Speak, Brother

Updates and musings from the guys

Adventures? Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner!

The song ‘Magnesium Burn’ came out last week and I felt inspired to pen some thoughts after watching the Hobbit 😉

The song comes from a deep well of frustration in my life. And it’s kinda funny how it actually took 9 months to finish writing it (Literally finding the chorus on the last day of pre-production – ureka!).

It’s the choakhold that fear can have on us, that’s often hidden in comfort and safety. I’ve held myself from saying things, doing things or helping people because of the fear of not knowing what would happen.

In being more concerned with keeping safe and comfortable in my own life and personal routine, I feel I’ve become numb to what it means to be human.

I love what David Bowie said when asked about creativity:

“Always go a little further in the water than what you feel you’re capable of being in… When you feel like your feet aren’t quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting”

But David, that is a scary place. Ever remember as a kid learning to swim in the pool. You venture a little out towards the deep end – the furthest you’ve ever been. You’re just about keeping your head above the water and getting a little tired as your limbs are all over the place. Then when kicking your foot down to find the bottom and for the first time the ground doesn’t meet you and your face submerges unexpectedly.. for a second, a flash of fear rushes through you!

Yeh, like you I’ve got ideals and dreams, but day to day it seems better to just autonomously play it safe, stay afloat and hope one day ill make it to the deep end. One day, something will change.

One day..

But maybe now is the time to listen to and act on that yearning in you to test the waters. To explore the boundaries. Run into the unknown, dark places in our lives. Like a child into the tall grass fields. I think it’s in those most uncomfortable places, where we’re just about out of control of the outcome, where we really grow and truly live.

Fear helps us understand the dangers, but it shouldn’t stop us or contain us. Regardless of what fears we have picked up in our lives (of which there are many for me) we all still have that same DNA to be a bit more wild.

For me it’s taking that little risk and of talking to a homeless person, or sharing something personal with someone or letting go of the fear of not achieving my goals or the fear of wondering what people will think of this blog entry…..

But Bilbo Baggins once said..

“Adventures? Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner!”

Little did he know he would soon almost become a Troll’s dinner. But it turned out ok for him, in the end.

Speak soon,



It’s already the third week of January, and the Christmas break now seems a distant memory.

Over too soon, but I was blessed to get a few days to myself. As my head has been in a bit of a whirl recently, I thought of taking on the gargantuan task of sorting through the last remaining junk room in the house would be useful. It had once been my ‘Man Room’, but steadily collected junk during 2017 as it whizzed by. Three days of endless clearing, throwing, sorting, I’ve finally reclaimed it.

Ahh.. It’s flippin’ awesome. A little place to sit, write, play my guitar. Around me now are things that inspire me, memories, pictures and books. And it’s from here now that I write this blog lifted from today’s journal entry.

I’ve never kept a journal before. It’s been my aim to start one for years and just never got round to it. I’m hoping it’ll help me to catch and hold onto the moments of the day and process them. As I have a nasty habit of overthinking things. I hope it’ll help me creatively too. We’ll see..

Anyways, already 15 days on through the year, the lights, the chocolates and other remnants of Christmas are gone. Our mechanical cogs after a moan, start to sync with the machine world routine once again. Life yanks back into gear and starts to pull forward, and whatever dreamy thoughts to on new years day got left behind as I ran to keep up.

Things already seem less clear and a little more uncertain. Not knowing how things are gonna turn out when out on a limb is hard.

But looking back to my first journal entry on new years eve, amongst the splurdge of mess, I wrote underling and circling the words:

“LET GO of the things you cannot control”

It’s easy to say. Easy to forget. But when I’m centered on who I am and what I can do and change, just accepting that it is, what it is. What will be, will be. It’s pretty darn freeing, and empowering.

But that requires an active choice. I’ve coasted through from day to day with constant nagging worries tugging on my mind. What a waste. Steadily just leaking energy till I eventually drop.

Better to use that energy doing what we love, what we CAN change and keep believing.

I truly hope that 2018 is all you want and need it to be.

For Speak, Brother it’s the year of the Album. The year we finally get to share it with the world. Who know’s what’s gonna happen..

Onwards into the deeper unknown!

Speak soon,


Those eyes. That smile. Magnificent.

So I was in bed, and I couldn’t get that face I saw out of my head.. Those eyes.. That smile. I scribbled down words which ended up becoming quickest set of lyrics I’ve ever written..

