Award-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tony Moore is pleased to announce Tony Moore Presents ‘AWAKE’ in Guildford, Surrey, for October 2023, which will see him visit the town for the first time with his live show on Sunday, October 29th, 2023, in the intimate surroundings of The Electric Theatre
Tickets are on sale now and are available here: Tony Moore – AWAKE! | Electric Theatre
Tony Moore is a British singer and songwriter who has had a truly eclectic career in the music business. He started his musical life as the one and only keyboard player in the original lineup of Iron Maiden. He then went on to form a band called “Tanz Der Youth” with Brian James (ex-Damned) and achieved critical acclaim as part of the “New Wave” of British music at the end of the 1970s. In the mid-80’s, his band Radio Java had a Christmas hit in Holland with a song he wrote and recorded at Abbey Road called “Fool”. In 1986, he joined the band Cutting Crew as a keyboard player, who then went on to have worldwide success with the song “(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight.”
We have been fortunate enough here in the magazine to have a sneak listen to the album (it’s great, everybody) and to see the video for “Crazy in the Shed.” We began by thinking about the shed, as sheds do have certain memories. In our team at the magazine, Mark’s grandfather had a garden shed where he would wander off to and have a male space with his tools and such things, and his father had a space where he built a train set in his retirement. But perhaps the shed belonged to that older generation, as the modern male probably doesn’t have the shed as his space any more?
Tony – I think the shed has actually evolved and become a garden room in many cases. I see these sheds now painted really nicely, with sliding doors that the whole family can access. Within the context of the album, the shed has many meanings, partly because the whole album was recorded in the shed, which is in my mum’s back garden! Secondly, it is a metaphor to be a safe space, and you can have an emotional shed or a mental place that is like a shed where you put things in, or it’s a place to go and be shut off from everything else. Also, the whole album was written in 2021, when the world went crazy. So the idea behind the phrase “Crazy in the Shed” is a play on words with “crazy in the head,” and these all wind into each other. The shed does play a central role in the middle of the album and in the live show, where the video is revealed and all kinds of people are dancing along to it, doing the silly dad dance.
Tony Moore has, it must be said, a wonderful CV. But his online pieces are always prefaced with “ex-member of Iron Maiden,” ex-Cutting Crew, but he has done so much more. How does he look back, or forward, and view music business success at this point?
Tony- An interesting point. Truthfully, success is being able to do the thing that you love, and if it includes sharing it with a wider audience as a performer, success is continuing to do the thing that you love. Yes, I have been in the business a long time, so my CV covers so much that I have done. But the quantifier of success has become more democratised. There was the pinnacle of the charts, but I have no idea what is in the charts now.
Nor have we, and we are a music magazine! But there are so many charts now that it is impossible to keep up.
It’s partly because you have to go and look for it. In the UK, you used to have Top of the Pops (1964-2006), and you would look at it, and it would tell you who was at number one in the charts that everyone recognised. It was a family thing, and there is a question over whether the BBC decision to remove Top of the Pops meant that families no longer gathered around the music and no-one really knew any more what was happening. And every country had the same thing, in the US, it was Bandstand (ran 1952-1989); in Holland, it was Top Pop (ran 1970-1988); every country had this chart based show. But little by little, this was all taken away. The prevalence of the internet meant that people didn’t all need to be in the same place at the same time to enjoy the same thing. As a public engagement with music, it has changed. Now, you can be number one in the country charts, or i-tune charts, or number one on tik-tok, where you can have millions of views with no charts at all. I guess YouTube was a signifier of success where you would look at the views for Adele or Ed Sheeran and these viewing figures into the mega millions. But this almost seems to have been left behind by the concept of reels- these twenty second tik-tok reels that are creating a new generation of what we can term successful people. Maybe these people never leave their bedroom, never leave the house; they are online stars, and it has an impact on so many layers. How has our business responded to the digital age? Truthfully, though external success can be as simple as someone saying you have done well, There are parts of life where people note what you have done. But I do, in many respects, suggest I have had a successful life, but on another level, if you don’t read my CV, you may not know too much about me! I am not recognised by people pointing me out and shouting my name, but that is not the main quantifier of success in my view.
It’s like at the magazine, we are so happy when people reach out because they enjoy what we do—they like the features, reviews, or poetry!
Tony- That’s because you are creating a body of work to have an impact. In a strange way, it reminds me of when I left Iron Maiden in ‘78. I was working with Brian James as part of the whole New Wave thing when he left The Damned, and the independent press of the late seventies was genuinely exciting. They were making magazines, photocopying them, sticking them together and selling them, and actually being part of the underground. But then the underground often became mainstream. The major outlets are always looking for ways to incorporate the next generation of creative thinkers and invest in them; otherwise, you become competition, so better buy you up.
“Awake,” the album, has been very carefully put together with a plea to listen to the album through from start to finish, to experience it as a concept. This alone returns us to the changes we were discussing before about how listening tastes in music are changing. Are we still listening to albums, and is the modern day album as relevant as it was in the past?
