Sunday, 1 February 2015

The inventive and resourceful Tom Peel

Not one but two albums in 2015. You South Brum beardie hipsters can swivel: one's all about North Brum. The other album? Greatest Hits. There aren't any, yet, but let's not quibble.  

You may not have seen Tom Peel yet. When you do, you'll know. Peel (no relation) does things like take to the stage with a reel to reel recorder strapped to his chest. And he runs exotic events: folk gatherings deep in the woods. When I went to one, I searched through the gathering gloom in Sandwell Valley, following handmade signs up hill and down dale until I stumbled across a decorated clearing where the gig took place. Logs laid out in a circle for people to sit on, and a brazier sending out a cheery glow. 

Mr Peel does not pursue immediate commercial success. But his projects have undeniable, oddball charm and he sets about getting them underway with impressive purpose. That's not a combination you see every day. I'm very glad he's working on our patch. And now, Tom is doing not one but two albums. 

We met on the evening of Tom hitting his Pozible crowd-funding target to get basic support for the first album project: Tom Peel's Greatest Hits, where the, er, hits are Peel's songs, recorded with an impressive range of local bands and solo artists: Goodnight Lenin, Boat To Row, Rick Wellings, Anna Palmer, Qazi Experiment (formerly Cannon Street), Mike Moloney, Them Wolves, Victories at Sea, Hoopla BlueBen Kane and The Bank Accounts, and the excellent Katherine Priddy

Crowd funding target hit - Did you scramble or sail over the line?
wouldn’t say we sailed over… It was pretty much down to the wire. I gave it a push with some impromptu spoof adverts. If you saw them, you could tell I don’t really plan my advertising - but I think they engaged people… or annoyed them. It was my project this time round so I could afford to be what I wanted to be in those videos - which is normally a little bit daft.
Where is the money going – and exactly what is the project?
Studio time, mixing and mastering, and duplication costs. And Paypal and Pozible, between them take about ten percent of what we've raised. That's the basic shoestring budget. I'm going to mix most of it myself in my own place: northsidestudio.
The next few months is getting involved with the bands who are part of the project. Practising, working with them getting their input. 
A crowdfunding target hit... palpably hit

 So the money is for mechanics, the enabling stuff. 
The rest of it is goodwill from the bands. I've always had a problem promoting myself – solely me. I've always found that quite cringey and hard to do. To get the other guys on board makes it more of a collaboration.
You're going to record with all these guys. Tom - if you're diffident about promoting yourself... how much front do you need to go to all these established acts and persuade them to give you time and effort?
It was just a few messages! I had to maybe persuade a few people to stay in the project because their record label might have something to say about it. But everyone was OK. 
The next few months will see you persuading people...
… into the rehearsal studio, so I can teach them one of my songs and work out an arrangement. Easy for me, of course.
One of Toms' compelling sales pitches for the campaign

Coming back to what you find hard... the current working situation for musicians forces you to be as brazen as you possibly can be, to raise yourself above that parapet, doesn't it?
Well, I guess the extra promotion I had to do when crowdfunding did push me into having to forget the cringey bit. A deadline, an end-point, gives you an almighty shove. 

But you're prone to going onstage with that, er, tape deck thing. So you can't be too self-conscious.
Not in performance. When I am already giving somebody something and I can engage with them there and then, I’m very comfortable. Its asking for someone's attention outside of performance that I find particularly hard. Crowdfunding gets you over that though.
So now you've got this wad of cash in your back pocket, what's the timetable? Now you're a product manager...
The deadline is October 2015 when we will have a huge launch gig, hopefully. The next few months will be devoted to rehearsing the songs, before going into the studio. The album will be on download, vinyl and CD. And some packages will also have the original demos. 
Then there's the other album...
Yes. On February 23rd, there's a launch night for a North Birmingham compilation. This has been in the pipeline for the last ten months. I've got Mike Moloney, Rick Wellings, James Summerfield, Marlem, myself, John Fry – who's moved to Australia...., Flora Ward, Connor Christie (who plays with Summer Loving Torture Party) and Call-Me Unique. There's a couple of colleagues of mine who do nights at the Spotted Dog: Ed and Ruby Handley-Stone. I want to showcase them. I've just got tracks down from Connor Christie and Call-Me Unique
How are you paying for that?

I've got some funding to cover duplication... and I'm chasing funding from Galaxy – they're giving £300 five times over, each week until the end of February.

Tom Peel
northsidestudio -
broke artsts should check the crowdfunding package.
Tom's funding appeal

Tom Peel + Ben Kane & The Bank Accounts Sun At The Station Kings Heath Feb 15th
northsidestudio album launch gig Church Inn Hockley, February 23rd.

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