That night was date night and we went to one of the oldest working cinemas in the country. Quite different – They don’t do popcorn. Initially gutted, but they have sofas and you can order drinks and really nice cakes via text. Nice!

Anyway the film began and at times it was quite a hard watch. 1950’s Black america. Full of inequality, poverty. racism, bitterness, loneliness, depression.

Films like these invite you into the suffering. It’s uncomfortable. But it pulls you out of your own world for a second and you start to share in something.

But actually it was one particular frame right at the end of the film that imprinted something on me, and still remains.

It was a face. The face of a child, born from an adulterous relationship. Doomed to the same life of pain and suffering as the generations before it you see in the film. Yet somehow there was an innocence in her eyes and a hope in her smile. Almost wild. That she dared to believe something better. Something new.

It’s so natural to label things and see things as comparisons and opposites, right? Tall – short. Pretty – ugly. Rich – poor. Black – white. Christian – Buddhist. Us – them. In – out.

It moves us to a place where we don’t see what’s in front of us any more. The label or judgement is all we see. Things just can’t ‘be’, without requiring some kind of distinction. Something good on one side, and not so good on the other.

But what would be left if all those labels where peeled away right in front of us?

I think I got a glimpse of that in the face of that girl in the film.

Like a Father holding a new born child. In all it’s frailty, smallness and vulnerability the natural response is just:

‘Flippin heck.. you are MAGNIFICENT’

No judgement based on the past, or worries of the future. Just that moment.

This child. This Magnificent child is you. It’s even me. It’s every brother and sister on this planet. From birth.

The single ‘Magnificent’ came out Sept 22 and is available here on download and Vinyl


Racing Red Wagons and Den Building

These days seem to be so flippin’ complicated and hectic at times don’t they? I used to think it’d get easier as I grow up as I make my own decisions, but actually life used to be so much simpler didn’t it?

I walked past a house with a really cool metal red wagon outside it which brought back some sweet memories.. It looked just like the one in the picture above. Yep, that’s me.. The little chubby squishy thing sitting in my cousin’s rusty old red wagon. When I was a little older, I had one for myself.

I loved that thing..

Yeh, typically I’d drag all by best stuff around with me, particularly to and from the Dens I’d make. But we lived on a large hill. And the best thing you could do was sit inside the wagon, pull back the handle, turning it into the coolest go-kart ever, and push myself down this crazy big rocky hill..

Didn’t it feel like we had all the time in the world back then? Now there doesn’t seem to be enough time..

I don’t know about you, but I’ve hit plenty of times where I’ve tripped and fallen out of the hamster wheel and thought ‘why am I doing this’?

But why should we be these serious robots, to work all the time, accept the crushing pressures, to just get on with it, stiff upper lip, life goes on, working harder and harder and seemingly getting no where?

Well, we all have responsibilities now.. there’s not much you can do about that can you??

Of course, there’s so much more stuff we have to do and be responsible for as we grow older. And that’s awesome..

But as a young kid, I didn’t compare myself with others. I didn’t continually put myself down because others were better or further along than me. I didn’t care I was obviously a chubby little tyke either! I just enjoyed life. Building stuff. Racing stuff. Playing with friends.

There’s something in that childlike simplicity that I don’t think should grow old. There’s a Joy in the risk taking freedom. Isn’t that our natural state with which we are born? Joy. I think it’s time to rediscover it.

Maybe complexity in life isn’t really that bad.. In fact, when looking at it with child-like enthusiasm, it’s kinda fascinating. Something to be discovered, chased down, figured out.

Maybe then even build something. Like we did out of lego, sand or a even a Den in the woods.

These thoughts and more are all threaded in the upcoming Album Young & Brave.

The first installment is out Sept 22 which you can Pre Order here if you like.

Speak soon,


Album Recording Studio update

After 9 months of crafting our songs, we finally took to the studio in May to finish recording of the full Album at Magic Garden Studios. We had the chance to work with the legend Gavin Monaghan and Joe Murray (Editors, Jaws, The Twang, Ocean Colour Scene) to help us to find and hone our sound. One month later and it’s all done..

It was such an incredible experience, with lots of incredible stories of how bare outlines of songs were filled with exciting colour and detail.. We can’t wait to get them to you!

A Day In the Studio

Gary, a good friend of ours came to the studio with his trusty Tuk Tuk and wrote of his observations..

