Pedals, Pedals, Pedals (and pedals)

You might have noticed me banging on about pedals at some point recently.*

First of all there was the tentative first step on a road, surely, to YouTube stardom, in the form of this video talking everyone through the pedals I use in ‘time’ by Beats & Pieces Big Band:

Hot on the heels of this is the exciting (for me) news that this book has been published:

Written by Rob Thorpe, the book is essentially a guide to what pedal does what, how to combine effects, how to get certain classic tones and much more, including an interview with me about my pedalboard where I presumably talk way too much and have to get edited to make sense.

To continue the theme, I have a gig coming up on Wednesday where I shall exclusively be playing pedals (who needs a guitar right?). It’s the latest in a series of collaborations with the Vonnegut Collective, and the gig features Gemma Bass (violin), Gary Farr (trumpet) and Graham South (trumpet), all being processed by Norm Skipp (electronics) and myself on pedals. 8pm, Wednesday 6th March, tickets here.

(and pedals)
Oh, and where better to host a gig with such an abundance of pedals? A bike shop, of course.

That’s all for now folks, if you still want more pedals, here’s a video of me trying out a K.M.A. Astrospurt phaser that Rob lent me after doing the interview for his book.

*this opening sentence works whenever you are reading this.

Accidental Engineer

Well, it’s not so much of an accident I suppose, I’ve not made a secret of my interest in recording. But it is a nice coincidence that three recordings have all been released so close together…

First up, I had the pleasure of recording Trevor Watts and Stephen Grew live in Liverpool last year, and Trevor mixed the resulting recording which has just come out on the Fundacja Słuchaj label from Poland. It sounds great, and was the first time I got to use my Golden Age Project ribbon mic in action, which Trevor ended up preferring on both his alto and soprano.

Solo guitar album from Jose Dias, out now on Clean Feed.

Next is a session at MMU in Crewe, featuring my friend José Dias and his solo improvisations to silent films. Only the music remains, and it’s a luscious ambient record is glorious stereo (we used two U87 mics that the uni has…), and plenty of my Earthquaker Levitation reverb on the guitar. Pleased that this is out this month on the Portuguese label Clean Feed, click the picture to find out more (it’s on all good streaming platforms too).

And last but not least, I’ve already told you about it of course, but in case you missed it, I recorded the new Beck Hunters album. Mixed by Alex Bonney, it’s out now on Discus. But you already knew that, of course.

P.S. Here’s a picture of me at it again, recording my brother’s quartet recently. Sounded great, keep an eye out for it in the future…

New Releases 2019

I’m writing this from day two of the sessions for the next (fourth!) Sloth Racket album, in an amazing studio near Leeds, photos on Twitter as per usual. Anyway, I had two new releases out in January, both very different from each other, both I’m really proud of. Read on for the details…

First up is the new Beck Hunters album ‘Has It Been Found?’ – released on Discus* again, recorded by me and mixed by Alex Bonney. Beck Hunters is Mick Beck, Johnny Hunter and myself and we’ve been improvising together as a trio since about 2012 I think. Every time we play we managed to surprise ourselves.

And then, just a week later, came ‘Awakening’ by Nick Walters & the Paradox Ensemble. Nick’s first release as the Paradox Ensemble was way back when I was still involved in running Efpi records. Since then he invited me to join the band, along with a few others, expanding the line-up to 13 musicians, and the new record is out on 22a records. I’m told it’s number 3 in the iTunes charts as I type, but you can and should buy it from Bandcamp, of course. Or in person at the album launch gig at Church of Sound in London on 22nd Feb. This is my first time on vinyl, and my first release it a while that you can actually dance to…

Last but not least, while I’ve got you here, you might be interested in my pedals? I’ve been filming a series of me talking about how I use them in various Beats & Pieces Big Band tunes, mostly exclusively for our backstage subscribers through our Bandcamp page (a very valuable way of supporting the music!), but we put one on YouTube too, take a look here if you like.

Cheers for reading!



*coincidentally, it was Martin from Discus that first introduced me to the studio we’re in with the Sloths right now, the Chairworks in Castleford. We did the Storytellers record here too.

Article XI Album Out Today!

Folks, it’s finally happened. The album we recorded live in 2014 is now out. It’s got hand-stitched (and then scanned in…) artwork by Angela Guyton, it was mixed by Alex Bonney, and it’s got a load of my favourite musicians on it. And these people like it…

“An album characterised by strong themes and inventive group playing” – The Wire
“Article XI recalls the joyous emancipatory fervor of Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra and its commitment to sending a message” – London Jazz News

But don’t take their highly respected word for it, have a listen yourself:

Saxophones: Sam Andreae (tenor), Simon Prince (tenor+flute), Mette Rasmussen (alto), Cath Roberts (baritone).
Trumpet: Graham South, Nick Walters.
Trombone: Seth Bennett, Richard Foote.
Guitar: Anton Hunter.
Bass: Eero Tikkanen.
Drums: Johnny Hunter

All compositions written by me with the band.

Article XI and Favourite Animals tour round-up

So, we did it then. What started over a year ago as a conversation about how ridiculous it would be to tour two large ensembles together, actually came into being last week. The process of putting it together was definitely something I couldn’t have done by myself and, as ever, I’m hugely grateful to Cath for collaborating on it. And Dee, Seth and Tullis made a formidable organising team, without whom I’m sure we’d still be sat at different stations around the country, wondering where we’re supposed to be.

