Onwards…

I’ve been making more music… Working on a new EP of songs about family pets, and just this evening a quick EP of short punky harmonica tunes. I’ve even been thinking about playing live again.

I seem to be drawn to fast punky sounds at the moment, discovering new bands through Bandcamp and Instagram. Even going to see P.O.S. on Saturday was more of a punk gig than a hip hop one, full on with a mosh pit and piercings. It was a real good gig, and I got to meet P.O.S. afterwards, and give home some art I’d made for him. He was a nice dude and really chuffed with the painting.

So, onto this evening… I’ve been really struggling with a change of meds and tiredness, so I’ve been sleeping a lot more than I should be and not being able to function. This morning, I managed to get up and make breakfast, but not long after felt so bad I had to go back to sleep again. So it was quite surprising that I wanted to go and make music. Music seems to be the one thing that keeps me balanced at the moment. After most of the day being spent I bed, it felt good to climb up to the attic and just play, see where the music took me.

I said I’d been listing to lots of punk stuff at the mo, and today was no different. I have found a great Japanese band, OtobokeBeaver, who make great punk pop music. I listened to lots of their stuff, and went off to make some sounds of my own. I love the infectious energy that Japanese people in bands seem to have. So positive and uplifting. So I wanted to play in that mindset, being positive and full of energy.

I played some fast harmonica, which led to four tunes coming out. I seem to work in fours with music, and I tend to make sets of four tunes around a theme. This set were given Japanese names, and art to match. Just quick playing and mixing, with minimal tweaking, keeping the energy of the performance. Heck, I even stood up to play. I put them straight up onto Bandcamp with no mucking about, just a DIY ethic.

You can hear the tracks here: https://ruke.bandcamp.com/album/hamonikarajio

I had fun again, and enjoyed the whole process, from playing, through to mastering and making the artwork. Felt good to be creating just for the sake of creating, feeling more like myself, positive and happy. Sharing the tracks just seemed like the natural thing to do. I think I’ll practice playing them, building confidence, with a view to playing live in the New Year. Fun!

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Progress…

The last few weeks have been tough mentally and physically, with depression kicking in and leaving me tired and emotional. I’ve had issues with oversleeping, then being awake until the early hours.

Today looked like it was shaping up to be another heavy day, as after I’d dropped my wife off in the morning, I thought I’d be retreating back under the duvet until she needed picking up later in the afternoon. It seems to be my default setting at the moment.

Imagine my surprise when I got home and walked our lovely dog, Breeze, cut some firewood, before settling down with 2000AD and a cuppa. Then, I managed to scrub the bathroom, unload and reload the dishwasher, before sorting the broadband and having lunch. No sign of needing a nap or hiding away from life.

And then, get this, I headed out early to go for a skate. I’ve been wanting to skate for weeks, but my depression has been stopping me by making my tired or scared. I was almost too scared to skate today, as when I got to the skatepark, there were two other people there. I have anxiety about doing stuff when other folks are around, as I worry about showing my self up. I got out of the car, almost bottled it, then picked up my board and wondered what was the worst that could happen.

So, the two at the park where younger than me, and even though they could skate better than me, they were okay, and I did my best, and managed to flow round well, getting some kick turns and fakie rolls in, feeling better with each turn on the ramp. I stayed for about 30 minutes, then went back to the car to read some Ruby Wax, feeling much better.

Got my mojo back…

I’ve  always loved music. I was fortunate to grow up with parents who played lots of different music in our family home. Blues, jazz, rock, folk and a lot of other sounds besides. I can remember going to my village newsagent when I was young and buying 7 inch singles with my pocket money at the weekends, and my favourite thing that I spent my birthday money on when I was ten was an album by Ian Dury and the Blockheads.
Over the years I bought lots of albums and singles, most of which I still have stacked up in the attic. I love having music on vinyl, and have started collecting vinyl and cassettes again recently. At present, I’m really enjoying listening to The Stupids from my college days, and new discovery (to me anyway) Mammal Hands. I love all kinds of music.

