Friday, June 11, 2010


11/06/1020: Drifting.

I decided today I'm gonna be a better person...

Portugal: The song. And the destination.

So I just bought a ticket back to Portugal. Not sure where I'm going yet. Or where I'm staying. But I got my ticket and I'm gettin' on a plane.

I figured I still have so much work to do - Thousands of email addresses to input and over 40 concerts to "mix" (well how much mixing does one microphone take?) as well as songs to write and thoughts to think and daydreams to dream. (Daydreaming is very time-consuming, don't you know?)

And, well, since I don't actually have a home at the moment I might as well go somewhere lovely and, hopefully, inspirational, right?

It's strange to think that it was only two years ago that I wrote Portugal and even more strange to think that There Are No Goodbyes was released just over a year now. Especially when I feel like those songs are still such a part of me... I remember Valentines Day in Vienna like it was yesterday.

OK enough nostalgia for me. I've got to get packing. And need to do some shopping. For some reason, I don't think my current wardrobe (consisting entirely of stage-attire: black shoes, black shirts and black trousers) is ideal summer wear?

Hmmm... I think a pair of black flip-flops should do the job nicely. What do you reckon? Black shirt, black trousers, black flipflops? Perfect. Beach here I come...

Everything's lovely.
Yeah everything's fine.

I've got more than I need most of the time.

But still something seems missing

Like there's a crack inside...

If we could just get away

And leave what divides us behind

Before I go though, I just want to thank you once again for your support during the tour. To be honest, I'm still finding it all quite overwhelming. There was so much joy and sadness and laughter and, well, I don't know... Togetherness? Togetherness sounds a little too hippy for a punk rock muthafucker like me but, well, we all have our soft side, right? But from the bottom of my heart thank you. It was just wonderful. Maybe a little too intense sometimes. Even for me. But hey, that's life. And life can be a little too intense sometimes, right? Alive. That's it's. I felt alive. And, again, I found it all rather wonderful. So thank you.

And to all my fellow 'Alivers' please give me just a little more time to get on top of all these emails (I'm trying to reply to all of them) and email addresses and recordings. I'll get there though, I promise.

Take care and I hope to see you all again real soon,



Wednesday, April 08, 2009

It ain't rock n' roll but... Marie Curie Cancer Care Swimathon

It ain't rock n' roll but hey, fuck you anyway...

As some of you may know, my mother passed from cancer a few years ago. In fact Lost (She believed in angels) from Technology Won't Save Us was inspired by our last days by her bedside and, well...

Lost (She believed in angels) - The Valentines Day Session

It really was only a matter of days between the discovery of my mothers cancer and her eventual passing away but I still remember one of the saddest moments of those few days was a conversation my mother had had with the head doctor and my mothers the realization that they were unsure how much longer she had left and that she may have to leave the hospital and spend her last days at home.

All my mother had ever dreamed of throughout her life was a home surrounded by the love of her family. The more family the better. In her dreams you could never have too much family. Heartbreakingly though, she spent the last years of her life alone (yet somehow still in hope) and the idea of her spending these last days, however many or few it might have been, in a place that she never felt at home just broke her heart. She used to say that her new 'home' had never felt warm when it always felt so empty... She didn't want to go home.

One of things that I always thought was so special about that conversation between my mother and her doctor though was the sincerity and care with which the doctor spoke to my mother and how hard she tried to put my mothers sadness and fears at ease. She was really trying to help.

Of course if my mother would have had to leave the hospital my brother and I would have been by her side (and her sister and her nieces still lived relatively close by as well) but it was also incredibly comforting to think that along with the extra nursing care the hospital would provide if my mother had to go home that there were also groups out there (such as Marie Curie Cancer Care here in the UK) dedicated to providing this help and relief to those unfortunate enough to not have the family, friends, or indeed the finances to have someone help them, accompany them, through those last days.

So here we are... The Marie Curie Cancer Care Charity Swimathon.

Swimathon 2009

Last year I participated in the 2.5km swim (they have 1.5km, 2.5km and a 5km options) and couldn't move for 3 days...

