Rod has been writing songs in bands since 1985 when he started playing guitar in his first band, The 2nd Generation. Those early attempts are captured on the album, ‘Spy-catcher’ and lean distinctly towards hard-edged ‘power-pop’. That album spawned the single ‘Throw It All Away’ which was a top 10 hit in parts of Europe. The next album had an authentic 60’s feel as his own tastes followed that avenue and by the last album he was writing quite soulfully. In 1988/1989, Rod got the chance to play with some of his influences Steve Marriot of The Small Faces and Edwin Starr.
1990. A new decade, a new band and a new instrument. As a co-writer in his next band, The Shadowland, Rod, who had now moved on to play the Hammond Organ, wrote half the material on the ‘Kaleidoscope’ and ‘She’ albums. ‘Kaleidoscope’ was back to a power-pop feel but with the emergence of a strong dance element while ‘She’ was more 60’s pop with psychedelic moments. Charting abroad with the singles, ‘Smoke’ and ‘She’, this band led to Rod’s short involvement with The Charlatans in ’96 when their Hammond player died. Between ’91 and ’97, Rod was also involved with The Blues Collective, the UK’s premier Soul, Blues and Ska review. Featuring ex members of The Q Tips and Squeeze, the band recorded 2 albums, played around the country and made many TV appearances. During this period, Rod was spotted by the producers of the UK version of The Who’s, ‘Tommy’ and snapped up for the show which toured around the country during 1993/1994.
In 1994 Rod put together a collective of Edinburgh’s finest musicians calling themselves Groove Tunnel and specialising in funking and jazzing up classic T.V. and film themes which had always been a love of his. When the time came to write original material, the basis was there for some authentic 60’s/70’s style compositions and this was summed up in the album ‘Liven Up’ featuring the hit single ‘Rainy Day’ which received rave reviews from the press and made Single of The Month in Rolling Stone magazine. With 2 successful UK tours under their belts they released the album ‘Liven Up!’. The success of the single and album throughout the world and especially in Japan prompted the Japanese to use their music as part of their ‘Wrangler’ Jeans advertising campaign. The Swedish group The Cardigans also asked the band to perform one of their tracks for a tribute album that their record company was compiling. The band also appeared on a similar album for Oasis with a ‘Take 5’ themed version of ‘Shakermaker’. Such was the appeal of the Groove Tunnel sound, Rod was approached by several T.V. companies to provide themes for various programmes proving to be the start of a successful side-line.
Rod’s ‘real’ entry into TV and radio music was really through the now sadly deceased, Big George ‘Have I Got News For You’ Webley, whom he worked under on several projects. While playing keyboards with the highly acclaimed Scottish band, Jynx at the end of the 90’s and into the early noughties, Rod developed this side of his writing and provided music for several documentaries on Channel 4 and a theatre show as well as incidental music for ‘yoof’ programming.
In 2003 Rod and other musicians started, Modus. The band quickly built up a formidable repertoire and embarked on a series of live gigs to showcase their material, gigging relentlessly wherever & whenever possible, fine-tuning their live performance. Their live show is now a visual (and sonic) tour-de-force. The band released their debut album in 2009, distributed worldwide by US-based HammondBeat records. The album has had favourable reviews and garnered considerable airplay on commercial radio and the BBC, as well as significant mainstream press interest; the band appearing in most of the UK dailies. A long overdue follow up album is planned for 2014.
Over the past few years Rod has continued to record and play live with a variety of musicians such as Ronnie Wood – Rolling Stones, Steve Craddock – Ocean Colour Scene, PP Arnold – The Ikettes and Small Faces, Secret Affair, The Prisoners, Billy Nichol, members of The Action (both dead now sadly), Reg Presley, Jimmy Winston and Esther O’Conner (daughter of the Wet Wet Wet guitarist) amongst many others.
Rod has been writing songs since 1985 when he joined his first real band. Those early attempts at song writing are captured on the 2nd Generation album, “Spy-catcher” and lean distinctly towards hard-edged “power-pop”. That album spawned the single “Throw It All Away” which was a top 10 hit in parts of Europe (except, the UK!). The next album had an authentic 60’s feel as his own tastes moved that way and by the last album he was writing quite soulfully with some British beat thrown in. That album featured the EP. “Look Around” which received more airplay than any other of his releases up until then. As a co-writer in his next band, The Shadowland, Rod wrote half the material on the “Kaleidoscope” and “She” albums. Kaleidoscope was back to a power-pop feel but with the emergence of a strong dance element. The “She” album, although spawning the hit single, “She”, a crashing avalanche of power-pop, was a much more psychedelic affair with a barely hidden nod towards the late 60’s, classic groovin’ rock of Hendrix, Cream and The Small Faces.