About 5 years back, I really got into actually making music, as well as listening to it. It was great release, and I felt that I had found a missing piece of myself. Making music was also good for my mental health, as it always lifts my spirits. That all changed a while ago, when I had a breakdown, and the thought of even listening to music, let alone make it, was the last thing on my mind. 

Over the last year, music has starting creeping back into my life, first by going through my collection of vinyl, thanks to the kind gift of a stereo from old friends. This also sparked my buying of music again, on vinyl, and also cassette. I started digging through Bandcamp, finding new sounds to complement my older ones. Then I bought some new harmonicas. Slowly, I started playing music again.

In the last few months, I’ve been working on new sounds, enhanced by GarageBand on the iPad, and in the last week, through a new amp onto a new digital recorder. Some of them are fast punk tunes, some slower jazz pieces, and I’m really happy with how things are coming along. I don’t intend on rushing myself, just taking time and enjoying playing and learning to play better and with more feeling. When I’m really happy with what I play, I may just release them through Bandcamp.

Music is very strongly linked with mental health, and it’s really making a difference to mine. I definitely feel as though I’m coming back to myself.

You can hear my progress here: https://soundcloud.com/ruke-622656462/free-fall

Taking a leap…

I’ve taken a big leap into the unknown today, and had my first ever zine published. It’s the first  time I’ve actually paid to have my work printed pin this way with the aim of selling it to the public.

Not only have I had Milk Stains printed, but I have launched an Etsy store to sell it too! I don’t want to bombard you with plugs for my wares, as that’s not what this site is about. There won’t be masses of posts pleading with you to buy my stuff, but I’m darn proud of what I’ve done.

You can go to the store here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/549942511/milk-stains-issue-1?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=milk%20stains&ref=sr_gallery_1 

I plan on making more zines in the future, and my second one is already planned out, but for now enjoy the heavy metal kitty mayhem that is Milk Stains issue 1!

Skateboarding is good for your health…


I’d planned on going skating early this morning, whilst the park was quiet, hoping to have it to myself. Skating solo is good for me whilst I’m learning the basics again, and I didn’t fancy swimming against a tide of scooters. There’s a really nice feeling being on your own at the park, especially early.

Well, I overslept, and wondered if l would actually go skating at all, with the call of artwork and life in general tugging at my sleeve. After a tasty breakfast (my wife and I take turns making breakfast on Sundays), chilling seem  in order, but after a chat, I decided to get up and get to the park after all.

Pleasantly surprised by finding the park empty, I set to learning how to flow more, and relax on the board again. (My biggest issue last week was being too stiff.) Rolling in, I started to carve more naturally almost immediately, and began to loosen up, standing lower, and feeling at home on the board once more. I’ve still not quite managed t flow all the way around the park, but I’m close.

Sitting atop the funbox, I was aware of nothing but my breath and the wind around me. Calm, centred and happy, I picked up my board again, and began to put in more circuits of the park. Still not reaching a full circle, the flow was definitely coming back, and I felt more relaxed than I have for quite some time. Rather than worrying about tricks and speed, the feeling of flowing seems more important to me now. Everything else will come with time.

Keep rolling…

Back in nature…

Friday evening saw me, two other leaders, one junior leader and 14 Scouts park up at Ullesthorpe Scout Camp. As soon as I headed down through the trees with my gear, I knew I was in for a special weekend. Just being surrounded by nature, no phones, no watches, just tents, food and space.

I think it took about an hour to get our camp pitched, before we got the fires lit, kettles on, and burgers and hotdogs cooking. So nice eating outdoors with our troop, surrounded by trees, with the crackle of fires soundtracking our evening. I didn’t mind that I had a tiny tent, although it was kinda funny listening to the Scouts chatting away loudly until 2:00 in the morning!

