First post of 2017

I know that, obviously, you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for my first post of 2017… well wait no longer. This is it! (pauses to allow tumbleweed to blow across scene in total silence).

One of the reasons for the delay is simply that there’s not much different going on than at the end of 2016. But, that having been said, let’s lay out what’s ahead for the first months (at least) of 2017.

My current work in progress is The Offspring, the final book in The Szuiltan Trilogy. While sales and response to the first two books has not exactly been overwhelming, I have a story to finish telling so I’m going to tell it! If I was writing to make money, I’d have given up a long time ago. My reasons for writing go far deeper than that.

All drafts of the two novels, Eyes Of The Raven and The Demon Guardian are finished and both are now looking for homes. More news on this as I have it. Keep your fingers (and everything else) crossed.

I have still to make a final decision on whether to self publish The Risen(Book #1 in The Givers Of Life). As it’s a novella I do have that option (see earlier posts and interviews about my children’s despotic ruling on my self publishing activities) but I also keep edging towards the idea of shopping it around. The problem, as I see it, is that, #1, it’s a zombie tale, and there’s a surprising number of publishers (including ones I’ve previously worked with) who won’t even look at anything to do with zombies, and, #2, it’s the first novella in a series that’s not yet written. That’s a lot for a publisher to take on from a small-time author like me.

The situation is similar with Vampire Worms, although as it’s a short story I have put it out there and am currently awaiting a decision. What makes it similar is that, although it is self contained, it certainly has the possibility of being the first in a series. If I do eventually decide to go down that route, and it’s not already been published by that time, I may well look, again, to self publishing for very much the same reasons as with The Risen, although in this case vampires, rather than zombies (they’re not actually vampires as such… you’d need to read the story).

The Offspring marks a return to science fiction, after pretty much a whole year of writing horror. Should I decide to remain in this genre following The Offspring, I do have several ideas with beginnings and basic stories sketched out to choose from. I also have a completed pulp novel, The Frihet Rebellion, to shop around. This was held back almost 18 months by a publisher who, after all that time, decided to reject it, albeit with some positive and nice comments along the way. Now that’s over, I can get on with approaching other publishers and hope to generate some interest. News as it happens, as always.

After releasing the complete novel, A World Of Assassins, for free on Wattpad last year, I will be looking at possibly doing something similar this year. Nothing concrete yet, and I’m partly waiting to see the kind of response A World Of Assassins gets, but it’s a different way of getting some of my older work out there – and possibly newer stuff too. If people enjoy it, they might decide to read more of my work.

In news other than writing – The 1850 Project (the musical collaboration between my son, Jonathan, and myself) remains on hiatus due mainly to recording and financial issues. There’s also an issue with increasing arthritis in my fingers, making prolonged playing of the guitar stupidly painful. Nevertheless, we have songs, we have ideas, and we will return! Talking of songs, I have a large back catalogue of poorly recorded stuff which I would really like to cherry pick from and re-record in good quality, before I’m unable to play anymore. We already have demos of some of the those, and they could be released either under The 1850 Project or as solo projects – that depends on whether Jonathan likes them or not!

After returning to painting at the end of 2016, I am working on a second picture. I’m not rushing these, there’s no need, and tend to do painting in small bursts as a way of relaxing from other things, but I intend to continue precisely because I do find it relaxing and, other than Cathy constantly telling me how she would do it, no pressure.

My real job, of course, is looking after my daughter (whose myriad of conditions and issues are not for this post) but I still have time for creative pursuits – and both things are equally satisfying, in different ways. Both can also lead to serious lack of sleep.

So, that’s it. Hopefully there will be plenty of writing, music and painting ahead for me. Most of all, however, I hope my daughter gets the therapy she needs (we’ve been waiting a long time) and that she improves to the point where she can have a life outside of the safe zone of her bedroom.

Whatever else happens (and despite horrors such as Trump, Brexit, and more Conservative destruction of our society) it has to be better than 2016, doesn’t it? Come on 2017, surely you can manage that!

