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Biography.

I didn't want to make this page just another advert of what I do in less than 300 characters. There are plenty of places online where I have placed a concise biography of who I am, what I do and who I think I sound like, but I wanted to tell a bit more of a story here. If you are looking for such an overview, you can find one here.


After singing all my childhood, I took up bass guitar at the age of 16, basically because the strings are further apart than on a 6 string and I didn’t think I would be able to manage that. The first song I ever learned on bass was ‘In Bloom’ by Nirvana, on Christmas day 2004. By the evening I was jamming with my next door neighbours Mick and Jack Edwards, who played guitar and drums respectively (Jack went on to play drums and congas for me on ‘The List’ and ‘Anthology’ albums). A few months later I was asked if I wanted to join a newly forming band by an old friend of my dad. I learned a huge amount about playing live and working within a band from playing with Too Shrewd, and I still see it as an important part of my musical education. The band lasted for a few years before members started to move away, and though we limped on with a new line up for a while, we never played any more gigs.


At 17 I felt like I was starting to get the hang of this bass thing and it was time to try something new. I’d tried writing songs, but with just a bass to back me and me being too shy to introduce my songwriting skills to anyone else, nothing came of it. One night while everyone was out of the house, I picked up my sister’s acoustic guitar and a ‘learn to play guitar in 10 minutes’ book and had a thrash at it. It was upside down (she’s right handed) but that didn’t matter, I learned the chord shapes and started playing. The first song I ever played on guitar was ‘In Dublin’s Fair City’. I borrowed a left hand guitar from my next door neighbour (they have had quite an influence on me!) and couldn’t play it! All the chords were the wrong way round!


I gave up for a couple of weeks. Just enough time to forget how to play upside down. During that time my sister had finished her lessons also, so she didn’t mind when I took all the strings off her guitar and strung it left handed to have another go. I played that guitar at my first ever live solo performance, playing ‘Driftwood’ by Travis at my school leaver’s assembly.


Moving swiftly on, I started writing my own songs not long after I started playing guitar. The first song I ever wrote was ‘7 Days a Week’, a version of which opens my ‘Anthology’ album. It’s also the first song of my own that I played live, accompanied by an old friend, Dan Pearson.


I played a few gigs in Wolverhampton, but after playing everywhere available, started hosting my own open mic nights to give myself and others like me somewhere to play. I took up recording, and with little/no skills or training I produced first an EP called ‘Play Fresh’ and then my first full length album, ‘Bard Song’. It wasn’t long before I ditched the majority of the songs on there and replenished my live sets with newer songs that I felt were of a much higher quality. It did take me a while to get them recorded though, and after another stop gap EP called ‘Food For Thought’ I finally released ‘The Rumour Mill’.


By this time I was gigging a lot more, finding new places to play and selling more CDs as a result. I was featured on local television and in newspapers for a while, and had started playing more high profile gigs. I also formed a covers band, 'Eusebio', in which I played bass and acoustic guitar with Dan and Dave Hart. The three of us would later go on to form my current function band 'The Replicas' with Nick Choyce and Nathan Swingewood. 'The Replicas' have become known for taking songs and making them huge anthems, something I have begun to apply to my latest songwriting.


I released ‘The List’ in 2010. This album was a huge step up for me in a number of ways. Firstly, my knowledge of music production had increased to the point where I actually sort of knew what I was doing, and I liked the sound of the record. Secondly, I invested heavily in the artwork and duplication of the physical CDs, so they looked much nicer than my previous CD-R jobs. Thirdly, this was first album to ever be distributed online to iTunes and other such stores and finally, and most importantly, this was another massive step up in terms of songwriting. I’ve always said that ‘The List’ was the first time I felt comfortable singing songs about myself, rather than about fantasy concepts and ideas. It’s a cliché, but it was my ‘coming of age album’. I often refer to it as my first album, as it’s really from here where I started taking music seriously and pursuing it properly.


I gigged ‘The List’ exclusively for a long time, and a couple of songs from it still make it into my set today. But after two years it was time to release something new. My new material wasn’t ready yet and I didn’t want to throw together a rushed EP just to give people something to buy. It was then that I was asked about the idea of re-releasing old material. It seemed like a fair enough idea, after all I did class ‘The List’ as my first album, even though it was technically my third, and I had a much larger fan base than I had done all those years ago. So I decided to re-work some old songs and put together a proper album’s worth of old material from my first two albums and EPs, as well as some stuff I never recorded that I wrote and played live around the same time.


Anthology’ is an important record for me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it introduces newer fans of my music to my back catalogue, the songs I was writing and performing when I first started out. Secondly, it kind of draws a line under those original albums for me. I don’t say they don’t exist, I just recognise that they are not quite as good sonically or musically as my later output. It’s a concise rounding up of my first few years. A prequel, if you like.


At this point in my life all the important things started happening thick and fast. I got married, bought a house and started a family. Music, and in particular recording, took something of a back seat as my new found responsibilities presented themselves. I still gigged (quite a lot by most people's standards), but with no real place to sit and record at home, the new album kept getting pushed back further and further. The songs were there, and as some of my best writing to date (and some of my best collaborating with my now wife, Kayla) they made up my live set almost exclusively. People liked the tunes, they knew the words, but I had nothing I could give them to take home and listen to.

 

Eventually I managed to get my life in order, and I began to work on the recording for 'As I Live and Breathe'. I took all my recording equipment to Dickie Davis' parent's house to track the drums and got it all done in a day, but then sat on that for a while too before coming back to it. I recorded everything else on the album myself, with the exception of some elecric guitar parts I couldn't quite get sounding the way I wanted, were I ceeded to Dan Hart's superior ability, and some vocals added on a track by Kayla. Over 1100 takes later, I was ready to begin mixing.

I have to admit that I'm incredibly proud of how the album came out. I feel like it was worth the wait for people, and indeed for me. As I wrote in the album notes, my only regret is that there are a few people who never got to hear it, and that's why it has the dedications that it does.

'As I Live and Breathe' was released in July 2017 with my first ever full band show. Since then I've played a couple other full band shows, a great big bunch of solo shows, played in Dublin (and made some cool friends!) gone on tour, gone full time playing music and sold a fair few CDs. Oh, and we're expecting another child in December. Who knows where this crazy ride will go next, but I'm sure I'll see you somewhere on the way.

Sam Draisey (2018)