January 26th was the launch at the Spotted Mallard of Everyday I Write The Hook - Victor Stranges Plays The Elvis Costello Songbook. The show was well attended as Victor single-handedly presented over one and a half hours of pure EC. A few hits and quite a few obscurities ensured that pop admirers and Costello devotees were well served. Special guests, Melbourne songwriters, Tim Reid and Zac Anthony (Wellingtons) were a wonderful and fitting addition to this songwriting fest.
Victor Stranges Plays The Elvis Costello Songbook
His admiration for Elvis Costello started when he played drums in his first serious band in the 1980s. It was a punk band playing a three chord country rendition of Oliver's Army. He was "hooked" ever since.
To Stranges, Costello songs became melodic puzzles that needed to be codified in his own mind. He spent the next few years meticulously learning songs from his albums starting with My Aim Is True (1977) and finishing somewhere around All This Useless Beauty (1996). It was a journey he relished in and the songs became a major influence on his own writing style.
Everyday I Write The Hook is not a costume changing tribute show but more an affirmation of Stranges' love for the songs of Elvis Costello which are played solo on acoustic guitar. The songs are stripped back, revealing their subtlety and glorious structures.
Stranges is an original recording artist who's album, "Hello Me To You," was named as one of the Best Albums of 2009 by Pop Underground. Pop Underground is a community of writers, musicians, industry observers and fans united in their love of insanely great popular music.
THE LAUNCH NIGHT IS SATURDAY 26TH JANUARY, 2019 AT THE SPOTTED MALLARD.
I had taken a break from performing and recording for a while. The years tick away raising a family and keeping up with the day job. I've recently taken a break from work and I now have a renewed vigour this year for all things musical. I have a few songs that I have started recording tracks for a new album which has been in the works for quite some time. I am working on getting the recordings finished, mixed and mastered in the next little while and hope to release it in the next few months.
I was invited to perform with the Kennedy-Leever Blues Project last month at the Elwood Lounge which was a blast. I am hoping to join them on stage again soon. It's been a real inspiration to get out performing again, particularly with friends I will be doing some more solo shows in the near future too.
Come to see one of my upcoming shows and don't forget to join the mailing list (see Contact page on the website). Speaking of which, the website has been given a new update and I wlll have more content to fill the site in the months ahead. Until then, adios!
Last year I was asked to play some shows at Mission To Seafarers in Melbourne. My agent, Nancy, said can I get someone to sing some backing vocals with me. I immediately thought of my son, Samuel. The poor boy has had to put up with my pop leanings at home since he was born. To his credit, he suggested we do this track and I must admit it is one of my favourite songs we do: https://soundcloud.com/pop-preservation-society/darlin
Victor Stranges and DC Cardwell playing at the historic Mission To Seafarers in Melbourne
I am performing a one off show with Northern Ireland award winning songwriter and musical partner, DC Cardwell (now residing in Melbourne). The acoustic show is performed in an intimate courtyard within the historic building, Mission To Seafarers, located in Flinders Street, Melbourne. The evening is presented by Global Onslaught and is the first night of a series of Music At The Mission shows.
DC Cardwell and I met by chance in 2009 and we found we shared an appreciation for Nick Lowe, Jonathan Richman and Ray Davies. Our genuine desire to combine story telling through the pop song format has sustained our interest in the Melbourne music scene as occasional performers together.
Chris Haylock (9th January, 1969 - 24th June, 2012)
I had the privilege of meeting Chris Haylock through a jam session with DC Cardwell and I was instantly hooked. He played in a few bands but that didn't really bother me. I wasn't a teenage muso anymore and I just liked to play with anyone. I enjoyed the jazz twists in his playing, the anticipation of his fills and the precision of his accents. A friendship grew and we sometimes had dinner, some wine and then we would just jam (at DCs, Chris' or my place). Sometimes we played a gig but it was only a few times we shared the stage. The last time we played a show together was 26th March, 2011 at the Chandelier Room with DC Cardwell and Samuel Cardwell.
