Please tell us something about your hometown?

I live in the county of Derbyshire in England.  The nearest town is called Chesterfield, which is most famous for its crooked church spire.  I live close to an area called the Peak District which is a beautiful area full of picturesque countryside and quaint villages.

How is the metal scène in your area?

There isn’t really much of a metal scene in my immediate area but I live in easy reach of a number of larger cities – Sheffield / Nottingham / Birmingham / Manchester, all of which have pretty good metal venues.

I have to say that your name was familiar with me, because in 1990 I bought the first album from Doom/Thrash Masters Seventh Angel -The Torment. Of course I bought the second album; Lament for the Weary. Now 30 years later I got the info from Hammerheart  Records that you are going to release a solo album. What happened with you in between all these years?

Well, that’s a good question.  For a while after leaving Seventh Angel I tried to form a doom band called Amaranth, but unfortunately it never really got off the ground.  Then I had a long time away from music until I formed a band called Fire Fly with my friend and brother in law, Mark Broomhead who was previously in a band called Detritus.  After Fire Fly came to an end I had another long period of time away from music – so much so that I actually sold my guitars and amps and thought I’d never play again.  Eventually I made contact with my old friend Ian Arkley (Seventh Angel) who was leading a band called My Silent Wake – I said I wanted to start doing music again and he suggested I join MSW, not on guitar or bass but as keyboardist.  I agreed to do it, despite never having played keys before and not owning any equipment.  I’m still a member of My Silent Wake.

How did you Come up with the idea to record a solo album and why you choose the name of the band; Thy Listless Heart?

The idea of writing and recording a solo project has been in the back of my mind for a very long time – it was just something that I’d never got around to taking really seriously.  The fact that I was fast approaching 50 years old made me give it more consideration….and then Covid arrived, which gave me a little extra time and headspace to get the ball rolling.

The band name actually comes from a tattoo I have which has the words, ‘Listless Heart Burn Bright’.  It’s an acknowledgement of the fact that things aren’t always easy and that life can be very tough.  I’ve spent my entire working life helping and supporting people with significant difficulties and so I’m painfully aware of the struggle that many people have on a day to day basis.

The album is full of Sorrow, Pain and Yearning on the album. Somehow it’s a kind of Lament for the Weary 2. Are your faith and feelings different then when you guys where recording the Lament album?

Well, firstly I didn’t actually play on Lament for the Weary.  I did write some of the music, but I left the band just prior to recording.  Thinking about it I suppose maybe the greatest similarity between Lament and Pilgrims on the Path of No Return is the honesty with which they were written.  There’s a certain vulnerability in both albums.

Regarding my faith and feelings…. Yes they are different now to what they were then.  30 years is a long time!  I no longer profess any faith in a religious sense; in fact, my journey away from faith is an underlying theme on much of the album.  But that’s not to say that the album is all doom and gloom –  I believe that atmosphere and emotion is best expressed when there is a balance of both darkness and light, pain and hope.

Please tell us about the writing process, time in the studio etc. Recording your solo album with the tittle; Pilgrims on the Path of no Return?

I wrote all of the material for the album over a two-year period – slowly piecing it all together, writing and re-writing, trying to create a cohesive sound and atmosphere.  I recorded pretty much as I wrote so there were lots of false starts.  I’m also not much good with the technical side of recording and so I spent a lot of time getting things wrong and having to learn new skills. 

The only things not recorded at my home were the drums, which were played by my friend Ben Griffiths and recorded in his garage, and the contributions from other people guesting on the album, who also recorded in their homes.  Greg Chandler was the only person to record his vocal parts in an actual studio….because it was his studio where all of the guitars were re-amped and the mixing and mastering took place at the beginning of 2022.

You played the most part of the instruments yourself. Are you a multi instrumentalist?

Haha – I wouldn’t call myself a multi-instrumentalist!!  I am just about competent on guitars and bass and muddle my way through on keyboards.  I also bought a Kravik Lyre to play on one of the songs on the album.

I don’t believe that you have to be a technically great musician to write and record good songs.  Maybe sometimes being technically brilliant can be a hindrance.  I focus on melody and atmosphere – if you get those things right then I think you’re well on your way to writing a good song.

How did you get in touch with Hammerheart Records?

During the mixing of the tracks, Greg Chandler asked me what my plans were for the album.  The truth is that I didn’t have any plans beyond completing it.  Greg helped me put a bio together and gave me a list of labels to contact.  Hammerheart were one of the very first labels I emailed and fortunately for me Guido responded.

How are the reactions after the release of the first 2 videoclips/songs from the upcoming album; The Precipice and Yearning?

Initial reactions have been great on the whole.  Better than I could have hoped for really.  Doing a solo project can be pretty scary as it’s all on you – you have nobody else to blame or hide behind!

Now I’m just waiting for the reviews to start coming in.  Of course, music is very subjective and it’s impossible to create something that will appeal to everyone, but it’s always nice to get a good review.

Is it possible to see you play live with Thy Listless Heart?

At the moment there are no plans to turn ‘Thy Listless Heart’ into a live band.  Life continues to be very busy and I’m not sure I have sufficient energy or desire to make it happen.  But who knows…..never say never.

What are some of your favorite bands?

I suppose some of my biggest influences are from the mid to late 80’s – Candlemass and Trouble were certainly the beginning of my obsession with Doom metal.  I still love that epic doom sound.  ‘Ard – Take up my Bones’ is one of this year’s highlights.  I also love the atmosphere that ‘Darkher’ creates – her new album called ‘The Buried Storm’ is amazing.

Do you have a last word or something that’s on your heart you want to share with us?

Just to say thank you to anyone who buys the album or listens to ‘Thy Listless Heart’.  It started off as a bit of a crazy bucket list dream and has ended up being something more than that – I’ll let you decide if it was a good idea or not!