Band Name: Garmonsway, Gibbon & Harrington
(Alan Garmonsway - songwriter, keyboards, acoustic guitars, lead vocals on 'Our Heroes')
(Franky Gibbon - bass, guitars, keyboards, percussion, producer)
(Al Harrington - lead vocals, guitars)
Person Interviewing: Alan Garmonsway
Song name: Our Heroes
Music Genre:: Rock Ballad
I live in... Newbury is the South of the UK, but the album was recorded in the Northeast of the UK.
Featured Song Our Heroes
We all have our musical heroes, whatever our age and tastes in music. ‘Our Heroes’ celebrates this and reflects on the innocence of being in your early teens (or younger) and experiencing your first rock concerts with your friends. I wanted the song to appeal to everyone, whatever their age, wherever they live, but for me, it is about being early teens and experiencing my first rock concerts in the Northeast of England. I also wanted the feel of the song to be such that you could imagine it being played on stage with the audience singing along, almost like an anthem to those times.
The second verse talks about hanging around the stage door – and for me that evoked memories of bumping into Marc Bolan (then of Tyrannosaurus Rex before they became T Rex) and a famous UK DJ, John Peel, and having a 20-minute chat with them outside the stage door before one concert. I was fifteen at the time and still have the concert tickets and autographed programme! The first time I played the song to my collaborators, it hit the spot for them. Franky in particular was keen as he played in a couple of good bands at that time and has shared the stage with many of the ‘heroes’ – Captain Beefheart, Rod Stewart, Paul Weller, Supertramp to name a few, and Al has also worked with Paul Rodgers.
My songs and music have…
a vibe of mixing together acoustic and rock styles, often led by either keyboards or 12-string guitar. I like to write songs about places I’ve been, the situations I’ve encountered or stories I’ve heard. My friends often call my songs quite ‘cultured’ as I like to experiment with chord sequences, often holding them together with either bass line progressions or lead vocal. Inspiration can come from anywhere – I always have a pen close to hand and scribble ideas down on bits of paper. They go to a big file and I visit them every now and again to see what I can use. Once I have a lyrical idea for a song, I usually then think of an overall feel (is it a ballad, , etc) then start to play around with some chords – either on piano or guitar. My songs often ‘evolve’ after the basics are written.
I’ll often record a version in my studio playing all the instruments and doing vocals as a one-man production before then taking them to a studio to work with other people. That way it keeps the song open to new interpretation but gives you a good start on what might work best.
How do you think this release represents your current direction..:
I wanted to work with some long-standing friends in the Northeast of England, both musicians and a watercolor artist. That’s where my home town is, so I contacted them a couple of years back to discuss ideas. We settled on some of my songs that told stories, so we could work on bringing the music and visual art closer together. So, my school friend Ali Davis painted a watercolor for each of the songs and also the main cover while Franky, Al and myself were bringing the songs to life in the studio. Franky & Al are well connected in musical circles in the UK, so they also invited a few additional people to contribute, including Martin Peel, who plays saxophone on ‘Our Heroes’. So, I’ve brought together three experienced and inventive musicians to explore and record my songs with the visual artwork also being very much part of the story. The musical vibe has both a rock and acoustic feel and I hope the whole package portrays a nice message, musically, lyrically and visually. I’ve also been really pleased with how well my songs have stood up to these new challenges. Although I sang ‘Our Heroes’, all the other tracks feature Al’s unique lead vocals – no doubt you’ll hear more of him in due course. Franky, like me, is a multi-instrumentalist (excelling on bass), and he also produced the songs.
What most inspires you?
I’m inspired by all the great independent artists I have meet on social media – particularly Instagram. It’s great to see them try out new ideas – both musically and commercially, progress and gain success. I try and support them with regular feedback and am grateful for their support in return. That makes me feel like I’m part of a bigger worldwide network of like-minded people who all have similar types of challenges getting their music heard.
Also, I keep inspiring myself by writing as broad a range of songs as I can. I recently completed seven Facebook live streams where I played fifty of my own original songs. That was really inspiring as it pushed me into working out the best performance approach for each song and delivering them in a live performance. It also helped me to decide on which songs should progress to the studio, the strengths of each song and how they should be produced.
As an independent artist, how you feel about the music business today?
I like the final lyrics from a song by Jethro Tull, ‘Life’s a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all’. I take from that ‘Get out there and make it count, now!’