ARTFUL INDEED: HUMOROUS TO HUMANITARIAN SHOCK ROCKER
The Artful Codger is an accomplished singer-songwriter and musician of versatility, power and grace. With his roots in Punk he has evolved into an artist who tempers compassion with humility, humour and shock. And yet there is so much more to this man than meets the ear.
From playing drums as a teen in Gravestone: an Alice Cooper inspired goth-punk outfit complete with fake guillotine, to playing electric guitar with self-made backing tracks, Emmins was playing clubs and pubs before he was even legally allowed to drink.
"It all started in the early 70s, seeing Marc Bolan on TOTP singing Metal Guru; just the enigma of the guy and bam!" Mark Emmins on the defining moment of his childhood.
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Then came years as a roadie for names such as Pulp and Pantera among others before he followed his calling. He told me:
"I believe you can only do one job and give it your all. How can you say you are a professional musician if you work in a supermarket? You have to focus."
And he has certainly done that, shaping his life to allow him to be completely dedicated to music. It's more than a job for Emmins, more than his art, it's his life.
Now at his half century, he has come a long way since the anarchy of the Punk bands he first played with and devotes his life to writing, recording and performing distinctly more accessible music. So, has he sold out? Not at all and here's why...
Shocking, Socialist and Silly
There are two very distinct sides to this man: the humanitarian and the humourist.
Take the time to explore the heartfelt 'Nobody Knows Their Time' or the socialist anthem that is 'United State Of England', the schoolboy humour of 'Flushing You Away' and the outrageousFeck Off Now and you will discover a multitude of creativity with lyrics that provoke after-thought or interest.
The shocking 'Feck Off Now' is more than a stream of profanity in song, it is 'ballsy' musical brilliance in a riotous, anarchic primal scream of pure Punk spirit. And it's damn catchy too; it quite simply has to be heard to be believed. So listen, if you dare, but you might want to keep it out of earshot of your children. You have been warned...
Aside from the humourous songs, he's put his own distinctive stamp on several crowd-pleasing classics that include David Bowie's 'Heroes' and Adele's 'Someone Like You', he's even covered Abba!
What sets him apart is the time and energy he has devoted to humanitarian projects over the years. He wrote the song 'Nobody Knows Their Time' to help raise funds for, and awareness of, duchenne muscular dystrophy after a chance meeting with a man whose son was suffering from this incurable disease. Emmins wanted to help and did so in song:
"When someone's dying, time is never enough,
Ain't no force stronger than the power of love,
It's unconditional, nobody knows their time...'
More recently he was inspired to go on tour for charity Help for Heroes after the much reported street killing of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May of this year. He has toured the country donating all profits to the registered charity and released the song 'I Salute A Hero' because he said he "just wanted to give something back". And so he has.
The title track of his latest album 'United State Of England' is something of a socialist anthem:
"I should have seen it coming,
When they closed the factories down,
And the gates were left wide open,Now there's terrorists in town
As the rich get richer,
We all know the game
A promised land is dying
It's the poor that take the blame..."
The album itself ranges from the romantic 'Everything' and the lovely melancholy 'Bridges' to the 'grungy' 'Denial':
"You hide it, you fight it...
You know it, and everybody on your FB knows it..."
And you have to hear 'Flushing You Away' - it's every school boy's dream and a good laugh for anyone with a cheeky sense of humour.
Emmins is a musician who is extremely versatile, having also produced love songs and ballads and recently enjoyed some commercial success with 'Drinking Whiskey', which took the number one spot in the unsigned charts for four weeks thanks to downloads from a growing online following who come across his music through radio play, social networking and the live circuit.
Music for the 21st Century
Music has changed since he started playing electric guitar and recording albums, there's a healthy alternative scene flourishing online with independent radio shows and albums, singles and EPs available to download via iTunes.
Emmins is riding high in this contemporary music scene and for good reason. He has penned and produced a vast array of entertaining, thought-provoking and memorable music, he is prolific, making album after album and he's a great personality – a worldly wise 'man of the people' with his heart in the right place and a sharp sense of humour.
His interviews are always well worth a listen and his enthusiasm is contagious; he is a likeable chap and a hard working one. Even if you can't appreciate his shock songs or his humour, you cannot deny his talent and his success is deserved.
May there be much more from the Artful one though I can't imagine he'll ever be able to write a follow-up to 'Feck Off Now'. Listen to the Artful Codger at SoundCloud, download his music at iTunes and follow the man and his music at markemmins.net.
Click the play button to listen to 'Feck Off Now'. Very explicit lyrics.