hugh padgham

The Lightyears join Spotify

14 June 2013

In case you were wondering when we were going to get off our bums and embrace the future of music, it’s finally happened – The Lightyears are now on Spotify.

This means you can stream our 2009 album London, England in full, for free, by clicking here (you can do that here too but it’s nice to have options). This is great because it means you don’t have to bother buying the record off iTunes, which saves you £7.90 and also stops us spending all the money – as we inevitably would – on crack, bitches, automatic weapons and hummus.

If you don’t know what Spotify is, what on earth are you doing on a computer? Sorry, I jest – Spotify is a digital music service you can set up on your computer, smartphone or tablet that gives you access to a truly enormous database of songs. Premium members (£9.99 a month) can enjoy music without the adverts, which I’d personally highly recommend – most of us are premium members in The Lightyears, and it’s absolutely tremendous. We can listen to our own music for near-enough free, which is excellent news because otherwise we’d only go spending all the cash on crack, bitches etc (see above).

London, England features two tracks from million-selling producer Hugh Padgham (Sting, Paul McCartney, Elton John), as well as LYs favourites This House Will Burn and England.


Emily, Andy Baldwin & The City That Never Sleeps

11 December 2012

George in Andy's Chinatown studio, laying down guitars. You can tell he's in New York 'cos of his wicked hat.We recently unearthed a version of Lightyears track “Emily” which hardly anybody outside the band has heard before, and we’re giving it away free as part of Project Lightyears – just as soon as we reach 100,000 views. In the meantime, I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell the story behind this unusual version of one of our most popular songs…

During our third American tour, we played a venue in the Lower East Side called Pianos. A producer called Andy Baldwin (who had previously worked with acts like Bjork and Morcheeba) was at the gig and we got chatting afterwards; he said we reminded him of Blur, which as you can imagine we thought was BRILLIANT, and the idea of working together whilst we were in New York was mooted.

Problem was, we didn’t have a lot of time. We were gigging every night – squeezing in meetings and parties inbetween – and were due to fly back to London just a few days later. Turns out the answer was to sacrifice sleep, which partly explains why the recording has an unusually gritty tone for a Lightyears record. We were all completely wired during the recording sessions.

In truth, of course, the grittiness was mainly down to Andy’s production skills – in the past we’ve often been produced to sound clean and poppy, but he was very deliberately going for a much dirtier, edgier sound. I recorded my backing vocal after an all-night bender in Brooklyn (I have no idea how – I had no voice – but somehow Andy got a performance out of me; the man’s a genius), and George’s lead vocals sound uncharacteristically husky, which is rather cool. As a result we have two different versions of the song – Hugh Padgham’s polished, super-charged pop version (online here at Soundcloud and available on our 2009 album London, England) and Andy’s chunky, punchy Britpop version (available at Project Lightyears once the counter hits 100K).

The Top Five Craziest Things We’ve Ever Done

26 July 2012

Stage diving at our first ever Cape Town gig.Muse bassist Chris Wolstenholme has come out in the NME today confessing to his recent battle with alcoholism.

He was smashed all day every day, apparently, his habit soon taking its toll on his health, his family and on the band. He’s now fixed the problem – and even penned some tunes about it that appear on Muse’s next album – but this got me thinking about just, you know, just how damn crazy it can be when you’re living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

I know, I know – you look at me and you go ‘there’s a guy who has done some crazy-ass, rock ‘n’ roll shit in his time’, and you’d be right. I’m out of control. I once went on tour WITHOUT A CLIPBOARD. Seriously. I mean, it was a mistake… a gross lapse of concentration… but once the weeping had subsided, I found a way round it (small notebook).

Anyway, in honour of Wolstenholme’s triumphant victory over alcoholism, I thought I’d present to you…


(Watch out, ‘cos they’re ruddy crazy.)

On tour in South Korea in 2011, LYs drummer Tony partied for twelve hours straight on a giant mushroom. No, not a magic mushroom – a polystyrene one he’d nicked from the gig we’d just played (don’t ask). He held onto it all night, dragging it through two clubs and three bars, eventually admitting defeat when a misguided attempt to lob it onto the roof of a brothel went horribly wrong. Naughty boy.

Tony will kick my ass for publishing this photo. Totally worth it though.

