Blood & Treasure

For the last few months I feel I have been a bit like a Regent’s Park Zoo baboon: cooped up, scratching my head a lot, occasionally venturing out to perform……… recording, and most lately ruining a Burns Evening for people following a disagreement with Glenmorangie……..

“Blood & Treasure” has been all consuming for many months now, but the new record is finally done. I have put my complete heart, soul and the pithy remains of my increasingly thinning pockets into it and whatever happens, I am incredibly proud of what we have produced. For those of you who kindly bought my last EP “Farewell to Arms” (FTA…..), there is more artistry and maturity to the writing and production.  Over the months of writing prep, 8 days of recording in Harrogate and 1 in London, my overriding thoughts extended to wanting to create music that had vibe; something with a real sense of identity and instrumental and lyrical integrity to make it stand on its own as a piece of art.  I’ve worked pretty hard with some amazing people to make it so, but as ever, the jury commences when I release the EP independently in April.

“Blood & Treasure”, started it’s growth in a Fulham art studio in October 2012 before I’d even recorded the first EP.  I was on a period of leave, and my friend and artist Freddy Paske met up at his friend’s studio to do a bit of painting and writing, and discuss artistic ideas for FTA. Before long the topic drifted to the War in Afghanistan.  We lamented our expectation of political disengagement from that campaign in readiness for the next UK election, the missed opportunities for a settlement, referring to the age-old poetic expression of vast expense of blood and treasure to the nation, or put more simply, lives and money. “You should write something about ‘Blood and Treasure'”, said Freddy, casually applying careful brush strokes to a canvas of an Afghan soldier being treated on a helicopter. “Catchy title and has a lot of meaning”.

At the time, I was unwittingly writing the bluesy riff that opens the title track of this new EP whilst we chatted, not really concentrating on what my fingers were doing, but just jamming away semi-consciously while we exchanged thoughts and ideas.  When I left the studio later that day, I knew I had something and parked it away for the time being. It was not until I went away to Laos in March 2013 and re-visited the idea, that it properly started to take shape.

When I look back now, that period of travel was a remarkable time. I waited 4 or 5 days from setting off from England before putting pen to paper, initially noting down figurative ideas, before finding whole songs born in the most haphazard of places. From shacked rest stops to bohemian indo-chine cafés, to muddy banks and charming guesthouses on the upper reaches of the Nam Ou River, I was akin to a passing stranger absorbing every smell, sight and sound, seeking to unlock thought and reflection in the most earnest way I could.  It wasn’t until I got to Bali’s upper South-West coast though, that what I was writing really started to excite me. The isolation there was the captain of my mind, binding together gentle solitude with its earthly, unspoilt beauty and my heavy reading list that aided and abetted a flourish of pieces that now make up half the EP. Of the songs, “Barricades”, is a nod to both Jack Kerouac’s, “On the Road”, and Hermann Hesse’s, “The Wandering”, (given to me by a friend and is a great read) and both these connected with my wanderer’s mindset. “The Whipping Tail”, originally a poem of 11 verses now cut down for the EP, was later written on Gilli Meno. My girlfriend, who joined me for my last two weeks, took a photo of me writing the latter without me knowing, so engrossed I was in the sudden explosion of thoughts I had.  Though it has now been shortened, what you will eventually hear are the exact lyrics I wrote last May on those sands; I have found no reason to edit them.

Gigging in Streatham

Gigging in Streatham

The rest of 2013 seems now to have passed in a flash. It was a great summer and autumn of writing, but aftermath of the first EP launch was a professionally trying period. Hundreds of magazines, bloggers, labels were written to with personal notes and CDs to accompany, but the interest back from the music industry was frustrating.  I still had no money coming in and was doing a lot of scratching…… What does one do then? You go and create something ten times better and this is what I have done.

I have a lot of people to thank who have helped keep me focused and to whom without, the next EP probably wouldn’t have been made. My parents firstly, for their amazing positivity and continuing support; my sister Chiara; my flatmates Chips and Bryony for your generosity and sense of humour(!); James Ottignon, Giles Rolls & Mike Tench, for your wise words; Rory Gill, for your taste in literature; Freddy Paske, my friend, artist and for sowing the seed for the EP title;  Laurence & Jenny Whittingham for putting me up during recording, Harry Hood for the mattress, Paul Gamwell for a bed in the Sergeants’ Mess; Dan Mizen for your sofa (!) and incredible talent in the studio; Miriam Wakeling, for your beautiful cello playing; Frank Mizen, for your genius; Dave Dunn-Birch, for your lungs (!); George Stewart-Lockhart my graphic designer; the QRLads, the Titans and anyone who has ever come to see me perform, I thank you; and lastly H, because you are my constant inspiration.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a teaser of what’s to come…………Teaser: Blood & Treasure

Much love,

AR x



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