Liverpool singer/songwriter Alan Triggs releases new single ‘The Air I Breathe’ today, coinciding with his gig tonight with Rats, Factory and The Kairos at Liverpool Arts Club. We first met Alan three years ago when he opened up our Tramlines fringe festival stage at The Royal Standard in Sheffield and have been keen fans ever since. Since we first met, Alan has continued to go from strength to strength. Inspired by the greats Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Noel Gallagher and Richard Ashcroft, to me Alan is a modern day Johnny Cash. I caught up with him to chat about his most recent releases and what inspired him to write his own music…
Let’s start right at the beginning Alan, you first picked up a guitar at 13, what music inspired you to play?
I remember being in school and most of my mates listened to dance music, I never really got it. My dad was always blasting Bowie, The Stones and Frank Zappa. I wasn’t quite as musically minded then so I didn’t really appreciate that lot until after I picked up a guitar. When I was 13 I had a go on my uncles guitar at a family party and instantly wanted to learn how to play. I guess it was Oasis and The Verve musically that inspired me to pick up a guitar in the first place and that’s all I did for years was learn covers. I didn’t even think of writing until much later. I used to post the odd cover on You Tube but never really felt I had the confidence to get up on stage.
Your very open about your upbringing in the Wirral, Liverpool and your relationship with your father. Did you find song-writing as an outlet or was it something that you developed later on?
One of the first songs I wrote was called ‘Algy’ about my Dad’s life as an unemployed alcoholic. I had this melody I kept playing around with and never really had any lyrics until one day it just clicked and this bittersweet heartfelt rant came flowing out! I wanted to hold a mirror up to him and say ‘This is you’. The song played a big part in him finally getting sober and he’s been off the ale ever since. I suppose I’m quite open about my life, I have had some hard times growing up but hasn’t most people? I think it’s shaped who I am today and it definitely has a bearing on my lyrics. I have always loved a song with a story in it. Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan are some of the best at it. I also think to be able to relate to a song is important, that’s why I try to stick to writing about what I know and what I have experienced myself. I’m proud to be working class!
In your bio it states you found it hard to find the confidence to play in-between the ages of 18-24? What changed?
I got up at a local open mic when I was 18, shaking like a shitting dog and played ‘Lucky Man’ by The Verve. I went back a few times but I didn’t play in front of people for a few years after that. Then one day a girl I went to school with asked me if i would sing at her wedding after seeing one of my videos so I just thought ‘fuck it, why not’ and it’s the best thing I ever did!
I have always loved your debut EP with the single ‘Algy’. The lyrics are brilliant and very hard hitting, what would you say the secret is to write such powerful and relatable songs for so many?
For me, song writing is all about honesty and passion. If you really mean what your singing about it will connect and resonate with people. Don’t get me wrong there’s always songs that don’t have a message or story and are great songs too. But if you write about truth you will make a connection with the listener that is on a deeper level. I have had lots of people say to me after hearing ‘Algy’ that it reminded them of someone they love and how similar the narrative is to their lives.
After a few years playing the local cover circuit I met Andy Mccluskey from ‘Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’. I was fixing his car at the garage I worked at and I got speaking to him, the only advice he gave me was “start writing your own songs” so I did. Like I touched upon earlier ‘Algy’ was one of the first songs I wrote. It was my way of telling him how it made me feel seeing my dad slowly kill himself. The first time I played it to him I just passed him my phone, pressed play and left the room. I came back in and he was in tears. The song played a big part in him finally getting sober and he’s been off the ale ever since. Although he’s still a lazy bastard!
Another great track I love was ‘Hey Mister’, a proper roll and roll sounding track. As most know, I’m a sucker for lyrics, what inspired the track?
That one was one of the quickest songs I have ever written. From the first chords to a fully recorded demo was about 3 hours. It just fell out of the sky, as they say. I was thinking about when I used to walk home down this dark road at night after gigs and there was always a group of scallies hanging around. The imagination took over and the lyrics just flowed for that song and eventually it was recorded in the studio with a full band. I always knew that one needed to be a proper ballsy tune and not just an acoustic song, it was always going to have a ballsy full band sound. It goes down well at live shows.
Your new single ‘The Air I Breathe’ is released today, what’s the story behind the new song?
This song is about conquering addictions. I have a lot of experience with this subject personally and with my dads past being an ex heroin addict/recovering alcoholic I wanted to write a song about overcoming the toughest addictions and coming out the other side. Life is worth living. Don’t waste it! The video to go with the song is a collaboration with a Manchester based independent film maker called ‘Patrick Gomes’ and his short documentary ‘Manchester On Spice’.
You’ve had some great support slots with Inspiral Carpets, Tom Hingley, SPACE and Andy Bennett from Ocean Colour Scene. How hard do you think it is for singer songwriters these days to secure those kind of slots?
It’s not easy but if you make the right connections along the way then good things can come out of the blue. I was gigging for a couple of years before I landed one of them slots so it takes perseverance and hard graft to get your name about. I owe a big debt to ‘Softlad Promotions’ who helped me get a lot of my best support slots. They always believed in me from early on and I will never forget it. I think it’s important to remember the people who helped you in your earliest days of your career. They are the good ones in the industry just like Northern Exposure, giving opportunities to up and coming bands/artists is so important.
What can we look forward to from Alan Triggs for the rest of the year?
I have got a gig tonight at The Arts Club, Liverpool supporting scouse band ‘Rats’ for This Feeling. It will be my first gig with my new backing band too so it’s a huge gig and I’m absolutely buzzing for it. I’ll have one or two more gigs to announce towards the end of the year and will be releasing more new music regularly over the next year building towards an album eventually.
Alan plays the Arts Club, Liverpool tonight for This Feeling: https://www.facebook.com/events/434643007373261/
You can listen to his new single released today ‘The Air I Breathe’ here: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/alantriggs/the-air-i-breathe-2/
WEBSITE – http://www.alantriggs.com
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SOUNDCLOUD – http://www.soundcloud.com/alantriggs