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Original Release Series Phase 1 Out Now

Phase 1 of the Original Release Series is now available on all streaming platforms and covers all the solo releases to date which have been newly remastered. Many of these have been unavailable since their initial runs back in the day and saves you having to remember your old myspace password to track them down.

Complete Rackets and Arrogant Whale releases coming next year.

Headaches, Heartbreaks & Drink Problems (2005)

The debut album. Recorded in my childhood bedroom while at sixth form on a recently purchased Boss 8-Track recorder. Musically, the record is largely acoustic guitar and vocal only except on ‘Thank God for Your Unstable Friends’ and ‘That Blues Song of Mine and Russell’s’ which feature a school friend, Russell Stubbins, on guitar. Everything was recorded in one or two takes and was as much an experiment to test out the 8-track as it was an attempt to record a debut album. However, the album found its way into my sixth form rec-room thanks to Russell’s enthusiasm, and I ended up selling copies to various members of the sixth form on CD-Rs on the back of this. I also distributed copies of the album at early shows, but the album has been unavailable since early 2006. The opening track ‘That Country Song I’ve Been Meaning to Write’ was later re-recorded and renamed ‘Out In The Cold’ after the opening line of the song on the ‘Oadby Drive EP in 2007 and was the opening song at almost every Rackets show. It was also one of the first songs we learned as a band because of the straightforward chords and arrangement.

Seventeen (2006)

‘Seventeen’ was originally released in two parts, tracks one to nine being a looser garage rock record and then tracks ten through seventeen being a more low-key country album. In hindsight the difference between the two parts is marginal at times however, the inclusion of louder electric guitars and my first dalliances with percussion and other instruments proved to be a step forward from the first album and ended up being the blueprint for almost everything else I did going forward. The album directly led to me forming ‘The Rackets’ and ‘Arrogant Whale’. Many of the songs like ‘Proper English’, ‘Every Time I Close My Eyes’ and ‘Wholesale Love’ were later re-recorded by those bands later and were in heavy rotation in our live sets. Like the first album, the songs were written and recorded quickly, if I recall rightly, over a weekend in fact. The percussion on the album was largely recorded using a tambourine cello taped to a guitar case which was one of the reasons I would keep songs short as trying to stay in time for the duration a song of over two minutes seemed impossible. I also began to experiment with layering guitars and multi-tracking my vocals for the first time. The album was again sold on CD-Rs at sixth form and distributed at early live shows. Songs from the album would also be released via ‘Myspace’ which was what distribution looked like in the mid-2000s for unsigned bands.

The Wilderness and Back Home Again (2007)

‘The Wilderness and Back Home’ was my first solo EP. The EP format is a format that I have continued to use as my main format when distributing new music. The main reason at the time was that Myspace only allowed you to have four songs on your band profile at any one time, so it seemed an obvious format to adopt as well as it being a relatively satisfying number of songs to write and record in one go. The most notable tracks on the EP are ‘Resuscitation Blues’ which would go on to become a Rackets standard as well as ‘Waiting Around’ which would later go on to be re-recorded by Big Convoy.

Long Cold Lonely Winter (2010)

I see ‘Long Cold Lonely Winter’ more as a collection of songs more than I do as my third solo album. It was originally conceived as a sampler CD to give out at gigs, hence the lack of any cohesive theme. The record features a number of guest appearances from Thom Gill and Tom Barnett of Rackets fame as well as Jack Collister, the other half of ‘Arrogant Whale’, and Toby Evans on drums. On the back of this record, myself, Gill and Toby played under the ‘Mat Wale & Friends’ moniker when playing shows to promote the release. ‘Fightin’ Talk’ and ‘Long Cold Lonely Winter’ get a full toe tapping folk revamp courtesy of Jack on banjo and drums. The final track on the album, ‘One Day Older Than Today’, is one of Jack’s songs which featured on the 2nd ‘Mexican Kids At Home’ EP which he kindly let me cover. Trivia fans will note that ‘Ride With Me’ got some radio play on BBC radio Sheffield at the time.

On The Wagon (2011)

Much like ‘Long Cold Lonely Winter’, I was looking to experiment with my sound on the ‘On The Wagon’ EP and as such recruited Leigh Marsh, who I had played with in avanGaad throughout 2008, to play bass and Toby Evans to play drums. The result was a harder edged alternative rock sound which was certainly a departure from the lo-fi folk/ country that I was generally known for. Toby also heralded production duties which is why the EP is more dynamic than my previous releases. The title song was a later included on the 2nd Big Convoy EP with my lead guitar part switched out for John Bachelor’s. The rest of the song was left as it was though including Marshy’s bass part. The song had been played live in the Big Convoy set from our earliest shows. The penultimate track ‘Reality Bites’, was a live solo favourite and remains one of Toby’s favourite songs he ever recorded of mine.

