Rob’s Top 5 Gig Photos

I was chatting the other day with a work colleague. I found out that they were really into going to see bands and taking photos. She’s already booked 13 gigs for the year and planned out her holidays around them, now that’s dedication.

So I set a challenge to pick out her top five pics and I would do the same. So I thought I would share my choice with you.

01_BellX1_1Paul Noonan | BellX1 | Dublin 2006
03_Jon_SwitchfootJon Foreman | Switchfoot | Derby 2007
04_Dan_James_StarlingDan James | Starling | London 2010
Danny6_The_ScriptDanny O’Donoghue | The Script | Leeds 2010
02_IgniteUnknown | Ignite 2005

And of course I couldn’t leave it at that.
So here are a few others I like!

Steve1Steve | Dublin 2005
The_CoopersDavid Chatziliadis | The Coopers | Leeds 2011
05_Danny4_The_ScriptDanny O’Donoghue | The Script | Leeds 2010
BellX1_2BellX1 | Dublin 2006

My Biggest Creativity Killer

I’ve finally booked some time away next week to do two things: rest, and write some music.

About bloomin’ time!! … So I’ve been thinking about creativity this past week, and just wanted to share ONE thing I know killed it for me many times in the past.

What I love about being creative is that there are no rules.. This isn’t a blog about the right or wrong way to ‘do’ creativity. True creativity is free and limitless.. But with anything that is free in this world, there are always things to try to blind, gag and suppress it’s freedom.

Last year (far too long ago) I went away, like I am next week. Generally, for me, I feel I have to go away and give myself a good chunk of time to write, as my output can be pretty poor when squashed in the middle of a busy, daily routine. Not a rule. Not for everyone – but works well for me. That time, some of Speak, Brother’s best and most passionate songs (so far) were born. Each song I wrote, tells a story I care deeply about. But my time away certainly didn’t start off like that.

I remember sitting down, at this beautiful house on a hill in the Cotwolds, listening to music I love, lyrics that move me, beautiful stories of love, self sacrifice and hope.

You’d think I’d be beaming with inspiration.. For a short time I was. But that inspiration shortly turned into something toxic. A poison that quickly choked every ounce of creativity, passion and honesty out of my very being until it was empty. I now see the effects of this poison everywhere, in every genre of music, in all levels of popularity and all over YouTube and the radio.

It’s called ‘Imitation‘.

I just wanted to write music that sounded like the music I liked listening to. Sounds innocent enough? But with that mind-set, I stopped anything NEW happening. I wanted what they had. I just subconsciously regurgitated their stories and melodies until I was left with a song that sounded ok, but felt wrong. It reaked of a souless, counterfeit, fake, bogus, stinky smell that lingered around the whole thing. There was no ‘me’ in any of it.

I set out to write a song, for the sake of getting a song to sell, forgetting the purpose of it. I guess, If you think about it, anything creative has a purpose of some sort. And if a purpose of a song, is simply to be bought, no matter what it’s about, it will come across pretty shallow and lifeless, and will most likely be a rip off of something. There’s probably an argument for the effect of the commercialization of music and the difference between a hobby and a job. But money should be no reason to sacrifice authenticity. You see it all the time, the bigger the world makes an organisation, artist or whatever, the more distant and fake it seems. That’s probably why I think the local music scene is always important. Anyways, I’m getting sidetracked……

On that long weekend last year, I ended up writing a song about a girl (someone I know and love) who continually devalued herself, giving herself away to any lad that gave her attention. Another about my passed grandparents and their lives together.

With whatever creative thing you do, painting, poetry, music, writing, cooking, designing etc:

Use your own stories, struggles, successes, revelations, pains, hopes and no one else’s. Let your songs, stories, poems etc come from you for true creativity to flow. That’s when the good stuff comes out.

Of course it’s good to have inspiration, but let inspiration be just inspiration, and let the essence of the song be from you.


This article was originally published on the Speak Brother blog in March 2014

See our review of Speak, Brother’s new EP here.

With Us

We all know what it’s like to feel black and blue – battered by life, beaten up and bruised by stuff that we go through along our journey of faith. Sometimes we feel like we’re on our knees and that God is no-where to be found. But He always comes through for us, and, whether we feel Him near or not, He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

Below I share two videos. The first video is of some powerful testimonies of friends who have gone through tough times recently, but who have come through with massive stories of God’s faithfulness.

