Welcome to this secret page devoted to the band from over a decade ago that George & Shane were members of.
(left to right)
Shane Young: Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals, taste & good sense
Andy Farrington: Bass, Brass, hope & happiness
Dan Pierce: Vocals, Guitars, doubts & fears
George Moorey: Piano, Guitars, Backing Vocals, grit & determination
"Big Blue Sun's music is as sumptuous and gorgeous as it is poignant and imaginative. They draw from the same well of dreary, world weariness that The Good, The Bad and The Queen adopted for their London-centric album and focus their attentions on their home city of Gloucester. Stylistically, they can be found hovering somewhere between the rather eclectic reference points of Leonard Cohen, Elbow, Simon and Garfunkel and Ben Folds. But all the time, they remain Big Blue Sun - a big band with a big heart and a big, big passion for beautiful music.
The Album 'Nocturnal City Journal' has a luscious texture to it that will melt your heart. It is filled with sad songs drenched in nostalgia. There is a sense of decline in the city - and in the individual characters depicted in the songs. Between the cracks, there are flecks of hope which make the album all the more poignant."
Stephen Morris, BBC Introducing 2008
The Powdered Earth paid tribute to their earlier efforts in Big Blue Sun by writing a song (that has nothing to do with any of the themes BBS explored as a band) and naming it after their previous band.
A brief history -
How George & Shane met and about the music they have made together over the past two decades.
George moved to Gloucestershire from London in 1998 to be with his girlfriend who was from Cheltenham. That year they married and in 1999 they moved to Gloucester to live. George met Dan Pierce, the principle singer/songwriter in Big Blue Sun in 2000 and struck up a close friendship. Today they are still the best of friends, although separated by geography and different vocations. George and Dan formed a duo called Ghosting and recorded a number of demos and sketches, never quite achieving the sound and feel either of them had in mind. One evening at Gloucester Guildhall they shared the bill with another local band, the drummer of which, was Shane Young. George and Dan were on the same bill as Shane's band few more times. Mutual respect based on music and hi-jinx was established and so to was a tentative friendship.
Shane is a native of Gloucester, born and bred - so to speak. His musical adventures began in the 80s when he befriended Ian Dench at school and was the drummer in a band they formed. Apple Mosaic opened the door to adventures in some of the UK's top recording studios, working with producers such as Ray Shulman, Stephen Street and Ian Broudie. He has played many many gigs and toured with some of the best known UK acts from the 90s such as Squeeze, Jools Holland and Del Amitri. After Apple Mosaic he sessioned for Mansun and The Christians and enjoyed a stint as a member of The Katydids.
By 2006 Shane had joined George and Dan as the drummer in Ghosting and over the next year or two they added bassist Andy Farrington to their ranks and began writing and recording as Big Blue Sun. For a few years they established a base at Loficity Studio in Gloucester (a commercial recording studio set up by George and Shane), produced the album Nocturnal City Journal and played just three shows appearing at Gloucester Guildhall, Wychwood Festival and 2000 Trees festival. There were just 100 CD copies of Nocturnal City Journal manufactured and sold.
During these years George had established a successful community music practice and was often referred to as "guru to the great unwashed of Gloucester". Starting in 2000 he had been commissioned by Gloucester City Council to develop a musical pathway for young rock bands in the city. The project was called WIRED and over a period of 8 years up to 2008 George provided recording, promotional and performance opportunities for over 150 young bands from the local area.
In 2010 Dan moved from the area relocating to Durham in the North East of England to train as a minister in the Anglican Church. Andy became a popular band leader for young brass players in the North Cotswolds area as well as a professional session player and musical director with his bass guitar. Loficity Studio closed, Shane found other projects to play drums on and George took a break from music and trained as a professional badminton coach.
In 2014 George dipped his toe back into music with a project called Warsongs which put the poetry and writing of the Gloucester war poet Ivor Gurney to music and producing a one-off performance at Gloucester Guildhall with a music group of over 100 players. Meanwhile Shane had just left a project to start a new one and must have sensed that George had the music bug again and in 2016 got in touch asking if he might like to audition for a new band. The audition went well, George made friends with new band leader Colin Murphy (ex The Things). Shane and George invited one of George's collaborators from Warsongs, Charlotte Ayrton (former member of Belljar and Eden Burning), to join them. Together the 4 new musical friends formed a new band: The Long Bees. There is an unfinished album size folder on George's studio computer that contains 8 or 9 half decent mixes of Colin's songs that George and Shane produced together. One day Colin will find the time to finish the vocals and maybe that album might end up being released. The Long Bees played one gig at Gloucester's Cafe Rene before dissipating as Colin's job got in the way and by then George had become pre-occupied with his Arts Council England funded community music project SPACES.
Meanwhile Shane's fascination with words and writing were developing. He had just written the first draft of his first novel and was eager to try his hand with writing lyrics. George is more comfortable composing and arranging than writing lyrics so he called on Shane to help him with the lyrical content for several SPACES pieces. SPACES finished in 2018.
A few months passed and Shane asked George if he had any original piano pieces he could listen to. George was inspired to compose some new pieces and promptly sent them to Shane who spent a happy evening writing and recording lyrics on top of the pieces and sent them back. George swooned when he heard what Shane had done. Together they attended gigs by neo-classical piano composers Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds and Erland Cooper and this shared love of the piano and film soundtrack textures has become a principle influence in the sound of The Powdered Earth.
The writing process is intuitive and fruitful. George sketches out some ideas using his piano, acoustic guitars and synthesizers then sends it to Shane who is able to respond with lyrics, melodies and often sumptious blends of harmonious backing vocals as well as constructing song structures by editing the sketches. They work remotely, sending versions back and forth using email. This has proven to be prolific and has been refined and tested throughout the COVID lockdown in 2020. George completes the arrangements while Shane records the vocals before George takes on mix engineer duties, is signed off by Shane before sending to the mastering engineer.
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