I’m a big-time music fan, music has been a big part of my life since I was a small child. But the real introduction to ‘my music’ was when my father bought me a personal stereo for Christmas when I was about eleven or twelve. It came with three pirated cassettes, two and a half sides of dire straights and half a side of Alison Moyet. Presumably, the choice of Dire Straits and Alison Moyet was arbitrary. Regardless of that, I put those headphones on and I rarely took them off until I left school for work at eighteen. Finding the best music and the best bands became an obsession,
I grew up in a time when the music that interested me was really part of counter-culture, and frowned upon by the mainstream (until Nirvana turned everything upside down in 1992). In the late eighties and early nineties, there was only one nightclub for the alternative crowd in Hastings, and that was The Crypt. A dank underground hole, with low arches designed for smacking your head on, and a constant toxic filth on the floor colloquially referred to as crypt scum.
Crypt scum was a good way to ruin a new pair of shoes or prized item of clothing. But this hole in the ground was our heaven. A haven for punks, goths, metalheads, shoe gazers, indie kids, and pretty much anyone that wasn’t part of the mainstream. Of course, all of the different groups hated each other, which was par for the course in the tribal nature of those days. Your music and clothes, identified you as part of a group, anyone in the same group was cool and appreciated the value of good music, and anyone outside of the group was to be scorned. The only thing that united us aside from drinking in a lot of the same venues, was our shared hatred of ‘townies’.
Music and my paintings
Like most of us in my group, I was a bit of a mix, I like punk, post-punk, indie, rock, grunge rock, etc. I wasn’t quite one of those that would only listen to punk, or only goth, or something like this. I am normally attracted to bands that I find genuine, people that are saying something real, or something relatable. Bands or artists that are play acting are a real turn-off for me.
Anyway, this is a long preamble for a post that is supposed to be about music and painting. When I paint I listen to music on my headphones, when a painting is completed, often in the very early hours of the morning. At that moment I will often share the picture with a line from whatever song I was listening to when I was painting it. This helps me to connect it with a memory of how I was feeling at the time of painting. So I decided to share four paintings with a few words about the songs I was listening to when I was painting them.
Scrambl-ed / Love steals us from loneliness
“My anger is a form of madness, so I’d rather have hope then sadness.”
Love steals us from loneliness is a great track from Idlewild’s fifth album warnings/promises. This picture was an interesting journey in that the finished work is quite far from the original concept. I’d painted the canvas twice with the basic face idea but something was lacking. I’d had a few beers and continued drinking on my studio balcony, initially I was listening to songs from the first two Idlewild albums, Captain and Hope is important. The earlier albums are louder and more aggressive which was perfect for doing the splash work. The music, like the painting, is full of energy. I wasn’t actually moshing, but I probably wasn’t far off. After a break whilst the paint dried I added in the detail work, the white then the black lines whilst listening to warnings/promises.
It’s a poignant line from a great song.
Separation Anxiety / Devil
“It’s strange what you can understand but still never really grasp.”
Devil is from New Model Army‘s 2016 album Winter. I could go on forever about how great New Model Army are, the only tattoo I have is an NMA tattoo. I’ve seen them live many times over the years the first time when I was still a teenager, hoping to see them again this year.
I once read that NMA music appeals to people carrying a lot of internal darkness, so in this sense maybe there is a clear connection with the painting and the music, as this painting is also quite dark in nature.
I added the finishing touches to this painting in the morning as the sun was coming up after being awake all night.
The video for the song is also really good featuring clips from the 1926 movie Faust.
Nightshift in the rain / Faster
“I’ve been too honest with myself, I should have lied like everybody else.”
This is a line from the song Faster, from the Manic Street Preachers album The Holy Bible.
The album is dark, very dark. In terms of albums, I would argue that this is probably their best and stands up well against the test of time. The track Faster is my favourite track off that album. Lyrically it is outstanding, Ritchey Edwards really captures some of the bleakest elements of the human psyche.
Interestingly, I can’t find any of the energy from that song in this painting, so I imagine there was a lot of mental energy at the time of painting rather than physical energy.
The song starts with a short monologue by John Hurt as Winston Smith from the film adaptation of 1984.
Heart-struck Man / Cut here
“keep on aching the same heart break.”
This line is from a song called Cut Here by The Cure. Out of all the songs by The Cure, this is probably one of their most emotionally eviscerating. In this sense, there is some connection for me with the painting, as I also feel this is one of my most personal and emotive pieces of work. The painting is also about heart5break although more in a romantic sense.
The painting was completed in one sitting, which is unusual for me with oils, I was and still am extremely happy with the result.
The song is about the suicide of a friend, I actually only learnt that recently, but it makes more sense now why this song always touches me.