It was a quick few months that flew and then Chris passed away on 24th June 2012. We were saddened and shocked by the swiftness of his illness. I actually felt quite a bit useless at the time so all I could do was uplift him, Cath and the family in prayer. I don't know why these things happen but when they occur to young people there is a lot of questions I have. Living life to the full is a great goal but we sometimes don't understand that experiencing the highs is not the whole definition of living life to the full. It is experiencing the lows as well and I know that Chris' character during those low periods is a testament to how he truly lived his life to the full. He was a generous, gracious and loving person, even in his most difficult times and we miss him dearly.
Chris On Drums CD
To honour the memory and the wonderful talent of Chris, there was an idea that came about recently to put together a CD of Chris playing drums on various recordings. Chris' brother, Steve Haylock, is in the process of reviewing recordings from various sources to put together on an album that will hopefully see the light of day soon. You can read more about it here.
DC Cardwell, Samuel Cardwell, Chris Haylock and I performed a Christmas Show at the Chandelier Room on 5th December 2010 and a friend of mine, Ben Morris, recorded the show. The raw tracks were literally stored in the vaults (well, stored on my hard drive) and we completely forgot about it. Around the time of Chris' passing I was reminded of it and I chanced upon the files as I was scanning through my computer.
I am pleased to say that there are nine complete songs from the show that I have found and I am in the process of mixing and mastering the tracks with DC Cardwell. We hope that some of the material finds its way to the "Chris On Drums" album and I am almost certain that all the tracks will be available on its own album. We hope that this will be in the next few months.
The last few months...
I recently signed an agreement with a company in the U.S. to provide instrumental versions of my songs from Hello Me To You for potential placement in TV shows. I am now about three quarters of the way through the mixes. There are around six versions of ten tracks which comes to about sixty tracks. It's an interesting exercise. Once I put that to bed I am happy to say that, God willing, I will continue recording the next album. I have written quite a few songs and have started recording them, though it's taken some time as life is just...well...it's busy.
The new album...
It really feels like we are in a new era where the old is fading fast. I look at the demise of the music industry, the impending collapse of the world monetary system, the bank bailouts, the death of manufacturing and retail in Western economies and the idea of liberty which has reignited in the hearts of many people. I see mainstream media becoming less relevant and less informative. At the same time I also see it becoming more advertorial based and basically boring (to me). But I see the internet as the great equaliser, where critical thought can be found in the blogosphere, where ideas are passionately exchanged and debated.
This has been an inspiration for the new album I am working on. It's not meant to be political. I don't want to convince anyone of anything. It is a reflection, though, of where I'm at in my own head. At the heart of the album lies the idea that there is a global insurrection against the banking occupation occuring. But as I continue to write the record, I look around and it seems the insurrection is a pattern happening in other areas including against the mainstream media, against the status quo in the political sphere and against corporations that use their power to creatively avoid prosecution for financial fraud and advance their own special interests (thank you Max Keiser).
Amazingly, this is all meticulously documented on the internet as I witness countless writers and everyday people coming to a similar realisation at a moment in time when we still have this unregulated freedom on the internet for self expression. I believe as seekers of truth, we go from glory to glory and this is just part of the journey for me. Sounds a bit full on? Well, there is a lot of angst in the record but there is also release and hope. I will say that it's going to be a rock 'n' roll album after all. And isn't rock 'n' roll about sticking it to the man? Stay tuned.
My good friend and musical compatriot, DC Cardwell won the Catapult Song Contest for 2011. His brilliant song, I Am Still The Same, was the overall winner as well as the judges' favourite. What's more, he has an amazing video for the song. Click here to watch it. He is currently working on Marjorie Cardwell's album (his other half who is a terrific songwriter). I encourage you to check out DC's work and visit his website: www.dccardwell.com.
We have had an interesting year so far. The European Debt Crisis, a potential new carbon tax (in Oz), the U.S. debt ceiling that could be raised (will they raise it? ...of course they will borrow some more, whether you like it or not!). Well, life just goes on, really. Me, I like the liberty of being able to make music - it's a different universe that I escape to.
