MICK FORD

Influences: choir boy - Chorister with the Royal School of Church Music - member of School Choir, which did Mozart’s D minor Requiem/Rossini’s Stabat Mater/Haydn’s Creation - with professional singers and orchestras.  All of this inevitably gave me a love of harmony, classical music - and singing in general.

I also ‘learnt’ the clarinet at school - although I actually never practised - and indeed, during my only Royal Command performance as a member of the Croydon Wind Ensemble at the opening of the Fairfield Halls in Croydon, in front of the Queen Mother, I mimed playing throughout - I was that bad.

But - when, after leaving Manchester University, Contact theatre company did a rock’n’roll show, Heartbreak Hotel by Peter Flannery, I bought a tenor sax - and for me, after the clarinet, the sax was/is, dare I say it, easier.  I still don’t practise though!

Back at school, I also wrote songs with Allan Cubitt - (like me he is now also a TV script writer) - the songs were all for acoustic guitar and piano - a would-be mix of James Taylor/Elton John (!) - we went into a recording studio in Wimbledon and recorded albums in two hour sessions! WEA put up money for us to record a single - full orchestral backing, the lot - called Holding On - never got released - I sounded like Matt Monroe!

I later did occasional session singing - backing vocals for songs aimed at the Japanese market!
 
But my biggest influence has to be Robert - and to a lesser extent Jeremy Blackford - we started collaborating and writing as soon as we met - and it just won’t stop.

Keyboards have always been my main instrument - but courtesy of my two elder sons learning the guitar, it’s interesting that I wrote four of the songs for this album on the guitar.

Currently I'm listening to: The Killers, Magic Numbers, My Chemical Romance, David Gray, Benjamin Britten "Gloriana" - Berlioz - anything/everything by Berlioz - and James MacMillan's "Seven Last Words From the Cross"/"Cantos Sagrados".

ROBERT HICKSON
 
I picked up the guitar aged 15 thanks to school friend Jeremy Blackford.  Played at parties and folk clubs. Then we bought a  DIY tape recorder kit and set to with the screwdriver and solder.  When we switched it on, it exploded, almost killing me.  So we bought a Revox A77.  It didn't explode. We started to write and record.
 
At college,  I was invited by Al Spokes, an outstanding drummer, to join THE ULTRA SMOOTH SWAGGER BAND as bassist/vocalist. We played the London college circuit, invested in better equipment, played bigger gigs and made some money.  We also invested in the bars and pubs.
 
Island Records offered a tour of Europe and a recording contract, and the first backing track was recorded at De Lane Lea studios in Wembley.  Shortly afterwards, Al was killed in a car crash.  The group ground to a halt.
 
By this time I had met and started to collaborate with Mick.  I introduced him to Jeremy. The three of us worked together for many years, writing songs and, later, sound tracks for the theatre.
 
The partnership with Mick strengthened, and has stretched into the present, and into Closer Apart. . . .
 
Influences/favourites:  
Lennon/McCartney for their pioneering inventiveness, Philip Glass, Bach (bass lines!), Daniel Belanger, Terry Riley, Sibelius and Shostakovich.  For the guitar, Villa-Lobos and Rodrigo; guitarists Julian Bream, John Williams, Keith Richards, John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, Jeff Buckley and George Harrison. Likes the Rolling Stones from the past and Kaiser Chiefs and the Coral from the present. Current listening includes the Balanescu Quartet, Seth Lakeman, Elbow, Kate Bush (50 types of genius), Turin Brakes, Kaija Saariaho, Richard Ashcroft, Arctic Monkeys, James MacMillan, John Coltrane and Charlie Mingus.   
 
 
 

LOTTIE ROACH

As a child, Lottie was a natural musician.  From 10-13 she was a Junior Exhibitioner at the Royal College of Music studying piano and violin and singing soprano.  In her teens she was lead singer in her school jazz band. This was just the start – she has a Diploma in Art & Design from Central St Martin’s, a Drama degree from Middlesex University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Drama & Music from Mountview Theatre School.  She has worked extensively in theatres round the UK as an actress/musician and several times at the National Theatre.  She plays piano, violin and trombone.  Likes classical music (Brahms, Chopin, Mozart and Bach), and female singer-songwriters, particularly Joni Mitchell and Amy Winehouse.