The next band, Groove Tunnel actually specialised in funking and jazzing up classic T.V. and film themes which had always been a love of Rod’s. When the time came to write original material, the basis was there for some authentic 60’s/70’s style compositions and this was summed up in the album “Liven Up” featuring the single “Rainy Day” which outsold everything Rod had previously released. Such was the appeal of the Groove Tunnel sound, Rod was approached by Live T.V. to provide themes for their mainstay programmes, “Friday Feelgood” and “What’s On” proving to be the start of a successful sideline.
Rod’s “real” entry into TV and radio was through Big George ‘Have I Got News For You’ Webley, whom he worked under on several projects. While playing keyboards with the Scottish band, Jynx, Rod developed this side of his writing and provided music for several documentaries on Channel 4 and a theatre show as well as incidental music for “yoof” programming.
Rod has composed music for a variety of different media including the Scottish films, “Overland And Sea” and “The Esk”, the Channel 4 programme “Doing The Doors”, the historical documentary “The Sinclairs”, adverts for Standard Life Assurance Company and Asda, the comedy spoof “Baby! Boom Or Bust”, a piece for American Television as well as writing smaller pieces of music for television production companies, advertising agencies and multimedia companies. This has ranged from stings and jingles to full opening or closing titles and incidental music. This requires the ability to match the mood of the music with the visual aspect and understanding of target audience, genres and programme content. A demo of his television music can happily be provided immediately if required.
Lately Rod has written several albums for the band Modus as well as songs for a diverse range of artists from Christina Aguilera, Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke, Ric Shade, Pol Arida and Tim McGraw.
2 albums, 2 EPs, several international compilation albums. Songwriter and musical director within the band, playing several other instruments during recording as well as writing brass and string parts for session players. As band leader/manager Rod was responsible for arranging several UK tours, 2 European and a Scandinavian. This included transport, accommodation, international carnets, promotion, budgets etc.
The Shadowland 90 – 94
2 albums, 1 EP, 3 singles, several international compilation albums. Organised several UK and 2 European tours.
Caravan 86 – 96
Stood in anonymously on countless occasions for Scotland’s top club/cabaret band.
The Blues Collective 91 – 97
2 albums and several “one-off” tracks. Although not a regular member of the UK’s premier Soul, Blues and Ska review, Rod did play with them when he was in England, they were in Scotland, or doing Radio, Television and general media work.
UK version of The Who’s ‘Tommy’ 93 to 95
No recordings as yet released. One UK tour, several festivals, theatre runs and odd dates around the UK. A reunion had been cited but due to cast commitments has never got further than planning stages.
Groove Tunnel 94 – 98
Rod ran the band, Groove Tunnel with some of Edinburgh’s finest musicians performing instrumentals (Jazz, Acid Jazz, 60’s, 70’s TV and film themes etc). Rod initially put this band together to play round Edinburgh for fun and some pocket money however their hard work, original ideas and love of what they did encouraged promoters to arrange gigs throughout the country. They released a single ‘Rainy Day’ which received rave reviews from the press and made Single of The Month in Rolling Stone magazine. With 2 successful UK tours under our belts they released the album ‘Liven Up!’. The success of the single and album have proven itself with the decision of the Japanese to use their music as part of their ‘Wrangler’ Jeans advertising campaign. Success in Japan also led to gigs and their recording of many ‘one-off’ tracks for albums and radio. The Swedish group The Cardigans also asked the band to perform one of their tracks for a tribute album their record company was compiling.
Jynx 98 – 2000
Rod played and provided backing vocals for the band Jynx who were based in Glasgow at ‘Wet Wet Wet’s recording studios ‘The Brill Building’. Playing a hard edged, powerful brand of original songs the band had completed several demo albums which attracted a lot of recording and publishing company interest. Despite hard work spent writing and crafting new songs and working hard on our live set, management problems held the band back to such a point it became impossible to continue in a proper manner.
Ester O’ Connor – 2009 to date
Rod plays keyboards with Wet Wet Wet guitarist Graham Duffin’s daughter, Esther’s band along with her brother Jamie and husband Tim. Playing at various high profile gigs around the UK and abroad, the band gave Rod is first UK top 40 hit in 12 years with the single, “Lost Innocence”.
Modus – 2003 to present
Rod played Hammond, Piano (Rhodes and acoustic), Vibraphone and various synths in this 60’s tinged psychedelic Blondie type pop outfit. Rod also performed backing vocals and scored string and horn parts for the (Sounds From The) Kitten Casino and (The Continuing Adventures of The) Dandy Disco albums as well as the Love Bug single and various E.P.s and compilation tracks. Unable to live up to their potential and frustratingly hampered by ongoing hold ups, Rod left in 2011 to try his hand at something else. Recruiting a new singer and drummer, the band came back together in 2014 with a new album and the promise of a lot more activity. Modus on Facebook
For more fuller info and continually updated news please visit the Groove Tunnel blog!
