We Look To The Stars

It wasn’t always like this.

There used to be more.

Sometime far from the beginning, creation, seemingly too curious to be satisfied with mere existence, begat self-conception.

The same lifeless stardust, the same burning energy of infinity coalesced into the white-hot presence of life itself. And for a while, everything moved in the wake of our significance.

But, forever true to form, things change.

Whether by decree or by some unconscious turning of the tides of minds, substance seemed to fall from favour. Insatiable hunger became the impetus for instant gratification, to the detriment of all else. A waste of time. A waste of life.

And, as greed and ignorance formed an enviable bond, there was a moment felt around the world. The passing of something.

We shun empathy, unwilling to entertain the concept of equal ground at the expense of the possibility of being the victor. We find it’s hard to listen when we’ve got so much to preach.

After all this time, still we allow ourselves to be overtaken by the mad desire to beat the rest at the human race.

So now, tired of what we’ve made for ourselves here, we turn from introspection to escapism.

Every civilisation in history has turned to the stars in longing.

But whereas we used to look for meaning, now we yearn for release from the prison we built ourselves, trying to make a home.

Still we dream our dreams like boys as we look out to stars on the outer reaches of observable space. Blessed, as we are, with reflections of their past lives. Long gone now, but preserved for us by the lethargy of light within the context of forever.

And as we look upon those stars, we see ourselves. Long since dead by our own hands. Preserved for time being as the amusement of a universe made conscious. An ironic embodiment of self-awareness.

And we still cry at night, instead of making any change at all.

 

Instagram

My new album “Flowers” will be coming out shortly, and as the process nears an end, you can follow my Instagram page for some sneak peeks and updates. Not to mention a lot of other content to compliment the material on this blog.

Shortly releasing my new album "Flowers". Here's a quick sample! #flowers #newrelease #guitar #slide

A post shared by Thomas Williams (@thomaswilliamsmusic) on

30 Days, 30 Albums – The Challenge

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I have recently begun a 30 days, 30 albums challenge, in the hope that somehow it will help me mix and master my new album, which I hope to complete in the same period.

I’m only a few days in, but I strongly recommend the challenge. It’s only by doing something like this that I remember just how little time I manage to devote to actually listening to music, and just how much I actually enjoy it. So if you feel like you need a similar epiphany, it’s an easy way  (I gather the rules don’t necessarily state that the days have to be consecutive).

I’m going to keep this site updated with the list as I go, and you can follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/lapelcelery/ if you want to keep track of what I’m listening to in a more visually appealing way… Maybe you’ll get some ideas of your own!

Finally, below is a sample of the pre-master copy of the first track from the new, upcoming album “Flowers”. Enjoy!

Lyric Spotlight: “The Last Leg” – Thomas Williams

We crawled our way up through the food chain, no man left behind.
But wanting more, we start to push some back, having changed our minds.
Is it too much to bear the weight of civilising us?
Have we reached a universal limit?
Must every species self-destruct?

We know from past experience that history has a lot to teach,.
But we find it’s hard to listen when we’ve got so much to preach.
We’re so good at finding differences our sense of family dulls.
There must be something more to life than splitting hairs and skulls.

So we make our demons real to lock away the flow of sentiment.
And we carve our names with steady hands on rifles, or on monuments.
Taking orders from the left, or from the right, or up above.
Proactive in our segregation from the people we’re afraid to love.
We build walls on the foundations of colour, faith or race.
Taking futures, taking innocence and idolising faces on the covers, on the airwaves, smiling blindly at the profit
engineered from facts and figures and the promises of false prophets.
Never thinking of the simple truth we cannot bear to face.
Overtaken by the mad desire to beat the rest at the human race.

Thomas Williams, 2015

Routing a Strat for humbuckers.

Last month, I posted a short entry talking about Andy Fairweather Low’s Humbucker Stratocasters, and frankly I’ve been more and more a fan of his work and in particular his extremely idiosyncratic guitar playing. So I thought a similar guitar would be an interesting project.

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Earlier this week, I received the parts in the mail to complete the project and since the routing procedure I had to perform was a little out of the ordinary for a home job, I thought I’d do a short post on it.

To begin with, I had a black Jimmy Vaughan signature Strat, and a fitting tremolo hanging around, originally intended to take some gold lace sensors.