I didn’t sleep much that night, so was up at 4:00am, getting water and making sure the kettles were on for a brew. It was nice having the camp to myself  for a while, the only sound being the stove boiling water. Strong coffee brought me big smiles, as I waited for the rest of our crew to stir…

A fry up of bacon and eggs, more coffee and some fruit got everyone up and running, and we set the Scouts off on Bivvy building exercises, and making sure their fires were brought back to life. Our younger Scouts did a great job of keeping their fire going all day, which was brilliant, as we were cooking on fires that evening. I was very proud of how our younger Scouts managed over the weekend, and carried out all tasks, even washing up with a smile and good grace.

At some point during the day, I wandered back up the hill, and sat in the small open air chapel for a few minutes. It was lovely just sitting in peace for a short while on my own, surrounded by trees.

So, the bivvies never got built, but the fires were stoked up, and a water fight ensured everyone (me included) got soaked. Hey, it was fun, and the sun was high in the sky, and we dried off quickly. Dinner that night was chicken stew and baked potatoes cooked on the camp fires, damn there were good. Dessert was baked bananas with dark chocolate, I should have left mine on for longer, but it was nice and unctuous…

We spilt the Scouts into two groups and set them challenges around the campsite, which was fun, and they won sweets, which they enjoyed. We all spent time chilling around the fires, and all was good until some of the older Scouts starting mucking around, and curfew was called. Just as well we were all tired anyway… I read for an hour (Pratchett) and crashed out, happy wrapped up in a sleeping bag.

I was first up again in the morning, so got the kettles on for brews. Once everyone else was up, we got sausages on, and tucked into a very hearty breakfast… those sausages were GOOD. Slowly, we took all the tents down, washed all the pots, cleared up the rubbish, and generally got ready to go home. We were all knackered form taking everything back up the hill, but it was worth it. We had all had a brilliant weekend. Bring on the big camp in July…

Cycling makes me happy!

Today was college day, almost the end of the first year of my Counselling Diploma (man that has gone quick…), and it was really cool to cycle in.

The afternoon saw me plummet into a tailspin of tiredness and depression, and even though I had a good chat with an old friend that helped, cycling home really lifted my spirits and brought me back from the pits of despair.

I bloody love cycling!

elsa
Elsa – my trusty road bike

 

I have been reborn…

I’ve been working on my first lot of new music for a while over the last few weeks. I had got burnt out on making music for quite a while, but I have my mojo back BIG TIME!

I’ve loved heavy metal for a long time, I grew up with it, chose it as my own as a teen, and have been rocking out ever since… Rekindling my love for heavy sludge sounds last year with GURT and others led me to start working on some new Harmonica sounds of my own. RUKE (my heavy music alter ego) was back, loud and proud!

So, there’s a heavy ep of six tracks percolating away of the PC, which I had great fun blasting out in our front room on Sunday. There is a way to go to get these tracks right, but a solid foundation has been laid. And whilst driving around earlier this week, I had a eureka moment…

I was listening to an ace compilation of Brazilian metal acts from Terrorizer magazine, and I thought, blimey, isn’t heavy metal amazing? There is a big umbrella of metal with all kinds of crazy genres underneath it… what if I made eps and albums in all those genres and styles, but with HARMONICAS?!? Kapow! I had another crazy idea to fixate on (I tend to get a bit OCD over projects and ideas), and act on.

SET-UPThere we go, my musical obsession has another facet to it. Heavy Metal Harmonicas are GO!

Heres a teaser… https://soundcloud.com/ruke-622656462/stomper

BMX!

IMG_0019I blummin love BMX. Riding, bikes, culture, style, the whole shebang… I’ve been riding BMX on and off since I was 12 (There is that age again…), and cannot imagine not riding it in some form until I drop!

I started riding Flatland BMX (standing on your bike spinning around in circles and not falling off…) back in 2008, and you think I would be good at it by now, but the fun of mucking around on little bikes rather than worrying about new tricks and fads makes me happy and puts a smile on my face.

I had an ace time riding with my eldest grandson (he is a natural!) at the weekend, and getting a new sprocket (I snapped my old one in competition) for Christmas means I will back out there before you know it…

Grow old gracefully? On your bike! (Ha!)