This year though I'm going to attempt to gasp, wheeze and cough my way through the 5km!

As it says on the Swimathon site "Every £20 raised will enable a Marie Curie Nurse to provide one hour of support to a terminally ill patient." and I hope that together we (myself and you, the Sophia Fan Collective!) can contribute a little extra to, what is in my heart, a very worthy cause.

I've just signed up now but once I receive my/our sponsorship link I will post it here, OK?

You guys and gals have a beautiful day and take care...

All my love,


P.S. Do you think inflatable arm-bands are allowed? :-)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

There Are No Goodbyes... I just have dust in my eye.


Hi Everyone,

So I've just finished my first round of promotion and am heading back to the UK for a few days before I, uh, turn right back around and punish myself (and punish those that have to listen to me) with even more talking about There Are No Goodbyes.

I have to say though that these last few days have been really great.

OK the interviews have been quite intense and, rather embarrassingly, sometimes maybe just a little too emotional. (Me? Too emotional?) And yes, there may have been some watery eyes...

But really, what the heck can you expect when I'm being interviewed by a really nice interviewer and she's telling me that she's only been able to listen to the album in it's entirety twice because every time she gets to the line "I thought you were a fighter but in the end I guess you lost your faith in me" (Leaving) she has to turn the stereo off because it upsets her too much? And then, to top it off, she looks me in the eyes and in this wonderful (but slightly sad) little accent says "Robin, I understand those words so much. More than you can know. All we really want in life is someone that believes in us..."

You know I would have hugged her if it wouldn't have seemed so inappropriate... (But alas we just sat in our own little silence for a few moments... Would a hug between two consenting 'saddies' really have been that inappropriate? Well that's just kind of sad in it's own sad little way, isn't it?)

So go on, you tell me, how am I supposed to maintain the cool detached almost-famous-but-not-really rock star image I've fastidiously cultivated for so long when all I want to do is give this girl a hug? She was talking my talk! I mean really, Isn't it true? Isn't that all we want?

And yes, eyes might have been getting ever so slightly watery but there was a lot of dust in the room...

Let's move on though. I'm sure you'll either be reading all about interviews filled with unbearable tension and painful silences or mentioning that "for all the depressing music he writes, I can't believe how happy Robin always seems..." soon enough and you know what? I confuse myself too. Sometimes it's easier to just not understand.

So let's have some NEWS NEWS NEWS.

We have a short sharp tour in May and it's going to be amazing!

And it's gonna be the FULL BAND AND STRING QUARTET! We might even have some special guests!

May 14 '09: Sputnikhalle, Münster (DE)
May 15 '09: Bahnhof Langendreer, Bochum (DE)
May 16 '09: Beatpol, Dresden (DE)
May 17 '09: Brotfabrik, Frankfurt (DE)
May 18 '09. Feierwerk (Hansa 39), München (DE)
May 20 '09: Den Atelier, Luxembourg (LU)
May 21 '09: Café De La Danse, Paris (FR)
May 22 '09: Paradiso, Amsterdam (NL)
May 23 '09: Ancienne Belgique, Brussels (BE)

Please don't worry if you don't see your city here though. There will be a much longer tour in the Fall taking in all of our most favouritest countries and you will all eventually be able to see us touring this album, OK? I promise!

Oh and another thing I'd like to mention... I spent so much time talking about my sad depressing pathetic little life in these interviews that I don't feel like I was able to to give enough credit where I feel much much more credit is do.

Firstly: Over the last year or so I had the chance to become really great friends with a band called Dark Captain Light Captain and their fellow musician/producer Daniel Lea/Golden Hum Studio. I really can't say enough about these guys. They're all just amazing people and all I can do is I thank them for their friendship, support and contributions to this record.

And then there are two people without whom I honestly would not have had the confidence to start, let alone finish, this album and of course that's Jeffrey 'The Bear' Townsin and Astrid Williamson.

