Martin Reynolds' new single 'Strange Days Indeed' released today (16/10/2020)
Photography by Aga Nosek.
The onset of Covid-19 and the introduction of a general lockdown for millions in the UK and around the world has been a strange experience, as if something from a dystopian nightmare. While the news has been dominated by job losses, infection rates and deaths as a result of the crisis, many people have taken the opportunity afforded them to learn new skills and get creative.
One such person is You Dirty Blue drummer Martin Reynolds, who recorded demos for an entire album worth of songs while stuck indoors during the initial lockdown.
"I knew I was going to have a lot of time on my hands and I knew my band (You Dirty Blue) weren’t going to be able to practice or record for a while due to the country going into lockdown.
"I’ve never been one for sitting around, I like to keep busy you know? I’d already demoed one song on my phone a week or so before lockdown happened called ‘The Sky Ain’t The Limit’ and it kind of snowballed from there. That track really set the tone for the rest of the record. I kind of threw away the rule book after that."
The first single to be taken from the upcoming album, Where There's Hope, is called 'Strange Days Indeed' (released 16th October), which is a warm and optimistic acoustic song harking back to the sounds of classic singer-songwriter's from the 60's and 70's. It's a song which encourages the listener to keep going, puts an arm around your shoulder and tells you that, even if it doesn't make much sense right now: "It'll be alright in the end."
Obviously, writing and recording his own songs when confined to a home shared with others, and lacking space, threw up it's own challenges.
"Although I was happy with the results of experimenting with recording on my phone, I felt I could do much better in terms of mixing the sound. So I started demoing songs on a 24 track mixer I’d borrowed from bandmate Leon, along with a couple of mics.
"I found the initial process of recording at home during a lockdown quite difficult, so as soon as the first restrictions were lifted I called up the owner of the now unfortunately defunct Silky Studios and started work recording properly. I’d go in at the start of the day with the bare-bones of the song, and come out at the end of the day with a full song. I treated recording like it was my day job."
"In terms of writing though, it didn't affect me all that much, I just did what I've always done. Normally in the band environment we’d jam our songs out in a room, Leon would bring a riff in or parts of a song, or even a full song, and we’d jam on ideas and bounce off each other.
"But with me writing songs, it’s a little different as I’ve always tended to write them on my own. Sometimes I’ll sit down with an acoustic and it’ll just fall out of me, other times the melody will come first or even the words."
The entire album of tracks came about in this way within a month or two - "I found the process relatively easy because the songs came straight to me", says Martin - except one song titled 'Profit Vs. People', which was written around four years ago.
"I was never happy with how it came out, so this time around I recorded it on the acoustic guitar, the same as I had originally written it, and just didn't try to force it. I'm much happier with the results."
With the world continuing to be in a state of flux, it's hard not to recognise some of the motivations for Martin's new solo project in the hopefulness of 'Strange Days Indeed'. A hope that we'll pull through these troubling times and find happiness once again. "I guess I initially started writing these songs to document this time. It’s an odd time to be living through, every time I’d turn the TV on it was bad news, people I knew were receiving bad news, and I guess I just wanted to write something that was sincere. I hope it brings people some form of optimism in an otherwise unoptimistic time."