Monday, 28 February 2011

Investment Opportunity?

This is interesting:

I'm not a fan of the Libertines but this is an interesting article. To quote:

""That was like performing on Dragon's Den," says Carl Barat after perhaps the strangest gig that the Libertines frontman has ever played.

He has just entertained an elite crowd of 20 venture capitalists in a swanky Soho hotel, who are considering whether to invest their hard-won millions in him. The singer performed after the "dragons" had listened to a presentation by the chairman of Power Amp, an investment firm specialising in the music industry, which is offering a tax-efficient opportunity to back a select number of established artists."

If you add investment in PR and Marketing plus tour support to the DIY distribution channels things get really interesting. With investment you have no need for labels even if you want to compete at the highest level as long as you and your team as an artist know what you're doing or are smart enough to employ people who do.

Every day I see less and less reasons why anyone would want to sign to a label.

This a photo by my friend Tim (@kalyr) from the gig on Saturday night:

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Panic Room

I'm weening myself off Facebook and Twitter and the moment. I have some great friends on both sites but I've been spending FAR too much time on there. They are both amazing ways to connect with people and basically i just use them for talking to people i consider my friends and gaining an audience has been an incredible bonus, really. I feel very lucky.

People normally find posts on ere if I tweet about them or via Facebook, so I'm not sure how many hits this will get but it makes me happy writing it.

The gig last night was a lot of fun, the Panic Room crowd were lovely as were the band. Great live act and nice people. I met the Tinyfish guys and they have a very similar attitude to me with music stuff. And I spoke to many friends and listeners old and new. The set seemed to go well I played:

Rusty (new song)
Burning Bandstands
Burnt Out Car
Big Sky

A lovely audience:


Panic Room onstage:


Playing to people at the Peel in front of a full room of people is great, didn't expect that when I was doing open mics and all that. Amazing and massively unexpected :)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

How do we make records?

Hello :)

Thanks to everyone who downloaded my album in the last few days, you give me the opportunity to make more music. Amazing.

We're still recording. For my 3rd album and finishing the mix/last few overdubs on the debut Fierce And The Dead album. Thanks to everyone who has stayed with us during the recording process, it takes ages but we're really conscious of trying to do something special. Soon me and Kev we will be enjoying arguing over TFATD song titles.

The way we make my stuff and Fierce and the Dead stuff is pretty much exactly opposite, oddly as they are made by the same people. We do always try and keep costs as low as possible. The difference is that TFATD is very much a collaboration - three people decide on and define the creative process. With my own stuff only I have to like it (although Kev is very much a guide there as well and he puts in some brilliant creative ideas).

A Matt record:


Our current method of working is to record as much as possible at home. I have a rough arrangement of the song and the majority of the parts. We record the parts, Kev Feazey does the production/engineering and programming. My stuff is sometimes difficult to program due to the odd timings so using someone as talented as Kev is essential.

This way I only have to pay for Kev to engineer the record, I still pay him but its cheaper than hiring a studio. Then when most of the record is done we'll hire a studio (most likely Livingstone) and overdub drums and percussion/noisy guitars and other stuff. Also for this record I'm hoping to get some overdubs from my friends online, as long as i can find appropriate uses for their (vast) talents. I think if you're going to get guests in you need to be able to give them something good to do.

After this Kev mixes and we discuss and review the mixes until everyone is happy. Easy! (although the process takes around 2 years!!!).

My first album was done 100% in a studio, Ghost 80% so this is a relatively new way of working for us. The last few tracks for Ghost we did as above, I was so pleased with way they came out we decided to keep going this way (not to mention the amount of money it saves).

This will be the last one we make this way. Its essential to keep changing your working methods to open new creative doors.

A Fierce And The Dead record:

Stu at Liv
First me and Kev write/demo the songs - as a collaboration in my living room mostly. Then we jam/improvise/learn the songs in a rehearsal room for a few days as a 3 piece with Kev on bass and Stuart on drums, get the structures and all that.

Next step is to go into a studio (Livingstone again) and record the tracks, pretty much live, just a few overdubs. Then Kev mixes and treats/re-arranges the tracks, almost like a DJ record/krautrock type feel. Once this is done we do more overdubs and Kev carries on mixing and we all approve it. You can hear a track made like this here.

Then we learn the tracks off the recording so we can play then live.

Weird eh?

Hopefully i'll be able to play you some more stuff soon.

And the conclusion:

Work with good people, get out their way and let them get on with it (but retain creative control, if its your project).

Somehting else happened today - an old video of me playing in 2008 has appeared and had lots of views on twitter - no idea how it happened but i'm very pleased:

Speak soon

Matt Stevens

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Who really grossed the most in the US last week?