You all know Jeff by now but as I often remarked on my last acoustic tour "You may remember Astrid as the inspiration behind such Sophia classics as Swept Back and Where Are You Now" and she is now also my duet partner on the, if I can be so bold, absolutely wonderful Something. (Ah... I've really come to love this song. Lucky because it seems to be one of the songs people are really reacting towards and holding on to. I think it might still even be Jeff's favorite?)

Anyway... I really need to thank Jeff for not letting me throw away most, if not all, all of my songs and actually convincing me to record them and I need to thank Astrid for trying to convince me that these might even be some of the best songs I've ever written and then not allowing me to throw most, if not all, of them away once they were finished. (And no, don't be so cynical. Something isn't even her favorite song!)

And you know what? I think I might actually be beginning to like this record now. No. I might actually love this record now. Maybe. I'm not sure. It's still early days. We'll see.

A big thank you to all of you though. From the bottom of my heart, a big thank you!

OK enough of my rambling...

Remember to love the ones you love, OK? (Sometimes we forget)

See you all soon and please take care,


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Step on a train wave underwater...


Step on a train wave underwater...

Hello everyone,

So today I start my promotion for There Are No Goodbyes...

Hence my leisurely trip on Eurostar. And my waving underwater. I love Eurostar. I love all train travel. The thing I love most about traveling by train is that unlike airlines, it's leisurely. And romantic.

I love saying goodbye at train stations. I love all the kissing and the hugging and the tears at train stations.

With modern air travel you lose that romance. You need to leave your home 3 hours early so you can spend an hour (at least) getting to the airport so you can check-in 2 hours early so you can spend an hour getting through security so you can spend your last 15 minutes before your gate closes dashing through the shops buying back everything they've just made you throw away because three hours and fifteen minutes ago you suddenly remembered you need three hours to catch your flight and that you hadn't packed yet so you've just thrown everything into a carry-on which these days, unfortunately, includes quite a few things you're not actually allowed to carry on anymore. Unless, of course, you buy them on the other side of security but that's another story...

Arrivals at airports can be romantic. And usually are. But not departures. A kiss two hours before the ensuing airport tedium just isn't the same.

But that last kiss the moments before the train doors slide close? I don't know about you but I still remember those kisses years later...

No goodbye kisses today though. Boohoo. Poor me. My life's shit and I'm so alone. Don't you know it? It's in the songs. Poor me. Boohoo. Sob. (Yes please laugh here, OK? That's a joke. Don't be so serious. I'm not. Not always. Having said that I did actually miss having a goodbye kiss. It's always better with a kiss. Even if it's a sad goodbye kiss...)

Nope. Just my usual rush for the train 30 seconds (literally) before departure...

"Hello Mr. Sheppard, Where are you sitting? Oh don't worry. You have lots of time."

(The train is practically rolling and she says we have lots of time? Now that's my kinda girl! Any chance of a kiss?!)

"And what would you like for breakfast?"

"I think I'll have the salmon and scrambled eggs please"

"And to drink?"

"Oh just a very very very large coffee please... Did I say a very?"

(Laughs) "I think I counted 3 times."

"And actually, you know what? I think I'll have a glass of Champagne as well. Why not, huh?"

"And would you like something to read?"

"No thank you. I think I'll just stare out the window for a while"


Four hours to Cologne with a quick stop-over in Brussels to say hello to friends. I love train travel.


And so today I guess I'll have to start talking about the album...

I reckon it's going to be a difficult few days.

So expect contradictions. Expect misunderstandings.

How can I expect anyone to understand something I don't really understand myself?

The problem is I've written an album that is as much about yesterday as it is about today and, I fear, is going to be about more tomorrows still to come...


I just got back from a dinner/interview with a friend I've known for years...

As he sat down I offered him a drink and he said that he hadn't had any alcohol in over a year and but would love a Coke.

Curious I asked what had brought on his decision to stop drinking. (I hoped I wasn't being rude by asking...)

He said it all started with a girl but seemed to end with many nights alone in a bar and one day he realized he didn't like what he had become.

I know how he feels.

And after listening to my album he said he thinks he knows how I feel.

We talked about music. But not very much.

We mainly talked about life...

I probably wasn't a very good rock and roll interview but it was great evening...