OK, I’ll start this  blog with a request. I ask you to accept that I cannot play any form of musical instrument whatsoever, I’ve never been inside a recording studio before, never mind seen a full album being produced, and have no idea of how to distinguish a crotchet from a quaver. I’m most certainly not a Music Journalist. But I  DO love music, particularly live music, and particularly music of the Speak, Brother variety. I guess that makes me a fan right? So that’s the deal, I’m a fan, writing from the heart about a debut album from a great band. Biased? Probably. Is this blog clumsy and cliche ridden?  Most definitely. Despite all that, if it prompts you to take a listen, it’s done its job. Accept all that and we’re good to go!

A bit of background. I have been familiar with the music of Speak, Brother since the release of their single ‘Lions Roar’, the unofficial Rugby World Cup song, when the tournament  came to England’s shores in 2015. They appeared on the BBC regional news to promote the song, and my curiosity was aroused. A catchy, punchy, anthemic song which should, if there was any justice in the world, have become the OFFICIAL World Cup song, I suppose you could say my Faith was in Speak,Brother, not Paloma (go on, Google it, I know you want to)Several live gigs later, and S,B  were firmly on my musical radar. A couple of EP releases,  a listen to  a smattering of James Herring solo singles, and it’s fair to say I was hooked. Musically mature beyond their years, with an innate ability to make their music sound sincere but not studied; earnest, but free of  schmaltz,  uplifting, but not over the top. Not easy to pull off, but they do it with aplomb.

So with an abundance  of live gigs under their belt, and some memorable songs already established in their back catalogue, they announced almost a year ago that they were going to write and produce a full length album.Through the wonders of crowd funding and anonymous (and VERY generous  individual backing,) S,B find themselves in residence at the very wonderful, quirky, Magic Garden music studios in Wolverhampton. I announce here without a hint of shame that I asked to come along to witness proceedings. They agree, and I find myself inside the studio, which is exactly as I imagine it; shabby chic, packed to bursting with some really cool vintage instruments, ex Army parachutes draped from the ceiling, all accompanied by a tryptyche of pencil drawings of Donald Sutherland as the spy in the 39 Steps, and a huge hand painted image of Bill Murray on the wall. Why Bill Murray? Well,  why not?

I met the Magic Garden lynchpins, Producer Gavin Monaghan and Engineer Joe Murray and hit it off immediately; they’re my kind of people. The jokes  never stop,  but neither does the professionalism, they’ve a job of work to do and they are masters at getting things done. I hear a couple of contenders for the album being worked up. Starting with ‘Magnificent’ Soaring, anthemic (that word again), a song comfortable in its own skin,  proud of itself, and rightly so. A powerful percussive beat keeping things on track. It’s easy to visualise this song being played in a stadium, James Herring’s powerful and increasingly confident vocals stealing the show.  A hymn on steroids right there.

A great start, followed immediately by a song which on first listening, is a polar opposite to Magnificent. ‘Man of Honour,slow, quiet brooding, introspective, thoughtful, considered. Reminiscent of REM’s ‘Sweetness Follows’ from 90’s masterpiece album ‘Automatic For the People’ Not necessarily similar in sound, but in temperament, in feel, a song to sit down and really listen to. Some songs can get away with being heard, some demand to be listened to; this is one such song.

Dan, the S,B drummer gets to work on the percussion element of the 3rd song I hear; Princess. A song about a 12 year old girl committing suicide, feeling helpless and ignored, worthless with no-one to turn to. Guitars, Drums, Mandolin, The standout element to me was the Harmonium in the background, mesmeric, haunting, a hybrid of church organ and Hare Krishna Ashram, it draws you in, and compels you to listen. A little bit of Matt Cotterill genius right there. That man knows how to tickle the ivories..

A day of doughnuts (not any old doughnuts, Krispy Kreme doughnuts!), coffee, hot and black, poured from a kettle last used on Little House on the Prairie, surreal, stream of consciousness stories from Joe, and trips from the studio to town in my tuk tuk to blow away the cobwebs in the late Spring.  What’s not to like? If the 3 songs I heard from S,B are anything to go by, this debut album is going to be….Magnificent. I pull away from the studio in my blinged out tuk tuk for the long drive home, and in a week of terror and horror in Manchester, feel hope and optimism coursing through my veins. The music’s done its job.

Gary Cross, June 2017

The “He’ll Fight” Story

Hope you had a great Easter weekend..

It’s been amazing hearing feedback from the He’ll Fight song and video.. It means so much to us as we’re so passionate about it’s story..

I was reading a terrible news story here this week stating that 4000 kids last year alone called Childline saying they’re lonely. I can’t think how many more boys and girls are suffering who don’t know Childline, or feel they can’t talk about it.

As heartbreaking as it is to read it, I wasn’t surprised. For so many reasons loneliness is a massive issue in our ever more busy, preoccupied, ‘social’ media culture and it’s the root of so many other problems.

It adds fuel to the fire in reminding me why we write music and how important we feel music and all other art is in giving voice to these things..

He’ll Fight is inspired by a true story of Grace, where a judge in court believed in a young woman when no else would – and didn’t give up. 

I heard the story on the radio last year. I can’t remember the crime, but it could have been a 1 year sentence. But the judge in hearing the full story understood that it was in fact it was her addiction to drugs that was the root cause. And so gave her community service and rehab.

She completed that and a couple years later the same judge heard that the girl had re-offended with the same crime! She had got back in with the same crowd she was in with before and was taking drugs again. She then stood trial again and the judge (a different judge) sentenced her to prison.

Now, the first judge was angry as he knew this wasn’t the best for her. He actually contested, then when that failed he visited her in prison and later became her mentor. She eventually was independent from drugs and now lives a fulfilling life.

You could say that this girl did not deserve that. Many people were angry she didn’t get a larger sentence! But it’s a beautiful story. To have someone fight for you and believe in you like that when the world is against you..

Where ever you’re at, there’s always Hope. Always. A timely story and more inspiring to me than even a chocolate egg. The kind of story anyone feeling lonely should know.

That’s what SO much of the Album is about too. Will share more on that this week as we get closer to finally record it!


Watch the video here:


Here we are…

.. another brand spanking new year. In between seeing family and pigging out, I’ve locked myself away in my room over the last few days. My desk covered in scribbles and books and a voice recorder always close to hand as I write these songs..

What a year 2016 has been. Generally, I’ve heard the year called all sorts of names.. Most of them bad. The rest, really bad. Ha! Ok a touch dramatic I guess. But it seems there’s so much change. So much fear, separation and disconnection. Wars, tails of deception and more devastating terror attacks all over the world. It literally feels social and political tectonic plates are shifting like crazy below our feet and it’s a wonder we’re still standing. All topped off with what seems so many of our most favourite pioneers of arts and sources of inspiration have passed away.

More and more however, I believe, in these times of fear, confusion and desperation that we’re all in, there will be more and more opportunities for us each to connect with people around us. Each of us has a purpose in this together. And I think, we’ll see more positive change from the ground up. We are all brothers and sisters on this little golf ball of a planet after all, right?

My challenge to myself is to not become stretched too thin, to be too busy, too overwhelmed to forget that. And to try and not forget how bloomin’ blessed I am to be alive and breathing.

I’m glad, now we’re in 2017, we can look forward with a sense of optimism. Which is what a I love about this time of year. It gives you an opportunity to react positively. A fresh start. Just like a chilly bright frosty morning after a long night.

Dream big this year.. and write it down in permanent marker. A lot can happen in a year. If this time last year some one told me we’d be in the middle of recording a proper full length fan funded Album with Ian Grimble this year, I’d laugh in their face. ‘Not on your nelly!!’ I’d say. Yet here we are.. I’m still waiting for someone to wake me up ha..

On that note, back to songwriting! Wishing you your best year yet!

Much love and speak soon,


The Album – It’s really happening and it all starts next week!

We had to put it out early.. Before we could talk ourselves out of it. A quick, wild shout to the world before we got too realistic, too sensible or too ‘grown up’. Like the tail end of a game of ‘Bogies’ in the library.

Yep, we’re sticking to our sheepish announcement we made a couple months ago and so much has happened since! We’ve made some great headway in writing and we’ve also got on board an amazing producer, Ian Grimble who has worked with the likes of Rhodes, Matthew and the Atlas, Bears Den, Daughter and Seth Lakeman!

Writing specifically for an album, rather than songs individually is a real journey for us. The themes that are forming at the moment are really close to our hearts. Stories that have moved us, and deserve to be retold and all along the way, we want you to be part of it.We need to raise a heap of money to afford it all and the target is outrageously large for a band our size. So scary! But, it’s time for us to go crazy and take a risk. I believe it’ll work, somehow, hopefully with your help.