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Needless to say, when I decided on humbuckers instead, the routing wasn’t exactly perfect to accommodate them, so a little woodwork was required.

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I decided to use a small handheld belt sander, to get into the small cavity of the route, without risking any cosmetic damage to the rest of the body.

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It’s easy enough to remove small ‘slices’ of wood from the center to the edge of the route (also possible to do it much more time-efficiently, but arguably with more risk using a chisel), and open up the entire section.

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In the end, I opted for a ‘swimming-pool’ style route because the pickups were yet to arrive and I wasn’t sure of the exact spacing of the custom pickguard.

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I installed the tremolo and the neck and finally, a couple of weeks later, the pickguard showed up in the post. Pre-wired and custom designed to my request by Sigler Music and their 920d custom shop*

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One snag in the plan was the humbucker mounting.

These particular humbuckers are Seymour Duncan Antiquities, in my opinion, the most pleasant sounding (non-custom wound) humbuckers on the market, harking back to theose ideal vintage Les Paul tones.

That said, they’re designed to be mounted in a Les Paul, and a LP has a deeper route for the mounts than a standard Strat.

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My solution, as you can see, was to clip off the deep screw-tips, which leaves the pickups at the perfect depth on the bottom of the route. Of course, If you were feeling brave, you could always drill some deeper holes in the body for the screws, but personally, I’d not be comfortable drilling that close to the tremolo cavity.

As it turns out, I ended up raising the pickups quite a lot anyway, so there remains a substantial portion of screw for adjustment.

Finally, all was mounted perfectly (humbuckers supplying the nice change of not having to attach the ground wires to the trem claw and shielding paint), and after some new strings, it was time for that all-important first photo!

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And that all-important first song:

 

* You can find the ‘Sigler Music‘ page of loaded pickguard options at:
http://www.siglermusiconline.com/collections/920d-loaded-pickguards
They’re a fantastic company, and have always been more than willing to accommodate any requests I’ve had at extremely affordable prices.

Breaking into the YouTube market

Well, I finally got around to posting a bunch of demos for my next couple of albums to YouTube. You can find them on my channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2Rf1XWTgkHEsyU3h793kMQ

Here’s my personal favourite, written to a beat and written around lyrics that came first, both pretty unusual practices for me.

“We’re nothing more than tinker’s toys, drawn up from a chart.

Wind us up and let us go. Watch us fall apart.”

Andy Fairweather Low’s Stratocasters

401px-Andy_Fairweather-LowIn his career as one of the most reputable session guitarists in the world*, Andy Fairweather Low has used many different guitars. From the late eighties/early nineties, as a part of Eric Clapton’s (and in 1991, George Harrison’s) band, he used Eric Clapton signature guitars with Lace Sensors almost exclusively, but he has since stated in interviews

“I never got on with the lace sensor pickups. I found some old humbuckers and actually, some new P90s. I like the sound they make.”

I have yet to see any evidence of his P90 guitars, but for a long period beginning in the late nineties, he was often seen with some Eric Clapton Strat’s, heavily modified with these Humbuckers.

There is little more to be said about these guitars, except that he appears to have had at least five different versions, two each in Black and Olympic White, fitted with either one or two Humbuckers, and a red version with three, as seen at the ‘Concert for George’ .

AFL

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For anyone interested in seeing and hearing his Black Strat in action, check out his amazing solo in ‘Money’ from Roger Waters’ ‘In the Flesh – Live’ DVD.

 

*Andy has played with the likes of Bob Dylan, Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix, David Crosby, The Band, Richard and Linda Thompson, Dave Gilmour, The Who and Pete Townshend, BB King, Joe Cocker, Steve Winwood, Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn, Jimmy Page, Ronnie Lane, Linda Ronstadt, Roddy Frame, Emmylou Harris, Joe Satriani, the Bee Gees, Jeff Beck, The Impressions, Lonnie Donegan, Ringo Starr, Steve Gadd, David Sanborn, Benmont Tench, Warren Zevon, Charlie Watts, Mary J. Blige, Dave Edmunds, Georgie Fame, Bonnie Raitt, Otis Rush, Phil Collins, Van Morrison, Gerry Rafferty, Chris Rea, Buddy Guy, Chris Barber, Jackson Browne, Bill Wyman and Sheryl Crow, amongst others.