Last night I had a wonderful jam with Samuel and DC Cardwell. As well as going through some old chestnuts (well, the songs aren't THAT old), we worked on some new ones. I recently had a frenzied writing session that lasted a whole week in my home studio. I was asked to see if I could come up with some "fun" 60s music for a TV show in the U.S. Some people think that the Monkees are fun, while others prefer the Grateful Dead. I kind of took the middle ground (well, one of the songs sounds a bit like The Monkees). I am grateful for the opportunity. Currently, I am in the process of recording them and hopefully they will see the light of day in the near future.
In April, I became involved in a project called When The Morning Comes (Music For Libya). It was the brainchild of Gunnar Simonsen and within six days, he released a compilation album of international artists to assist in HISG's humanitarian efforts in Libya. It was put together to help raise money to purchase 30 metric tonnes (66,000 lbs) of flour in Egypt and transport it over the border to supply local bakeries. The album is still available for download at https://musicforlibya.bandcamp.com. I just about fell out of my chair when they used my song and named the album using the song title. To top it off, two of my other favourite songwriters appeared on the album, DC Cardwell and the late Larry Norman.
DC and I recorded a couple of acoustic renditions on video to promote the release: Peace And Love and When The Morning Comes.
Hello Me To You (the single) was released on 6th July to 2,300 radio stations worldwide including
- FM (All Major Markets)
- Europe FM (Italy, France, Germany, London, and Spain)
- College Radio
- On Demand
- Sirius Satellite (Over 100 Channels)
- AOL Music
- Yahoo Music
Victor's album, Hello Me To You, was named on Pop Underground as one of the best in 2009. As a result, Bruce Brodeen (CEO of Not Lame Recordings in the U.S.A.) and Victor were in contact recently to set up distribution through Not Lame. The company is probably the most recognised Powerpop label in the world and carries thousands of well known titles from artists such as XTC, Todd Rundgren, The Shazam, Elvis Costello, Jellyfish, Jason Falkner, Cheap Trick, The Raspberries, The Beatles, etc. Powerpop is such a great genre of music that really commercially peaked in the late 70s/early 80s but the world of the internet has connected a community of people that follow it dearly, holding it in high esteem and with as much respect and admiration as jazz or blues.
Hello Me To You" was named as one of the Best Albums of 2009 by Pop Underground***. The album ranked 114 out of a possible 200. Pop Underground is a community of writers, musicians, industry observers and fans united in their love of insanely great popular music.
***The Pop Underground link is a web archive version as the original site is no longer online.
Hello Me To You, the single, has so far been played on the following radio stations...
2GLF, SYNFM, Albany Community Radio, 2NVR, 2IAM FM 94.1, 92.9 FM, Power 98.1 FM / 2NM, PhoenixRadio.com.au, Radio 4K1G, 2DAY FM, CVC Network, 101.9 Coast FM, UGFM, Radio Monash, 5YYY, Twin Cities FM, Voice FM, Magic FM / 3AW.
Also, special thanks to Noddy & Brommers for playing it on Home Brew Radio which airs on the following stations nationally...