So the fundraising will start next week and we want to get off to a great start! So, if you’re willing to invest in an album from us for yourself then get your fingers on the trigger! Recording is due to start in December so no time to waste!

Keep an eye for the crowdfunding link..


A song on a mountain top

I’m not a natural singer. My family will tell you my bedroom signing was more than painful to experience. I remember trying to sing/shout the high notes from some 90’s punk rock songs and although I remember loving it, I’m pretty sure my notes fell way flat.

Earlier this year, walking up a mountain comes with its own moments of serenity but this mountain trip had a nice extra serene surprise at the top. On a sunny February in Spain, myself and my partner in crime went to Montserrat, just outside Barcelona. It has a monistry half way up the mountain which you could actually take the half way up to (lazy I know, but we only had a few hours )

At some point along the way, whilst taking in the stunning views I could hear a faint melody in the air.. We shrugged it off and carried on, until I caught sight of a couple of guys some way above us, kneeling down, staring out into the distance. Out of the still silence, one of them started singing.. He was quite far away, but you could still just make out a beautiful melody. He sang loud and proud. I figure he must of been one of the monks from the monistry. I love it because unlike walking, talking, running, breathing, there’s no direct purpose. You don’t need to sing to survive per say. Rather, you get to.

I guess it’s like an outlet. A steam pressure release. Just like screaming out in agony, when you stub your toe on a corner! Imagine trying to keep a straight face and not cry out in pain when you stub your toe or step on a plug?!As I said, I’m no natural singer. I guess I just kept doing it, and I happened to be ok at it at the moment.

Singing is somehow freeing, powerful and profound. Sing in the good times, and sing in the complicated and hard times. Just please don’t ever let the fear of what you sound like to others stop you.

When ever I think of mountains, I now think of this song by a friend Malc Evans

Speak soon,


The blind lady that could see for miles…

A few weeks after the release of Light Runs After Us and I just wanted to share some thoughts on the final song ‘See for Miles’…

It was one of these weird, warm fuzzy feelings.. A little like seeing a friends new born baby for the first time. A pure kind of feeling that pushed away any selfish ambitions or emotions that often contaminate and consume our everyday busy lives.

At a gig a couple years ago we caught sight of this lady. A ‘normal’ looking lady. In that there weren’t any particular features about her that stood out other than you could tell she was in fact blind. There was something about her that was different though.

It was one of these audition type gigs in the hope of playing a festival. Now, I’m not really fond of performing against other artists. Find it really gets in the way of enjoying the art of music. Back then though, we were a little more insecure with our own sound and abilities, than we perhaps are now, and inevitably, all we could think about was ourselves and our performance.  So we were very much in our own little ‘bubbles’. Which just goes against the grain of everything we set out to do.. Because how can you connect with people, if all you’re thinking about is yourself?!

Anyways, some way through the night, we caught site of this blind lady. And in complete contrast to what was happening in my own little world, she seemed to glow and radiate Joy. Completely standing out from what seemed like a room made up of weighed down, weary and disheartened souls. You could tell she just loved music. She just expressed herself without inhibition. Smiled, laughed, clapped her hands. Pretty much dancing in her seat.

There was something beautiful about her. Something simple. The biggest thing for me, is that it seemed she just didn’t care what others thought of her actions. Complete at peace within herself.

Blind from birth.. Yeh, I have no idea how hard it must be. I mean, to never see the ocean? But then I think what would it be like to not be exposed to the huge amounts of pressure on us on how to look, how to act. To perform in life every single day and to be judged on your performance.

The media and marketing push it relentlessly, first making a perceived need, then sell you stuff to fill it. We all know this, but it’s hard. The success of marketing is built on how well you are convinced you’ll never be quite good enough. A constant message of discontent to make a sale, we need stuff, and they need money. A sick dependency really.

But seeing her, blissfully unaware of the whole deal, was a beautiful moment. She doesn’t know and doesn’t care that there’s someone apparently better out there. It seemed that all she knew was that she loved where she was and nothing got in the way of being full of Joy.

Somewhere down the line, we’ve forgotten that we were beautiful right from conception. This song serves as a reminder to us to look out for the Joy in life and turn a blind eye to anything that says otherwise.

Here’s the lyrics video. You can also listen on Spotify or grab a CD / Download here: