Heres my interview with the band, The Empty Mirrors
How'd you get started in music?
In an odd way. I got my first guitar aged 15 but didn’t do much with it for around 30 years apart from learning a few chords, ‘House of the Rising Sun’ and, inevitably, the main riff from ‘Smoke on the Water’! Then around four years ago I came down with acute appendicitis and had an operation that went agonisingly wrong. I was dosed up on morphine to dull the pain and eventually started having strange and terrifying visions because of it.
That experience triggered something in my head: when I got home I was seized with the urge to write songs, and set about figuring out how to do it. That process included a year studying online with thesongwritingacademy.co.uk, during which I learned a huge amount from mentors such as Shelly Poole (Alisha’s Attic, Red Sky July) and Paul Statham.
I definitely wouldn’t recommend being doped up in a hospital bed as a gateway to creativity but it worked for me.
Who are your inspirations or influences?
I’m pretty much on the darker side of retro indie (80s and 90s), so stuff like the Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Smiths, the Pixies, PJ Harvey and Portishead. I’m also a sucker for good lyrics: artists like Suzanne Vega and Leonard Cohen really impress me for the way they can conjure up a situation in a song and make something happen within it. I try not to be too limited by genre: I’ve got time for any well-crafted track in any genre that has some musical and lyrical substance to it. Especially if it’s a bit dark and subversive.
Inspiration also comes from books: I’m a lifelong bookworm. And pictures. And life itself: walking around, looking at things, eavesdropping in cafes and pubs, hanging out – gathering impressions that way which the brain then absorbs and regurgitates in disguised forms years later…
I hardly ever watch films though. I just don’t have the patience to sit through them.
What advice would you offer aspiring performers?
None – I’m not qualified to give any, as I don’t perform myself and would probably soil myself if called upon to do so!
I just write and record. From that angle, and as a non-vocalist (for the most part) who also knows very little about production, the single best thing I’ve ever done was to reach out to potential collaborators. It doesn’t always work out, but I’ve been really lucky so far: working with Jenny Stevens, Robert Severin, Bruno Rocha and Anne Bennett has taken me into musical areas I never dreamed would be open to me and opened my eyes as to what’s possible.
How do you set yourselves apart from other bands or singers?
It’s really for others to say but the Empty Mirrors stuff does tend to have certain distinctive features: a darkish retro indie vibe, mixed guitar and synth, mixing loops with playing, scene-based lyrics and a willingness to hop between genres in a perplexing manner while still retaining a similar vibe. Particularly in the tracks I’ve done with Jen, we’ve gone all over the place from good old-fashioned indie guitar stuff to trance, dance, goth, and even a Christmas song!
Any new gigs or albums in the future?
No gigs (see above). No albums either. But definitely some new songs. Robert and I have done a very experimental track called ‘Shameless Tango’ that’s out on October 14th. That’ll be followed by a reworked cover of the Doors’ ‘People Are Strange’ with Bruno, who does a superb Jim Morrison imitation. Then there should be more material from the Jenny Stevens / Empty Mirrors collab towards the end of the year or early next year. Might be a little trip-hoppy but not sure yet.
One last thing: the name. I decided to call myself ‘the Empty Mirrors’ because pretending to be a band of retro goth vampires seemed more interesting than the reality – yet another middle-aged white bloke trying to do music…