Tony- I am of a generation that does come from the album world, where the physicality of queueing up at the record store for the physical product was part of life. I remember Genesis “Selling England by the Pound” when it came out (1973), and honestly, I was there at 7 in the morning and I couldn’t wait to get hold of it. You look at the artwork and drink in every detail to see what was given to us visually and sonically. For those of us of that generation, it is hard to hear a track from any of those albums without instinctively thinking about what comes next. That is a lost art in the making to some degree, a lost art for the younger generation, but it is what it is. My purpose for making this record is to be an anomaly and do the thing that the 13-year-old me never did but would have wanted to: make an album with a cinematic journey and narrative, and then do it live; to do the costume changes and the things that we used to do in the seventies. Some really big bands still do that (check out the Kiss tour), but they do what they always did. Although there are some amazing acts, they are coming at it almost from a production point of view rather than a ‘we don’t have much money, but let’s be creative’ perspective. While in the shed during lockdown with no outlet to go anywhere and making the album, I am channelling all the things I loved growing up. The album won’t be properly released until next year, as there are still things to do on it. But also, ahead of the album, the old-school way, I am taking the songs out there live to build awareness of what I’m doing. I am building this as an independent artist; I have no massive marketing budget, so I guess the music is nowhere until people see the shows and then they become ambassadors for it. I wrote and recorded the album, starting with “Awake,” and after I had finished it, I realised it was around eight minutes long with this big guitar break, and I’m not known for playing the guitar as I kept it quiet; I was always on keyboards or rhythm as a songwriter musician. But I just felt it was time. I posted a video of me doing the “Awake” track on Facebook and got thousands of views and so many positive comments from people who loved it. So I felt that it was the opening of an album that I hadn’t written yet, so I had better write it. The album has continuity of narrative because it is written in order. The next song is based on how I want it to be unpredictable. Some artists have their own sound, and it can be hard to differentiate between songs, but I want to create a sound where you really don’t know what will happen next. It is a personal journey, but I have found the messages within to be universal. My mum’s dementia is a part of it, and that issue touches so many that so many can relate, and then we all experienced lockdown, something so strange that we all struggled to deal with it. I have no target audience; I just want to reach out.
On the album is a track called “Dark Winter.” It’s an instrumental, and “Awake” has a large instrumental section. It reminds us of a line in Shakespeare’s “Winters Tale” that says “a sad song’s best for winter,” and we wondered how Tony set about constructing the instrumental and presented the guitar solo live.
Tony- I play note for note live, as I recorded it. The first is a practical reason, and that is because I am not that great a guitarist, so I play what I know, and I am in that comfort zone where I place my artistry into the melody for the song. These are melodic structures. I don’t know if you saw the Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) tour recently. There are Floyd influences in my music, along with Bowie and Genesis, but when I saw this amazing show by Waters, he started with “Comfortably Numb” and no guitar solo. Now, that was brave, and I enjoyed it for what it was, but it was so hard not to miss the guitar solo, and we all know it. Or think “Smoke on the Water,” and you have to have the Blackmore guitar solo the way he played it. But Frank Zappa will see the solo as an excuse to be creative in whatever moment he is in. But I am very much of the feeling that you hear live what you got on the album and know. And when we go and see our favourite artists, we want to hear the songs that we know and love. That’s why we go!
There is a line from the song “The Clock has started” on the “Awake Album,” and it reads, “All sense has departed; get out of town.” We were thinking that was a very poignant reference to dementia and the difficulties of the condition, and we found it a touching line. How hard is it to take sad subjects and make them accessible to all?
Tony- In many respects, this was the easiest thing I have done; the album felt like it was stacked up just waiting to be written. Perhaps I could never have done this album at any other point in my life. Technically, I couldn’t have gotten the guitar parts right years ago. Also, spiritually and mentally, I wasn’t ready before. To spend those two years living with my mum as her primary carer and doing the work in the shed. I also did a live stream in the shed for 2 hours every night for 110 nights without a break! It started on March 24th, 2020, during lockdown. It was only originally going to be three weeks until we flattened the curve! So I felt I could do three weeks—hard work, but doable! But I ended up doing nearly 250 in total, but I was learning six or seven songs every day as the same community was growing and I couldn’t just play the same set every night. But those two years were some of the best in my life, as I did all that and also got to tell my mum she was the best and that I loved her. I have spent so much of my life touring, so this was valuable time. Musically, I lyrically like hiding things within lyrics, and I love word play. That line you quoted is not actually about dementia, although we do have a subliminal level to lyric writing, and maybe we put things in lyrics that are part of our lives at the time. My mums dementia was such a part of that time and experience; it may have been there. But, really, it was saying how we are in this crazy world where all sense has departed and that time lacked the predictability of normal life.
On June 30th, 2019, Tony Moore performed his composition “We Are the Light” at the closing ceremony of the European Games 2019 in Belarus. The song was written to honour the 8,000 volunteers who helped host the Euro Games in Minsk in 2019. Watching it live looks like a massive career highpoint!
Tony- There is quite a story behind that performance! I wrote the song about nine months before the event. I was in Belarus as part of a press launch. The official Minsk 2019 motto was “Bright Year, Bright You,” based on the letters BY, the first two letters, phonetically, that make up the word Belarus and also the internet country code domain for the nation. So I wrote the whole song there, and I played it to a girl who was at the press launch, and she knew the Minister of Sport! He sent the video of me playing it on acoustic guitar, and he said I should sing it at the closing ceremony! I then spent the next six months recording it, producing it, and trying to fit in with the Russian-speaking producers and what they wanted. Then, four days before flying out, there was to be a dress rehearsal on Saturday night, before the Sunday event. I then got really bad vertigo—really bad—and I was so ill I couldn’t move. It just cleared up on Saturday morning. So all my white clothes and guitar were suddenly needed. I get to the airport, and they book me on a flight to Belarus via Russia without a visa, so I couldn’t get on the plane. They then got me on another flight via Spain, but the plane was delayed, and I arrived at midnight. I rushed through customs, and they were closing the gates for the last flight to Minsk as I got there. It was so bad, I ended up borrowing a guitar and some white clothes. When I walked on the stage for the first time, I just made it. You watched me perform, and I had never been on that stage before. I looked, and there was an orchestra, a band, President Putin, and the leaders of most of Europe. So if I look confused in the close-ups, you know why!
For more information
AWAKE Website: awakemusic.info/wp/
By Lorraine Foley
Mark C. Chambers
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