback has been that they love it, which is almost weird to me. I think, or at least hope, I have managed to explain why I am what I am and how it was a kind of by default that I have ended up here now in Wales in this house on 25 acres of land. True test will be though when it is out there for everyone else to read. It's going to be interesting as Creation Stories is my story in my words.
KUBRICKS is my first journey into actually pulling a film together, just like Creation Stories is my first book, both have been and, I imagine, will continue to be huge learning curves for me. With Creation Stories I initially had a ghostwriter but he unfortunately disappeared off my radar late October after having only handing in one chapter in a year so, of course, we were sacked by Pan Macmillan - not a great start. Not wanting to give up I had a second go and this time hired a freelance book editor to edit me down on paper. I threw out a stream of consciousness from my literally my birth in 1960 to 359 music in 2013. I sent it into the editor at Pan McMillan and she loved it, resigned me and gave it a release date.
With KUBRICKS I worked with the genius that is known as Dean Cavanagh and we somehow managed to make the whole film for 15 grand which is peanuts in the world of film. It's about a director who goes mad making a DIY film and will come out around the same time of my book. So for me it will be an interesting time!
Back to 359 Music - I have also decided to start a monthly club night in Liverpool starting on 6 September at the club District. The plan is it will be monthly until Christmas. If it's successful and there is a demand for it, I will probably do it every two weeks or maybe even weekly depending on how the first few nights go. I am doing it in Liverpool as I find London is all about people's clothes and who is there wearing them, whilst Liverpool is about your songs. Liverpool seems to have an amazing vibe about it so am glad we are doing it there, it fits. There seems to be a lot of unsigned talent both old and new out there that has been shut out so hopefully 359 can help knock the door down and bring new people through.