by David McKenna on the 25th October 2005
Saw's biography describes him as something of a wandering
soul, but it turns out that there is more than a little
poetic license in this - he's been based in Buckinghamshire
for most of his life. As it turns out, though, his story
requires little embellishment -some of those plain facts
of his career to date are remarkable enough. Take, for
example, the fact that Carly Simon is set to record a
song that he wrote when he was still a teenager. (When
he met her at her house and she made the suggestion, he
replied "Put the kettle on and I'll think about it".
Was he playing it cool? "No. I was just dying for
a cup of tea".) Or that Simon's husband and another
hero, James Taylor played David's guitar in front of him.
Saw has been writing songs and playing since the age of
16, but it wasn't until four years ago that he decided
to put his all into songwriting. He describes what he
does as being "like my diary. It's about putting
what happens to me, experiences I have, honestly into
a song. I'll be sitting on the toilet or having a bath
when the ideas just come." And although he has enormous
respect for James Taylor and, inevitably, Bob Dylan, he
doesn't allow those influences to overshadow his work.
"I take little bits of people I like, but then I
do it in my own style."
For the useyourears.com
music event, he was the first act to take to the stage,
armed with a guitar and a clutch of songs written largely
over the previous two weeks, accompanied only by bassist
and old school friend Richard. Just a few simple ingredients,
but they went a long way.
terms of sheer exuberance, The Deadbeats were the undoubted
highlight of the useyourears.com music event – it quickly
became clear what had swung them the accolade of best
unsigned band at this year's Glastonbury Festival. It
is especially surprising, then, to learn that until that
pivotal moment in the summer, The Deadbeats was nothing
more than a side project for its members. "Music
was a career, but it wasn't until Glastonbury that Deadbeats
was the band we wanted to do it in." The victory,
they say, "gave us a kick up the bum."
On stage, they're the
ultimate country-rocking, good-time band, their spirit
embodied by Jo Dudderidge's head-and-body-shaking keyboard
manner. "We do write more reflective material,"
he says but, according to lead singer Sam Hammond, "live,
people understand the good-time stuff more easily. The
audience enjoy themselves, se we enjoy ourselves. "The
'reflective' material will appear on an album at some
point, but they seem in no hurry to record it until they
feel 100% ready. The next phase of the plan is to "head
to Wales and write loads of tunes.
They're equally laid back
about the all-important record contract. "The easiest
thing in the world would have been to jump into bed with
a record company straight away," they say, but for
now they're still looking to capture the energy of their
live shows on tape.
The Deadbeats' charm lies
somewhere in the fact that, both musically and as people,
they seem simultaneously driven and reflective. Perhaps
it's something to do with the fact that, although the
band gelled rather suddenly, they've all already paid
their dues in various bands around Manchester, while both
Dudderidge and drummer 'Animal' Hudson (seriously) studied
music at school. They both accept that the academic approach
had its uses, but Dudderidge maintains that "You
do the real study in your own time, really, in your bedroom,
listening to records and playing." The band as a
whole are students of The Band, particularly for the way
they drew on a variety of influences and musical backgrounds.
And, like The Band, they want to take their time so that
the music they write can be timeless.
"We'd like to write songs that people will be singing
in 30 years time," says Hammond.
It'll be a while before we see if that ambition can be
realised, but anyone in the audience at the useyourears.com
music event will have had at least one Deadbeats tune
buzzing around their head for the rest of the night.
Just after finishing their
sound check for the useyourears.com music event, The Storys
learn from their manager that they had scored a Bob Harris
session. "We love him," they beam. "And
more importantly, he loves us!" It's been a long
haul for the four members of The Storys to reach this
level of recognition - they've all played in different
bands over the years or been signed as solo artists, but
it's with The Storys that they've all finally found what
they were looking for. And, fortunately, having four songwriters
doesn't lead to any conflict or unhealthy competition.
"We try to leave our egos at the door - the song
is king"' maintains Steve Balsamo who, when he isn't
contributing lead vocals, studies throat-singing with
a shaman, writes for other artists (including Meatloaf!)
and hones his martial arts skills ("I see martial
arts as a metaphor for life - you've got to get in there
quick and pin your opponent to the mat!") This 'anything
goes' approach extends to the band as a whole, and they've
played gigs in all manner of unusual places, from the
Buckingham Palace (for the Olympic Torch ceremony) to
Rock of Gibraltar, where they were the first non-Gibraltan
For their new album, they "went up a mountain and
made a record" which they describe as being "lovely
and rounded and full of tunes." Harmony-based groups
like Crosby, Stills and Nash and Fleetwood Mac are natural
antecedents, but more unexpected names like Scott Walker,
The Divine Comedy and Rufus Wainwright are also mentioned
The more mature age of the band's members is frequently
brought up as an issue, perhaps as an obstacle to greater
recognition, but Steve points out that "to write
the songs we write you can't be 18." The best storys,
it seems, are those informed my experience.
they gear up for their sound check ahead of their useyourears.com
headline slot, guitarist Seton Daunt is fiddling about,
playing a few practice pieces, when suddenly a familiar
tune emerges - it takes a few moments to realise that
it's an impressively rendered take on the theme tune from
the TV series Airwolf. It's a deceptively frivolous opening
- once the band gets going, it becomes clear that Fiction
Plane aren’t messing about. They refer to Nirvana as a
major inspiration, but they've also picked up a few tricks
from the eighties school of expansive, gloomy rock, exemplified
by early U2 and Echo and the Bunnymen. 'It's not deliberate,'
maintains loquacious bassist Dan Brown, "but inevitably
things we heard and liked when we were growing up find
their way into the music." But why so sad? All the
band members admit to be drawn to melancholy music, and
finding it ultimately uplifting.
"When we're writing something, Seton will always
throw a minor chord in there, something that makes it
sound...tragic!" But for American drummer Pete Wilhoit,
their music is also about catharsis, and escape. "That's
what Fiction Plane means to me, it's about losing yourself
in an alternate reality." For now, says Daunt, they're
thinking about "texture", and getting the producer
who can take their recordings to the next level. Someone
like Nigel Godrich, they say, would be ideal. Wilhoit
is full of dmiration for Godrich's work with Radiohead.
"The Bends and Ok Computer haven't dated at all,
they still sound fantastic - that's what we're aiming