Presented with the problem of how to get from a gig at Wembley Stadium to a booking in Bagshot in less than forty minutes, extensive research led from helicopter (no landing pad at the stadium – lame) via teleportation (technology yet to be developed) to the wonder of Virgin Limobikes. This was literally the coolest thing I have EVER done. Mind you, my driver told me that the last artist he’d had on the back of his bike was Cheryl Cole and, bearing that in mind, I suspected he may have been slightly disappointed with that day’s cargo (it didn’t help that I was whimpering with fear, obviously).

Oh my god, it's James Dean!! Wait, no. It's just Tony.

In 2007, we were lucky enough to work with legendary, multi-million selling producer Hugh Padgham, responsible for massive hits such as ‘In The Air Tonight’ and ‘Every Breath You Take’. He’s used to working with Sting, McCartney and Elton John, is Hugh, so he was a bit taken aback when, at 3am in the morning after a hefty mixing session on our track ‘Sleepless’, we downed tools, jumped into our battered Mitsubishi Spacewagon (that’s right – Spacewagon) and drove all the way to Somerset for a string of gigs at Glastonbury Festival. On the way we hit some debris and buggered the car, arrived at 6.30am, slept in the boot for two hours, got up, walked our gear onsite, cracked open the whisky and hit the stage at about 11 in the morning. Fairly tipsy. Hoorah!

Chris & George Lightyear at Glasto, off their noggins on cheap whisky.

For our fourth American tour, some dim-witted buffoon* on The Lightyears’ management team thought it would be a good idea to book us a gig in Portsmouth on Saturday night (ending at 2.30am) and then another in Union Square, New York – on the other side of the Atlantic – at lunchtime the following day. You don’t need me to point out that this isn’t a good idea, but hey. After 45 minutes of restless kip on Tony’s sofa I was bundled into the car at some ungodly hour by the rest of the band and we set off for Heathrow, utterly knackered. Some hours later, praying against unexpected delays, we went straight from the plane to customs to a cab to the streets of Manhattan to the stage and BOOM, we were off. I still can’t really remember the gig, to be honest. I think I was hallucinating at the time.

*It’s possible that the dim-witted buffoon was, in fact, me.

This is how we looked afterwards. And that's Sports Illustrated swimwear model Melissa Baker, smiling through the overwhelming smell of sweat.

It’s obvious what goes at Number One – that gig we did by mistake in a crèche. Yeah, you might scoff at this – might question just how crazy it really was – but if you think there are many things scarier than trying to convince a roomful of screaming, shitting toddlers to purchase your new charity football single, you’d be very wrong indeed.

[No photo was available for this incident. Seriously, that’s for the best.]


“London, England” sells out on US tour

10 August 2009

We had such an overwhelming response from American fans during our recent Stateside tour that hard copies of our latest album, London, England, have now completely sold out.

The album is still available on iTunes priced £7.90. Click here to buy your copy.

Watch this space for a re-pressing of the album for those of you who prefer the old school format!

We released London, England in January 2009. It features many of our most popular tracks including “This House Will Burn”, “Emily” and “Sleepless”. The latter two tracks were produced by Hugh Padgham, the four time Grammy-winning producer responsible for selling over 50 million records with Sting, Paul McCartney, Elton John and many more.

Ireland’s State Magazine gave the record 4/5 and described the band as “Babyshambles with better manners”. Read the review by clicking here.

Further reviews of the album can be read here, here and here.

Read my blog on the experience of recording London, England by clicking here.

Great Rock Albums That Never Were – Part One

2 March 2009


So, I’ve been listening to Guns ‘n’ Roses a lot this weekend and it’s got me thinking about Use Your Illusion – one of the single greatest rock albums never made (technically speaking). 

Obviously, Guns released Use Your Illusion parts I and II as a double-album in 1991, representing the follow-up to their blistering debut Appetite For Destruction, and together the two works are punctuated by a string of absolutely corking tracks. However, due mainly to the effects of Axl’s growing megalomania and the band’s inevitable course towards implosion, the double-album was somewhat blighted by inconsistency – and, crucially, by simply being too long.