The gigs were really special, and it was an absolute joy being part of both bands evolving to new places each night. It’d be hard to pick a favourite, the Birmingham gig at the MAC was a wonderful small theatre space that I’ve been wanting to play in again for years, the Lescar in Sheffield was packed and felt quite emotionally charged, as well as feeling like we were able to really stretch some of the music out. More Music in Morecambe was an inspiring place to be, and having the opportunity to workshop pieces with locals before the show was great, and finishing up in Newcastle at The Bridge was a fitting end to the week, I’ve been there several times these last few years and to bring our huge double-headed monster through there was really special. And we recorded the last gig too, so watch this space (although, not too closely, it took me three and a half years to get the last one out).

A huge thank you to our funders, Arts Council England and The Fenton Arts Trust, along with the fantastic promoters; Tony Dudley-Evans and Fizzle in Birmingham, Jez Matthews with Jazz at the Lescar in Sheffield, Ben McCabe with More Music and Lancaster Jazz Festival in Morecambe and Wesley Stephenson with Jazz North East in Newcastle. It’s difficult to get a large group of musicians together, and support from all these people was absolutely vital for this tour.

And it clearly worked too, the reviews were glowing…
“A marvellous evening my only regret being that we only got to see one set of each band.” (Steve H from BeBop Spoken Here)
“This was an absorbing and intriguing evening of uncompromising music making at the interface where the composed and the spontaneous conjoin to rewarding effect.” (Ian Mann aka The Jazz Mann)

And this instant audience feedback:

Don’t forget, my Article XI album is up for pre-order now, and Cath’s Favourite Animals is OUT NOW, still time to order that one for Christmas!

Tom Ward took some great photos of us (and then handed the camera over to Ollie Dover for the Favourite Animals sets, keep an eye on Cath’s website for some of those), make sure you check out the gif of Simon Prince in full swing…

Four guitar albums on Bandcamp

So, I’m going on tour in November with Beats & Pieces Big Band and, for once, I’m not going to be driving! (apart from a tiny little bit). And, as much as I love everyone in the band, I’m already making plans for what music to load onto my phone so I don’t have to talk to them all the time. Here are four albums by guitarists that I bought on Bandcamp, and I intend to get stuck into them all during the week-and-a-bit.

Julia Reidy

I Saw Julia performing in London earlier this year, on the same bill as Sam Andreae. Her music, played on an unusually tuned 12-string acoustic, didn’t immediately grab me, but as the set went on I found myself increasingly drawn in. An inspiring microtonal exploration of the guitar, complete with some wall-of-noise stuff for good measure.

Lean Left

Recorded live in Italy, this set ranges from some quite subtle moments (track 2 ‘Moti’ features some explorations of small-sounds that sounds great in headphones) to the more aggressive repetitive approach you might expect from the Ex guitars on the album’s closer ‘Gada Ale’.


I’m cheating with this one a bit as it’s only going to be released as the tour bus rolls into Amsterdam, but I’m looking forward to hearing it whilst sitting next to a canal or two. DBH is a bit of a Manchester legend, and his solo music is equal parts relaxing and inventive. It’s a hit with donkeys too.

Parachute For Gordo

I saw these lot at Thinking/Not Thinking festival earlier this year (Ripsaw Catfish were playing too), and was instantly into their mix of post-rock, math, effects & good humour. I’ve just re-read the blurb and it turns out it’s all recorded live in single-takes which is cool in my book. A nice pedalboard work-out always goes down well in this house.

If you don’t believe me, I have bought all these albums. And you can check out a bunch of bandcamp releases with me on over here.

Hope to see you on the tour, not least because the Manchester date is a mini-festival and Article XI are doing a set too…

Large Ensemble Score – ‘LUME Kestrel’

Written for the debut performance of the LUMEkestra in November 2016.

There are 7 (subtly) different numbered parts, so ideally that would be the minimum number of pitched instruments, but I think it sounds better with more. The intention was to write something quiet for the 18 piece band of improvisers that Cath and Dee from LUME had assembled, thinking it would provide a nice moment of contrast for the set. Of course, I wasn’t the only one to have that idea! I was really happy with how it came out nonetheless, and in particular the blurriness that is achieved by not having set parts for set players, and having so many players.

Here’s a video of the first performance

And here are the parts:

LUME Kestrel Concert
LUME Kestrel Eb
LUME Kestrel Bb

And if you head to the LUME Youtube channel you can see Martin Pyne and Dave Kane’s pieces for the same group.

Sloth Racket album and tour announced

The second Sloth Racket album is up for pre-order now, including streaming of one track. There are also t-shirts, all designed by Cath.

And then we’re off on tour in June, full details on my gigs page, or the Sloth Racket site, but here’s a flyer:


…for want of a better name…

I’ve got a brand new octet, and we’re gonna play music in public for the very first time next week!

Put together for LUME’s LUMElab series, the band I’ve got is amazing, look!

Kim Macari Stone-Lonergan – trumpet
Dee Byrne – alto sax
Rachel Musson – tenor sax
Tullis Rennie – trombone
Cath Roberts – baritone sax
Andrew Lisle – drums
Tim Fairhall – double bass
and me – guitar

I wrote about the process of writing (ooh, meta) on the LUME site. Click here to read about it.

And then click on my manic face to buy tickets: