“I’ve a friend who has a daughter aged five or six, and she’ll tell stories, do character voices and get lost in that world,” says Pete Jones. “I did that, but from the age of eight, I had the gift of being able to play quite advanced music for my years. So I’d improvise on the piano and would come up with these unconventional structures, which I’d record on cassette. This is a theme I really wanted to capture with Cocoon.”
Winding back a decade, Nottingham-based Jones and vocalist Emma Paine reached the 2004 final of The X Factor playing self-written pop music as 2 To Go. “I don’t think we had the fire and desperation they were looking for,” Jones admits.
The duo played on the TV show’s 2005 arena tour and, to make a living, Jones plays solo in clubs, or with Paine. But after a recent bout of writer’s block, during which he listened to a lot of prog rock, including Yes and Genesis, whom he first listened to aged nine, he came up with something stylistically different.
Jones lost his sight when he was only 15 months old. “I don’t have any memory of sight at all, and that’s arguably a blessing because I don’t know any other way of life,” he says, yet despite this, the detail in his lyrics forms strongly pictorial scenes.
You can’t choose what you write. You can’t turn off an idea once you’ve had it.
“I started singing these words about [60s children’s TV shows] Trumpton, Chigley and Camberwick Green, which I’d been ‘watching’ on some sort of nostalgia trip. My first reaction was it was nice and quaint, but no use on an album of contemporary songs. But I thought, ‘You can’t choose what you write. You can’t turn off an idea once you’ve had it.’”
The song in question, A Visit To Chigwick, is one of the most charming explorations of idyllic childhood themes on Cocoon, which also nods to the fantastical bygone worlds Genesis conjured on Nursery Cryme. His latest release, Story Tellers Part One, continues the prog rock and childhood-inspired themes, and is partly a tribute to the works of Roald Dahl and Hans Christian Andersen.
Jones is thoroughly immersed in the prog world. He recently played recorder on the Spectral Mornings charity EP for the Parkinson’s Society. “We didn’t record it together and I don’t know if he knows who I am, but that doesn’t matter – I’m now playing on a track with Steve Hackett, which is something I’d never have dreamed of,” he laughs.
Jones’ pop music is now on hold. He’s doing some support slots playing his own material and prog covers as a “one-man band” and is looking at a group collaboration with local prog band Red Bazar.
“I’ve got so many ideas and there’s another couple of prog albums in the old brainbox,” Jones says. “So at the minute the writing floodgates are open, and it’s all coming out as prog.”
line-up Pete Jones (vocals, keyboards and drum programming, electric and acoustic guitars, percussion and whistles) sounds like Flamboyant instrumentals and whimsical lyrics that explore Peter Gabriel-esque themes of fantasy and childhood current release Story Tellers Part One is available now on White Knight website www.tigermothtales.com