Musical History

Lately I’ve been looking back at some of my old recordings and trying to get some improvement in the sound to make it possible to put a few songs out there, just for fun. They were all originally recorded onto cassette tapes, so you can imagine that hiss and degradation of the actual tape over time play a large part in the current sound. Fortunately, a few years back, I converted the vast majority of songs, first onto CD and then to mp3 files, which at least means I can mess about with them a little. I’m using the free software Audacity which is very good, but I’ve no doubt someone with professional software and the knowledge to use it could do better. However, my limited knowledge and free software is all I have. I can live with that.

I sometimes forget just how long I’ve been writing and recording music. My first tape, imaginatively called The Songs Of Neil Davies, was done in 1975, and the last one (on cassette) was done just after my met my wife, and was equally imaginatively called Cathy, and recorded in 1994. That’s almost 20 years of recording onto cassette! That gives me 67 cassettes of music (a mixture of C60s and C90s – that’s 60 minutes and 90 minutes respectively). There’s been a couple of mp3/CD albums since then, and, most recently, two albums (mp3/CD) under the name The 1850 Project, written and recorded with my son.

I also have an old note about a tape called The Book which was completely deleted and destroyed. It was done in 1976 and I have a vague memory of it being a, no doubt, pretentious concept tape with a science fiction theme. I can’t remember any of the music, but I must have thought it terrible as, despite some pretty awful songs here and there on other tapes, it’s the only tape that was completely wiped from existence! I wish I’d kept it, just for curiosity’s sake. Oh well.

What I wanted to briefly look at here are those cassettes, the method in which they were recorded and what they show about the state of my mind at a given time. They also highlight my inclination towards obsession, particularly when it came to girls.

The majority of my albums in the 1970s, and the first years of the 80’s, were recorded using two cheap cassette player/recorders. I would record a track on one, then play it back, singing or playing along with it, and recording that onto the second cassette. Then, playback, play along and record onto the other one and so one, depending on how many overdubs I wanted to do. Each overdub seriously degraded the quality of the sound, so the simpler songs with fewer overdubs tended to come out the best.

My instruments were a guitar, an amp, a couple of effects pedals, and whatever keyboard my dad had in the house at the time (an upright piano for a time, then an organ). I sang straight into the cassette recorder, no mic. The guitar doubled as the bass (clean sound, lower strings only, often played with fingers to give a slightly deeper sound). I had no drums. Instead I had a couple of chairs (an old armchair and a kitchen chair with a cushion on it) and a couple of bamboo sticks (once tried some metal rods, but the wood was better). The armchair became the bass drum (hit with the stick, no pedal obviously) and the cushion on the kitchen chair the snare (and everything else). No cymbals, but an occasional tambourine which “magically” appeared from school one day!

In 1977, while in the band Liquid Pig, the other guitarist, Dave Roberts, kindly lent me his reel to reel tape recorder, which had an overdub facility. I used this to create 90 minutes of music on an album called High Rock. No drums (the clearer recording made the chair-drums sound even worse than usual) but some decent clear recordings with guitar and vocals.

Also in 1977, one of the tapes (There but for the grace of God and the opportunity) has some recordings from a rehearsal session for Liquid Pig, again recorded by Dave’s reel to reel. Unfortunately I decided to overdub some vocals and tambourine on a few of these tracks. Wish I hadn’t. I don’t have the originals!

At times during the 70’s (and usually via people in other local bands) I was able to use wah-wah pedals and, once, an echo machine. Actually the echo machine was overused, but you can’t blame me for wanting to play with a new toy!

My obsession for most of these tapes was Barbara (the girlfriend of a friend of mine), and many have a dedication to her on the inserts. There was a memorable interruption to this via Vanda (out of which I got the album The Week (V.K.)) and also Lorraine (several songs on several tapes about her) but my crush on the unavailable Barbara was the underlying constant for much of the 70’s. Finally, towards the end of the decade, with interest in Barbara fading, I briefly discovered the daughter of our new next door neighbours (the album Shades Of Ailsa came from that) and found a fascination in the barmaid (and now shop worker) Michelle. In all cases, actual relationships were either non-existent (Barbara, Ailsa, Michelle) or very short lived (Vanda, Lorraine) – and by short I mean a week or just over. I was a lonely boy!