Just to clarify I don't think its the death of the music industry, its the EVOLUTION of the music industry. Middle people (managers/retailers/labels etc) beware, musicians are realising that by investing their own money (if the music is good enough) they no longer need you.

This from Bob Lefsetz - and shows how distorted the industry really is:

From: Jamie Howarth
Date: January 29, 2011 9:47:53 PM PST
Subject: Grateful Dead - not noted...

Dead moved 3.5Mill of merch in 4 days.
Europe 72 sold out 7200 units (65CD set), presold won't deliver until September - at 450 bucks apiece. Already on ebay for 1000 bucks. Again, presale. Sold out. Boom

Nobody noticed the biggest gross of the week.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Why I Love King Crimson

King Crimson are one of my favorite bands - up there with The Beatles, Voivod, Carcass, Celtic Frost, Smiths, Bad Brains, Radiohead etc

Do I love everything they do? No, not really although I admire it. Fripp has often referred to Crimson as "a way of doing things" - its the attitude of relentless experimentation and knowing when to stop. Finishing after 3 great albums both with the Wetton/Bruford/Fripp (Cross/Muir) line up and again with Levin/Bruford/Belew/Fripp line up in the 80's. Each album a progression and something new.

I remember getting Red on CD when I was about 18, me and my mate John got the train down to London from Northants and spent the day going round all the record shops - there were loads then - Tower, Virgin, HMV and all the Berwick Street ones. It was awesome, you couldn't get anything like Crimson or Voivod or the Mahavishnu in the early 90's where we lived, pre web. It was impossible, so we used to go down to London to stock up.

Anyway I got Red and loved it - that Bruford/Wetton line up were amazing - the improv stuff on the Great Deceiver box set is very cool (although I thought it was crap when I first heard it). The title track with the whole tone riff is wonderful and the bass sound is genius - incredible really. Starless was the song that really got me, it took me a while to get it but now its my favorite - 14 minutes of it, when the melody comes back in at the end I struggle to hold back the tears (the live version is even better).

After that I got In The Court Of The Crimson King - I didn't really get it. I know its an important record but I never really got it in the same way as the later stuff. It has grown on me though. It must have been amazing in the context of 1969.

The next album I purchased was Thrak when it first came out, this was the first one I heard with Belew on vocals. Its brilliant, one of my favorite Crimson albums and the first time I'd heard the interlocking guitar style they had developed in the 80's. The title track superbly invokes Red but for me the best song is Belew's Dinosaur, a genius pop song - its like the Beatles suddenly developed a love of the whole tone scale. The double trio was also a remarkable idea really innovative and one of the reasons it holds up to much deep listening, over and over again.

My last major Crimson discovery was the 80's stuff with Discipline, Beat and Three Of A Perfect Pair. This is now my favorite Crimson era. The way they used multiple time signatures and minamalist tactics without ever becoming boring is inspirational. Frame By Frame off of Discipline includes so many ideas in it, more than most bands have in entire albums. The Abscent Lovers live album from this era is spectacular and a personal favorite of Bruford''s.

The ability to stop and move on and truly progress is vital to all the KC line ups and is truly "progressive rock" - rock music with the ambition and the need to progress. Bloody brilliant!

For more info on Crimson - Sid Smiths book on the subject is wonderful and I believe its being re-issued soon.

While I was writing this I asked a few of my clever Twitter friends for quotes to go with the post - here they are:

"that band changed my life!" @thesidsmith

"intellectual rigour matched with peerless playing AND spiritual questing. And the only band that truly scared my cats" @chrisHDjones

"King Crimson has for many years been a major influence on me; it would be difficult to overstate the effect of the band's sound and approach had on my own compositional style. and their approach to group improvisation was very inspiring. Coming from a jazz & contemporary classical music background I could immediately relate to their musical & harmonic concepts. Even their technological approach was an influence... 80's era Crimson was built around something Fripp called a "Small mobile musical unit" - an esthetic I aspired heavily to when putting together the first version of "Neil Alexander & NAIL" (just called NAIL at that point) and when redesigning my keyboard rig around a single keyboard worn on a strap. After many years of giant multiple keyboard setups & mixers, it was a bit of a revelation, and a system I continue to use for my own performances." - Neil Alexander

NAIL - the 1st incarnation (on Bandcamp):

Neil Alexander & NAIL: video of "(At The) Water's Edge" at Moogffest 2007 demonstrating the "small mobile musical unit" concept in trio format.

"I love King Crimson because they remind me to keep moving forward whilst kicking ass no matter what" Sean Hollenhors

"I dare someone to name a more challenging and artistic pop group than 80's era King Crimson. Adrian Belew wrote and sang beautiful, catchy pop melodies over the maelstrom of aggressive, interlocking riffs supplied by Robert Fripp and Tony Levin. Even though they were influenced by The Beatles, Frank Zappa, Balinese gamelan music and the prog-rock that came before them, this incarnation of King Crimson had a completely unique sound."

