How A Man Should Be
When I started studying at Leeds College of Music two years ago, I'd just released an album - and so had almost no new material to work on. Suddenly songwriting was work, and I needed to be producing material all the time. This was a really hard thing to do - as when you’re producing stuff all time you naturally produce a lot of crap, and it can be hard to keep a sense of self-worth. 'How A Man Should Be' was one of the first relatively good ideas I got during this time - I grabbed it with both hands, and I think went at it like a bull in a china shop. It’s only in retrospect that I can realise this - but I was so desperate to write a good song, that I didn’t ‘listen’ to the song, I didn’t pay any attention to what the song needed to be - and I just ran at it and threw everything I had at it in attempt to get a finished and relatively 'good' song. As a result, I really tangled the song up - and it was nearly two years later that I got a version I was really happy with.
When you go to a place with lots of new people, your values get challenged. You get put in this melting pot of ideas and beliefs, and it can take a while for you to get centred again; for you to know what you think about certain things. For me, I think I went to university with an assumption of what ‘moral masculinity’ was; of how I presumed a man should be. Looking at lots of the people around me - this idea was very much challenged. So this song is about me realising how hypocritical and ridiculous my thoughts were; realising I needed to find my feet again and figure out what I believed. It’s about somebody working out how a man should be, but neither them or the people around them being able to reach that ideal.
Sam Carter's album 'How The City Sings' became a really important reference point in how we approached recording and producing this album. His album has a wonderful live and raw feel that I wanted to capture, and do something a little bit different with. 'How A Man Should Be', like most of the album, was mostly recorded with all of us live in room - and we referenced 'How The City Sings' quite a bit when we were producing it.
I released an acoustic version of 'How A Man Should Be' as a B-Side to the 'Should I?' single in November 2016. This version has a really complex guitar arrangement, and I gigged with it quite a lot on my own. People seemed to really like it, but I was never that happy with it - the bounciness and playfulness of the arrangement did't reflect what the song was trying to say.
Here are a selection of demos made between December 2015 and Spring 2017. Hopefully you can hear how much this song changed before I made the version on the album.
Here are a few clips of Greg, Frazer, and Lewis in the studio recording the track. They were in the live room, and I recorded my guitars in the control room - just for the sake on microphone separation. The vocals were done later, and I also re-did the acoustic guitar later too.
You can hear 'How A Man Should Be' on my new album 'Throwing & Catching', when it's released on 21st November...
You can pre-order the album here