The second video is our music video with a spontaneous time of free worship at the end. The track was recorded live at our pad in London, with a make-shift PA, but we trust that it’ll be a blessing for some struggling in their own black and blue times. We’ve gotta be better as church at walking through very tough stuff together and having songs not just of victory and faith-filled declaration but also of lament to enable us to boldly come before our Daddy God together, Who wants to know how we’re really doing.

My prayer for you watching this is that you would know the presence of Jesus with you wherever you’re currently at, whether mountain or valley, and that faith would arise in your heart that the very real, living and all-powerful Comforter is with you as you listen and sing your own new song.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1: 3-5

 

 

 

Original articles: With Us Live & With Us: Oikos (Behind the Scenes at Home)

Switchfoot and Photos

Recently there has been an interview floating around the internet and facebook with Jon from Switchfoot. He was asked if band is a “Christian” band. So I thought it apt to share some of my photos mixed with the interview.

I have been a fan of Switchfoot since the Legend of Chin. I was first introduced to the band by my friend Matt, when we were teenagers. I liked them a lot, I wanted all their albums and I wanted to be able to play & sing their songs. Just for the record I still like them!

In 2007 they were touring in the UK and I got to see them play in Derby. I had my camera with me and I happened to get a few nice shots. Here’s Jon’s reply:


To be honest, this question grieves me because I feel that it represents a much bigger issue than simply a couple SF tunes. In true Socratic form, let me ask you a few questions: Does Lewis or Tolkien mention Christ in any of their fictional series? Are Bach’s sonata’s Christian? What is more Christ-like, feeding the poor, making furniture, cleaning bathrooms, or painting a sunset? There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds.

DSC00580

The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty.

Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music.

None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me.

I do have an obligation, however, a debt that cannot be settled by my lyrical decisions. My life will be judged by my obedience, not my ability to confine my lyrics to this box or that.

We all have a different calling; Switchfoot is trying to be obedient to who we are called to be. We’re not trying to be Audio A or U2 or POD or Bach: we’re trying to be Switchfoot. You see, a song that has the words: ‘Jesus Christ’ is no more or less ‘Christian’ than an instrumental piece. (I’ve heard lots of people say Jesus Christ and they weren’t talking about their redeemer.) You see, Jesus didn’t die for any of my tunes. So there is no hierarchy of life or songs or occupation only obedience. We have a call to take up our cross and follow. We can be sure that these roads will be different for all of us. Just as you have one body and every part has a different function, so in Christ we who are many form one body and each of us belongs to all the others. Please be slow to judge ‘brothers’ who have a different calling.
Interview source: Dave Browning

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Lightning

Lightning is a song that was written as a collaboration. My Aussie friend Jacob Darlinson came to me with a partially written song and asked me to help him finish it.

Song writing with someone else is a different challenge in comparison to writing on your own. There is a level of vulnerability in it as it takes courage to share creative ideas with other people, what you may think is great other people may not understand or connect with. You can clash in your styles or over where you think the song is going.

However alongside these challenges, there are a lot of positives to co-writing with people; you can bounce ideas, lyrics and melodies off one another and often come up with a much stronger dynamic to a song.’Lightning’ is an example of this. Jacob came to me with a song that was already close to being finished but was lacking a bridge. After listening to it I had a different thought of how that bridge could go, so together we created a more rounded song.

Jacob’s back in Australia now and he recently recorded this performance of our song. I’m really excited that it is going to be played at Soul Survivor Melbourne this year.

 

 

Imogen Heap explains the electronic gloves

These beautiful gloves help me gesturally interact with my computer
– Imogen Heap

I saw these magical gloves demoed at a Wired talk in 2012. The gloves are a midi controller interface allowing you to connect to a computer via wireless. So rather than sliding a fader or twisting a dial, you can now assign a gesture, making the process of manipulating music an intuitive experience mixed with a dynamic performance. The gloves have been through a couple of iterations and are still prototypes, but they will be made available on success of the kickstarter campaign. Both the software and hardware will be open source. This will allow the gloves to become an interface control to almost anything, if you have the know how!

Read the full article at Dezeen »
Image Credit: Fiona Garden