Founder Member - Lead Electric Guitars, Acoustic 6 + 12 String Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals
I can clearly remember sitting in the back of a grey mini van driving away from "The Harney Peak", a pub situated in the north of the mountainous Lake District, after a few pints of shandy. I was only nine years old so the alcohol content had me feeling particularly relaxed. There was a margarine tub with a car stereo jammed in it and on it my brother Andy was playing "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" by Pink Floyd. In those fragile but sublime moments that followed I began to sense a very powerful relationship between music and nature. It seemed the two merged in some kind of organic harmony. I watched the bright night sky shine over the mountains, forests and waters through the front windscreen, while the perfect musical progression of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” was cutting the air. It definitely stirred up some kind of emotion in me and from then on Andy would carry on playing the likes of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Deep Purple, Spirit, Roy Harper, Jethro Tull, Supertramp, Queen and many more, not only when we were out camping but at home as well. All of these bands have had a great influence on me but I must say that I feel there is something about Pink Floyd that got into my blood. I believe they are special in some way. "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" is still a song I hold as an all time favourite along with the album "Wish You Were Here".
At the age of eleven I started messing around with any guitar I could get my hands on, and then bought a nylon string acoustic. My Uncle Brian showed me a few chords - E, A and B7. After a couple of weeks the end of my fingers hardened and I carried on experimenting. I was generally self-taught, heavily influenced by David Gilmour and Ritchie Blackmore, although many years later Liam and I attended Leeds College Of Music for a course in technical guitaring and music theory. We tried our best to forget all that nonsense and got back to experimenting without knowing what we were doing, although the knowledge did become useful as we both taught guitar professionally for a time to earn money in between gigs. I definitely feel that one should play the guitar from the heart and only play what is required for the song. Feeling and sincerity always translates in music.
Another area of music that had an impact on me was the Celtic traditional folk sound. My first memory of this was at the age of twelve in a pub called the " Wasdale Head Inn" in Wasdale in the English Lake District. I had been out in the mountains, snow and ice climbing with my father, and I can remember crawling into the pub afterwards feeling very exhausted and seeing five guys sitting in the corner by a roaring fire playing traditional jigs and reels with whistles, fiddles, guitars etc. It definitely had the effect of warming my spirit and there was a fantastic atmosphere in the crowded room. This music felt very organic, the whole scene was an inspiration, the mountains and forests outside with the wild snow and ice and inside the Inn there was this great music, a roaring fire and plenty of ale. From then on I found this scene very attractive and would often visit pubs of the like. I guess this would account for the Celtic influence that sometimes creeps into Mostly Autumn.
Ten years later when camping in Wasdale - the very same valley - I found myself staring out of the mouth of my tent, completely blown away by the bright stars and winter mountains, I was in awe of it all and found myself writing "The Night Sky". This was the song that first inspired the concept of Mostly Autumn, although the name didn’t exist until two years later. I asked a guy called Troy Donockley, who I had seen fronting a band called "You Slosh"; if he would play some low whistle on the song as I felt this instrument encapsulated the feeling I was after. He agreed and so the original demo was recorded in 1990. Troy has since become a good friend and a great musical inspiration. He has since played on various other songs of ours (it’s worth mentioning that "You Slosh" also played a great part in influencing the Celtic atmosphere that is sometimes present in Mostly Autumn). I would also strongly recommend you check out Troy’s various solo albums (check www.troydonockley.co.uk ).
The name "Mostly Autumn" came about in 1992 when Liam and I were drinking in a pub called The Newfield Inn in Dunnerdale in the Lake District. I knew I wanted to name the project something to do with autumn and when out of the blue Liam pointed to a postcard rail saying "Mostly Sheep", I only saw the word "mostly". It struck me and thus the name was created. I have and still do have a great love for the season of autumn. Apart from the striking colour changes and fragrances, I find it a very provocative time, very nostalgic and powerful with its stunning beauty alongside a certain air of sadness and yet with a great feeling of optimism. The time between autumn and Christmas has always been a favourite of mine.
Over the next few years I recorded more ideas that were within the boundaries of what I felt Mostly Autumn was; "Winter Mountain", "Steal Away", "Boundless Ocean" and "Out of the Inn" were among these songs and although I did try a few of these in a short live gig as support to another band, the project was still very much a studio one.
Shortly after this I changed course and got involved in a project called "Under The Ivy" with a good friend and songwriter called Duncan Rayson. Duncan’s song-writing excited me a lot and we recorded some great songs. Regrettably we were unable to take the project any further at that time, though it is something I would like to have re-approached if time would permit in the future. Sadly Duncan passed away several years later, meaning that this can never now happen. Then in 1995, immediately after the very tragic loss of my father, I wrote the song "Heroes Never Die". The very first recording of this was still under the guise of "Under The Ivy" and Duncan also contributed some powerful lyrics on the song. Later on I decided to extend the arrangement of the song and create a band that would be capable of performing it in a live situation. Hence the return of Mostly Autumn but this time as an eight-piece band that could go out and play a full concert, not just a support. From the word go the band worked very well live, putting in very powerful performances that included some of my early song ideas and filled the rest of the set with choice cover versions from the likes of Pink Floyd.
During this period I felt very emotionally charged as I knew that the death of my father had the direct effect of re-creating Mostly Autumn. I felt very strongly about writing and recording a CD that would, in effect, be a tribute to what I and many others had shared with my father, Robert Josh. It also dealt with the way one tries to cope with such a situation. My mother kindly offered to fund the recording and it turned out to become the album "For All We Shared" with the song "Heroes Never Die" being the heart of it. I also resurrected some older ideas and re-recorded them. It was especially enjoyable to re-visit "The Night Sky" with it being the very first song relating to the concept of Mostly Autumn. I had always felt dissatisfied with it lying in silence since the very first recording in 1989/90 especially as only a handful of people had heard the song.
And so begins the story of Mostly Autumn.