Use Your Disillusion (2012)

‘Use Your Disillusion’, named after an episode of Dawson’s Creek, was a conscious effort to get back to my lo-fi roots, recording back on my 8-track and playing all the instruments myself. Big Convoy was in full swing by this point, and this was my creative outlet outside of the band for the songs that didn’t fit with the bands sound. The final track is a cover of the avanGaad song ‘Joys of Destruction’. I always loved this song live when I was playing with avanGaad in 2008 and wanted it to still have that loud, raucous sound but more in line with ‘My Bloody Valentine’ than its indie origins. Looking back, I wish I would have mixed it differently.

Forgot About Wale (2013)

The ‘Forgot About Wale’ EP is a direct sequel to ‘Use Your Disillusion’ and which I again recorded on the 8-track and played all the instruments. The second and fourth tracks are acoustic versions of the Big Convoy tracks, the last one ‘Cherry Rum’ penned by John Bachelor.

Wale, Interrupted (2014)

The ‘Wale, interrupted’ EP was the result a creative week in 2014 wherein I wrote and recorded all the songs. ‘Backasswards’, the second track on the EP, is a phrase used in Catcher in the Rye which I was reading at the time and was obviously a sauce of inspiration. The EP is notable as the first time I used ‘harmony’ vocals on any of my tracks. I had previously had the benefit of other people singing on my records in harmony but had never up until this point been able to replicate the skill myself, singing in Big Convoy had widened my horizons in that regard. The 3rd track is an acoustic version of Big Convoy’s ‘Spontaneous Combustion’ which later featured on the ‘Solo Works’ compilation.

My Weakness/ Thinnest of Thin Ice (2016)

The ‘My Weakness/ Thinnest of Thin Ice’ single was produced by Chris Gray who also played bass on the record in his attic. Rhiannon Flynn played fiddle and sang on both tracks. The single was a continuance of the excellent ‘Mat Wale & Friends’ band I toured with throughout 2015. Sadly, the full band never quite made it to the studio as I was promoting the ‘Solo Works’ compilation album at the time which was my first release to come out on major streaming platforms and as such we focused on those songs rather than new material. Come 2016, we tried a stripped-down folk 3-piece version of the band which is what we captured on this single. Although it probably never hit the heights of the full band live the stripped-down 3-piece band sound still stands up on the record.

Back To Life/ Around You (2016)

The second single featuring Chris Gray and Rhiannon Flynn was a similar affair to the previous single with sparce folk instrumentation and harmonies. As Big Convoy had split up by this point, I think the version of ‘Around You’ was an attempt to claim the song under a different moniker.

2Q17 (2017)

‘2Q17’ is one of my favourite EPs. The ‘Interlude’ tracks feature Kate Wale on drums and Joe O’Brien on bass. The EP is recorded on a Roland R-05 room recorder with Toby Evans overdubbing organ on ‘Kafka on The Shore’ later during production. The songs were all written and played in open E tuning which gives a different dynamic on the guitar which proved to be inspirational as both ‘Kafka on The Shore’ and ‘Say Anything’ are some of the best songs I ever wrote. Despite the stripped-down nature of the EP, the record was largely toured with Joe O’Brien on bass and Tom Hudson on drums as a ruckus country rock trio.

Searching For John Hughes Blues (2019)

‘Searching for John Hughes Blues’ parts one and two are a direct follow up to ‘2Q17’ and were again written and recorded around the same time in the open E guitar tuning I was favouring at the time. Toby Evans produced the record and added a different pallet to the songs playing all the instruments over my acoustic guitar and vocal. The solo on part one is a particular triumph. Both songs were played live acoustically in 2017/18 as I was working on them, but I was largely retired from live solo appearances by the time the single came out.

River Phoenix (2020)

‘River Phoenix’ and the re-think of Rackets classic, ‘Oh Fuck Me, Pt. 22’, which featured as the B-side is the sound of the 80’s stadium country rock band I never had. Produced by Toby Evans who was channelling all his ‘Tunnel of Love’ era Springsteen chops on this single.


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