In fact, since the very start I had been clinically depressed, but because of medical standards at the time and an old family doctor, this was not diagnosed until much more recently (and by the much better doctors available to me after the family moved). My only diagnosis back then was “the general malaise of an overweight boy” and a course of tonic pills. It was during this time that I began self harming.

During the 80’s four things changed – first, I discovered drum machines (starting with a very basic one borrowed from a friend, then moving to one that worked on the Atari 800XL computer I had, and finally to a very decent Sony one, bought by my brother Philip and incessantly borrowed by me). Second, I bought a new guitar amp which had twin cassette recorders built in. With these I could overdub back and forth anything that went through the amp, with much less degradation in quality than previously. This also meant I had to buy a mic to allow vocals and acoustic guitars to be recorded. Guitar and drum machine went straight into the amp. Third, my brother also bought an MX Music Computer, complete with full size keyboard and cartridges for different sounds. I discovered synth and keyboards began to play a much bigger part in my writing and recording. Finally, I developed a new obsession, with the youngest daughter of a friend of my mother (and whose older sister I used to play with when I was younger). This was Andrea and the age of A.T.I.P.I. appearing on the tape inserts. I don’t wish to mention full names here, but I will say that the last three letters stand for “Is Perfection Itself”. Told you I was lonely, and very very depressed for much of the time.

The quality of recordings improve from this time, and I also begin playing with music on the computer (even writing my own simple program to allow me to preset drum beats and also music notes).

My obsession with Andrea is chronicled over five albums (tapes) in 1982 and 1983. These are A.T.I.P.I., The Outward Trend, Country Sun, To Andrea With Love and The 5th Hour. You can then see it fading gradually during 1983 with albums like Still True (For You), Rocking Back and Thoughts.

Musically, my influences over all this time were fairly wide. Early on it was almost exclusively Classic Rock like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Status Quo (every local band did Status Quo covers back then!). In the mid Eighties I discovered Prince and his influence is very obvious at times (dangerously close to rip-off in a couple of songs). It was listening to Prince that also relaxed my lyric writing, and the occasional swear word began to appear.

By the time I met Cathy in 1991 and fell truly in love for the first (and probably last) time, my writing and recording had slowed dramatically. In fact, the last tape I had recorded was in 1989. Meeting Cathy inspired one more album (called, of course, Cathy) in 1994, and then I temporarily retired from writing and recording music.

Until 2000 when I began playing with two new things – mp3.com and sampling. I’d done a little sampling back in 1987, largely on an album called Sample It (and you say my album titles aren’t subtle!), but this was bigger stuff. Creating whole songs just from sampled sounds (all made freely and legally available I might add), and on mp3.com you could upload your songs and even make CD! Remember, this was early days for this kind of thing. The result was the album Age in 2000.

Then, in 2001, I rediscovered my interest in playing the guitar and the resulting album, called New Dawn, featured both guitar driven songs and synth driven songs. I’d dropped the samples by then.

Then, silence… until a rash promise to my son to pick up the guitar again for his 18th and my 50th birthdays (a day apart in March 2009). The result was The 1850 Project, my first experience in a proper recording studio and my first live gig since the late 1970s! Our first CD (released alongside the live gig) was simply called The 1850 Project. We went on to write and record a second CD (and much better one I think) The Family. Both of these albums are available through iTunes, Amazon and elsewhere.

Although my book and story writing is now my main focus, I still want to write and record music and, with my son, there are plans and home demos towards a third album… the main thing stopping us is money for studio time. Since my redundancy, that has proved too expensive to justify.

And that’s it, the brief history of my musical journey (it might not seem it to you but, believe me, it was brief!), from overdubbing between two cassette tape recorders to multi-track home recording onto computer and proper studio recordings. Quite a change!

SOLO DISCOGRAPHY (if you can call it that when it’s mostly on cassette tapes!)

