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Entries in Greg Fleming (30)

Tuesday
Mar052019

Strollin' Greg Fleming's jazzy new single

Greg Fleming's third single from the upcoming album Get Off at Lincoln is a short, sharp, jazzy tune about strollin' home through the city on a beautiful late summer day.

"Some days chicken salad/ Some days chicken shit/ some days you fall in love/ aint no stoppin' it"
Fleming says the song was almost left off the album but bass player Mark Hughes kept going on about it and then turned up at the studio one morning with his acoustic bass.
"I'm so glad he did, it's one of my faves on the record - and also has a line I've always wanted to work into a song - "I'm so tired of living on my phone" - cos aren't we all!"
On all digital services here

 

 

Thursday
Dec202018

Still Blue - first track from new album

The new album is done - recorded by Olly Harmer at the Lab in two days in September 2018 and mixed and mastered in sessions over the following few months - it's the most diverse sounding record we've ever done. It's called Get Off At Lincoln and the first track Still Blue is out today on youtube and Soundcloud, and all digital services from tomorrow.

Merry Xmas!

Greg 21/12/2018

 

Wednesday
Mar292017

Forget the Past - three years later

 

Three years ago today we released Forget The Past. I’d recorded Edge of The City with The Trains in 2012 at a much flasher studio across town, but we did this at the more modest environs of Mt Eden’s The Lab - with the wonderful Olly Harmer engineering.

 So this was an entirely new band - except for the guitarist John Segovia who I’ve been lucky to work with throughout my career. We all knew each other (save for Nick who I hadn’t met till he turned up at practice - and what a find that was!) but I had no idea if it would click. 

 I remember playing the final mixes to friends and family in the studio at a piercingly high volume - we’d worked hard on this - and it was quite an emotional moment; there were even tears at the end of Winter Sun. It was released, got great reviews, but didn’t trouble the charts - a record like this doesn’t these days, and I’ve learnt that you’re crazy to worry about that stuff - but it has its fans and when I dialled this up today and listened to it through for the first time in sequence since we recorded it there’s nothing here I would change.

This was the first Working Poor record - we’ve released two more since then - 2015’s Stranger In My Own Hometown and 2016’s To Hell With These Streets and are working on the new one now. But Forget The Past - produced by legendary drummer and producer Wayne Bell – was the beginning and it will always hold a place in my heart.

Go check it out on Spotify, Bandcamp, iTunes etc... and if you want a signed cd - of course you do! - they’re for sale at a special price of $10 – and free postage anywhere in NZ for a few days -  through the bandcamp page here.

So here’s some notes on the songs - three years on.

 Nobody

The last song written for the record and one of my faves off it. We still play this live. Think Black and Blue era Stones crossed with The SOS Band’s Just be Good to Me. Cool keyboard solo from Nick on the key change. That’s me on falsetto - a lucky accident – ofc course I can’t do it again. Wayne ensured there was lots of space in this which I like. Mark’s bass is rock solid. Everyone just held back and only played when it meant something. Check out Andrew’s classical guitar lick after every chorus. Written for my daughter who was nine years old at the time - there still is “nobody like her”.

The Working Poor photographed at the Lab, 2014, l-r Andrew Thorne, Mark Hughes, Nick Duirs, Greg Fleming, John Segovia, Wayne bell 

Working Poor

 Perhaps the saddest phrase to enter the language in recent memory - 2014 was election time here and there was a lot of talk from both sides re the “working poor”, mostly platitudes. The song’s told from the point of view of a 28 year old husband/father.

“I went to school/ my teacher said/ working hard is the way ahead/ I’m 28 - still cleaning floors/ my kids still believe in Santa Claus/ we can’t live on what I earn no more/ welcome to the Working Poor.”

He thinks about going to WA to work in the mines where the money is (was - before the mining industry tanked) but he hasn’t got the money to get to Australia. His brother, a meth cook up North tells him there’s plenty of money and jobs in that trade. Musically it’s Dr. John funky - or at least that’s what we were trying for. We weren’t called The Working Poor until after this record was released. Andrew kept referring to us as The Working Poor - and it stuck - but I now think of this as the first Working Poor record. And they are definitely the most underrated band in New Zealand music - hell if I wasn’t in it I’d go see them every chance I got.

Jaywalkers

 I love hip-hop - and this was my first attempt to fuse narrative storytelling and urban beats (the most recent was this year’s single Uber Never Came - go dial it up if you like this). I think this was the first song Wayne and I started working on. I sent him an acoustic demo and he came up with the beat. I laid down the vocal in his home studio and we finished at The Lab - overdubbing bass, guitars and xylophone!

If the previous song was one side of Auckland this is another - a business man on his way to work - he’s got money but he’s “time poor”. He has the earphones of his phone on and is taking calls while he walks (well, jaywalks). It’s raining. He catches the train into town, finds an umbrella left in the carriage, takes it and that’s when the song starts. We are in his head for the journey from the train to his office - there’s people, cafes, a minor car crash, promo-girls offering milky drinks, people waiting at the atm, he could be the nicest guy in the world or a total douchebag.

“New lovers stroll slow/ and business men walk fast/ and pretty girls always know who’s watching their arse” – is my favourite line.

 There She Goes

 FTP is (so far at least) The Working Poor’s most poppy record - and this is the first sign of that. Maybe I thought we had some chance of getting radio play or an NZ On Air grant! The next three songs are maybe the sweetest I’ve ever got. This one’s a one-sided love song, summertime - “there she goes/ nobody could’ve known/ the closer I got/ the further she was going...” - scenes of domestic bliss that once was.

