Six of the best: Jamie Ainslie | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Hartlepool artist Jamie Ainslie releases his new double A-side single, Ready for This/Hundred Miles, on 19th February. Previously known as a member of Teesside alt. punk band Aces & Sinners, he’s since forged his own path as a solo performer, “Both songs are primarily influenced by Oasis and Frank Turner in terms of song structures and focuses towards melodies, additionally both where originally written on the acoustic but have ended up having a more rock orientated sound.” Here, he gives us an insight into his musical world…

The Manchester Open Mic Scene

So! This is predominately where the core of this whole solo thing originates from. I lived in Manchester for a few years and while I was down there I basically threw myself into a lot of the open mic nights that go on around the city. The musical heritage in Manchester speaks for itself, pretty much every night there was an open mic or a local gig going on somewhere. So it was always fun to head down with my little acoustic, meeting lots of people and get up and do 10 minutes and try stuff out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad night down there, everyone that runs or attends them are very supportive of what you can do.

Attending these made me rethink how I approached writing stuff and focus on melodies instead of trying to come up with a fat guitar riff all the time. I’m saying this because when I first moved down there, I didn’t really have any stuff I could do without a band so I was pretty much starting from scratch! My first single, Recover, was the first acoustic song I’d written and that was more or less during the time I was moving down. So yeah, if you are reading this and fancy heading down there in a non-Covid world, I would seriously recommend giving it a try.

Frank Turner

The next one I’m picking is Frank Turner because there’s a few themes in mind that could be traced back to being influenced him in some way. I really like how he writes in a lyrical sense. It’s very direct, whether he’s singing about concepts, telling stories or just some of his own experiences. It just makes you feel like you want to lean in and just listen to what he’s saying you.

His music at the core of it is mainly just him and an acoustic guitar, but the band set-up with The Sleeping Souls gives it a more punk rock slant. My go to music is predominately full of distorted guitars and that kind of thing, so his set-up is something I can relate to while I’m doing my own stuff. The first song I heard by him was Reasons Not To Be An Idiot and it still resonates with me. It’s driven by a sort of off-beat guitar pattern going through it, which in itself is something I like trying to emulate slightly to keep things interesting.

Psycho – Muse

I am a big fan of Muse. I like to think I’m fairly decent on the guitar, but then I watch Matt Bellamy play the solo on Invincible or something and I’m like…maybe I’m not! I remember seeing Muse play at Wembley in 2007 and they jammed to this guitar riff at the end of Stockholm Syndrome and it was like a full on Yoda moment. That jam I think only lasted for about 30 seconds, but it was enough for me to not only learn how to play it, but to be so influenced by it there was quite a few of my old band Aces & Sinners’ songs that replicated its tempo or structure in some way. That riff, by the way, ended up becoming a song called Psycho in 2015, but when it first got aired on all the radio stations, and because I’d played it so much within those eight years, I had a few friends message me and thought I’d been played on Radio 1 when it first started!

Whats The Story (Morning Glory?) – Oasis

Time for the mainstream pick! Genuinely though, there is a reason why it’s held in high regard by lots of people, it’s just a really, really good album. That’s even if you take the likes of Wonderwall or Don’t Look Back in Anger out of it, the album tracks on there are still great. It’s mad to think really that they went into that studio to record those songs even though they were half written, and that’s not even taking into account the songs that got left off the album are arguably of a similar standard to those songs that made it.

When I listen to it, I tend to think of childhood more than anything, I think I’m right in saying that it is the first album I remember being on all the time growing and really enjoying. I hadn’t listened to it all the way through since I was a kid until fairly recently. During the first lockdown, I started building up a mini vinyl collection of all of my favourite albums and I more or less ordered that one out of nostalgia. It just never ages, I just wish Hello was played a lot more often in all of the media outlets!

Revolutions: Live At Wembley – Biffy Clyro

My favourite live album is this one from Biffy Clyro. I first saw them supporting Muse at that Wembley gig, and since then I’ve basically been to see them on every tour that they have put on. I think this live album is a fair representation of what you experience when you actually go and see them, they always put on a great show. I love that Simon Neil plays drop C stuff on Fender Stratocasters, it just has an odd blend of sounding quite wonky and thin yet really heavy at the same time.

I first really took to Biffy through listening to their Only Revolutions album, which obviously this live album is heavily orientated towards. The outro of That Golden Rule from this live album is still to this day one of my favourite sections of music ever, while songs from that album like The Captain and Whorses sound so much better live. Listening to this actually prompted to me to go through their back catalogue to their really early stuff, partially because songs like There’s No Such Thing as a Jaggy Snake and 57 are performed on this live album, but with the added production so it makes them sound huge. Honestly the whole thing is great from start to finish.

Whirling Dervish

I’ll finish this with my favourite live music night in the North East. Whirling Dervish in Middlesbrough kind of became my ‘go to’ when it came to the grassroots-level gigs. Every time I’ve played there or attended it’s always had a really nice and supportive atmosphere surrounding it, which I put down to the organisers Joel and Mal being at the core of it. I liked it that much my old band held our EP launch there and we named one of our songs after it so I think that speaks enough for how much I like it!

Those nights show how underrated the music scene in the North East actually is. Artists obviously come in all shapes and sizes but Whirling Dervish more or less showcases a lot of what the North East has to offer. If anyone needs a snapshot of what the Teesside scene has to offer, then get yourself down there when it reopens. You won’t regret it!

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