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around town and out of control with lawrence bray

LAST WEEK, I RECEIVED AN EMAIL from a young mu­si­cian that I had never heard of. (No big deal there: my ig­no­rance of mu­si­cians young or old of the past few decades might cause you to titter in wonder at the im­men­sity of it.) His name was Lawrence Bray, which set off no alarms of memory in my aging brain.

I did re­mark to my­self (al­though not aloud—I may be aging but I’m not that old yet) that Bray was not a common sur­name. In fact, the only Bray I know is a wee town in Berk­shire County, Eng­land. And the only reason I know about that is that Hammer Film Pro­duc­tions shot a lot of their horror movies of the 1950s and early ‘60s there, and I was a big horror move fan as a kid. (I had a sub­scrip­tion to Fa­mous Mon­sters Of Film­land.)

Bray is also, by chance, where fellow Irish-person and world-famous lapsed-Catholic Sinead O’Connor lives. So I read the email; here is Mr. Bray’s in­tro­duc­tory mes­sage:

“I hope you don’t mind me writing in and in­tro­ducing my­self and my music. I’m a singer/songwriter in the indie/rock ‘n’ roll genre based in London. BEST SERVED LOUD is my first solo EP under URe­ckon Records, since striking out on my own at the be­gin­ning of 2014, having been the front man and writer for indie/rock ‘n’ roll band Sceni­cLife.

I recorded this EP in London in July 2014 and worked with a fan­tastic new pro­ducer Tommy Gleeson, ex-front man of Slaves to Gravity. The EP was mas­tered by none other than Pete Maher, of Lana Del Ray/U2/The Killers/Oasis fame.

 

I do be­lieve we are the first to go to their par­ents’ record col­lec­tion and ask ques­tions, dis­cover new things—and when I say ‘we’ I mean my gen­er­a­tion.

 

The sound I was aiming for, and be­lieve Tommy and I did achieve, is a dis­tinc­tive one. It re­flects my style and I think will ap­peal to the many mil­lions of people who’ve fol­lowed the British guitar band in­va­sion ranging from bands like The Bea­tles, The Who, Oasis, Stereo­phonics, etc.

All of which are classic ex­am­ples of my in­flu­ences. I’m a great be­liever in songs that have a great melody—a strong melody will al­ways win. Thanks for reading and hope­fully hooking up to my sounds. I hope you enjoy it. Cheers.”

Now I am, of course, a big fan of the Bea­tles and the Who, and I cer­tainly know who U2 (one of the better bands of the post-‘60s rock-pop world) and Oasis are, but the other names could have all been made up and I wouldn’t know!

So, having other (better?) things to do, I did not hook up to his sounds via the links that he had po­litely pro­vided me. Nope. I moved the email over to the Delete file.

 

Photo of Lawrence Bray leaning against a graffitied wall.

If you live and breathe the Sixties

A few days later, I re­ceived a “con­nec­tion” re­quest via LinkedIn from Mr. Bray. Per­sis­tent, cheeky little bugger I thought. But, well, I have yet to figure out the value of having any con­nec­tions on LinkedIn but—Hell’s Belles!—why not? Since we were now con­nected, I went back to my deleted emails, re­trieved Bray’s, and sent him the fol­lowing:

“Thanks for the con­nec­tion via LinkedIn! Send me a link to your music and I will give a listen. (But keep in mind that I am an old phau­rght and still live and breathe the Six­ties.) I have a website/blog de­voted to record col­lecting (more or less): ratherrarerecords.com.  I just posted a piece on grading still sealed al­bums. Give it a read, please, and make a com­ment or ten!”

And he did, Grom­mett bless ‘im. He vis­ited my site, read a piece or two, and left a couple of com­ments. And he re­sponded a few hours later:

“Thanks for the mes­sage. If you live and breathe the Six­ties, then I reckon my track Out Of Con­trol by a band I’m in (side project as I’m re­ally con­cen­trating on my solo ca­reer) should be one that you like. My own in­flu­ences stem from Jimi Hen­drix (lis­tening to him is what made me take up learning the guitar), The Bea­tles, The Kinks, The Who on up to Oasis/Stereophonics and the Britpop era. Hope­fully, I can put a 2014+ stamp on it. Cheers!”

