It was the summer of 2012. The Irish economy, like many all over Europe, was not in great shape following the banking crisis of 2008. There wasn’t a great deal of trumpet work around and I was paying off the money I had invested in the album ‘Brass Warriors’, which I had recorded with the Dublin Brass Ensemble back in 2009.
It was time to think outside the box. I felt like taking a short career break from music.
After spending a few weeks with my parents in Devon, I managed to get some casual work in an engineering consultancy in Okehampton, near Dartmoor, called the ISC (Independent Services Company). My duties included document management, van driving, representing the company at trade fairs and air shows and helping out where needed. In addition to being an engineering drawing office, the company also specialises in what they called ‘monetising intellectual property’ – namely, finding people or organisations with ideas and helping them to turn them into something fruitful.
I joined the ISC at an interesting time. The company had just won a contract to oversee the installation of thousands of information screens in stations the length and breadth of England and Wales. The screens were to supply information about the forthcoming 2012 London Olympic Games to anyone who was using the rail network. When the Games finished, the screens would remain as part of the London 2012 Olympic Games legacy.
As December approached, the CEO of the company, Colin Coleman, tasked me with delivering Christmas hampers to some of the company’s friends and customers. This job felt a very long way from performing on the trumpet in large halls filled with people, but I really enjoyed it. On my last day of work in 2012, I wished Colin a happy Christmas and gave him a copy of the album ‘Brass Warriors’. The album had taken love, sweat and tears to produce and involved a group of Ireland’s finest brass musicians. I hoped that Colin might enjoy it.
Colin listened to the album in early January 2013 and absolutely loved it. Coincidentally, he and his colleagues at the ISC had wanted the company to have its own anthem for quite some time, which could be used for special occasions, presentations or promotions.
Colin asked me if I would consider doing an arrangement of ‘Telstar’, a piece written by Joe Meek and his pop group The Tornados back in 1962. He offered me a recording contract and a strategic plan to help promote me, my music and my musical colleagues. I thought about this for a few days and after a thorough conversation with my family, I accepted Colin’s invitation.
I worked in his office in Okehampton for a further two years before returning to my music career in 2015, but I kept thinking about Colin’s project and steadily drove it forward over the following years.
I love recording in Dublin and have a few Dublin-based projects in the pipeline. However, on this occasion, for logistical reasons I wanted to record ‘The Corporate Anthem of the ISC’ (Telstar) in London. The ISC is a UK-registered company and my brilliant producer Adam Goldsmith is based in Wellingborough, in Northamptonshire, not too far from London.
We put the track down on the 5th of January this year (2020) in The Warehouse Waterloo studios, along with three short pieces for brass by Dublin composer Stephen Rennicks, which I will talk about in a future blog. We recorded the anthem in one session lasting under three hours. There was no choir present, but at various stages in the session, in addition to playing, the instrumentalists sang and clapped their hands. The score is made up of symphonic brass instruments, a bass guitar, an electric guitar and a piano, along with some percussion including a drum kit.
I would like to give special thanks to my friend and colleague Gavin Murphy, who helped me to organise some of my ideas. Also, on the day of the session, I was delighted to be surrounded by a wonderful and talented mix of Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Dublin and Melbourne musicians. The line-up for the Corporate Anthem is as follows:
Conductor: Roy Theaker
Piccolo Trumpet: William Palmer
Trumpet 1: James Fountain
Trumpet 2: Rick Cowan
Trumpet 3: Stephen Murphy
Horn: Cormac Ó hAodáin
Trombone 1: Byron Fulcher
Trombone 2: Andy Wood
Bass Trombone: James Buckle
Tuba: Francis Magee
Electric Guitar: Ewan Cowley
Bass Guitar: Phil Donnelly
Percussion: Noel Eccles
Kit: Matt French
Piano: Vincent Lynch
Producer: Adam Goldsmith
Ensemble Manager: Siubhan Ni Ghriofa
My Arrangement of ‘Telstar’ is a taster of what to expect soon on my upcoming album of solo trumpet and brass music, which also features the fantastic RTE Concert Orchestra. With the help of the ISC, I will be releasing some more tracks soon. My arrangement is formally known as ‘The Corporate Anthem of the ISC’. This ensemble is called The Brass Warriors – 2nd Battalion – London.
We hope you enjoy it!