Gestation of The Excess / Making the first album

I’ve always been a fan of the power rock trio; The Police, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, ZZ Top, Nirvana, etc. There have been many. For quite some time it’s been my dream to put together one such trio. I love the simplicity of the line up, it’s an exciting challenge to explore the possibilities therein and I felt that my own material was well suited to this approach. I’ve always worked with lots of different musicians – the live music scene sort of demands that you have to if you want to make a living, unless you get a lucky break of course or are ruthlessly single-minded – which is a brilliant thing but can make it hard to knuckle down to your own project and work on your own ideas. I had managed to build up a store of songs (and some instrumentals) and fairly doggedly stuck to the idea of performing them with a trio of drums, bass and myself.

Having spent a long time playing with Pete Flood in Bellowhead I knew that he would be an excellent choice of drummer and, luckily, he was up for doing it. Finding a bass player was a little harder and I wanted to find someone who played both double and electric bass as I felt both would work on my songs and offer more versatility. Pete Thomas was recommended to me and we met up for a jam – it worked and he was in! He has a great tone on the stand up and is a fantastic electric player. Luthier, Andy Tobin, had made a solid body electric bouzouki for me some years ago which I had used a lot in the last few years of Bellowhead gigs and knew it would be a great thing to have in a trio situation so I wanted to experiment with that more. The three of us met up for rehearsals in 2017 and built up the repertoire over each get together, with the sound fairly quickly falling into place and forming as I wanted it to. The electric bouzouki started taking centre stage; it’s quite a versatile thing and creates a big sound so proved ideal for what I was aiming to do. We worked hard on getting a set together and trialled it at The Caledonia in Liverpool. It all seemed to work but then there was quite a long gap when everyone was busy with other projects and it wasn’t until September 2018 that we really cemented everything properly with a short tour of the UK. The material slotted in to place and took on a new life with each show. Gigging is the best way to get stuff really ‘in the pocket’, as they say, and that’s what happened. There are some live recordings of that tour which may emerge at some point…

So, with the band firing on all cylinders (to use another cliché) we managed to strike a record deal with Westpark Music, based in Germany. Matching diaries is always tricky and we didn’t manage to get studio time booked until January 2019, when we went into Henwood Studios in Oxfordshire to record the bulk of the full band tracks with Pete Brown at the controls. Henwood is a very relaxing place to record, great set up and great location. Then there was another long gap when I was busy for three months solid with other things, so in the spring I resumed recording with Matt Williams at Adventures In Audio in Hampshire. Here I did all the vocals and overdubs, with Rowan Godel chipping in some backing vocals and Janie Mitchell (with whom I wrote one of the songs, ‘Hiring Fair’) sending some vocals down the line to be dropped in. Mixing is no small task, but eventually the album was finished! The title ‘Gold Has Worn Away’ comes from the song ‘Hiring Fair’, and I chose it because many of the songs on the album tackle issues that humans have created for themselves that mean we erode our quality of life on this planet, and indeed the quality of life for every other living thing here. The streets of gold are no longer there or were a myth all along. Without going in to that too much, we’re very pleased with the album and hope that you like it too!