So now I owed him: so I clicked on the first link he pro­vided and found this:

Around Town - Out of Con­trol (Of­fi­cial)

Wow! I was pleased. I was im­pressed. I posted the YouTube link to Out Of Con­trol on my Face­book page with the fol­lowing re­marks:

“Hey! I just con­nected with this young mu­si­cian on LinkedIn and I sent him a mes­sage asking for a link to some of his music. I alerted him to the fact that I was, in fact, an old phau­rght living and loving the music of the Six­ties.

He sent me this in re­turn and I now have a new Fav­erave Record of the 21st Cen­tury!!! (Okay, noth­ing’s going to knock Cheryl Crow’s Out Of Our Heads outta my head, but Around Town’s Out Of Con­trol will be get­ting a lot of spins in this house­hold.)

And Berni took one look at this video and said, ‘Omygod, he looks like he could be your son!’ ”

Around Town looks sounds and feels like they may be chan­neling the prover­bial ‘spirit of the six­ties’: the first thing that got my at­ten­tion was the McCartney-ish bass-line fol­lowed by the Beatles-eque har­monies. (No, they’re not John Paul George but they make me think John Paul George and that’s just fine, thank you.)

 

Lawrence Bray: cover of Queen's LIVE AT WEMBLEY '86 album.

What does Queen’s Live At Wem­bley ’68 album have to do with this story? Read on …

Lawrence Bray and magic swirling stripes

Mr. Bray’s vo­cals re­flect what­ever the hell it is about the ‘60s that Tom Petty’s vo­cals re­flect, and being a big Tom Petty fan made this all the better! Listen here and hear the elec­tric sitar that in­tro­duces a new theme to­wards the end, fol­lowed by the ‘psy­che­delic’ sounds/effects in the coda (and a trumpet obligato ala Penny Lane).

And the video it­self is the most straight-out fun that I have had watching a pop-rock video since first seeing Pop’s Pop Goes My Heart seven years ago. (This is NOT said in jest …)

So, I emailed Lawrence and asked if he would be in­ter­ested in an interview-like se­ries of questions-and-answers and re­ceived an af­fir­ma­tive an­swer So, here we go (and keep in mind that this was pieced to­gether from sev­eral emails be­tween us).

NU: Why did you con­tact me via LinkedIn?

LB: Well, it’s an­other op­por­tu­nity to try to get my music in front of you—gotta use every­thing avail­able! 

NU: Good for you, and I am flat­tered that you even thought of me! How old are you?

LB: 25.

 

This ar­ticle was orig­i­nally posted in No­vember 2014 but I’ve spruced it up so that it looks and reads better!

 

NU: You’re my daugh­ter’s age. Oh well. I con­sid­ered doing an in­ter­view sim­ilar to those done in such teeny­bopper mag­a­zines of the ’60s as 16 and Tiger Beat (“What color are your eyes?” “What do you look for in a girl”). This was the first of those ques­tions. But I have to keep in mind that irony is often dif­fi­cult to get across in face-to-face conversation—where it is best suited—and damn near im­pos­sible on the In­ternet.

LB: I agree.

NU: What was the first record you ever bought with your own money?

LB: My first record was the double-album QUEEN LIVE AT WEMBLEY ’86. I got very into them and as a first record, I think that’s a pretty good one. I was only 12.

NU: I have had a looooooon love/hate re­la­tion­ship with Queen. For­tu­nately, in my old age, the love is win­ning out and I am seeing Freddie’s humor and won­dering how I missed it all along.

LB: I have the same love/hate re­la­tion­ship now mainly be­cause a drummer in my first band was ob­sessed with them to the point it’s al­most put me off Queen.

NU: Over­ex­po­sure can have that ef­fect on al­most anyone about al­most any­thing. So, are you a record col­lector?

LB: I am to a cer­tain de­gree. I must admit I don’t ac­tively look for the rarest of Bea­tles REVOLVER copies or any­thing, but I ap­plaud those who do and am very in­ter­ested when meeting people who do have this pas­sion for col­lecting. 

NU: Well, I am im­pressed that you even know about the col­lec­table press­ings of REVOLVER. The big one is a Par­lophone mono with an al­ter­na­tive take (mix?) of To­morrow Never Knows.

 

Lawrence Bray: photo of dancer Terri Garr from the 1967 movie THE COOL ONES.