  1. The Songs Of (1975)
  2. Space (1975)
  3. 3rd Try (1976)
  4. 4B (1976)
  5. Intruders (1977)
  6. There But For The Grace Of God… And The Opportunity (1977)
  7. I Rest My Case (1977)
  8. High Rock (1977)
  9. Blonde (1977)
  10. Christine (1978)
  11. Attitudes (1978)
  12. The Week (V.K.) (1978)
  13. Night Walkers (1979)
  14. She’s In There Somewhere (1979)
  15. Back Again (1979)
  16. Is This The Best You Can Do? (1979)
  17. Never For Free (1979)
  18. Back In The Old Frame (1979)
  19. Shades Of Ailsa (1979)
  20. Lights In The Sky (1979)
  21. Eye Opener (1979)
  22. Innocence (1979)
  23. Still Rock N Roll (1980)
  24. Dedicatory (1980)
  25. More Of The Same With A Difference (1980)
  26. Mystic Nights (1980)
  27. Perseus (1980)
  28. Legend (1980)
  29. Schoolies (Short N Sweet) (1980)
  30. Morning Light (1980)
  31. The Man It Was That Cried (1980)
  32. Footprints (1981)
  33. Romantic Fool (1982)
  34. Electric Amnesia (1982)
  35. Guitar 400 (1982)
  36. A.T.I.P.I. (1982)
  37. The Outward Trend (1982)
  38. New Outlook (1982)
  39. Country Sun (1982)
  40. The 5th Hour (1982)
  41. To Andrea With Love (1983)
  42. Still True (For You) (1984)
  43. Rocking Back (1984)
  44. Thoughts (1984)
  45. Strange Mood (1985)
  46. Words In The Silence (1985)
  47. Regress (1985)
  48. Commentary (1985)
  49. Small Talk (1985)
  50. One Of Many (1986)
  51. These Days (1986)
  52. Voyeur Of Love (1986)
  53. Summer Illusion (1987)
  54. Sample It (1987)
  55. Cannibalistic Tendencies (1987)
  56. Two Weeks In The Past (1987)
  57. Secret Love (1987)
  58. Legend (Rewritten/rerecorded) (1987)
  59. Colin By Neil (1988)
  60. Strange Journey (1988)
  61. Inspirations And Desperations (1988)
  62. That Girl Again (1988)
  63. Who Wants Reality? (1989)
  64. The Closest I’ll Get To A Christmas Album (1989)
  65. Approaching Finals (1989)
  66. The Ultimate Combination (1989)
  67. Cathy (1994)
  68. Age (2000)
  69. New Dawn (2001)

Neil Davies on Soundclick

THE 1850 PROJECT DISCOGRAPHY

  1. The 1850 Project (2009)
  2. The Family (2012)

The 1850 Project on Facebook

The 1850 Project on Reverbnation

The 1850 Project on Soundclick

 

Music history statistics

Ok, so, I’ve been listening to a lot of my old music looking for stuff worth re-recording/re-imagining either for solo reasons or for The 1850 Project, and it’s made me realise just how long I’ve been doing this! So, here are a couple of statistics:

I have been writing and recording songs (at home – nothing professional here!) since 1975.

During this time I have created 78 tapes/CDs – basically 78 albums – of music.

I have recorded a total of 1144 songs.

I have written (or co-written) 1129 of those songs, only 15 are cover versions.

That’s a lot of music to go through. Most surprising of all… some of it’s not at all bad (well, the recordings generally are, but the songs are not!).

The above statistics do not include songs written in recent years for The 1850 Project. I stopped keeping the database up to date when I stopped doing my own recording (for a while) back in 2000.

Best thing about taking up writing and recording again? I get to work with my son! He’s doing all the recording and producing on the new stuff, and playing on a lot of it. I get to just do the fun bit 🙂

 

Bringing you up to date

I’ve been revising and rewriting a couple of my Science Fiction novels with the kindle in mind.

In the case of A World Of Assassins, this was originally published by Publish America on a 7-year contract which has (finally) run out. Having refused to sign a new contract with them I can now release my own revised and, in part, rewritten version on the kindle. This is definitely my preferred (and final) version of this Science Fiction Thriller. The original expensive release was enjoyed by the few people who read it. I hope this new and improved version reaches a wider audience. I am just finalizing the cover art and then it’s ready to go.

