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Paranoid

You know that film "Marley and Me?" I went to see it. It wasn't about Bob Marley at all. Or me, for that matter.

Ever wondered: “what if Bob Marley was still alive but fallen a bit down on his luck and was making ends meet by working in an amateur reggae band from West Kirby and covering classic rock anthems from the 70s?”

Yeah. Me too. Keeps me awake at night sometimes, that one.

To stop me wondering and help me sleep, here are Kings of Inertia performing their own unique (I think/hope) take on Black Sabbath‘s Paranoid. Enjoy.

If you can’t see the Soundcloud player, try going to the Kings of Inertia Soundcloud page – there’s a link to it on the right.

Gareth "Gaz" Hill and Gary "Gaz" Stewart Smith at the Annual "I'm a left-handed guitarist and my mates sometimes call me 'Gaz'" Convention in West Kirby.

Way back in October 2011, I decided to stop writing my Kings of Inertia blog and start afresh. It’d gotten so far off the original reason for blogging that I couldn’t remember what the original reason was. I think it was meant to be about the story of me setting out on the road to being a bona fide performing/recording artist and songwriter for hire. But instead I was blogging about my holidays in the States, or the nice country pub walk I went on with my wife, or the day I took my redundancy money and ran.

I created a new blog – Gary Stewart Smith – and told my followers (I had two or three at the time) to start following my there. Then I left Kings of Inertia to wither on the vine. Six weeks later, I was checking my stats and noticed that Kings was still getting more hits than my new blog and the blog I write for my friend Sofi Nieto combined. I posted one last time on the Kings blog, again redirecting folk to the new blog, and once more left Kings of Inertia to wilt and die.

Recently, I checked the Kings stats and saw that it was still getting regular hits. At the same time, I’d been doing some studio recordings with some old friends that didn’t fit in with the acoustic singer/songwriter vibe of my new blog. So, as the Kings of Inertia blog seems to refuse to die, I decided I might as well use it to good effect and post the new material here.

So here’s drummer Nick “the Drum Doctor” Lauro, bass player Gareth “Gaz” Hill, lead guitarist Andy “Kitch” Kitchinson and yours truly on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, performing our version of Neil Young‘s Like A Hurricane. (Actually, I’m performing Jeff Healey‘s version of Neil Young’s Like A Hurricane – hence not as whiney as the original. Whatever. Enjoy!)

And here’s a link for iPad folks: http://soundcloud.com/kings-of-inertia/like-a-hurricane

Me and my friend Leo Simmons on our first day at big boys school

I gave up writing on my Kings of Inertia blog six weeks ago. The Kings had split because of musical differences – I was musical, the drummer was just different.

I decided to start afresh, and so started a new blog: Gary Stewart Smith. No more posting pictures of my holidays. No more recounting pleasant walks in the Wirral countryside. No more Photoshop montages of famous individuals and me in my cagoule. Just serious stuff about songs and songwriting and recording and playing live. Okay, maybe not serious, but all the rest.

So I’ve got six posts on my new blog. It’s been going for just over a month. In the past 12 days it’s had 30 page hits. An average of two and a half page hits per day, or five hits per post.

Now, the Kings of Inertia blog has been dormant for the past six weeks. No new posts. Yet in the past 12 days it’s had 120 page hits. An average of ten page hits a day, four times as many as my active blog. And an error-dividing-by-zero number of hits per post.

So would all those people coming back to the Kings of Inertia blog day after day kindly redirect themselves to http://garystewartsmith.com ? It’ll do my stats a world of good!

Thank you!

Kings of Inertia: remember them this way... no, not THAT way! THIS way!!!

Avid readers of my blog (Who are you!? Where are you!? Why haven’t you got anything better to do than read this tripe!?) will recall that a couple of weeks ago, in a fitting tribute to the demise of REM, I disbanded Kings of Inertia. I felt that, I dunno, the time was right somehow. The circle was completed. The race had run its course. And as there was only me left in the band… makes it easier not having to send those awkward “Dear John” texts.

I think the blog, like the band (or rather, the idea of the band – it never really got beyond the idea stage, though there was almost three of us for a brief moment in time), had lost its direction: it was meant to be about the art and craft of songwriting; the pleasure and pain of the creative process; the long, tiresome, repetitive, frustrating, debilitating, ultimately unsatisfying gestation from the germ of an idea to the blossoming of a thing of beauty and grace.

Instead, it turned into a load of old bollocks.

So I’ve decided to start again. Yes, even after building up such a large following (hello Leo Simmons!) for the Kings of Inertia blog (when you type “Kings of Inertia” into Google now, the blog actually comes up top of the list! That’s no mean feat, I can assure you!), I’m going to have to throw it all away and start from scratch.

But for those who sincerely do read this blog and like it (okay, maybe “like” is too strong a word), fret not. I’m thinking about having two blogs (and you thought that one was bad enough!?): a serious one, about songwriting, about my songs, the lyrics, their inspiration, when I wrote them and why and for who and about what; and a silly one, with the silly Photoshop montages, and the photos of West Kirby in the snow, and me and my smashing mates having a lark in the countryside, and my trips down Memory Lane (just of Wetstone Lane) and my thoughts on… oh, whatever my thoughts are. I don’t have that many.

Still, I don’t think Kings of Inertia has been a waste – at least I’ve figured out how WordPress works. For ages I put off starting a blog, coz I thought: 1) it’d be a steep learning curve and 2) the end product would look cheap and 3) I wouldn’t have anything interesting to say. I can now say that I was wrong on the first two points.

