In Search of...: The (not so) Secret Diary of a Band

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

We've got some new videos up on our website - check them out here:
Listen to us on Bob Harris! Here:

Friday, 15 June 2012

The robin has flown the nest...

So now it’s out there. Sort of. This week we clicked the button which meant people were able to download copies of ‘This is where we meet’, our new album. Click a button because, in order to get our PR campaign in place, and hopefully start to generate some buzz about the album, we have had it on a pre-order page using the bandcamp site for the last couple of months.

This has allowed us to employ the services of a PR company, as well as a radio plugger. Both will be working until the official release date of the record (the 13th of August – Kieran’s Birthday!) to secure as must exposure for the album as possible. The art of public relations is a dark one indeed, so we thought it best to leave it to the professionals. As and when we’re on the cover of your favourite magazine or in your Sunday Broadsheet Arts section, we’ll let you know!

We are also trying to get on board with a distribution company so that you can pick up a copy in a shop somewhere near you. All of these various ‘label services’ (more on that later) are in return for either flat fees or percentages etc, so it has required yet more meetings and negotiations. In the meantime, we’ve been getting copies of the record to approve, making screen prints and posters as well as playing 3 festivals in 8 days; so a quiet month all in all.

Distribution, PR, Plugging, an offer of publishing, all sounds pretty much like everything you’d get from a record deal, or record company. Only we’ve done it without giving the ownership of the album to anyone, it’s still very much our baby. The modern reality of the industry is that more and more bands are being forced to do so much of this on their own, be more organised and entrepreneurial, while paying their rent.

Whilst at the wonderful inaugural No Direction Home Festival last weekend, I listened to a talk from Richard King, who has just written a book called ‘How Soon is Now’ all about the DIY and independent scene in the 80s. When asked about the modern independent scene, he was hugely encouraged by this new level of drive and innovation from new bands. However, he also accepted that the days of bands getting filthy rich were gone. Somewhere between there and where we are now would do us.

So our baby is out of the nest and in the big bad world. Over the next couple of months, we secretly hope to see it being reviewed and profiled online and in print – fingers crossed anyway. One thing we will need is to once again rely on our amazing fans to spread the word far and wide about the album. We’ll be working as hard as we can, playing, maybe doing some videos(!), festivals etc, but this really has been a cooperative effort from the beginning, and so it must continue.

In keeping with this, we plan to have a party of sorts on the 14th of August to celebrate the release of the album. It will be at the Lexington in London, will be run by our friends at The Local, and should have some special support acts, as well as some goodies and treats for the evening. It goes without saying that we would dearly love as many people as possible to make it along. ‘This is where we meet’ is a literal album title in a way, as the album represents a coming together for the band (and those who come to see us) where we finally got the time and space to ‘be’ Urusen for a concerted amount of time. But we might not be here at all without all of you, let alone have a great album coming out! So please enjoy it if you get it, come say hello if you come on the 14th and, if you feel so inclined, tell a friend about ‘This is where we meet’.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Pre-order is go!

You can now pre-order our new album 'This Is Where We Meet' here:

Please get involved and spread the word!

There are various choices of order - the album on its own, or you can get hold of other stuff including a limited edition screenprint, a poster and more. On top of that the 1st 40 orders of bundles 3 and 4 will receive a free t-shirt and EVERYONE who pre orders anything will receive a download of album track and live favourite 'Wake Up John' as soon as they place their order. So, yes, you can actually get a brand new track from the album now if you pre order! The track is also streaming on the pre-order page right now so please visit for a listen and take a look around at what's on offer.

Also, we wanted you all to know that we'll be putting funds we raise from pre orders towards promoting the release of the record in the summer. So this is an opportunity for us to fundraise (should you feel particularly generous, you can in fact 'name your price' at the check out!) and we wanted you to know that your pre-orders really will be helping us raise our profile. Needless to say we appreciate all your support.

Aside from all this though, a visit to this page is the fastest and simplest way to guarantee yourself one of the 1st copies of the record and some of the other great stuff on offer in the pre order.

So, please check it out and spread the word...This Is Where We Meet!

We'll be in touch again soon,



Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Seeing is believing

So here it is. After months of discussions, planning, frustration and the like, we've got ourselves an album. As you can see, it's called This is where we meet. Last week, the final masters were approved and, shortly after, the final design work for the artwork was signed off and sent to the printers. So, very shortly, we will have copies of the album that, without sounding too dramatic, represents about 3 years of this band's life.