John Anealio

Sci-Fi Songs Album
Wired Magazine's GeekDad Guitar Teacher

"That band opened my ears to what is possible by doing the seemingly impossible." @noforker

"Discipline is a Vehicle for Joy

The argument often leveled at prog is one of a bloated, overwrought, smug behemoth. And lets face it, in the topographic tales that flow from under the cape of Wakeman or the knife wielding bravado of a Hammond bashing Keith Emerson, it's a convincing and obvious argument.

Perhaps the perfect antidote are King Crimson. Naturally the name resounds with a satanic grandeur and all too often the aloof air of Fripp's philosophical musings cloud peoples judgement. However Fripp's mindset has always been a refreshing, almost puritanical response to the crass, egocentric rock gods of the late 60's and 70's. His vision, while often bloody minded and stubborn, is borne of a need to let the purity of the music speak and shine through and to make every attempt to prevent this from being tainted by the ego of the artist.

This is indirectly illustrated most eloquently in two examples by the Crimson percussionist Jamie Muir. His quote instructing the 'bullish young formidable player' Bill Bruford that "You are there to serve the music, the music is not there to serve you". shows that Fripp - not withstanding his own prolific skill as a guitarist - was/is also an architectural band leader, cherry picking the finest musicians and cerebral thinkers. Muir came from a background in improvisational free jazz, playing alongside stalwarts of the field such as Derek Bailey. Adding this to the rock world is a stroke of genius cross pollination.

When Fripp asked him what he thought their latest recording sounded like, he took a moment to poise and then succinctly replied "It sounds like - Lark's Tongues in Aspic" at once preserving genius along with the Lark's tongues.

A definite lineage can be traced through a myriad of eclectic musical collaborators, from McDonald and Giles (their own album of the same era, well worth investigation) and Sinfled (likewise). To Keith Tippet, the aforementioned Bill Bruford, John Wetton, - Fripp specifically, with Eno, Hammill, Bowie, Gabriel and Sylvian outside of Crimson - to Tony Levin and Adrian Belew in the 80's.

The 80's found a 'Prog Dinosaur' taking on Talking Heads to make 'Progressive-Post Punk'. Played in a 'double trio' featuring the use of two...that's TWO Stick players! - This was certainly radical compared with the synth-lite pop/rock that most of their contemporaries turned to. Yes, Belew brought some pop tendencies to the songwriting, but Crimson were savvy enough to be able to filter this via their angular persona and pulsing rhythmic Frippertronics to great effect.

It is a testament to the band that the range of genres spawned directly or indirectly 'In the Wake of Poseidon' touch so many different areas. Red (one of my personal favourites) is frequently quoted as being a favourite of Kurt Cobain. The complex 90's Post-Prog is angular and mathematical, surely WARP could have been a contender as a suitable home for this output ? Touring in the Noughties with Tool! Even current hip darlings of the Rough Trade stable, Warpaint, had a song on their debut EP called 'Krimson' as a homage (most of their atmospheric, dreamy songs weighing in around 5/6 minutes allowing space for development - a definite prog, if not purely Crimson, inflection).

Naturally, there are some musical blind alleys that are to be expected with any vast body of recorded work, but on the whole, when it comes to a Gurdjieff inspired guitarist, literally sat in the driving seat, stage left, then discipline is a vehicle for joy."

© 2011 James McKeown

James McKeown

"I once attended a masterclass with Tony Levin - that man feels the bottom like no other." @mountaindan

and @valmor_pedretti asked me to include this brilliant clip form the BBC prog doc:


Matt Stevens

(a proud stealer/user of the Small Mobile Unit Concept) - one pedal/one guitar

Sorry if I missed anyone out - please add your thoughts on KC below in the comments. Thank you.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The end of a year long project and doing music for a living.

Its always weird when you finish a project that lasted a long time - this Sunday was the end of my Sunday Free Noodle project, when I started I was a musician who also worked full time and by the end I was a "musician", as in something i do for a living. I never thought that this would happen and I'm extremely grateful to everyone who has supported me by buying my downloads and CDs. And they said it couldn't be done :)

In that year I've recorded 2 albums, a solo one and a Fierce and The Dead one, a Yonks EP and received national press attention, been on album of the year lists and lots of podcasts and blogs and made some amazing friends online. A great year really, totally never expected that and all down to the generous support of listeners online - talk about the kindness of strangers. Also I've lost a good friend and been through various personal difficulties in the transition to musician, including really injuring myself, this stopped me playing/gigging for a lot of this time.

This is us in the studio making the Fierce And The Dead album, as usual funded by your support (those aren't can of lager in the background, honest). Thank you so much.

