It’s funny how the world works sometimes isn’t it? How paths can cross and uncross throughout the course of your life. This has happened to me a couple of times where people I’ve known when I was younger have popped up again in the most random of places. Most recently my friend Craig, who I used to look after when I worked at Cragside Fun Club in Cramlington where he would go after school. Imagine my surprise when he shows up supporting my favourite local band (and good friends of mine) The Longsands. Surprised not least because in my head, he’s still only 9 years old.
Fast forward a little bit when he was clearly old enough to look after himself, and discovered his passion for music at around 15/16. He got his first acoustic guitar from Argos for £50 and spent hours learning one Oasis song after another. Following on from that, his friends Chris, Sam and Josh started a band together (initially called The Strangeways after the prison!) After a couple of lineup changes and a rebrand as The Smokin Barrels they secured some pretty sweet support slots with Kasabian and and Noel Gallagher.
Sadly The Smokin Barrels didn’t last though and Craig moved on form The Jet Reds which saw them work with great producers and engineers, playing in London, Manchester, some good headline gigs in the North East. Craig’s now going it alone and getting ready to release his new debut album as a solo artist.
Naturally, he’s heavily influenced by Oasis but also cites Paul Weller as someone he looks up to, particularly now he’s playing acoustically on his own. He’s really keen on paving his own way musically though and not to be pigeonholed as sounding like the next XY or Z. Authenticity is paramount for his songwriting and sticks to what he knows and what he’s good at – if other people like it too then that’s a just a bonus! Not being one to take no for an answer, I pushed Craig to tell me who he feels he could be likened to, so that people checking him out for the first time know what to expect and here’s what he said:
‘See I don’t pay a great deal of attention to chart music if I’m honest. I feel like the charts aren’t anywhere near as significant as they once were. It would be nice to see some good old fashioned guitar music making its way back into the charts, and I’m sure it will. Music seems to come in cycles so I’m sure it’ll happen. The pop stuff nowadays just doesn’t really do it for me, but each to their own!’
Sometimes you don’t get what you want!
So since Craig won’t answer the question, I’ll answer it for him. Although I fear I may just sit just as much on the fence. Vocally he has a very slight tinge of Liam Gallagher and perhaps Richard Ashcroft, although dare I say it, more in tune and way less nasally. Musically, it would be easy to say he’s akin to your JP Coopers or Dermot Kennedys who are all the rage at the moment but I think that’s probably doing him a bit of a disservice. Craig is more classic or even timeless than that. His song A Fractured Landscape for example could be from the 90s britpop era or on radio 2 right now. Just good songs sang well. And if that’s not the kind of thing you’re into then you’re in the wrong place.
So what’s next for Craig? Well, he’s taking it day by day for the moment; setting himself targets for gigs, recording and writing, which he finds keeps him focussed and productive. Whilst getting to the haven that is Glastonbury, touring the world and recording albums is still what he wants, he’s concentrating on what’s right in front of him for now because it’s working and what he enjoys most.
Finally, because this is something that all rockstars should be asked in interviews, he has confirmed to me that he would rather be attacked by 100 duck sized horses than 1 duck sized horse because he could just boot them out the way as they come at you!
Catch Craig supporting The Longsands at their reunion gig at Newcastle University Students Union on 11th June 2022. Tickets still available here