Needless to say, we're very happy with how it all looks and sounds, and can't wait to let you all get your hands and ears on it. In the meantime, we're now booking up festivals (providing they don't all get cancelled) and gigs for the summer and beyond. All the details will be revealed, as these will probably represent the 1st opportunities for you to get your hands on This is where we meet

Alternatively, you will very shortly be able to 'pre-order' the album, along with a whole other bunch of goodies. This is an increasingly common model amongst smaller bands. In short, it allows bands to generate the revenue needed to put out the record people have paid for. We're in a slightly different place in that, we could put the record out tomorrow if we needed to, its more about how successful a launch we can give it. In line with this, we are in negotiations with some industry types about getting some support with putting the record out. More on that later though.

Finally, in the previous paragraph, I mentioned goodies. As with all 21st century bands, we're talking lots about merch. Unlike a lot of other bands, we've got Peter. That means AWESOME merch. keep an eye on our facebook page for some potential examples, as we're keen to make sure that you like it before we make it!

One last thing: If you're on Twitter, follow us and let's get #thisiswherewemeet trending!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

2012: year of the Urusen!

Happy New Year! Hope you all had a wonderful festive period. We all took some time off from the band (and some of us got some time off work too!) so I personally am feeling rather refreshed going into the new year. Others, like Jay, have been working the whole time as there is lots of work to pick up over Christmas for musicians, so him less so!

Anyway, a new year brings new news and new additions to the blog. The last Urusen action of 2011 was going back to Real World in December to do the final tweaks on the tracks that will feature on our album. This is now - touch wood - done. We have some boring housekeeping to do, along with an order and a title (again, almost all done) and then we're good to go for starting the wheels turning on getting our little beauty out into the world.

However, this post isn't going to be about us. One thing I was very keen to do with the blog, was to get the input and opinions of some of the wonderful people we cross paths on this 'wild old ride'. As followers of the blog will know, 60% of the band did an in store at an independent record shop in Warminster called Raves to the Grave. We were invited by Reuben, who works there, as well as being in a rather good band himself, and being a dad to a beautiful baby daughter! Who better to talk about the modern realities of the industry and of being in a band right?!

Port Erin. Good hair all round.

Reuben and his band are currently mixing their new album, so over the course of a few emails, we discussed the resurgence of vinyl, the Christmas #1, and the dangers of having family members in the same band...

 "My family has made me even more dedicated to my music. I'm not just wanting to make for myself any more."

Hi Reuben. An independent record shop in Warminster, not the most obvious place to have a record shop. How's business?

We sold a ridiculous amount of the Military Wives single leading up to Christmas! Business is good; our Warminster shop is the vinyl off-shoot from our main shop in Frome. It opened two years ago and is now beginning to establish itself as one of the South West's leading vinyl stockists. People have been know to travel from as far away as London and Cardiff to hunt for treasures down stairs.

The future of HMV is being heavily speculated over once again amid concerns it is unlikely to exist for long beyond Christmas. Do you sympathise or do you see it as a good thing?

It will be sad if all HMV's go, they have been a huge part of the industry for nearly 100 years. To not have a reliable, chart high-street retailer will be a blow and further alienate youngsters from physical formats and the idea of going to a record shop.

Quite. When you walk into your shop, the 1st thing we noticed is that you have A LOT of 'physicals', namely vinyl. Does it have a future as a format and if so, why?

Vinyl is becoming a bit 'trendy'. BBC 6 championing vinyl only days on New Year's day etc. Vinyl sales this year alone have seen a 40% increase from last year . I think with great concepts from groups like Record Store Day and bands who want to still want produce a record as a physical piece of art it could see a bit of a return.

"I think music has to become respected again as a true art form..."

You also have a band called Port Erin who recently recorded in the Wood Room at Real World (like us!). Tell us a bit about the band. What's your take on being a musician in 2011?

We have been together since 2007. Have played all over the U.K., done the usual slog. We take inspiration from lots of different artists. I hate the age old question, but I guess we're (here we go...) Progressive-Pop / New Wave / Psychedelic Jazz-Rock. Most of this album was written by sifting through recordings of lengthy improvised jams and pulling out the best bits and creating songs around them. 

When we played our in-store with you, we also got to meet your beautiful baby daughter Melody - and even signed a vinyl for her! Day job, band, fiancée and daughter - must be quite a balancing act?

Guess so. But since starting the band I've always used diaries (Moleskine!)so I like to think I / we are fairly well organised! My family has made me even more dedicated to my music. I'm not just wanting to make for myself any more.

With your record shop hat on, how/where do you see the industry changing/moving in the next few years?

Hmmm. I think the second hand vinyl industry will continue to grow, as with new releases on vinyl. I think music has to become respected again as a true art form for there to be some shift. Music is almost a gadget or accessory now and, to most, freely accessible (Torrent sites etc). I'd like to take this moment to say I've never downloaded music - legally or illegally! The way people listen to music is very different now. Very rarely do people sit down and listen to an album, it's more a collection of one's favourite tracks in a playlist. In a sense, the album has died. Hopefully there will be a counter-culture against this and the album format will continue to grow.

