“I have been told, rather accusingly, that I have an ‘American’ sound. I don’t know why that is a bad thing! Growing up in the 90’s America led the way musically…”
– LEE GORDON
EMMA J SMITH – PHOTOGRAPHER
LEE GORDON – SINGER/ SONGWRITER
DARREN WOOLNER – BASS PLAYER
We get to know Singer / Songwriter Lee Gordon, in the run-up to his debut single launch BEACH HOUSE!
Sam & Kat: “When did you start playing?”
Lee: “I could always sing, I think. Well, I always liked to sing. One of my first memories probably around 4 [years old] was singing along to Michael Jackson with A head right in the cone of one of the old giant wooden speaker that sat on the questionably patterned beige, brown and black carpet in our front room. I loved the feeling of being immersed in the music. No one in my family is musical. I didn’t grow up in a house full of music. My Mum did love Motown and Stax though and I still have her old Otis Redding vinyl. He is definitely an inspiration and an example of exuding pure soul into your music.
I first knew I wanted to play when I was around 11 and at a friends house. His uncle turned up with a red Fender Strat and showed off to us playing questionable versions of old Clapton and Cream. I was hooked. I knew this was for me! I got a cheap copy of a Strat for the next Christmas and spent hours a day trying to play it. I had my first band at 13 I think. This began my journey into music and all of its genres.”
S & K: “Are there any famous musicians you learned from while growing up?”
L: “I started with Eric Clapton, which led to Blues (Muddy Waters/ Robert Johnson), then Guns and Roses and Rock music which led to Metallica (the good stuff, Master of Puppets, Ride The Lightening etc) and metal (Slayer, Anthrax, bay area stuff). Around 15 when grunge hit it blew me away, the guttural angst of it all, the lyrical style, just struck a chord with me especially Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. I’d say their sound still influences me to this day. Eddie Vedder is a hero of mine for sure. It was late teens when I got my first acoustic guitar and wrote my first ‘singer/songwriter’ song. Then the likes of Neil Young, Jeff Buckley, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, Counting Crows, Ryan Adams. I grew up on Rock, Metal, Grunge and Singer/songwriters coming out of America and I can hear all of them in what I write now and have written previously. I have been told, rather accusingly, that I have an ‘American’ sound. I don’t know why that is a bad thing! Growing up in the 90’s America led the way musically (unlike these days when we have some serious Talent!) I suppose it was inevitable given my taste. I write from the heart. It’s not stylised in any way. It is 100% me.”
S & K: “Who or what do you find inspires or influences you most in your music?”
L: “It varies, I write from a very emotive place though. Songwriting is my first love and real catharsis for me, and whatever I may be feeling is laid bare in my process. I, like most others like me, write better when life sucks! I have people I admire and look up to but I don’t take direct influence from them as such, I do always seem to write in a certain way. Fiddling about on the guitar will give me a chord progression or riff of some kind, which will kick start a melody and topline which I will just vamp on, then the lyrics will slot in over all that. Lyrics are very important to me and I put every ounce of energy and brainpower I can muster to really throw myself heart and soul into the words. I love a hook also. For me, a song has to have a really good hook somewhere. My songs always come from an emotive place.
S & K: “Your debut single Beach House releases next month, can you tell us a bit about that? – Has it been a long process getting to this point?”
L: “BEACH HOUSE was written on a rainy day at a beautiful house on the North Cornwall coast surrounded by my family and then-pregnant wife. The sound of the ocean really influenced the style of guitar I wrote for this song, it rolls and repeats to give that sense of the water hitting the shore. The double bass really made the song come to life, again focusing on the comforting almost hypnotic sound of the sea. Lyrically, the song is about the sense of catharsis created by being away from a hectic London lifestyle, surrounded by beauty, the ones you love and questioning the choices made in life. I saw the ‘beach house’ as a metaphor for the places or people we hold most dear in life and the longing we feel for them on occasion. Darren and myself had this recorded in an afternoon. It was just an organic thing that happened really naturally. It is such a treat as a songwriter when songs come together like this, you really capture the raw emotion as though it’s writing itself.”
Official music video for ‘Beach House’ Available now on itunes http://itunes.apple.com/album/id10757… Also on Amazon, Deezer, Spotify and most other digital outlets Directed by Max Openshaw http://www.maxopenshaw.com Music performed, recorded, mixed by Lee Gordon with Darren Woolner on Double Bass http://www.leegordonmusic.com http://www.facebook.com/leegordonmusic http://www.twitter.com/leegordonmusic http://www.soundcloud.com/leegordonmusic
S & K: “How did you and Darren meet and come to work together?”
L: “I’ve been friends/brothers with Darren Woolner for 25+ years. We went to school together, been flatmates, bandmates and each other’s family for as long as I can remember. I have never played with another bass player. We are each other’s other half. We have been in countless bands, toured up and down the country and travelled the breadth of the US. We are and have definitely been on this journey together”
S & K: “How does it feel for you performing live? Do you ever get nervous beforehand or is it something you can just do with ease now?”
L: “I am a perfectionist and my own worst critic. I work very hard at what I do but I’m never happy. I don’t get nervous but I do sometimes, depending on the show, give myself too much of a hard time. I could do with chilling out a bit sometimes and have a bit more faith in myself. In my head I can always do better. I am very competitive and want to be the best I can be.”
S & K: “What would you say is your most amazing moment to date in your musical career?”
L: “I have had so many amazing moments! I’ve been lucky enough to play and record in some amazing places with some amazing people. The one that stands out for me is an old one though. When I first started out in
Norwich, I did our first gig in the Norwich art centre bar and sold it out. The promoter for a 2-day charity show at the Playhouse was there and booked us for that. We were the main support act and it was totally sold out. The second night we performed like we were possessed! I’m pretty sure I hit my last notes lying on the floor. As I looked up all 280 odd people were on there feet clapping and cheering. A proper standing ovation. I cried. Big proper blubbery man tears. Very embarrassing!”
S & K: “What will you be getting up to once Beach House is released? Do you have any big plans for 2016? And where do you see your musical career leading in the future?
L: “I’m releasing the single as a bit of an acid test. Dipping my toe in the water so to speak. I have been back playing and recording for only 6 months after my break so this is just me saying hello and trying to lay some solid foundations. I am recording at the moment working towards my album. That and playing as many shows as is sensible are my main focus at the moment. I am going to write the best songs I can and put them out there, whether that is live, on video, on record, I’m not sure, whichever way is best at the time.
I have no grand plan right now. I have been back writing and working hard for 6 months now after a 3-year break when the label we were signed too went bust, the band split then my dear Mum lost her fight with cancer. I have a family now, an amazing wife and little boy. They are my entire world and a constant inspiration everyday. I have simple aspirations. I would love to make my passion for music my career. Waking up every day to my family and being involved in music 24/7 would be a dream come true. I would love to be able to support us by playing and writing music. That is my dream. I don’t want to be rich and famous. I wouldn’t say no obviously but it is not an end game. I don’t want to create a new musical landscape. I’m going to see if it’s possible to make a living from doing the only thing I’ve ever been good at. I will always write songs though and will keep working and exploring the art of creating music because I love it.
Bucket list though: Play at the Royal Albert Hall anywhere on a bill, Sell out The Borderline in London, be involved in the soundtrack for a film, have a signature series acoustic guitar.”