You can find a solo acoustic version of this song on my soundcloud page. It’s about a couple that have been turned into trees lining the slip road off a motorway. It’s a bit of a bizarre concept, but basically I nabbed the idea off the wood of the self-murdered, one of the circles of hell in the Divine Comedy, and stuck it off the side of the M6 between Manchester and Birmingham.
The song takes the view of one of the trees convincing the other that offing themselves wasn’t all that bad and they’re better off like this than they were before. It’s meant to be silly, the subject matter a bit full on perhaps, but ultimately it’s a hopeful song – life’s worth it because the alternative’s even more shite.
I was brought up in East Manchester by Scottish parents. Then moved down from Edinburgh to compete in European latin ballroom competitions up and down the country – that is, until I was born. They did their best to teach me, but I couldn’t dance a step. Musicality didn’t exactly arrive at me naturally.
My dad’s a giant Paul Weller fan and had me on a strict diet of the Jam, Style Council and the Modfather’s entire solo back catalogue as a kid. Weller’s influence will sometimes pop up accidentally in my own songwriting while I’m trying to rip someone else off.
Usually, you’ll find me not-so-subtly trying to rip off Johnny Marr. I remember the day as clear as a bell that my dad handed me the Smiths’ Greatest Hits CD (it was hot pink and Marr had a dark, gloomy look about him on the cover). My dad showed me How Soon is Now? and it took me about half a bar in to realise this was the best band I’d ever heard. And I’ve been enviously trying to poach bits and pieces from their songs since then.
I’m also massively influenced, bizarrely, by scouse bands. My dad took me to watch Echo and the Bunnymen in Buxton when I was about 16. It didn’t take me long to notice how much of a total genius Ian McCulloch is. That opened the door to other scouse bands – in particular, the Pale Fountains. From the Paleys, I got into Shack and I’m a gigantic Michael Head fan – again, a total genius.
During school I wrote songs with my best pal, Liam. We were both wannabe mods, albeit he looked the part a bit more. He became a poet, I went into law – shows you who the real deal was really (not me). Still, I showed him who the Velvet Underground were, so he’s got me to thank for that.
I went to a British University in Paris and lived over in France for 7 years. I had a band there with my pals Nelson, Campbell, Marlon and Magic Mike Johnson (not that one). We did a set on top of the Montparnasse Tower one time. It was great. We were shite, but in a charming, endearing kind of way maybe. We did a cover of Manfred Mann’s Do-Wah Diddy Diddy. Shuddering at the thought now.
I moved over to London in 2019 with my life possessions in a Volkswagen Transporter that I’d crashed that very morning. I started doing gigs in London last summer, and I’m still finding my feet – still ripping off Mick Head and Johnny Marr where I can.