1. Coming Home
The final biting winds of winter were being traded with the brighter days of spring, as new colours bloomed and old ways faded.
The season for new beginnings in which everything starts again with the best of intentions was opening its curtains and ushering me into its arms.
I had been on the road for 3 months touring across Europe, spending most of my time in Holland before snaking my way south to finally end up in the French Alps for a couple of lucrative bookings; an elaborate excuse for me to marvel at the beauty of that mountainous landscape.
The tour was a one man operation as I fulfilled the roles of tour manager, driver, roadie and musician for the first time single-handedly.
I had previously been living in the van and touring with my girlfriend for the past 18 months and she naturally and selflessly took a degree of strain, weight, responsibility and pressure on to her own shoulders in order to free up more energy for myself.
We treaded water on what little income there was coming in off of my music and predominantly survived off pot noodles, pesto pasta and tinned ravioli in the cramped living quarters of our beloved rusty camper van - Dr Box.
We had bought Dr Box (an acronym for its number plate), in the summer of 2016 and despite the mechanical burden that came with it, the old girl had served us well. It kick-started our adventure, allowed us to make friends with people all over the continent and forced me to stand on my own two feet as a solo musician pretty quickly.
For all of the van’s advantages though, I found it hard to push myself artistically - despite being fully aware of the potential risks that came with the lifestyle from the moment we committed to it.
What started as a symbol of care-free adventure and a catalyst into the unknown was now becoming uneconomical, creatively stifling and unsuitable for the two of us.
Having spent so long on the road, the time had come to set my sights on making a debut album and it was evident I needed a more conducive environment in which to set out the musical vision I had in my head.
I wanted to depart from the simplistic nature of my previous recordings and explore deeper and more internal themes. I’d learnt from my previous EPs that some of the content and productions of my songs were probably compromised (though I may not have realised it at the time) and were partly a reflection of the only creative tools I had at my disposal; an acoustic guitar and a laptop on which to thrash out my musings both lyrically and musically.
I desperately missed having a small home studio setup, my heart yearned for my electric guitar, and I was hungry to make a creative statement even if it was just to myself. If there was one thing I didn’t want, it was to make a record that sounded like it was written in the back of a van.
So whilst I took off on yet another long gig run around mainland Europe, Katie moved into a small flat, perfect for the two of us, in Newington; a small village tucked away in the Kentish countryside, north of Sittingbourne; the kind of place where everything passes it by, from trains to traffic to time to just about any form of significance.
After finally completing what ended up being a 6 week tour, I drove for 12 hours through the heart of France back to Calais. Sat there in the spring sunshine, waiting for my ferry to depart across what was a fairly calm English channel, I felt rush of adrenaline, excitement and ambition coursing through me.
It had felt like a long time since I’d had any meaningful company, let alone my best friends’ and an even longer time since I’d had my own shower, some oven cooked food, a proper bed, toilet and a sacred work space I could truly call my own.
After 18 months of living on the road, I could now finish a tour and actually feel like I'd come to some sort of natural conclusion having experienced and accomplished something pretty incredible.
Sitting out in the morning sun,
Waiting for my ship to come,
To take me back across the sea,
To where my future waits for me,
Been on the road just travelling on,
Didn’t think I’d be so long,
The lonesome nights can wear you down,
Break your heart and steal your crown,
I’m coming home,
To the place where I belong,
The place that I am from,
Lead me with your song,
Oh lead me home,
If I close my eyes I can see her there,
Grace and beauty, beyond compare,
On a summer night warm and still,
Flowers by her windowsill,
I can taste her love on my lips,
The warmth of her companionship,
The sweet salvation of our bed,
Comforting my weary head.