2ECR - Eden
2GCR 103.3 FM - Goulburn
2HOT 102.9 FM - Cobar
2KRR 98.7 FM - Kandos
2LVR 97.9 FM - Forbes
2MAX 91.3 FM - Narrabri
2MIA 95.1 FM - Griffith
2OCB 107.5 FM - Orange
2TLC 100.3 FM - Yamba
2WOW 100.7FM - St Marys
Opal FM 89.7 - Lightning Ridge
2YAS 100.3 FM - Yass
2MNO Monaro FM 90.5 FM, 93.3 FM, 93.9 FM - Nimmitabel
3HCR 90.9 & 97.3 FM - Omeo
3MBR 103.5 FM - Murrayville
3MGB 96.9 & 101.7 FM - Mallacoota
3HHH 96.5FM - Horsham
3RIM FM 97.9 - Melton
4DDD 89.9 FM - Dalby
4NAG 91.3 FM - Yeppoon
4RRR 101.7 FM - Roma
5KIX 90.7 FM - Kingscote
5EFM 88.3, 89.3, 94.7 - Victor Harbour
6YCR 101.3 FM - York
6CRA 100.9 FM - Albany
6KCR 102.5 FM - Kalamunda
6SEN Capital Community Radio 90.5FM - Perth
7MID 97.1 FM - Oatlands
Hobart FM 92.1 & 96.1 - Hobart
2RRR FM 88.5 - Ryde
TRIPLE H FM 100.1 - Hornsby
BAY & BASIN 92.7FM - Jervis Bay
2RDJ FM 88.1 - Burwood 2BAY
99.9 FM - Byron Bay
2BBB - North Bellingen
2BOB 104.7 FM - Taree
2CHR - Cessnock
2LIV 94.1FM - Coniston
2MIA 95.1 FM - Griffith
2MCE - Bathurst
2NSB 99.3 FM - Chatswood
2UUU 92.3, 99.7 & 104.5 FM - South Nowra
2CCC 96.3FM - Gosford
2WET TANK RADIO 103.1 FM - East Kempsey
2SNR - Radio Five-O Plus - Gosford
2UNE - TUNE! FM - Armidale
3PVR Plenty Valley FM 88.6 FM - Mill Park
3WAY Great Ocean Radio 103.7 FM - Warrnambool
3CH - 100.7 Highlands FM - Kyneton
3OCR - Otway FM 99.1 & 104.7 FM - Colac
3ECB - Croydon
3UGE UG FM - Alexandra
3VKV Alpine Radio 92.5 - Mt Beauty
4BI Switch AM 1197 AM - Fortitude Valley
4BSR 101.5 FM - Beaudesert
4CCC Warwick Community FM Radio Assn Inc 89.3 FM - Warwick
4GEM 95.1 FM - Bowen
4RED 99FM - Margate
4BAY - Thornlands
5BBB 89.1 FM - Tanunda
5GFM 89.3 FM - Kadina
5GTR 100.1 FM - Mt Gambier
5TRX 105.1 FM - Port Pirie
5YYY 107.7 FM - Whyalla
5PBA - 89.7 FM - Salisbury East
7RGY HUON FM 95.3 FM - Geeveston
7TAS 97.7 FM - Nubeena
7LTN - City Park Radio - Launceston
8CCC - Alice Springs
Hello Me To You, has also been thrashed on Rich Horton's U.S. Internet Radio station, The Pure Pop Pub. Thanks Rich!
Extra special thanks to Lindsay Crawford and Mark Copolov (Purple Haze radio show) at Southern FM and Rob (The Chord Recliner radio show) at Gove FM for contuinual airplay and the interviews.
A couple of other songs from the album, Morning Star and Nineteen Years Ago have been played on radio show, Vital Bits, on 3RRR (Melbourne).
Dear friends, it is with much sadness that I announce that the man of many talents, Matt Swanton, is leaving The Methinks at the end of the year. Matt was pivotal in the latest incarnation of The Methinks in recent years. He was a valuable contributor to the overall sound of the band through his piano/keys, guitar and vocal prowess. He will be sorely missed. His generous spirit encouraged me in my journey of putting the latest album together and he is also a great friend.
Matt is joining the crew of MV Logos Hope (that’s a ship y’all) for a two year missions trip. I just know that Matt is going to have a blast and we will truly miss him. Matt will join the rest of the band (Darren, Alex and I) for a final gig before he leaves. Come and celebrate with us as we wish him a fantastic trip. It’s extra special because the venue is owned by a very good friend of mine, John Leever and it’s our last gig of the year.
Here are the details….
6:00pm Saturday 12th December, 2009
The Grocery Bar
135 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda (Melbourne, Australia)
Hope to see you there.
Victor Stranges and Matt Swanton will be appearing on Lindsay Crawford’s radio show, Purple Haze, on Southern FM 88.3 (Melbourne, Australia) between 8.00 and 10.00pm on Wednesday 16th September. There will be an interview and we will be playing tracks off the new album, Hello Me To You. We may even be playing a couple of songs live in the studio. Hope you can tune in.
I am pleased to announce that I have just signed 6 separate 18 song deals with 5 music libraries in the U.S. and 1 in Australia. These companies are actively shopping my songs for film and TV placements internationally. If you hear one of my songs in an ad, TV show or film, you are not going crazy, I promise you.