TFATD tracking sessionsKev at Liv
The sunday free noodle lasted for 52 weeks this is the final, 52nd free download - I'd like to thank the following amazing musicians for playing on the songs:

Dan Wilson (we miss you mate)
Stephen Goodman
Ernesto Schnack
Phil Wain
Gaetano Fontanazza
Rainer Straschill
Tadas Petrikas
Rob Grundel
Ernesto Schnack
Alun Vaughan
Nick Cottam
Nils Eyre
Andrew Brooker
Lizzi Wood
Simon Taylor
Kevin Feazey
Stuart Marshall
Dementio 13
Nick Tann

and everyone who listened to the songs - literally 1000's every month, incredible!!!

These songs will be available to download for a few more weeks, or maybe longer - not sure what I'll do with the podcast feed yet (as usual I'm looking to save money if I can). In a 2011 I'm moving :)

Thank you for all your support.


The final Sunday Free Noodle is:

The Fierce And The Dead - Flint - Matt Stevens(guitar/delays) Kevin Feazey (Guitars/Bass/Programming/percussion/synths) Stuart Marshall (Drums/percussion) (Feazey/Stevens)

Grab it here -

Produced by Kevin Feazey

The album will be out soon......

Finally a new Fierce And The Dead song - more info about the band at:

Subscribe to my podcast feed here: subscribe_itunes_a

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

And then it was January - US Radio,Classic Rock Prog etc

And all of a sudden it was January.

Beardrock reviewed The Fierce And The Dead -

Incredibly Echoes Radio played my album across 130 radio stations in the US - - proper radio play ( I wish i could do that in the UK)

Had my photo taken and did an interview for the March edition of classic rock Prog magazine. Really nice people.

A couple of really supportive blog posts about my music:

I was interviewed on Radio 5 about the death of Myspace

Confirmed as support for Fish in rushden in April - a homecoming gig - really exciting - and confirmed for the Electric Garden Festival in Blackpool in May

I did an interview with the excellent Nanolog blog

The Yonks EP I played on with Lextrical came out (and sold surprisingly well - thanks much)

As a group the people on my Facebook music page designed an add for Classic Rock Prog by giving me feedback on the design - the ad is now in the current issue of the mag, thank you :)

Classic rock prog 4 copy
Konk studios Crouch End, London

Stephen Goodman did an amazing ambient version of my track Ghost on

We made some 13/8 T-shirts -

I visited the Guardian offices near Kings Cross - amazing building:


And did lots of recording for album number 3 - 6 songs done - sounding surprisingly heavy!! Kev was brilliant, really creative. He even did some BV's for my guitar "lead vocal".

Did a Ustream and it went OK (until I ran out of rehearsed songs!).

And the Fierce and the Dead returned with a new song.

And that was January.


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

December and January

What was all that about? Well its seems I have failed to blog much - I don't really know why - talking to people via Twitter and my facebook music page just seems to have taken that place in my life and what I do - anyone found that? Anyway - I thought I should at least document what happened for my own sanity and to get myself back into it all again.

I've been writing the posts for my friends site Live Unsigned, If your an indie musician that wants info there is LOADS of stuff there - i think this is mainly why I have stopped writing here - that space has been taken by the LU blog - I've really enjoyed that - its all stuff I've done in the real word. So much stuff written to help musicians is done by people who have never done it themselves and this makes me quite annoyed, so I'm really proud of the stuff on the blog.

So this will be 2 posts one for Dec and I'll do one for January tomorrow.

December then brrr, cold. Indeed.

After the BJH support gig in November I did a gig with the mighty avant jazz funk Trio Furniture, which was lots of fun. I think they're brilliant. I met up with some online friends and made some new ones - result. There is some music from this gig on



I won the Acoustic Artist of the year at the Somojo Awards - thank so much for everyone who voted for me, didn't see that coming.

Miles Of Trane blog named me Artists of the Year -

I did an interview with the excellent Guitar Jar - and homenucleonics

And my album Ghost was in the best albums of the year list of:
Dom Lawson in Classic Rock Presents Prog
Anil Prasad (Innerviews, Guitar Player, All About Jazz)

I didn't expect any of this. I had no idea when we made Ghost - thanks SO much everyone.

And Fierce And The Dead EP1 was on the Progopolis album of the year list.

My song Lakeman was on the CD that comes with Classic Rock Prog

Photo 13
I did a gig with Welsh Proggers Godsticks - was fun and made some more friends (but I defo need to tighten up my set).

We did a couple of streaming web gigs - which is always fun :)

And I considered putting a live band together.

And that was December - thanks loads to everyone who supported me - surprising and amazing - thank you :)

Another online friend wrote this very cool poem around my song 8.19 - this really meant a lot to me - its great when we inspire each other:

December was a really bizzare! Had great Christmas - upwards and onwards :)

Thanks everyone.



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