Tony Moore / Love, Life And The Story Of Awake

To say that Tony Moore has been working on a new album called Awake is understating things quite a lot, as Tony has been building his show as an immersive experience with live performances. As a former member of Iron Maiden, it was not a big surprise to see the name Tony Moore added to the bill with British Lion.

In Part One of this interview, Tony Moore talked about the support from Steve Harris for Awake and how Tony has been preparing for the British Lion Tour. Here, we learn about the seeds of Awake and Tony’s desire to take the project across Britain.

Lockdown was an emotional time for Tony as his mother became ill. “She developed dementia early in 2020,” Tony Moore told MetalTalk editor Steve Ritchie. “At the end, she was getting a bit doddery. But she’d gone into hospital for a chest infection, and they kept her there for about five weeks. When she came out, she was completely different. It was the weirdest thing. She just became bedbound. She never walked again after that.

“Her mind had definitely really gone. So I moved into her house to become her primary carer just as lockdown was happening. It was a weird conjunction of two very impactful events.

“The weird thing about all of that was that I got to spend more time with my mum in two years every day than I had done in a very, very long time. So I got to tell her that I loved her every night and that she was the best mom in the world. She was nearly 92 when she died last year. I’d give her a cigarette, a cup of coffee and sing her a song every night before she went to sleep, whatever time that was.

“So those were amazing times for me. I’m blessed to have had that much time to spend with her at that point in life. But all of that journey, and her and my journey through my life, kind of impacted Awake. She appears in the show actually as a video and photos and all kinds of stuff because the show is quite a personal journey in some respects. So that was, that was all a good thing.”

Tony had already been working on new music. Never Say Goodbye was released in 2019, although with the vibe of the song, I mistakingly thought it was part of the grieving process.

“That was before things really kicked off with her,” Tony Moore says. “That song was strangely not about anyone I know, although my songs start with a personal story or a personal feeling or something I’ve seen or thought about.

“This one was more about the idea that I’ve spent my whole life in music. I’ve toured the world. I’ve worked with some amazing artists, and I kind of gave my life to music in a weird way. So I don’t have children. This was a song about imagining what it was like to have, in this instance, a daughter or a son or a child that grows up and suddenly doesn’t need you anymore.

“Not in a bad way. Not like, oh, I don’t need you, but in a kind of, they’ve grown up. That whole thing where you’re holding the bike for them to learn to ride, and one day, you let go, and they go, right? That’s kind of a metaphor for the friends that we have in our lives that we help and support, and sometimes you’re not needed anymore. That’s both beautiful and quite melancholic.”

Awake is a really unique project. Tony Moore has spent a lot of time building up a one-hour 45-minute live set that is not just a musical experience. It’s an immersive experience as well. I suggest that this is something that must have really filled his head.

“The whole process of creating awake both sonically and visually happened at the same time,” Tony says. “It all began with the opening song of the album, which is called Awake. And that was written during January 2021 in the second lockdown that we had over here after Christmas.

“It was really just a guitar riff. A theme that runs through that track and a little bit in the rest of the album. I just was messing around with it. I don’t want to sound too Spinal Tap, but I was messing around. I recorded about two minutes of a track and sent it to some mates who really were positive. They came back saying this is great. This could be in a movie. It’s quite mysterious. So I went on.

“People don’t know me as a guitar player. They know me as a keyboard player, a songwriter or whatever. But very few people have ever seen me play lead guitar or where guitar is the main instrument. So, I was just indulging myself in doing the things that I loved to do and playing, just having fun. Just enjoying every moment. And then, about four minutes, I thought, oh, maybe I should sing now. It’s like I’ve got 40 seconds. It feels like now is the moment to have some singing. So, I think I just channelled what I had been feeling a little bit about what we were all experiencing in the world.

“A little bit about how family is really important and love is very important. It is the key to everything, really. We are often, for want of a better word, asleep to that. We kind of daydream through life. We just get on with every day and don’t necessarily appreciate all of the beautiful things that life gives us and sometimes all the challenging things that life gives us and look a bit deeper.

“So the song is called Awake. It was just a simple line. Do you see what I see here? We’re awake, right? I posted a live video. I was doing all these streams at the time. So many people loved it. They were like thousands of streams. But this is amazing. And I go, wow, I’ve never done this before. I think this feels like it’s the opening track of an album.

“So I thought, OK, let’s write an album. I’ve got nothing else to do, and I’m gonna take the indulgence all the way … the self-indulgence, should I say? And just try to create an album of all the things that I’ve ever loved. All the influences that I’ve ever had. All the inspirational music and personalities that have permeated my world and put my own spin on it.

“So it’s a little bit Pink Floyd. It’s a little bit Genesis. It’s a little bit early Elton John. A bit Alice Cooper. It’s a bit The Beatles. It’s all of my influences.