Samples From The Groove Tunnel Studio
Here is an edited selection of some of Rods personal favourite soundclips, a nice pick from a growingly diverse and acomplished range, (I think you’d agree!)
There are also possible future plans for a Groove Tunnel Label, so this section may well grow and mutate into a huge shiney Corporation! Please visit all the up to date news here on the Groove Tunnel Blog!
Rod has organised international tours, recording contracts, licensing deals and related merchandising. This has often involved liaising with agencies, venues, record companies – UK & foreign. Management, excellent negotiating and organisational skills are required together with a level head, motivation, ability to work under pressure and cope with stressful situations!
Produced records for various bands in Scotland. Working to budget, making efficient use of time and resources, requires good interpersonal, motivational and strong diplomatic skills!
He also has organised over 200 gigs from small pub venues to large forum type venues, press launches, photo-shoots and television appearances. This requires knowledge of how the media industry works and the hard work involved behind the glamour that the public sees. People management/co-ordination and planning skills are all required to ensure that events of this nature run to a very tight and correct schedule.
• Extremely hard working and highly motivated
• Well developed and effective communication skills
• First class organisational skills
• Ability to meet objectives and excellent problem solver
• Successful motivator and empathic leader
• Proven track record dealing with all levels of Business
• Runs a successful Musicians Social Network
As a result of this, I was then fortunate enough to be contacted by Sound On Sound magazine who asked me to write an article on anything that got my gander up! Impressed with the article I presented, the magazine then commissioned me to write several more on various subjects such as humorous true life experiences, informative pieces on management and gigging and a major article on the History of the Hammond.
I haven’t really done much writing in the last few years due to commitments within music although I have written for several local magazines and papers on a variety of (usually music based) articles.
The nearest I have come to writing of late is actually this web site! I plan to start writing again though when circumstances allow but am not expecting this to be in the near future I also have a few book projects I would like to pursue but again time does not currently allow.
While I specialise on the Hammond, I am familiar with other keyboards and am a proficient guitarist. Although I have successfully fronted several bands, I now prefer to put my vocal talents (?) to use as a harmonising backing vocalist… (well at least I try!).
Having worked and gigged all around Europe in various bands, I have plenty of live and studio experience. I have also done enough Television and Radio to ensure I don’t crack up at the prospect. As a naturally dedicated and hard worker, my professional attitude ensures I am a stress free organiser, always able to make decisions and/or carry out other people’s instructions. As the only working Hammond Organ player in Scotland who’s not in Wet Wet Wet, Deacon Blue or Simple Minds, I am also involved in, and available for, session work. I am able and happy to supply references from various people I have worked with.
I play and provide backing vocals for the Scottish band, “Modus”. We have recently recorded an album but shelved it due to a change in guitarist and the arrival of new and better songs. Having played all around the UK we are now branching out to Europe and have recently played at festivals in Spain and Italy. There are a number of exciting projects in the pipeline but more details can be found on the “Modus” website.
Though always busy with my own music, my production skills have been put to good use by various other bands throughout Scotland. This has involved a broad range of styles and included work with members of Silly Wizard, The Rezillos and The Waterboys as well as Members of Parliment! Types of bands have ranged from punk to classical, rock to rap and folk/Scottish to singer/songwriters, Brazillian and Latin to Ska, Choirs to covers bands, childrens entertainers to “adult” entertainers (!), foreign big sellers “Modus” to musicals (usually roundabout the Edinburgh Festival time). , Edinburgh popsters, The Shrimptons ‘5 Minute Marriage’ single, progressive rockers, Attention’s single ‘Dogsick’, Punk band, Scum’s award winning E.P. which secured them a Stateside record deal, Rock band Area 51’s E.P., Tinrokit’s critically acclaimed Camouflage E.P., Pop rockers Sugar Daddy’s 4 tracker, Jazz artists Jafala, Rock’n’roll outfit, The Dagmars and an album for rock outfit Vantage Point. There’s way too many to mention now and rather than put them all on the site, best to come along and hear for yourself what I’ve produced.
I own a 1968 C3 Hammond Organ which when played through the 145 model Leslie cab I own, is the ultimate big boss sound.
My “modern” keyboards include a Nord Electro 2, a 61 note keyboard used primarily for electric piano sounds to save carting my Rhodes around! Also on the piano front I have a Yamaha P120S Digital Stage Piano with weighted keys.
Next up I have a Roland JV sound module and the world renowned Korg Triton Rack which together with the full Akai sample library, dozens of sample CD’s and virtual instruments means I am not short of a sound or 2! I have a Roland KC500 keyboard amplifier to play it all through or a full Dynacord 600 watt PA rig if required.
Finally, for the guitar work I use on my own demos and commercial music, I have a Rickenbacker 330 6 string semi acoustic (the definitive “Mod” guitar) and a Washburn 6 string semi acoustic guitar which give me a warmer sound than the Ricky.