25th September

September 25, 2013

Thanks for all the supportive emails about my last online diary post.

To clarify some things, I didn’t mean to say that no-man is over. The band has had protracted periods of silence in the past and I genuinely believe that at some point in the future, Steven and I will make more music together as no-man. Steven and I still get on well personally and as he’ll be mixing my new songs (and probably adding some musical parts), our creative relationship is ongoing.

I’m disappointed by what’s happened, but I completely accept it. Steven is in great demand and has too many possible options at any given time to deal with. It isn’t realistic for him to do everything he’d like to and in order to do what he chooses to do well, focus is required.

I’ve also held back projects and potential collaborations due to just not having enough time, or feeling that ‘it’ isn’t right for ‘now’. The combination of making music, co-running Burning Shed and fatherhood/life in general sometimes just gets in the way of what I’d like to be doing. Multiply that by five and you have Steven’s situation.

When I talked of flux and uncertainty in terms of recording the new ‘solo’ album, I meant that I still wasn’t sure what material to choose, which directions to highlight and what name to use for the project. There’s always a remote possiblilty that this could still become a no-man album (after all, Schoolyard Ghosts started out in similar circumstances to this).

The issue is that I don’t have a particularly stong idea about what to present as a solo artist as the possibilities are less restricted than developing an established band identity further.

Three examples:

1) Peter Chilvers and I completed a piece four days ago that I think is one of the most moving things I’ve done. As I think it’s strong, do I use that on the new album, or leave it for Slow Electric?

2) Of the material recorded with the no-man live band (minus Steven), I’d say that 20 minutes of it I definitely want to release. It’s a logical continuation of the music no-man made on the 2012 tour and although I wrote the songs, I wrote them with the band in mind and the recordings possess a strong group identity. Is that Tim Bowness solo, or something else?

3) Last week, Stephen Bennett played me an instrumental I’d written years ago. Sounding very ECM (Pat Metheny, Ralph Towner etc), I’d completely forgotten it existed. Do I use that to show that I have more scope than some of my releases suggest, or do I keep it on my ‘hard drive of doom’ forever? One weird highlight of the ‘hard drive of doom’ is a piece I wrote using a Jim Matheos Metal riff and a lyrical Aleksei Saks trumpet line. Again, Slow Electric, Tim Bowness, or something/nothing else?

Questions, questions!

One harsh reality is that names matter. The exact same album released as no-man will sell 7 to 10 times the amount a Tim Bowness solo album will sell (released as Pink Floyd, it’d sell even better!). The only concern for me is that when you really believe in the music you’re making, you want as many people to hear it as possible. For me, the act of creativity is selfish and is driven by ideas, emotions and catharsis, but (pathetically/egotistically?) knowing that something I’ve done has touched other people in the same way that certain books and music have affected me almost equals the significance of the creative process itself.

Ultimately I’d be doing what I do even if there was no audience, but reading reviews such as the recent Echoes And Dust one on Together We’re Stranger (and the comment beneath) and knowing that some people are sad that there may be no new no-man album is humbling and makes ‘the selfish act’ seem more worthwhile.