Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Living for the Music

Music. If we've spoken recently, chances are we were talking about music. Either playing it or being a fan of it. I've enjoyed these conversations immensely and feel so blessed and honoured to be putting peoples stories in to words.

However, up until a few years ago, I'd never been to a concert. Some of it was through fear of crowds (being 5'2” doesn't help). The other reason is my hearing.

Because I hear too much.

I have a condition caused by my ear canals being too narrow, which focuses sound onto a tiny area of the ear drum. In turn, it means that I can hear very high and very low end frequencies, something which most people lose with age.

The first concert I went to was Rage Against the Machine in Finsbury Park. Thanks to it being outside, the sound dissipated and meant that I didn't come home with tinnitus and a migraine.

But not all concerts are held outside and, like many people, I was desperate to go and see my favourite bands play live.

We discovered a solution at the BPM show in Birmingham. While it's primarily a trade fair for the dance music and club industry, they also had several vendors who dealt with hearing loss and protection. One of the products they carried were tiny ear plugs with interchangeable filters. These little filters would take out the frequencies which were deemed dangerous to my hearing.

Last year, I was blessed with the opportunity to upgrade my over the counter earplugs to a pair of custom fitted ones. Sleek, beautiful, and comfortable enough to sleep in, they now go everywhere with me. On top of it all, I can now go to a concert happy in the knowledge that I'm going to enjoy the music as much as everyone else around me.

I'm an advocate for looking after your hearing. Whether you go to concerts or work in a noisy environment, one of the things you can't get back is your hearing. Once it's gone, it's gone.

There are a number of people and places that you can turn to for help with your hearing.

Action on Hearing Loss were the people I approached at the BPM show. They have advice on a wide range of hearing subjects and their shop stocks a range of products.

Alpine MusicSafe Pro Filter Ear Plugs were the first ones I used.

For custom made ear plugs, Google for local specialists. Mine came from Specsavers and cost around £130.

Look after your hearing and, most of all, keep enjoying the music!


I'm currently writing two books on music. One is about tribute bands while the other is about Foo Fighters fans. If you'd like to get involved, please feel free to email me at:

rae (at)

Or get in touch via the comments.

Thank you!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

When You Support Artists...

This post is dedicated to everyone who's ever bought my books. This is for those who support and love me because, without you, none of this would exist.

When you buy a book (or anything from any kind of artist), you're not just buying a product. You're helping them to keep going. You're helping to pay their bills, buy research materials, or replace a slowly dying computer. Without supporters, there would be no art.

Recently, I decided to clear out some of my stock. I had a couple of boxes of print books that I was using as a foot rest under my desk. They needed to be out in the world, being loved and read by other people. I also needed a new piece of equipment. So I listed the books on social media and was overwhelmed by the response. Thanks to all of you, in less than a month, I was able to buy what I needed.

The equipment in question is a Zoom H4n, a small multi-track recorder that, with a bit of studio wizardy can be plugged in to a phone. This allows me to record interviews without having to physically be with someone (and without putting too much pressure on my shaky internet connection and ageing computer). It's small enough to fit in my hand so can go wherever I go. It's perfect for what I want to do.

You're not just fans. You're not just readers. You're beautiful human beings whose constant support and encouragement are the engine in any artists life. You allow us to expand and try new things. You give us the opportunities to put out more of the work you love. Without you, this world would be far bleaker.

Thank you so much for all that you do, from buying books to writing reviews to just being there. You're an important part of my life and I hope that I get to share many more projects with you.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

This Is Just a Tribute - Part 2

I'm sitting here, watching Sonic Highways, and trying to unlock the secret to the popularity of one of the world's biggest rock bands. There's a notebook on my knees and a cup of tea to my left. The recorder I use for interviews sits at my elbow with an XLR cable dangling from its rear.

Because I've got a(nother) confession to make. Despite what the walls of my flat (apartment for my American friends) say, I'm not the world's biggest Foo Fighters fan. Bar four or five songs, they're not really the kind of music I normally listen to. Sorry, guys, but you're more likely to find me in the pit of a Megadeth concert than a Foo Fighters one.

I have to admit that they do look very cool!

But I'm not here to pick the band apart. There's a number of reasons why I have the absolute utmost respect for them. This is a band that rose from the ashes of another to take on a world that was favouring auto-tuned pop music. This is a band that is comprised of a bunch of hardcore music fans, their own love radiating out to those who come in to contact with them. This is a band that will go to the ends of the Earth, quite literally, to have a few moments sharing the stage with their heroes. They are the ultimate music lovers band and their passion has obviously crossed over in to those who follow them.

Which is why I've added another book to the roster of ones that I'm working on. At the insistence of some of friends, I'm writing a book that's centred on the fans and tribute bands that follow this band wherever they may roam. And, damn, these are some passionate fans. Never, in all my life of being a music fan, have I seen anything like it (which is surprising because metalheads tend to be a pretty passionate lot, too). These are the people who live and breathe the band and, because of that, it makes them instantly, and attractively, lovable. I've made a good number of Foo friends and their unadulterated love makes me smile and warm to them. I have absolutely no problem sitting down with them and having a coffee while listening to them wax lyrical about all that is Foo Fighters. They're beautiful and enthusiastic and, as such, definitely warrant their stories being immortalised in print.