Terri Garr and teeny­weeny waist in her skintight mini-skirt in The Cool Ones, a long for­gotten movie from 1967 that starred Roddy Mc­Dowall and ap­pear­ances by Mrs. Miller, the Leaves, the Ban­tams, and pre-stardom Glen Camp­bell.

Psyche-paisley mini-skirts

So back to my re­sponse to the single and the video (this is where I get to do a stream-of-altered-conscious bit that I first picked up in Norman Spin­rad’s ’60s novels):

Yeah yeah yeah it’s a pas­tiche with a Union Jack guitar and the oh-so-groovily gor­geous dancers in their psyche-paisley mini-skirts and white go-go boots chan­neling Terri Garr and Dawn Michaels against a black and white op art back­ground and the back­drop maybe even a nod in the di­rec­tion of Pop Goes My Heart by Pop those for­gotten su­per­stars of the ‘80s and thank Grom­mett it’s static ‘cause I don’t need to be taken for a trip upon some magic swirling stripes ‘cause they would have been a dis­trac­tion from the band and es­pe­cially from the girls and the faux psy­che­delic vi­suals during the song’s bridge that would have been per­fect on the Smother Brothers Comedy Hour and all the while the boys in the band are prac­ticing their El Lay cool pos­turing that would have done the Byrds proud so please please me and watch this video sev­eral times like I did!

Hoping you all caught my en­thu­siasm for Around Town’s music there. Back to Mr. Bray …

NU: Who wrote Out Of Con­trol?

LB: A guy called Mike God­frey, who also arranged and pro­duced the song. He heard me singing and of­fered me the chance to record a track and video with him. It’s a great song and so I thought, ‘Why not?’ 

NU: Please pass along my com­pli­ments to Mr. God­frey? You think he might want to an­swer a couple of ques­tions here?

LB: I’m sure he’d be up for that if you want to email over the ques­tions.

NU: Was it re­leased as a vinyl single? If so, label and cat­a­logue number?

LB: It was sched­uled for re­lease in Oc­tober as a dig­ital single but has been pulled until Feb­ruary of 2015, as he’s run­ning the pro­mo­tion of the track along­side radio plugging/play.

 

We have “Lift Off” - Buy “Out of Con­trol” on Itunes

NU: Get any at­ten­tion on the radio or else­where?

LB: Well we’ve been played on the Gary Crowley show BBC In­tro­ducing—which is great—and lots of dig­ital radio sta­tions. The DJ known as Mr. Peeps seems to be a pretty big fan. The track has also been picked up for a new film House Of Manson.

NU: You must get a vinyl 45 with pic­ture sleeve out. Maybe even a lim­ited edi­tion sleeve tied in with the Manson movie.

LB: I’ll men­tion it to Mike. I know my man­ager Michelle has al­ready done that. The art­work for the single is nice though—I’m sending you over the image sep­a­rately.

NU: Who con­ceived of the video? Di­rector?

LB: I’m not too sure. I think it was a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Mike and the di­rector. Was great fun though—and the girls were hot!

NU: All of the young ladies are gor­geous but the woman with the curly blonde hair is enough to make me wish that I was thirty years younger so that I could hop a plane and fly over and have you in­tro­duce me. If my wife would allow me to, of course …

LB: Now, I’d like to be a fly on the wall when you pose the ques­tion (ha ha) …

Around Town’s single Out Of Con­trol will be get­ting a lot of spins in this house! Click To Tweet

Photo of Lawrence Bray sitting against a stone wall and wooden door.

When I say ‘we’ I mean my generation

So that’s a start. I asked Mr. Bray for a very brief state­ment on his ex­pe­ri­ence as an indie artist in the 21st cen­tury to close this out:

“Well, the market for it is there. We just need the guys at the top to recog­nise it. I do be­lieve we—and when I say ‘we’ I mean my generation—are the first to go to their par­ents’ record col­lec­tion and ask ques­tions, dis­cover new things. Is this good or bad? I think it’s good, it’s keeping that style of music alive and there are plenty of bands doing that style of music. If we keep at it, we’ll get there!”

Mr. Bray has a Face­book page where he can be con­tacted. You can pur­chase Out Of Con­trol as an MP3 Down­load on Amazon (of course), where you will find my com­ment lav­ishly praising the music and the group!

 

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Amazing tune! I can’t re­member the last tune I had on re­peat! Epic stuff!