Music For Grown Ups was born out of a real need to start to create music in a different way. But it was also, and I can't emphasise this enough, thematically, born out of heartache, sorrow and confusion. I'd been playing music in London, in sort of spiky, punky, sharp outfit and as it fell by the wayside ... very undramatically ... a wish to do something different was growing within me. I was also, it must be said, heavily inspired by Lambchop and Sparklehorse towards the end of the 90s (yes some of it is that old), which stands to this day; they taught me how to play music slower and stranger. As I listen back now, as much as I thought I was playing this downbeat, sad music, is actually how spiky it all still sounds.
And so it was that Music For Grown Ups was born, originally with the idea that everyone who was playing would swap and change their instruments, which did happen for a good few years. However, the backbone of all the different iterations of MFGU is Aaron Robertson on guitar and Jane Burke on cello. Aaron, who's playing was idiosyncratic, textual and warm, was at odds with a mainstream group and left the band as many times as he joined. Jane, whose playing was remarkably unconventional, when I may have searched for the conventional, managed to be both melodic, avant-garde and impossible to mic-up!
This collection of songs, is my choice from 2000 to 2016 or thereabouts. While we spanned a digital revolution in music, you won't hear it here - this is the reason I wanted to make these songs available online. I never was one to record on my own, never very good at promoting it all online and you will hear a range of sound quality from different home-studios, to my inept playing at times. Many other figures came and went in the line-up and I should mention Jonathan Tansey, Stefan Melzack, Nicolas Tomas, Mattheiu Hirsch, Sam Spanswick, Nico (Virani the Beachcomber), Richard Lewis and many other fantastic musicians who played on these songs.
That sorrow? I found it difficult to perform these songs more and more. As ridiculous at is sounds, the subject matter never went away and the crowd's general indifference led me to resent the emotional effort it took to get on stage! I think I reached something I was trying to achieve with "Tell Me When", which I consider the centrepiece here. MFGU's spotters will find the demo version of Reprisal, as well as the very rare "My Favourite Singer". The songs span London and Paris. Somewhere in a vault an entire album also sits, but I wanted to be able to relive these songs, the passing of time and memory.
John Hughes, Paris 2023
released February 14, 2023
Music and lyrics by John Hughes
Produced by Music for Grown Ups and/or Yann Stevens (1-14)
Produced by Nick Buxton and John Hughes (15-19)