Who fancies a Grasslands music curated Bank Holiday?

Are you bored this Bank Holiday Monday? Want to listen to some music? It’s been a very productive period in the cold and wet meadows where Grasslands hangs around and he’s happy to present his current musical offerings, so look no further, Grasslands can keep you occupied for hours.

No Side Effects
Over the past few months Tom has been releasing electronic music with his wildlife partner-in-crime Adrian as ‘No Side Effects’.

They have released three singles which reflect on how we all cope with this rapidly changing modern world. First up is their debut, ‘Isolation Explosion’, which is a dark synth laden mid-tempo tune with some fuzzy guitars and beat boxing.

 

Their second single ‘In Your Brain Right Now’ is a crazy jamming session built around a lecture by philosopher Sam Harris about controlling the mind.

 

Their third single ‘Dark Light’ is a synth heavy number with Tom on drumming and harmony duties. They even recorded a video for this one featuring both Tom and Ade getting blinded by strobe lights and pretending to be serious.

 

Fancy something a bit more academic? Why not check out the duos first two podcasts about social anxiety and loneliness or read the range of blog articles they have both written on these subjects.

 

Grasslands – Hidden! Ninja! Action! – Mixtape
Tom started 2016 by releasing his hour long mixtape about ninjas. The mixtape includes a range of genres from Ska to Pirate Rap and features samples of ninjas from film and TV. There’s been a lot of love for this mix so please do check it out:

Grasslands videos
Tom is warming up for his first Grasslands gig which will be at the Roaring Donkey in Swindon on the 20th April.

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As part of his practice sessions he’s put together some performance videos. The videos include: ‘The Ball Starts To Move’ one of Tom’s most popular songs; an acoustic version of ‘This Is The Way I Rationalise’ and an acoustic cover of Tasmin Archer’s ‘Sleeping Satellite’.

Grasslands EPs
Tom is just starting work on recording ‘EP3: Small Town Justice’, so now is a good time to catch up with ‘EP1: Time To Think’ and ‘EP2: My Folks Prefer The Clone’. Check them out below.

 

 

Enjoy and do subscribe for further news and check out the Facebook and Twitter feeds.

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New tune ‘Dark Light’ released plus our first Music Video!!!

One of my favourite songs I have been involved in ever and a video of me being blinded by some strobe lights

Tom 1 - DL Video

We are really pleased to release our brand new single Dark Light which will feature on our upcoming album. We also found time in our busy wildlife schedules to record our very first music video.

Ade 1 - DL VideoLantern Still DL - Video

Both Tom and Ade feature in the video trying to pretend to look serious while they are blinded by strobe lights and attempt to throw themselves down some staircases.

Watch the video here:

Dark Light is one of Tom and Ade’s favourite songs and Tom has gone as far as saying that it his is favourite song he has ever recorded. So it just had to be a single, didn’t it?

The B-Side includes a demo version of an album track called ‘Turn Right and You Have Reached Your Death’. This demo was recorded by Tom while in a cottage in Norfolk and was referenced in his recent blog about solitude.

Download both…

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Second Single: ‘In Your Brain Right Now’

Here is some new music from my other band: No Side Effects

In response to the underwhelming demand for our debut single we’ve decided to clog up the ever expanding and overloaded internet with another mediocre piece of musicianship*. It seems we can’t give this music away, but we try. You can download it for FREE from the ‘Music Shop‘ or have a listen:

This time though, on a more serious note, we are very grateful for the kind permission from Sam Harris for the use of some audio from a lecture he gave for the Atheist Foundation of Australia in 2012 called ‘Death and the Present Moment’. The track uses samples from a sequence where Sam talks through how to attain an ‘in the moment’ mental state using mindfulness meditation. It is a fascinating introduction to meditation and really resonated with us. If you would like to listen to the full lecture then we include the YouTube video:

This single includes the…

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On Track: Me And My Steam Robot

In this ongoing series of articles looking at the development of the tracks found across the Grasslands EPs we look at track 3 from ‘My Folks Prefer The Clone’: ‘Me And My Steam Robot’. Pre-Order the EP here: (Click Here)

Song writing
‘Me And My Steam Robot’ was written around 2006 in Plymouth. The song was developed on the acoustic guitar and many attempts were made to transfer it onto electric guitar, but I always thought that it lacked some of the nice warm tones that the acoustic provided. It is one of Grasslands more structurally complicated songs with a few changes in tempo and some awkward time signatures.