And anyway, fuck it. Rock and Roll is over-rated... (Unless you're the Rolling Stones!)


OK everyone enough of my rambling, it's time for me to go...

So you sleep tight and take care, OK?


P.S. I'm really not that fancy... This is a little trick Hope and I discovered going to Disneyland Paris once. Book the cheapest Eurostar ticket you can find and just before you pay they offer you the option of upgrading to Leisure Class (essentially First Class) very very cheaply. For £20 we can all pretend we're fancy... Champagne anyone?

P.P.S. Another holiday tip: Kids love Italy. One morning in Milan Hope came running back to our table and in an excited whisper said "Guess what Dad! They have chocolate cake for breakfast. Chocolate cake!" Actually... I love holidays in Italy too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There are no goodbyes... But sometimes things just need to be broken.

Poor Jasmine. My poor poor Jasmine. (She was my guitar...)

Hello everyone,

I thought I'd send you a little update but PLEASE don't let this photo of poor ol' Jasmine lead to you thinking we're having problems in the studio, ok?!

Quite the contrary in fact. It really is going absolutely amazing. I am literally bursting with joy (yes yes yes, a sad joy, don't worry...) with the way everything is shaping up.

And Jeffrey 'The Bear' Townsin? What can I say? Not only is the man a great friend and a true drum god but his enthusiasm and determination is really helping to drive this album along. Always full of ideas and a desire to keep trying things until we feel it's just right. Honestly, he's being brilliant.

I must admit though that we're in the studio over 10 hours a day everyday and these last few days have been pretty tough. Jeff's girlfriend (Hi Nina!) has come over for a quick visit and I really should have used this as a chance to take a little, though much needed, break myself. But did I? Of course I didn't.

And now look at poor little Jasmine... She certainly didn't deserve that!

But you know, sometimes the stress, the tension, the uncertainty, and, well, just the noise that complicates our lives, can become this excruciating hum and something has to give, right?

And actually, I feel much much calmer now... (My little hissy-fit was only about 15 minutes ago!)

How up-to-date is that? You're practically an eye witness to the destruction! (Although I'm now posting this from home a couple hours later...)

So anyway just a few little things besides saying how happy we are with the album blah blah blah...

Josh Rouse: Sweetie (MP3)

We'll sleep on rooftops
We'll ride on bicycles

Baby, we'll get married

Don't you want to, Sweetie?

Girl, you sing with me



I really want you to hear this song. It's such a great song and it ties in nicely with one of the songs Jeff and I are working on now.

Actually there's a little story to be told about my trip to see Malcolm (Middleton) and his girlfriend Verena in Glasgow (His new album is going to be absolutely brilliant, of course, and Verena makes wonderful carrot cake!) but I'll leave that for another time...

So anyway, I'm on the train home and I'm listening to Sweetie and it's one of those happy-sad moments (Do any of you ever get those?) where I'm thinking 'God I would love to get married' but I'm also thinking that no one will ever want to marry me because really, at the end of the day, I'm just a fuck-up. Pure and simple. I'm a fuck-up.

But I was happy as well. And the train was speeding along. And the sun was shining and Josh just sounded so in love and was singing his La-la-la's and his Baby let's get married's and I'm sitting on this train and get to thinking that, yeah, I'm a fuck up but I'm still lovable, right? And yeah, I've got my hang-ups and my little idiosyncrasies but hey, I'm not THAT bad and so I started writing my own song for those of us out there that are, well, maybe we aren't exactly perfect but...

I'm jealous
And possessive

Insecure, neurotic and obsessive...

And I know that I ain't easy but I love you

Oh I love you

And that's gotta mean something
Yeah doesn't that mean something?

Especially these days
When nothing seems to mean anything

(I guess I'm not painting a very pretty picture of myself here, huh?)

So needless to say, after I'd written it I thought it was absolute shit and just kind of threw it away (of course) but when Jeff and I started working together again I told him the idea 'behind' the song and he asked me to play it on acoustic guitar. Surprisingly (well I was surprised, I mean, it's a not a very 'cool' song...) he actually thought the song was wonderful and really sincere and now, after us working on it (and changing it rather dramatically, it sounds much closer to early Sophia...) it's become one of my favorites. Result. (Cheers Jeff!)

Oh and since I'm not going to post any of the new album yet I thought I might start posting some of the cover versions I like to work on while I'm at home. I recorded this song a few weeks ago. I hope you like it. Please remember it was probably 5am or 6am (so I either sound drunk, which I'm not but sounds cool, or deliriously tired, which doesn't sound nearly as cool but is unfortunately true) and it's just me and a microphone and my guitar sitting in my front room pretending that I can actually do these songs justice.

This first song I'll post is "Call Me On Your Way Back Home" by Ryan Adams. You might remember that I also had his song My Winding Wheel on my 'Best of 2007' list? I have to be honest and sadly say that I 'm not overly in love with absolutely everything he has ever done (but that's easy to say about EVERY other songwriter I appreciate greatly as well) but he has a few songs that, well, say everything to me. Maybe even for me. And for those few songs I would hold him up there with the best of the best. I mean, I hate to sound like a fanboy here but, when I first time I heard him sing My Winding Wheel - Ruth Gottleib (Violin) and Sarah Willson (Cello) of the Sophia 'Strings' Collective had invited me to a concert when they were playing with him as part of his acoustic band - well, all I can say is that I understood those words. They were so touching and honest and vulnerable. "Buy a pretty dress and wear it out tonight for all the boys you think can out do me... " Honestly, it gets me every single time.

But anyway, I love Call Me On Your Way Back Home as well. The idea that even moments after you've left someone you want to hear their voice again because you miss them so much (well, that's what I take from the song anyway) I just think is absolutely wonderful.

So like I said, I hope you like my version...

Sophia: Call Me On Your Way Back Home (Acoustic) (MP3)

Oh and one last thing I'd like to let leave you with is this great little excerpt from a new Daniel Lanois DVD: Here Is What Is.

Jeff and I watched this in the studio a few days ago and Brian Eno just says a few of the most wonderful sentences ("Beautiful things sometimes grow out of shit...") about the creation of Art and, well, maybe if I would have listened just a little more closely I wouldn't have let the outside worlds noise (and, I might add, my inner noise) become quite so unbearable and my poor little Jasmine would still be with us.

(I don't know WHAT I'm going to tell Jeff when he gets to the studio and sees my guitar tomorrow... But I left him a little note with a smiley face and a flower on it so I hope he knows I didn't go completely insane!)

OK everyone I gotta go now but please be honest and true, to both yourselves and to others, hold your heads high, be proud and remember, it's gotta mean something...

Take care,


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Years Eve 2008

Bruce Springsteen: Brilliant Disguise (And a short talk about life...)
This is a beautiful little duet The Boss sings with his wife Patti Scialfa
It's taken from the VH1 series 'Storytellers'.

You know, I've heard some people mention that I must hate women. That's just not true. I loved my mom. And I love my daughter more than anything in the world. No the truth is I hate just about EVERYONE and EVERYTHING in this crappy little excuse of a world... But even the most steely-hearted of misanthropes such as myself can't help but be touched by how sweet it is when Patti walks on stage and touches Bruce's face. "C'mon Pat" Ah... Patti loves Bruce.

Malcolm Middleton: Devastation (MP3)
Josh Rouse: Sad Eyes (MP3)
Iain Archer: Everything I've Got (MP3)
The National: Slow Show (MP3)
Emiliana Torrini: A Least It Was
Johnny Cash: If You Could Read My Mind (MP3)
Band Of Horses: No One's Gonna Love You(MP3)
Ryan Adams: My Winding Wheel (MP3)
Stina Nordenstam: Winter Killing (MP3)

Neil Young: A Man Needs A Maid/Heart of Gold (Massey Hall 1971)
I love the way he changes the words in this early version.
Afraid... A man is afraid.

Honourable Mention:
Malcolm Middleton: Fuck It, I Love You (MP3)
Craig Armstrong: Let's Go Out Tonight (MP3)
Keane: Crystal Ball (MP3)