 Summer In The City

Written on piano on a beautiful summer’s day while the crickets sang outside. I’d been working on a deep dark and meaningful song for hours and was sick to death of it. I wanted something the polar opposite. Sat at the piano and there it was. I can’t even remember the other one. Wayne came up with some great harmony lines, that’s Wayne, Andrew and Nick on bvs. I was thinking of those poppy, cheesy Springsteen songs - which I love by the way - and yeah the Beach Boys.

 Honeysuckle Love

 The hook is in the harmonica which I just happened to pick up and blow and there it was. That’s Dianne Swan on backing vocals - perfect, thanks Dianne. Sometimes when I have a riff I ask my partner for a word - she said - without hesitation - “honeysuckle”. Yep, I can work with that! “Get the mixture right/ live and let live...” - writing happy is something that’s hard. Songs like this are really easy to overthink. I hope I didn’t. A great John Segovia guitar solo, this showcases the live energy of The Working Poor.I always loved Dylan's rough, ramshackle Planet Waves, so this was done in just one or two takes.

People love this song - it’s a no-brainer in a good way.

The Good

A lover with a bad reputation attempts to sway the new girl he likes. She’s talked to her girlfriends, is unsure, he says he’s changed. I don’t know if I believe him but the record is called Forget the Past. Wayne loved this - harmonies, vocal lines - this was my attempt at a classic Goffin/ King thing. I always really just wanted to be a songwriter like the old school soul and Tin Pan Alley guys but no-one wants to record other people’s songs anymore - there’s no money in it. That said I always thought that Gin Wigmore could do a cool, punked up version of this, just swap the gender round. Gin has a pizza named after her in Paihia - a pretty good one too.

 Sleepless Kid

 I’m a child of divorce - a long time back but it sticks with you. But I’m not the kid in this one. Someone messaged me about this song soon after its release saying that this was the saddest song he’s ever heard. Yep, I know what he means. I’ve always seen it as a political thing too - the father has lost his job - there’s financial pressure - both the father and mother love their child - no-one’s to blame - everyone’s trying their best, the sad part is the pressure the kid feels in keeping them together. We’ve only played this live once, but I’m very proud to have written this one.

 Cities in the Distance

Written after seeing the movie Winter’s Bone. A great, great movie - based on Daniel Woodrell’s novel - with two amazing performances by Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes. I watch a lot of movies but this one really affected me. The great, late critic Roger Ebert says it best - “A story like this could become mired in despair, but Ree's hope and courage lock us in. How did she get to be the way she is? We are born optimistic, although life can be a great discouragement. In every bad situation, there are usually a few good people.”

I’m not sure what’s going on lyrically - its relationship to the movie is tangential but I feel that movie’s power every time we play it and this is often in the set list. It might be another father/son song - I liken it to Edge of The City's Cut Man written soon after my father's death. Musically the band kick this one out of the park. Andrew came up with that guitar staccato riff in the verse - we hauled everyone who was working in The Lab that day to come in and help out on the choruses - so that’s Mike Hall and Jol Mulholland hollering along with the band.

Broken Lights, New Mexico

 

Some songs are bigger than they seem, they get away from you in a good way. This is one of those. It knew what it wanted and needed to be even though I kept second guessing it in the studio. John’s guitar solo is brilliant - we kept pushing him to get angrier, less pretty - he did. Dianne's vocals are perfect. Most days I can’t believe I even wrote it.

 Winter Sun

This started off after I heard someone say - “happiness is overrated”. I knew what they meant. You need the two sides - the dark and the light.

“If the summer sun is all you know / when winter comes/ where do you go?”

The song was also inspired by talking to someone who was wealthy enough to chase the summer round the globe. They hadn’t seen a winter for many years – that’s where the “yesterday is on the other side” bit comes in.

But those people running on the beach (Bethells here in West Auckland, that's where my good friend photographer Nick Kreisler took me for the cover shot) towards the cold sun at the end, their coats held tight against the cold - that’s another kind of happiness.

These days I love winters.

Wayne changed this from a simple acoustic thing to the epic it became and Andrew saved it when we were struggling - with the synth guitar effect.

 

The Working Poor are

Greg Fleming - vocals/ acoustic

Andrew Thorne - elec gtr/acoustic/bvs

John Segovia - elec gtr

Wayne Bell - drums, bvs, percussion

Mark Hughes- bass

Nick Duirs - piano, keys

 

 

 

Sunday
Jan082017

Uber Never Came - new track out now

Hot on the heels of last year's acclaimed album To Hell With These Streets comes a new track from Greg Fleming - another collaboration with Working Poor guitarist Andrew Thorne (left aka DJ Stingy Brim who also produced the single Life is Short from To Hell With These Streets). 

Uber Never Came  - inspired by a trip Fleming took to California last year - mixes electronic/hip hop with rock riffing and sharp lyrical observations. Stream/download on Bandcamp and Soundcloud

 

Monday
Dec192016

Great reviews for To Hell With These Streets

Radio NZ's The Sampler - looks at the record and Nick Bollinger likes what he hears. Take a listen.

"To Hell With These Streets is the most confident and most sonically engaging, as well as the most disgruntled album he’s made. But what’s extra impressive is the continuity with the rest of the music he’s made this decade. Greg Fleming is on a roll, and long may he roll." 

The record also made Elsewhere's 2016 best of list - among stellar company like Leonard Cohen and Chris Stapleton.