Drum Challenges
The main challenge for recording this song was always going to be the drum track. I had attempted to layer drums over a song with a complicated structure on the first EP (This Is The Way I Rationalise), but I didn’t think this would work on this track.

I met up with my friend (and former band mate) Sam Armitage to jam with the track and see if we could get a feel for what the drums would be like. I soon realised that writing awkwardly structured songs is all well and good, but they take a lot longer to learn. Sam is a busy chap and I didn’t really want to force him through a drawn out recording session, so I started to wonder whether I could try and do the drums myself.

With Sam’s help I managed to get my head around the type of drum sequence I wanted and set to work recording the drum track to a metronome and a guide guitar track.

Awkward timing
The most difficult section of the song to develop drums for was the heavy section in the middle of the song (3:08). The timing makes barely any sense and both me and Sam struggled to get anyting to work. In the end I relied on a rather simple drum sequence using the crash symbol, which I was happy with.

Guitar rehearsals
Most of the summer of 2013 I rehearsed the guitar sections for the song (including over Sam’s stag do weekend) until I knew my fingers were strong enough to get through the full guitar sequence in one take for the recording. I played it on both electric and acoustic guitar.

Recording Software
‘Me And My Steam Robot’ was first recorded in Sonar Home Studio 7, but was shifted over to Logic X on the iMac for final mixing. I was a bit worried about doing this due to all the tempo changes in the song, but Logic X proved up to the job and after a few tweaks everything was sounding okay.

Mixing
As stated earlier, I opted for a cleaner final mix with crunchy electric guitars, but still with the acoustics punching through. This was probably the most challenging final mix on the EP, but I am pleased with the final result.

Have a listen to ‘Me And My Steam Robot’ here:

Remember that the full EP is released on 20th October (Click Here)

On Track: The Ball Starts To Move

This is the first of a set of articles that will look at the development of the tracks found across the Grasslands EPs. Today we look at the fourth track taken from the soon to be released ‘My Folks Prefer The Clone’: The Ball Starts To Move.

Writing The Ball Starts To Move
The Ball Starts To Move was written in 2012 and was always envisaged as a point in the narrative where things starts to happen (as the title suggests). The song was always going to require a powerful rhythm to truly reflect the titular ball rolling along.

The first thing you hear in the track is a raspy retro synth belting out a powerful jittery rhythm. This was the first aspect of the song recorded and Kate Bush was responsible.

A Nod To The Past
The sample used is from the groundbreaking Fairlight CMI. This was a machine I became quite interested in while researching its use by Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds of Love‘ uses the Fairlight extensively, as does Gabriel’s ‘Melt‘. A more recent use of the Fairlight synthesiser was on the brilliant concept album by former Savage Garden front man Darren Hayes. His double album ‘This Delicate Thing We’ve Made‘ is a truly amazing left-field pop record. Lots of nostalgic imagery and interesting sound scapes and lyrics. Darren Hayes uses the Fairlight on each track and the work that went into his album spawned an ipad app emulation of the synthesiser called Peter Vogel CMI. The Peter Vogel CMI is a brilliant app that holds the nostalgia of this synth in high regard including loading times and common errors. The image at the top of the page is taken from this app. My first few sessions playing with the synth brought about the main riff for The Ball Starts To Move.

Other Synths
Other synthesiser parts were built around my go to synth: Sytrus. I then played drums over the synths and built up guitar sections.

The original version had a very different hook, which was much higher and sounded like a game show. This was soon discarded and the current version written.

Mixing
The Ball Starts To Move was a pig to mix. An early version of the mix was created in 2012 on Sonar. I have since moved to Logic X on iMac and there is now a brand new, much clearer mix available on the EP.

Listen to the track here:

For those interested in comparing mixes, why don’t you listen to the version above and then listen to the 2012 mix on Reverbnation (Click Here). Can you tell the difference?

Best Bit
Matching the guitar notes to the synthesiser at the end of the song. I love the lyrics too.

Grasslands New EP will be launched on 20th October

After two years of recording, Grasslands new EP ‘My Folks Prefer The Clone’ will be released on the 20th October 2014.