“It’s a bit Bowie. I was lucky enough in ’73 to see the Ziggy Stardust tour, and it really did blow my mind. I had queued all night outside the Bristol Colston Hall to buy tickets to see this show. And I was in the second row in the front, and it was just… I didn’t know that something could be like this as a performer.

“So, there’s so many of those influences. I wrote the album chronologically or consecutively. As one track finished, I had no idea what the next track would be, except I was going to follow what it felt it should be because it was a concept album. So there are no rules. I can do what I want.

“I wanted to have a sense of a narrative arc running through it without words, without a specific story. But it is just an emotional sense that we’re on a journey, and it starts here, and it ends here, and stuff happens in between. The three themes, with just what was happening all around us. That was a lot to write about.

“It was about my mom and my relationship with my mom and dealing with her dementia and songs for her and about my life. I am doing now what I wanted to do at 13. This theatrical, big show with all these very, not progressive… It’s not really a prog project, although it has some prog elements to it. Just expansive, right? Something that can be epic in one moment and can be very intimate in the next moment.”

Tony Moore will bring his Awake To Go journey to Guildford in October
Tony Moore – Burrfest. Photo: Steve Ritchie

At MetalTalk, we have heard a rough mix of Awake, and while we can’t say much at the moment, it is a powerful and emotional listen. The kind of atmospheric listen where you should turn the lights down, put the headphones on and just let your mind wander.

For such an immersive project, a simple CD release does not do it justice. “That’s partly why I haven’t released it yet,” Tony Moore says. “Two and a half years ago, when I finished it, there was no awareness of it at all. It would have just kind of sat on a digital shelf somewhere, and a few of my mates would have listened to it.

“What I attempted to do was build the live show experience to build an awareness. Kind of a fan base, for want of a better word, of what I was specifically doing. So, when I finished the first song, I did it live as part of one of my streams. The community around my streams was really important.

“I started on 24 March 2020. I did 110 2-hour streams every single night. It was a pretty gruelling thing to do as I look back on it. But at the time, it gave me a purpose every day, and it was a very important thing for me to do. But I also wanted to do some streams on another level. So I used a lot of green screen and I learned how to manipulate through the software, through different cameras and through different backgrounds and overlays to create a sense of depth and perspective.

“When I did Awake, I created this backdrop, and I just imagined that I was on stage. I got a giant screen behind me. And what would that show? So that was what I did for the Awake preview thing that I did. And so, as I wrote each song, I decided this had to be a live show. Because I was trying the songs out online as well, each time I wrote, when I would play it that night, I created the imagery to go with it. Sometimes still photography, but mainly video information which either I edited, animated or was sometimes public domain that I kind of repurposed.

“So, by the time I got to the end of the album, I had basically all of the visual imagery that was going to go with each song. I played it a number of times and knew how it could work. The challenge for moving it into the live arena was that before the lockdown, which completely finished in 2021, I was doing some production rehearsals at The Bedford, which is the venue where I curate music.

“We had the space to work with. People weren’t allowed to eat inside in those days. But we were working inside. It took me three weeks of putting this together to realise I needed, for instance, longer gaps between songs in order just to change instruments. The other element is that this is a one-man show. There is no band. It’s just me playing everything. Obviously, there’s some track that goes with the video. I’m interacting with myself through the video and all kinds of things. So it’s immersive partly because it has some surround sound effects to it. It’s immersive partly because it feels like this narrative of my journey that has become universal now. And it’s also immersive because it plays with people’s emotions.

“There are moments where I’m singing about my mom, and I can’t really look at the screen at the same time because I’ll lose it. But I look, and I see a lot of other people who may have lost a relative or have someone with dementia who relate to what I’ve talked about and what I’m singing about, who become very moved and feel the ability to release emotion, which is a very beautiful thing.

“So, they laugh, they cry. There are some spooky moments… a bit edgy. But at the end of it, we’ve all had a journey. We’ve had an emotionally charged time, and even though I do the same songs every night, it feels like a brand new show every time.”

You can hear an abridged version of Awake when Tony Moore joins British Lion for their January 2024 tour. You can catch the full version when Tony Moore tours Britain in February.

You can keep up to date with Tony Moore at his website here.

January

03jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | London ** SOLD OUT **Cart And Horses

04jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | London ** SOLD OUT **Cart And Horses

05jan9:00 amBritish Lion | Milton KeynesCraufurd Arms

06jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | BradfordNightrain

07jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | LiverpoolFurnace

09jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | AberdeenLemon Tree

10jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | EdinburghLiquid Rooms

12jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | CarlisleBrickyard

13jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | ColchesterArts Centre

14jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | MargateBallroom

16jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | Merthyr TydfilRedhouse Cymru

17jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | FromeCheese & Grain

18jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | BournemouthOld Fire Station

20jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | Isle Of WightStrings Bar & Venue

21jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | GravesendLeo's Red Lion

22jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | SouthendChinnerys

23jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | HastingsBlack Box

24jan7:00 pmBritish Lion | London ** SOLD OUT **Cart And Horses

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