The Szuiltan Alliance is a book that has been around, in various versions, a long time. I am about half way through a final revision and then it will be ready for release on the kindle. It’s book one in a trilogy of space adventure novels involving Space Traders, interplanetary wars and the first truly alien intelligent lifeform ever encountered by man in his expansion across the galaxy. This is not ‘hard’ Science Fiction, just an action packed adventure in space.

In terms of new (not revised or rewritten) fiction, I am currently working with an editor on the final draft of a futuristic (you might say dystopian) novel that expands on one of my most popular short stories. Full details will be given when I am free to do so.

In music news, the new album from The 1850 Project (that’s me and my son) called The Family has been uploaded to CDBaby and we’re just waiting for the news that it’s all ok and the digital distribution has begun. It’s 13 tracks of guitar-led music ranging from Classic Rock through Pop Punk to Metal. As soon as it’s available to download I’ll let you know. I hope a few of you will give it a listen.

The 1850 Project - The Family

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all for now. Talk again soon.

The 1850 Project In The Studio

Spent a day in Whitby Studios yesterday (Sunday) with The 1850 Project. Good day concentrating on just two songs.

We recorded a completely new arrangement of an old song (This World Is Ours) making it much faster and ‘punkier’, if there is such a word! Chorus lyrics need some work to fit the faster pace but it’s sounding good.

We also worked on the new song, Inkstained Romance, including a first for us, guest vocals. Jess, my son’s fiance, took lead vocals on this song and did a great job. If only I could persuade Jon to let her sing more of our songs… but he is determined to keep the majority of playing and singing on the album between the two of us. Hopefully she will at least do some backing vocals for us (I’ll keep subtly suggesting more, you never know!)

We had wanted my daughter, Rhianne, to record a short piano piece she wrote herself but, although she spent the day in the studio with us, I think her nerves got the better of her and she wouldn’t do it. Maybe next time.

This album will give a much truer picture of our music than the first short album did – showing more of the variety of our musical influences – plus we’re much more at home in the studio and the way it works than we were last time. Very happy with the sound so far.

Will report more when we can afford more studio time.

Projects at the start of 2011

Just a quick run down of my writing and music projects as they stand at the start of 2011:

Novels (all titles are open to change):

THE VILLAGE WITCH – supernatural horror
currently 48,000 words.

THE WIZARDS OF YRADION – science fiction
currently 11,000 words

THE WAITING ARMY – supernatural apocalyptic horror
currently 6,000 words

HARD WINTER – the novel-length rewrite of the science fiction/horror short story published in 2009 by Eternal Press
currently 16,000 words

I’m also considering rewriting THE SZUILTAN ALLIANCE – a science fiction space opera first written some years ago as the first book in a trilogy. It’s ok but could be a lot better.

RAISED IN EVIL – supernatural horror story
Completed and accepted for publication by Screaming Dreams
Unfortunately the current financial climate is hitting Screaming Dreams as much as the rest of us and publication dates are being put back so there is no definite date for when this novel will be available. I’ll keep you in touch as I hear anything.

MUSIC:
The 1850 Project currently has 11 songs at various stages of recording for their next CD. There’s a couple more to be done from scratch and then a lot of overdubs, mixing and generally getting them right. The song list so far is (in no particular order):

Keep Me (Jonathan Davies)
Anyway I Can (Neil Davies)
Take My Life (Neil Davies)
Inkstained Romance (Jonathan Davies)
The Family (Neil Davies)
So Beautiful (Jonathan Davies)
Summer Romance (Neil Davies)
This World Is Ours (Jonathan Davies)
Distant Time (Neil Davies)
After Death (Jonathan & Neil Davies)
One Day (Neil Davies)

Rough mixes of some of these songs can be heard over at http://www.reverbnation.com/the1850project or on Jango

Hopefully some of the above will have caught your interest and imagination. More updates as the year (and my writing and music) progresses.