I would like to introduce to you a man named Daniel Earwicker; musician, personal hero of mine, and someone who, I daresay, probably knows a fair few of Johnny Marr’s Smiths parts better than perhaps even Johnny Marr himself.
I first got to know of him a couple of years ago, during the time when I was just beginning with the Smiths, and in particular the guitar style that Marr made them synonymous with. Being a keen beginner guitarist at this point, I naturally wanted to pick up some of their tunes, and a quick search of YouTube for covers to help me threw up Daniel Earwicker’s channel, overflowing with closeups of him and his guitar picking out each intricate note. It was great, he had every song sounding bang on, even to the point where people began to question his identity; question whether he was in fact Marr himself or not. Us mortals could now play along and follow those famous rhythms. After posting a dozen or so covers, he uploaded his first song – ‘What’s It Like To Always Be Wrong.’ It set the blueprint of what was to come; Smiths-esque riffs, abstract lyrics, rhythmic, pounding drums and beating bass. At a first listen, you would be forgiven for thinking that it is him with his band playing one of their own compositions, having possibly booked a few hours in a studio one day.
But this is what makes Earwicker so remarkable; beyond the songwriting and guitar talent, he also plays the bass, drums, piano, as well as singing on his songs. In addition to this, he records, engineers, produces and masters every song from his computer, utilising various bits of recording equipment. After about a year, he eventually released a full-length, eleven track album, entitled ‘Stigmata Playing Up Again,’ in 2008.
The bottom line of the album is this: this album is not just good for just one person’s work; this album is great full stop. Each song is a Rickenbacker symphony, backed by offbeat and driving drums, complemented by numerous superb basslines, topped off by a great vocals carrying abstract lyrics through. His words are engaging yet obscure; I’ve been listening to the album for about eighteen months now, and careful listening and wondering has left me with my own interpretation of the lyrics, but I’m sure others’ will be different, and I am sure Mr. Earwicker would have had something entirely different on his mind the day he wrote it. For me, the lyrics can be interpreted to contain a range of various themes such as oppression (‘Hyprochrondria’), war that can befall family (Guerilla Warfare), and the pressure to perform (‘The World is Waiting for Your Invention).
On a geekier side, this man clearly knows his way around Pro Tools. Each song sounds like a polished, well recorded piece of work, oozing quality and the dulcet tones of some very expensive instruments indeed (many guitarists can only hope to have one tenth of Daniel’s immense guitar collection). His recording process, that he outlines in one of his video comments, usually takes a few hours; he records drums, bass, guitars, then writes the lyrics for the music, and sings it. He spends the rest of the day editing and mastering, before cutting together a video, and uploading the video usually late on a Sunday night. He justifies this: “The latest song I uploaded, I must admit to being extremely eager to let people hear it right away, the same day I started working on it,” in a interview with MonitorDown three years ago.
The album was followed by a second effort, ‘Letters to Cyril Connolly,’ the following year. The same army of expensive guitars remained, as did the superb sparkling riffs and jangling acoustics, but a feeling of new wave began to seep in, guitar effects were used more extensively. The album was completed and all tracks previewed within 10 months, and work immediately began on the third, entitled ‘Havoc Monk Unseen.’ This album is still an in progress work, but the music continues to develop, with increasingly funkier basslines, altered guitar sounds, drum machines, and banjos as well.
Having completed and completely self-published nearly three full-length albums in five years is a feat that many bands may not achieve, so it makes it even more remarkable that one man, producing and writing all material, can do it so well. He continues to pump out high quality covers and songs about every three weeks or so, his latest being an intense take on ‘Hand in Glove’ by the same band that launched him on YouTube, the Smiths, featuring an roaring inimitable bass part. Every time I see his name in my subscription box, it’s like a little treat on my Sunday evening, and something I won’t be able to keep myself away from for at least the next week.