So this is it. I know there's a few of those friends reading this and I want to thank you for everything. For loving me even though I have a tendency to go running back to the Megadeth fandom whenever a new tour is announced. For always looking on the positive side of life. For championing my writing. For lifting others up in their time of need. You're wonderful, amazing people and this book is a dedication to all that you are and all that you do.

Would you be willing to be interviewed for the book? Feel free to leave a message over on Facebook ( or email me at:

rae (at)

I know there's a few questions that may come up so here's that information for you, too:

  • How will you interview me?
    All interviews will take place over the phone. We'll arrange a date and a time and I'll give you a call. If you have Skype or FaceTime Audio, even better (for some reason FaceTime Audio seems to be a lot clearer than a normal phone line).
  • I live in the States/Australia/Japan etc. Can I still take part?
    Absolutely! I can arrange my schedule to fit in with the time difference.
  • I play in a Foo Fighters tribute band. Can we take part, too?
    Yes! Yes! Yes! I came across an inordinate amount of Foo Fighters tributes while I was putting together the contact list for the tribute bands book. The sheer number of active bands covering the Foos music far outstrips anyone else on my list (be proud of yourselves for that!) and was one of the many reasons that I wanted to write this book.
  • How do we know that you're legitimate?
    I have several published books and picked up a couple of awards along the way. I've also worked on screenplays, anthologies, short stories, and copy for websites, blogs, and products. I work in healthcare during the day and write in the evenings. I also use some of my spare time to work with reading and creative writing projects in local schools.

This is a book that I'm really looking forward to writing and I look forward to talking to you all. Until then...

Oh sweet ignition be my fuse,
You have no choice you have to choose.
Bid farewell to yesterday,
Say goodbye I'm on my way.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

This Is Just a Tribute - Part 1

It started with a photograph and ended with a book.

Or at least the bare bones of a book.

For a long time, I'd wanted to write something that my Mum could read. She won't touch my novels because, well, too much sex and violence for her. She doesn't want that. She wants something positive and happy. Truth be told, I don't blame her, because I want the same, too.

When I first started publishing my books, I was in a very dark place and they became an outlet for me to express what I was feeling. What followed were three novels written in rapid succession. One of them went on to win awards, something I'm still proud of today.

As the years moved on, so did I, and I found that I had a desire to put more happy things out in to the world. And, four years after my first book hit the shelves, here we are.

I've always wanted to combine my love of writing and music. It's a topic that many of my friends have requested. So how did I end up with an outline for a book about tribute bands and a list of people to contact?

There's a few reasons. The biggest one is my family. They're ridiculously talented when it comes to music.

First, there's Mum and Dad.

Then there's Andy.

Up next is Joe

And finally, there's me. I write books.

Drink silly amounts of tea.

And throw parties where I get to wear really cool clothes.

But I'll never be stick-twirling, vinyl-spinning, busking-for-your-airfare-home* kind of cool. Instead I use my talents to express my love of music rather than play it.

Secondly is because I've spent a lot of time working with, and watching, tribute bands. Joe got his start by playing with bands that covered the likes of Metallica and Iron Maiden. There were nights where he'd play three or four sets with three or four different bands. He now plays for a wedding band and composes music for video games and adverts. Andy still DJ's, and Mum and Dad, well, like the rest of us, will play in any place that will have them.

This book is, in a way, a tribute to them and the love of music that they instilled in all of us. From the early days of listening to Cream and the Beatles, to more recent times when we've packed up the car and headed to Wembley or Milton Keynes, they gave our family a bond that was forged from an unwavering love for music.

*Apparently they were waiting for the bus to come and take them to the airport and NOT busking for the airfare home. Dad thinks that the latter option would have been more fun.


Are you in a tribute band? I've got interview spots available and would love to talk to you. Interviews can be done in person or over the phone (In person interviews are dependent on location. I will call you for phone interviews). Please get in touch via the comments or email:

rae (at)

Friday, 1 July 2016

Change of Plans

Walt Disney had his work stolen and struggled to make a name for himself. Yet he was still successful.

James Dyson couldn't find a distributor willing to sell his vacuums. He's now worth nearly five billion dollars.

Success isn't just for a few people who have been selected by some unseen force. Firstly, success is how you define it, whether it's a book deal, more money, or getting your own house. And one thing that you need to achieve your desired target is hard work.

Getting to that golden place, your utopia, takes dedication and investment. Your investment may be time, money, or sacrificing having a social life or romantic relationship.

For the first four years of my writing life, I had no social life. I didn't go out with friends and I barely left the house except to go to work. I've been single since 2011 and this self inflicted solitary confinement is starting to pay off. Only now do I feel like I have enough experience to start stretching my wings in to other projects and it's only been in the last year that my social life has started to pick up again (Which, of course, leads to the eternal struggle of “Concert? Or writing? Concert? Or writing?”!).

But not everything I work on is successful. Living Las Vegas was a good example of this in that it needed funding to go ahead. The Kickstarter was the last in many funding routes that I'd taken and was part of a process that spanned the past 24 months. Yet I haven't given up on it. For now, Living Las Vegas has been moved on to a back burner while I work on another project.

Don't give up when life gets you down. You may be discouraged now but tomorrow the sun will rise and the sky will still be blue. Take time to collect yourself and see how far you've come. Then move on to something else. If something is supposed to happen for you, eventually it will. Take the lessons that every day gives you and work out how you can grow from them. Go with the flow, work hard, and see what each day brings.

Life is beautiful. Makes yours a good one.