Recording throughout 2021 for a forthcoming long-awaited second album (due out in spring 2022), Northern Irish singer-songwriter Lee Rogers has taken a handful of his more deviant and sinister new songs – plus a surprise cover version – and grouped them together for a digital and 10″ vinyl EP entitled ‘Dark Notions’, the former of which is set for release on 29th October. An opening salvo is available from today in the form of the insistent dark blues groove of ‘Hellbound’.
“I don’t like the idea of songs sitting silently on hard drives. These ones were written to be heard and I kind of like that they don’t fit with anything else other than back to back together on their own EP,” explains Rogers.
Just announced as the support to compatriot and long time fan Foy Vance on his mainland European and US tours in April and May 2022, he continues: “It has been a whirlwind 18 months getting back in the saddle and finally releasing music again after so much time away. For this EP I wanted to hark back a bit to the excitement of holding a piece of music in your hands, reading sleeve notes, taking in the artwork and looking at something other than your phone while listening. There’s so much missing from the whole experience these days. I still love the ritual of pulling a CD case open, or putting the needle arm onto a record on the turntable, and I really think the contents of this EP lend themselves perfectly to that.”
‘Dark Notions’ is produced by Gareth Dunlop, another Northern Irish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. It was recorded in Dunlop’s studio in Belfast and mixed by Grammy winning engineer Alastair McMillan.
Hailing from Carrickfergus, just north of Belfast, Rogers spent his formative years growing up under the dark cloud of the troubles. His musical inspiration was drawn from classic voices such as Bill Withers, Marc Cohn and Tom Waits, who appeared as bright colours in a musical palette that transported him far away from the often-grim surroundings closer to home. Rogers’ own voice and sound pulls from the vast well of timeless Americana, underpinned by autobiographical writings about his life.
Having signed a record deal and released debut album ‘Drawing Clocks’ in 2006, Rogers suddenly withdrew from music, turning his creativity towards tattooing and opening his own studio in County Antrim in 2008. He subsequently became a multi- award winning tattooist, and only made a return to the recording studio in 2020. The label that originally signed him reached out and they picked up were they had left off all those years before. Gaining the admiration of old and new listeners alike with a set of singles that received airplay on both the BBC and RTE (Ireland), it has paved the way for his brand new collection of twisted tales.
Drawing on the skills of his recently ended day-job, Rogers himself has created the distinctive artwork for the EP and its associated single releases. He adds: “My work as a tattooist flows over into my music quite a lot. I was lucky to have lifted a few awards over those years and earned the respect of my peers. I had lots of fun with plenty of good memories and food for writing. There are design sheets that you find in tattoo studios called ‘Flash Sheets’; skin coloured paper, old looking, with 5 or 6 designs on them and minimum colour palette that a customer can choose a design from before committing to it being in their skin forever. The thought came to me to create a design for each of the songs on the EP, so I sat down and started drawing. That ‘Flash Sheet’ idea became the cover art for ‘Dark Notions’. It was a relief to know I could still draw old school style tattoo art!”
2 Further On Up The Road
3 Citizen General
4 Stayin’ Alive
5 Blood In Blood Out
6 Ashes And Bones