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Shiver - Chris Sharkey Part 3

Posted on 21 March 2014

Part 3! Our latest blog instalment from Shiver’s Chris Sharkey ahead of his gig here at Gateshead International Jazz Festival.

Long walks and longer drives

In the last post I talked about the people involved in this project but there was one person I missed out.

The sixth member of this band is actually a place, the North-East (Gateshead in particular). It’s the 10th anniversary of the Gateshead Jazz Festival this year and I actually can’t believe I’ve just typed those words because when I left Gateshead to study music in ’96 the prospect of such a thing felt pretty improbable to say the least! Without going into too much detail, the very fact that the GIJF exists shows how much the areas cultural health has improved.

The character of the region and it’s people looms large in this piece but ironically most of the music was written far away from here in the idyllic, yet uncharacteristically drizzly, city of Stavanger in Norway in January. I was over there working on a project that left me alone with nothing but a guitar for large portions of the day: the perfect conditions for writing music! No distractions just hours and hours of time to figure out what I wanted to say.

In order to avoid introspection and gain perspective I took to breaking up the writing sessions with bracing walks around the city at various times of the day. (I actually went out at 2am one morning as a precaution against what felt like imminent insanity!) It’s amazing what these walks would do. Every single time the problem that I thought I had upon leaving would be solved by the time I put the key in the door an hour later. It’s not only sound that can’t travel in a vacuum!

Doing this also made me realise that I have good times and bad times for ideas. Here’s what it looks like:

6am-9am – ‘i’ve got loads of amazing ideas!’

9am-2pm – ‘Some of those ideas were terrible but some are pretty good!’

2pm – 5pm – ‘Getting up at 6 was a bad idea’.

5pm – 9pm – ‘Deciding to be a musician was a bad idea’.

9pm-12am – ‘I’ve got loads of amazing ideas!’

12am-2am – ‘Going to bed 4 hours ago would have been a good idea’.

Car journeys were great times for ideas too – We had to do some really long, early morning drives and it was great staring out of the window at the mountains, snow and fjords thinking about ideas for songs, textures, sounds and words that rhyme with ‘intoxication’! I listened to tons of music too and really paid attention to the words for what felt like the first time. ‘I can’t believe I haven’t done this before’, I thought.

I wanted to do this project so I could push myself in a direction I’d never been in before and that was EXACTLY what was happening. So, here I am weeks later and we’ve just done another rehearsal and the music is really coming alive. Everyone is starting to put their stamp on it and the whole things exists now in places other than my own head.

OK, got to go, it’s 7.02am and I’ve just had a brilliant idea!

Chris Sharkey

PS – this weeks pic could have been one of the many beautiful Nordic vistas I encountered during my time there but I decided instead to post the picture of the flat-pack coffee table where the long hours were spent and the real work was done.

Shiver will be performing with Polar Bear as part of Gateshead International Jazz Festival on Sunday 6 April, Sage Two, 2pm. More information and tickets here.