I have never spent so much time sitting at a desk working as I have this year. That is not a complaint, that is an observation. My work now is mostly writing my Book of Entanglement that goes with my latest three studio albums, and guest vocal performances . My new studio album is finished. Artwork is checked, release date is set for April 2021. So now I’m trying to work full time on my book.
There is a lot more to writing a book than I imagined when I started it 6 years ago on tour in Italy. The creative process is a lot like making a Blaze Bayley album. Rough ideas that we slowly turn into songs. Songs that we finish and then keep improving until we are ready to record them. Then mixing is the same process but in much more detail. Writing and recording feels like looking at my songs through a magnifying glass. Mixing those songs is like looking at them through a microscope and trying to arrange individual molecules of music into the right place to make the perfect piece of metal. I don’t find that part of the process much fun. It really feels like actual work. But… your whole album can be ruined if you don’t work hard and take care of every tiny detail. If you get it right, you will have something very special that you can always be proud of. Writing and recording my album is a collaboration. I regularly work with other musicians to create songs. On my new album it was exclusively with Chris Appleton. But on the book there is no collaboration. I get a lot of encouragement from fans and help from friends and family but no one can write my book for me. I have to do the whole thing.
I know that I’m really lucky that I have the opportunity to work on writing full time. But it has made me think about my desk. What I had was just the absolute basic cheapest IKEA table top resting on top of two sets of drawers. It has been great up to now. Just a place to put my computer and write lyrics and watch YouTube, listen to mixes for a few weeks, then it would be back on tour or ride my motorcycle. Now I’m spending 5 to 10 hours a day at my desk in front of my computer, working on my book for months. The basic IKEA table top is light and hollow and doesn’t feel very serious, and it’s not big enough to spread out all the notes I need, and I noticed it vibrates a lot when I’m listening to music. That is irritating. So I decided I need something bigger and harder! My first thought is of course metal. Steel. After a bit of research I go off that Idea. But steel desks are not too expensive. Then I’m thinking stone. Slate or granite or marble. Oooh that’s very heavy. But it’s very expensive and not quick to deliver and, perhaps I shouldn’t say this , but could it be too heavy? Then I’m left with wood and what kind of wood. Minutes turn into hours as I’m down the rabbit hole of the web looking for wooden desk tops. Oak appears. A kitchen work top made of oak on sale, available now and they deliver! Yay!
Later that day I’m checking my email and my manager reminds me that one of my absolute favourite venues in the world is celebrating their tenth anniversary. What is the name of the club? Oak Metal club! It’s a 100 capacity venue in Norway. I’ve played there 3 times and it’s wonderful. The accomodation is the owner’s house, not a hotel. Big and comfortable with a good size kitchen, it feels good. Really good food too, homemade there. It starts to feel like home very quickly. The actual venue is next door. It’s a big garage that is converted buy the owner and volunteers into a top quality live venue, just very small, but not the smallest we have played.
The vibe in there is just great but what I totally love about it is the little part near the stage where there is a special area for younger fans. I like places without age restrictions. I feel young people shouldn’t be excluded from gigs. Does appreciating live music only start at 18? It’s a sadness that young fans are excluded from so many venues that I play. But here at Oak Metal club there is a place next to the stage just for under 18 fans.
I did a video message for the club wishing them all the best and hoping there would be another ten years. I took this as a sign, and then ordered my own piece of oak. It was delivered in a couple of days. I treated the bare wood with beeswax. Then put everything together. Now I have a Solid oak desktop and, I know you understand when I say, it feels metal. My old desk top weighed less than 10 kilos. The new one is well over 30 kilos. Oak can live up to 500 years, sometimes more. I find myself wondering how old the parts that make my desk top are? I look forward to sitting at my heavy oak desk. And there is another benefit I never expected, it sounds better! Because it’s solid there are no vibrations from the speakers transmitted through the desk top. So good. I feel much more serious about work too. So, it is true, Oak is Metal.