And so I ask you this – what if UYU had in fact been a more conventional hour-long single album? Would we not have had a contender for the most sublime rock record ever released? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, here’s how – if they’d thought to include me in the studio sessions – I would have written the tracklisting (I suppose employing a ten year-old child from West Berkshire for this task would have been a little out-of-character for Guns ‘n’ Roses at the time, but nevertheless I think we can all agree it was an oversight):   

Perfect Crime
Don’t Damn Me
Civil War
Pretty Tied Up
You Could Be Mine
Dust ‘n’ Bones
Don’t Cry
Bad Obsession
Live And Let Die
14 Years
November Rain
Get In The Ring
You Ain’t The First

OK, the order’s not quite there (everybody knows it take months to properly order an album) but I think we can all concur that there’s no dead wood involved.  

By the way, I like to maintain that, whilst they had a tendency to release the occasional duff track, GNR summed up the essence of rock and roll like no other band has before or since. These guys were 100% thoroughbred. Take Slash, for example, a man who hit the substances for so hard and so long that he ACTUALLY DIED in an elevator and had to be brought back to life by his manager. I don’t care how many swimming pools you’ve driven cadillacs into, THAT is the most rock and roll thing I have ever heard. And in some ways, the band’s reputation and image supercedes the impact of the actual songs themselves. By which I mean that GNR (whilst my favourite band of all time) don’t have nearly as many great tunes as The Beatles or Pink Floyd – but what they have in greater abundance than any of their competitors is an elusive quality that Hugh Padgham would call ‘tude. That is, the attitude of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Long live the Guns, I say.   

By the way, I’ve just discovered, via the wonder of Wikipedia, that the compilation album Use Your Illusion was in fact released in September of 1991 (in the USA only). Mind you, this was comprised only of the songs lacking profanities in order that the record could be sold in Walmart. Depressing, eh?   

Chris Lightyear

(Disclaimer: this feature is unlikely to have a Part Two. It just sounded like the kind of title that required the suffix “Part One”. You know, like it’s a series on VH1 or something)

Lightyears complete new album “London, England”

23 December 2008

Tony turning up for Day One of recording back in March!It’s been nine months since we first set foot in the Voyager Studio to begin work on our second full-length album – and as 2008 draws to a close, we can now announce that the record is finished!  

The ten-track album is called London, England and features familiar tracks “This House Will Burn”, “Filmstar” and “She’s The One” along with lesser-heard material such as “England”, “I’m Not” and “Firefly”. We’re also very excited to reveal that it will include the tracks we recorded last year with Hugh Padgham, “Sleepless” and “Emily”. Hugh has worked with countless great artists such as Sting & The Police, Genesis, Paul McCartney and David Bowie, won four Grammys and sold over 50 million records – so we’re incredibly honoured to have his work on our album.

We’re really proud of the record and can’t wait for you guys to hear it. London, England will be released in the New Year – watch this space for updates!

Lightyears to appear on National TV

1 September 2007

It has just been announced that The Lightyears will be appearing on ITV1’s new chat show The Alan Titchmarsh Show on Thursday 18 October.

Alan will interview the band, along with new Lightyears producer Hugh Padgham (Sting & The Police, Genesis, Paul McCartney, David Bowie etc), and following this the LYs will play a song live in the studio. Other artists currently scheduled to appear in the series include Kaiser Chiefs, Jools Holland, Sugababes and Lionel Ritchie.

The show is aired at 3pm daily and is expected to go out to around 3 million viewers.

…In the meantime, don’t forget that The Lightyears are headlining the Clapham Grand this Wednesday 5 September for Feedme Music’s INDY AWARDS CELEBRATION PARTY.

Doors 7.30pm, first band 8pm. LYs onstage 9.30pm. See you there!

LYs record with legendary producer Hugh Padgham

28 June 2007

If you’re wondering why The Lightyears have been a little quiet for the last few weeks, here’s why – the band have been busy in the studio, recording new tracks with legendary producer Hugh Padgham.

Hugh Padgham is generally regarded as one of the most important producers in the history of popular music. He has worked with Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Kate Bush and Elton John but is perhaps most famous for his work with Sting, The Police, Genesis and Phil Collins. Hugh’s production skills were behind such classic hits as Sting’s Fields Of Gold, Every Breath You Take by The Police and Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight. Over his prestigious career he has won 4 Grammys and sold over 250 million records.

Over recent weeks, The Lightyears have recorded three songs with Hugh. Watch this space for further updates over the coming months!