Who am I? (pt 1)

I thought perhaps as you’re good enough to listen to my musings on life’s little adventures it might make sense for you to know where I’m coming from (literally and metaphorically). I’ve written this in two parts; the first is a little intro to…well, me…and the second is a closer look inside my brain. I’ll put the latter up sometime soon but here my friends is the story – so far – of yours truly. You’re not obliged to read it, Clash of the Titans (the good, old version) is on.

I was born in Taunton, Somerset to Tom Snr and Julie Corneill. Hard-working, free-thinking, the most supportive parents I could have wished for. They’d come from very poor beginnings in Manchester (both second generation Irish) and – accompanied by their 3 daughters Lisa, Tracey & Jayne – built a life for themselves in the Southwest. This is not an autobiography so I’ll skip a few reams here but essentially; I grew up in a house full of music and Mum & Dad told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. So I decided to be a Jedi. And, realising that was not an option, I put some thought into a life of music.

I knew Dad had an old guitar in the loft (he’d never really learnt to play but it had been a fairly singular gift from his parents as a teenager when The Beatles took over the world). I don’t know why Dad’s axe remained hidden away throughout my childhood but when I was about 9 and starting to wear out his Beatles & Kinks cassettes, I was eating dinner one day when there was a tremendous noise upstairs. I ascended – slightly terrified – to find Dad twanging said guitar – a Rosetti Solid 7 – which he’d plugged into a little second-hand Samick amp (bought in secret from ‘Tony’s’ on East Street this would later become a regular haunt for me). He handed me two plectrums (one purple, one luminous yellow) and so it began.

I was taught all the chords (I can still remember some of them) by a wonderful woman called Rose Gale, one of my primary school teachers. I kept all the print-outs she gave me for years and taught myself the rest (which is probably why I’m still a lousy guitarist).

I went to an average school, then an average college and eventually onto uni. We had plenty of money, I was bright enough. My only troubles up until my 20s were heartbreaks I’d generally caused for myself. But despite the lack of hardship I had just enough inspiration to get writing. So in the early years (in my teens) I don’t think I wrote a single song that wasn’t a love song.

It’s sad really that your writing only gets better as life throws harder, uglier (ok, and occasionally beautiful) things at you. And I’m still working on it, so christ knows what’s around the corner. I try to report on what’s going on around me and I try to keep it as undiluted as possible. My last album ‘Further Misadventures’ is a collection of observations (some new, some old ideas) that might be a view through my eyes or might be commentaries about other people or things and whats going on in their worlds. It’s not essential that you listen but it’s essential for me that I do this, so if you can show me some love by giving the tunes a spin…well, that would be just perfect.

Just so you know, I do some other music stuff as well. I’ve always been in bands because I get terribly lonely doing my own thing 100% of the time. This started with…ahem…the Fur Kettles when I was 15 and evolved into Psychadeliasmith, a post-punk, ambient rock outfit that actually took off really well and won some decent acclaim but sadly was before affordable studio time so nothing was ever recorded and no one beyond the Southwest of England ever got to hear it. We grew apart, moved around the country and I found myself in a new band of brothers, calling ourselves Venus Had A Boy. I loved that band. It consisted of myself, Kiron Basu, Marcus Jones (sadly missed, RIP brother) and one Chris Ellul (now of The Heavy fame). We split after Marcus died and did some growing up. Finally…CENTREFOLDS!!! If you haven’t yet blessed your ears with this pop/rock extravaganza then you could do worse than to get on Spotify/iTunes right now and have a listen. These boys – Martin Iles, Phil Smith, Rich Beeby and formerly Alex McClean (another terrible loss, RIP you total legend) – are now a part of my family and together we’re working on a (very slow) plan to dominate the airwaves. So again, gis a listen. I’ll start you off here, there’s a video that will lead you to a bunch of others:

Cantrefolds – Fashion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRBp3luJKGM

There is another in my musical life, the wonderful Mr Lee Cole who came to play percussion some years ago and who I quickly realised I can’t do without. His harmonies complete me and ‘Tom Corneill’ is in fact the two of us 90% of the time.

My musical brethren are not my only cohorts. Most important of all is a very small person – the beautiful Kara Leigh – who keeps me sane, fed, loved and inspired. It takes patience to spend all of one’s time with a needy musician and yet there she is, all the time. I literally wouldn’t be writing this now if it wasn’t for her, and perhaps you’ll find out some of the many reasons why in future blogs. Oh, and there’s also my other girls…Flora & Luna. Crazy little furballs (cats, by the way) who keep me smiling everyday (except when they’re murdering the local fauna or ripping up my music cases).

So, that’s pretty much me. In more detail than I meant to write, sorry.