And as the singer in a band (same question)?

Hmmm. There's so much competition. I think it's the same as ever for artists, hard work and a pinch of luck.
Finally, you're in a band with your brother. We've got cousins in ours. What's your take on mixing family and music?!

It's good. You can argue your musical point, smash each other in the face, steal cigarettes and not feel guilty.

For more info about the record shops where Reuben works, visit their website, or better yet, visit one of the shops. To hear some music by his band, Port Erin, go here.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

So this is where we are…

A while ago we got a new flyer done to take to gigs. It said "New album due in 2011". Well that has now turned out to not be possible. Not for lack of trying. It simply hasn't been possible. We finished recording the album in December of last year and then spent the next couple of months back and forth to Wiltshire to mix the record, do the odd spot of re-recording and get a mastered version ready to fulfil our commitments to Bowers and Wilkins.

Steve Osborne making our album sound sexy

Since then, we have been presented with the seemingly impossible question of how best to proceed in getting the album 'out'. By what means, in what format, and with what type of support. We're clearly not the only ones to find this interesting, as it has actually already been the subject of a blog by journalist Emma Hartley. Indeed this question is not ours alone. It could be argued that right now is one of the most difficult times ever for an emerging band to make an impact, or gain the industry support necessary to give yourself even a fighting chance of turning a 'glorified hobby' into a career.

In the last few weeks EMI, one of the oldest and biggest record labels in the world, completed its long and painful disappearance, as it was broken up by its owner (Citibank) and sold off to other members of the big 4; now 3.

Nevertheless, the attached article by pointing out that Adele, the biggest artist in the world in 2011, is signed to an independent record, XL. Now, while it may be true that XL are "a label that has bucked the trend for gloomy music industry stories over the past decade", this doesn't tell the full story. Adele's record contract is with XL, but her publishing is held by Universal Music, and her music is looked after in America by Columbia Records, which is part of Sony Records. Moreover, when The Guardian published their Music Power 100 in May of this year, number 1 was "Team Adele" - containing representatives of her label, her manager, her publisher and her plugger.

While, I don't think Urusen are going to be 2012's Adele, I use this example to give an insight to what we're faced with. We have no label, no manager, a loose affiliation with a publisher that was swallowed by EMI earlier in the year (so where that leaves them now even we don't know!). When we put our single out last month we enlisted the help of a radio plugger, and we are currently in talks with a 'booker'.

Managers, pluggers, bookers…What are they? What do they do? How, when and where do you get one? And in what order?! All questions we've been trying to get our heads round over the last year, whilst making sure we maintained our presence on the gigging and festival circuits. And paid our rent. Bit of honesty for you here, we haven't written 1 new song this year.

But we've still got this amazing record. A record that we know people will love. A record we believe offers something unique and special and that has the potential to, if not sell as many copies as '21', then at least allow us to turn this band into a viable business venture. That's not meant to sound cynical; it's the reality of what we want to achieve.To do this, we have to work out these chicken and egg situations and make some hard and risky 
decisions about where to commit resources (both time and money) and in the right order. Everyone we have spoken to in the industry has stressed how important it is to get people around you who both believe in what you are doing and can help you do it, and then just throw everything you've got at it. In short, that's what 2012 holds for us.

At the moment, the proposal is (this isn't meant to be a 'scoop' and it could change!) to release the album (title and tracklisting almost decided upon) ourselves in spring of next year. In the lead up to this, we will be enlisting the services of a booker to ensure that we are doing what we do best, gigging, in/at the right places and times whilst also paying for pluggers and PR companies to get some "buzz" around the band. We'll be paying for all of this through a variety of methods, one of which will be pre-sales to our lovely fans. There should be more details on all of this as we get/decide them. All of it has to be timed properly as there are required lead-up times and so on so people can do their jobs. After a year with it under our hats, we're not going to rush things now.

So, there's no big cheque from mr. industry man. There's no plans for a nationwide billboard campaign or celebrity endorsements (though we were told that Lenny Henry is a fan of the band after hearing our music in Mr. B's bookshop in Bath!) It's going to be us 5, with some help from some small, dynamic, companies who specialise in offering particular 'label services'. But we'll be doing it on our own terms, in the way that we've always done things. To be honest, that suits us just fine.

On Thursday, we're playing our final gig of the year at the Star of Kings for the London Folk Guild Christmas Party. LFG involves some of our favourite promoters, Continental Drifts and The Magpie's Nest. It should be a really good night, with lots of great music and dancing. Would be lovely to have some friendly faces to see the year out with. Hopefully see you there. x