So fare thee well oh Kings of Inertia, until we can be bothered to meet again…

The four original members of REM: Peter Buck, Gary Stewart Smith, Michael Stipe, Mike Mills.

Members of legendary UK rock band Kings of Inertia have announced they are splitting up after 13 months.

The band, considered one of the most influential groups of all time with the word Inertia in their title, as well as one of the most successful in West Kirby, announced their decision today (September 24) via their blog.

Their joint statement read:

To all our friends and fan: as Kings of Inertia, and as yearlong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of ingratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at how little we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, or just touched in general, our deepest sympathy for listening.

The group found fame with a string of songs, notably non-hits The Song I Wrote, Folk On! and Still Got The Blues For You.

The band’s blog was briefly unavailable on Wednesday afternoon after the announcement was made.

The group was originally made up of singer Gary Stewart Smith, guitarist Stewart Garysmith, bassist Gary Smith-Stewart and drummer Si Blades, who left the band regularly.

“I hope our fans realise this wasn’t an easy decision – I’ve told them both; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way,” Smith said as he announced the split.

 In an interview this morning he said the band had started off without any goals. And continued that way. And thus had achieved what they had set out to do.

“The fact that we were making recordings and gigging” – mainly in The White Lion and Slinky’s – “felt like this amazing adventure to us. We didn’t necessarily want to conquer the world” – or The Wro – “but then we ended up doing exactly that in some small corner of the universe that belonged to pop music and us.” Namely The White Lion and Slinky’s.

Among those mourning their demise was Sofi Nieto, who simply posted the message “RPI Knigs of Inetia” on Twitter.

UK rock group Cease.Fire.Riot paid tribute to “one of the best, most enduring bands of our lunchtime”, adding “you guys will be missed. Your music will keep on keepin’ on”.

Arrowe Park Hospital Radio DJ Lane Zowe said the group had been “an integral part of the modern story of rock’n’roll, from at least Easter of this year”.

“Kings of Inertia never dumbed down. And they end with dignity. Well, what dignity they had left, anyway.”

In other news, REM also split.

Coldplay: a good-looking bunch of lads... but who's the one on the right? He just doesn't fit in, does he?

It seems like all the good band names have been taken. And a lot of the crap band names have been taken too by the looks of things – I mean, what the feck is a Coldplay? Who was Biffy Clyro? When was the last time you went on a Snow Patrol?

I’ve been trying to think of a new name for my music project. You know, I feel perhaps that calling it Kings of Inertia was just asking for trouble. A self-fulfilling prophecy maybe. As I said in last week’s blog, maybe I should have gone for something positive-sounding, like Kings of Getting Shit Done

So I’ve been trying to find a good name: one that isn’t taken, one that I can use as a domain name, and hopefully one that maybe gives the audience an indicator of the type of stuff I do. Metallica, for instance – they do what it says on the tin. Black Sabbath probably don’t play disco. Nine Inch Nails are most likely not a jazz trio from Kettering.

I’m not having much luck, as you can imagine. After 50-odd years of rock n roll it’s no wonder that all the good ones are taken. I guess lots of bands these days struggle to come up with the goods. But in the end, what’s in a name? Does it really matter?

Maybe not. I mean, having a rubbish name hasn’t done Coldplay any harm, has it?

A year of Inertia

Kings of Inertia: rumour has it the band was going to split, but couldn't be arsed.

It is nigh on the anniversary of my first ever post (13 September 2010), so I thought I’d look back and see what (if anything) I’ve achieved in the 363 days that have past.

In one of my earliest posts, I described Kings of Inertia as “talented musicians who just can’t be bothered to commit to anything, who can barely bring themselves to lift their instruments, let alone record and finish a song”. Which I believe accurately describes many of my musician friends, and of course yours truly.

At the time, Kings of Inertia was just me and my split personalities, though I was hoping to get some of my fellow local musicians involved. And hey, I managed to find not one but two excellent drummers along the way, though I managed to lose one (hello Dave Taylor!) very early on due to the distance between us (he lives in, like, Liverpool or somewhere! A whole hour away!). And I seem to have mislaid the other (hello Si Blades!) – he’s probably just down the back of the coach or something.

For a brief period of time (about two weeks towards the end of November) I had a bona fide producer all the way from Palo Alto, California – hello Nick Thomas! – but lost him to his day job. Shame, coz the one thing I really can’t do – apart from play drums – is produce and mix my own songs.
 
For a short while, I contemplated forming a real live band with Si the drummer and my good friend, the multi-instrumentalist Joe Ellerington (hey Joe!), but Si had other commitments (another band and a new girlfriend – a terrible combination where drummers are concerned!) and I… well I just couldn’t commit. Not even to my own band…
 
Along the way, I ceased to be one half of The Snags – though I still perform occasionally with singer Sophie Nieto (hi So!), as her backing band – and also appear to have stopped being 50% of Laurel Canyon Connection, an acoustic duo I formed with my old friend, guitarist Chris Stringer (yo Chr!). Projects I start with Chris never die, they just simply fade away…
 
Having said all that, I have made a little bit of progress this year, most notable being actually playing my songs in public to a live (as opposed to dead?) audience. “The song I wrote”, “I know it’s over”, “Folk on” and “Still got the blues for you” have all been played and applauded, so mission accomplished there then. I now have no qualms about playing my own stuff, which is a real achievement. Though perhaps 20 years or so too late…
 
In hindsight, I maybe shouldn’t have labelled the project Kings of Inertia. Maybe I should’ve called it Lords of Doing Stuff or Princes of Progress. But you know what they say about hindsight.
 
Well don’t you?