In part two of Adrian’s blog, he talks about his love of music and, despite the challenges of ataxia, his commitment to making music.
I have loved music from a young age. I remember how even a song on the radio in the kitchen would captivate me as a child, I would almost zone out and become totally enthralled in the cascading melodies and beats. I wrote my first song when I was 10 – a homework project, where the teacher had asked us to write a pop song. Homework was not something that usually inspired me but this did. The teacher took my lyrics, grabbed his guitar and sang the song, saying it was a perfect example of a pop song! I was deeply embarrassed but it was the first of many songs that I would go on to write. I taught myself to play guitar when I was 12 and continued writing, drawing on early influences of The Beatles, T.REX, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix.
As a teenager I joined a band – they already had two guitarists so I was playing synthesisers (this was the sign of a serious band in the early 1980’s). Throughout the years and bands that would follow I was storing up ideas, never really finding the right band to express them fully. I suppose that’s where the album ‘A Time For Journeys’ came from – it has different layers like a diary has different pages but not as linear.
The album is the sound of me learning how to play and sing again. The recordings were originally sketches that got gradually coloured-in. I had been sending my recordings to my friend Dave Price and we would spend hours on the phone just talking through ideas. During one of our chats he suggested that I could put an album together so that’s what I did.
The songs on the album describe a journey, which I suppose is how I see life. There are particular songs such as ‘Black Suit’ which talk about my realisation that there was something wrong with my brain that was going to change everything, and the song ‘I Close My Eyes And I Fall Like A Tree’ (I literally do fall over if I can’t see my surroundings) which also shows the hope and peace I found from my Christian faith despite (or because of ataxia).
The album artwork is also an extension of the story. A man in a black suit, with a walking stick whose surroundings are blurred and out of order but he is looking forward with what looks like his ghost behind him. I have always enjoyed painting and often use it as a way of taking a break from music while staying creative.
I released my second album “Echo Road” in 2020. It’s a celebration of my love of early electronic music with a contemporary twist but I decided to release it under the name “These Lovely Machines” for reasons that I’m not too sure of to be honest – I think it is partly due to a lack of confidence in myself. Even though I am coming to terms with living with ataxia, there are times when it gets the better of me but those times are fewer.
I have just finished a couple of songs that will be bearing my own name “Adrian Dent” because that’s who I am!
Living with ataxia has actually helped me to find everything that’s good about life and to focus on it. I have learned to play my instruments again through sheer determination and I have come to terms with knowing that I will always need to concentrate and practice every day. Thanks to modern music technology, no one has to hear the fifty attempts I often have at getting it right, they only hear the one that I did get right!
Ataxia is a challenge, it’s an absolute pain at times, but it won’t stop me from making music.