The EP is available to pre-order now on our digital store (Click Here). Pre-ordering gives you access to a free track and you will receive the EP before anyone else. The EP features six songs and two preview tracks and will be made available across all major digital platforms including iTunes and Spotify.

My Folks Prefer The Clone (Cover)

‘My Folks Prefer The Clone’ follows on from 2011’s ‘Time To Think’ with a mix of electronic and rock influenced tracks and the odd bit of awkward timing. Tracks include ‘Me And My Steam Robot’, a six minute-long rock epic with a strong Biffy Clyro influence, and ‘The Ball Starts To Move’ a synth driven rock track that is frequently popping into Reverbnation’s Newbury Chart.

‘My Folks Prefer The Clone’ was recorded in Newbury and Swindon and was written, performed and recorded by Tom Haynes. Tom learnt to play the drums over the past two years so he could record the songs with trickier structures on the EP.

‘My Folks Prefer The Clone’ marks the halfway point in the story of Grasslands, with two further EPs planned for release to complete the story.

Visit www.grasslandsmusic.wordpress.com for track previews in the coming days and further news and updates.

Here is a preview of the Pre-Order Track: The Ball Starts To Move

Aberystwyth, Hills and Grasslands

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Aberystwyth is integral to the story of Grasslands. The general idea for the story was established while I was drunk in the Castle Hotel. This drunken discussion took place long before I decided to record music for the story instead of actually writing it.

Some of my own experiences of living in Aber also colour some of the songs. There is more than a hint of my experiences working in Safeway/Morrisons in the song Ambient Groceries.

It is always nice to return to Aberystwyth to see old friends (including old band mates from my former band The Small Dog Club).

It was particularly interesting to return so soon after finishing the recording of my second EP. My thoughts of the story were still quite heavy on my mind and I couldn’t help but see why I have spent so much time writing about hills through these songs.

Most people that visit or live in Aberystwyth know that Constitution Hill is one of the more famous hills in the area. It is located on the northern edge of Aberystwyth and includes a Victorian funicular railway. Although it is in easy reach of the town, it is quite difficult to see from most of Aberystwyth. Not like Pen Dinas.

Pen Dinas is found on the southern edge of the town and dominates the landscape. The flattened top of Pen Dinas is indicative of a complex history of hill fort structures that stood over the valleys from the Iron Age onwards (for more info click here).

This was the sight I was met with most mornings. Looking through the window and seeing this hill looking down at me. The Wellington Monument standing prominent in the centre. Although the monument isn’t really described within the story, I can now see that without Pen Dinas there would be very few tracks on Grasslands. It is referenced in one song on Time To Think. It is also referenced in at least three songs on my new EP: My Folks Prefer The Clone.

I had the opportunity while staying in a B&B to relive why I wrote the song ‘The Things I See Outside My Window’.

 

Coming Soon in 2014: My Folks Prefer The Clone EP

Things don’t always go to plan. When I finished recording EP1 in 2011 I thought I would leap straight into recording EP2, but life and saltmarshes generally got in the way.

My Folks Prefer The Clone (Cover)

Now having learnt to play the drums over the past 12 months, and had some moral support with developing drums from a certain Mr Armitage, I can happily say that all six tracks of EP2: My Folks Prefer the Clone are now recorded.

I now have the rather dull job of mixing the tracks and trying to get them to compete with modern super-loud CD mixes. So please hold on for a little longer.

While preparing for the eventual release of the EP, I have decided to take down all the preview tracks I have uploaded so far. This will allow me to sort out a more consistent mix for all the tracks.

To make up for the delay I have a few surprises…

The first is… tah dah!!! my redesigned blog which will allow me to keep you updated with proceedings and allow me to post random thoughts, inspirations and add some pictures. Please do subscribe.

The next surprise is a limited period preview of the opening track: First True Sight. This track is a chilled out bit of electronic goodness, that foreshadows some of the narrative stages to come in the proceeding songs (he winks to his writing friends).

Here it is (edit – not anymore. The limited time offer is over!)

Last but not least is the exciting news that I am also 6-7 tracks through recording a new album as part of a new electronic band called No Side Effects. Just incase you couldn’t get enough blogging action – No Side Effects also has a new blog. Check it out: nosideeffectsmusic.wordpress.com

– He wipes the sweat from his brow –

So I hope you all enjoy the new track and please, please share the link and help me out getting my music ‘out there’. The digital world is a tough one after all.

Speak soon

Tom