Creating a bit of a Splash!

There are so many things you need to do when preparing to release a new record.  If you’re Taylor Swift or the Rolling Stones you will still make all of the big artistic decisions, but you then start to delegate some of the details like booking recording studios or rehearsal space.  One of the major elements of any record release is the accompanying video. I’m sure that while most artists have ideas with so many elements in a film that need to come together in many cases they bring in an experienced music filmmaker.

 It was the 1980’s when MTV changed the music business by bringing 24 hour music videos to cable TV.  The idea of making a film wasn’t new. Sometimes an artist was on tour when a new single was scheduled for release, the answer was a ‘film’.

If you look at the original video for Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ you will see a very simple video with no real story line. Once MTV came online record companies saw the marketing potential of the video and started throwing money at the videographers who were encouraged to create mini feature films. Before long the release of the video was almost more important than the record itself.  Just think of the whole worldwide interest in the premiere of Michael Jackson’s video for ‘Thriller’ which cost $500,000 in 1983!!

In many ways YouTube was as ground breaking as was MTV.  In the past 10 years making a video has become an essential part of the process but also become something almost every artist can create on a budget.  Some of my most recent videos have been filmed on a mobile phone and edited together using free software on a home computer. Then you post them on YouTube and they become available for the whole world to see.

You need a video; you can make a video…so what’s your video about?

I was always going to release my new single ‘Your Words’ on 7th June.  As part of our marketing strategy a summer single record release seemed the best way to keep promotion going for our massive concert on 3rd October at Swansea Arena.

On sale soon!!!

Let’s be honest, trying to actually make money out of music is difficult, well if not difficult, different.  In the old days people went on money losing tours to promote their records. Selling records was the element of the model that actually made money. These days artists almost give the records away for nothing in the hope that people will then support them by buying tickets for their concerts and maybe pick up a T-Shirt or programme from the merchandise stall.

The plan then, a single on 7th June, followed by the new album a few weeks later.

I had put off making the video for ‘Your Words’ hoping to get an idea.  The song has elements of bands like ‘The Travelling Wilburys’, or ‘ELO’ or George Harrison.  I went online and saw a video ‘The Travelling Wilburys’   filmed on a train.  For 2 weeks I worked on a storyboard.  It involved bringing my band together for a day, booking a video crew and finding a train!!

To be honest the train was the easy part.  Roy Thomas at Bay Studios has been a great supporter of my music for the past 20 years.  Roy has a train. The train had been used on the Michael Sheen film ‘Last Train to Christmas’.  It took a text and a quick phone call to Roy, and the train was secured. 

Here’s one Ian Parsons and I made earlier…

My concert promoter Ian Parsons has lots of cameras and lighting kit.  I’ve roped him into making the last half dozen videos.  I don’t want to take him for granted but I’m worried he might be becoming less of a volunteer and more of a conscript!

Then it all started to fall apart.  I have a wonderful band of musicians.  The trouble is because they are good they are in demand and play with lots of other bands all over the world.  It soon became obvious that after 50 ‘WhatsApp’ messages on ‘The Jacks’ group we wouldn’t find many dates we would all be together until the few weeks of rehearsal before the Swansea Arena Show in October.

With just over 2 weeks until release date I was still looking for inspiration.

Let me give you some background to the song ‘Your Words’.  This is the chorus.

I don’t want to hear your words,

I just want to feel your hand in mine

I don’t want to hear your words,

if you really want to find me you’ve got to get along beside me

It was inspired by hearing so many powerful people who would give wonderful speeches when things were going wrong in the world, you know the, ‘we send you our thoughts and prayers’ responses to a disaster or tragedy.  Saying the right thing is important but sometimes what you want is one of them to give someone a hug or just be there and hold a hand.

It was at 5pm on 22nd May I was sat on my sofa watching the BBC news channel when the Prime Minister walked out into Downing Street to announce a General Election on the 4th July. 

As the speech developed it started to rain.  Before long the specks of rain had turned from a light shower to a heavy shower, to a downpour.  Here was the most powerful man in the land, using lots of words about having a plan but seemingly not having seen the weather forecast or planned ahead to bring an umbrella with him.


That image soon became a ‘meme’ and that night my mind started working.  The song wasn’t written about the present Prime Minister but that picture sort of summed up what I was trying to say with the song.  Words are very important but actions (like having an umbrella) are sometimes essential.

With an election on the horizon I didn’t want my video to be a hatchet job on one politician or party.  Then it came to me, I’m probably just as bad as the people I was pointing the finger towards. So I would be everyone in the video.  I would be the Prime Minister.  I would be the Council Street Cleaner.  I would be one of the journalists…and of course there would be lots of water so I would get soaked.

Preparing for rain…

We realised getting permission to actually film in Downing Street was going to be a little difficult, so we decided to go Green Screen.  A week after the announcement I found myself in a cold studio, standing in front of a big screen.  I’d managed to rope in some friends from the Plough and Harrow in Murton who came straight from the pub, bringing a box of beers with them just in case!!!

I had made a shot list, props list and costume list.  By 1am on Thursday morning we were down to ‘the money shots’. We started filming using a watering can before moving on to the buckets of water.  It was only when I looked back at the long shots that I could see the relish on ‘my friend’ Ed Thomas’ face as he drenched me and the howls of laughter from Ian Parsons. With friends like Ed and Ian making videos is easy!!!

Here is the finished video…

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