Worthing-based singer-songwriter Chris Simmons has released a powerful double A-side single following the death of his brother.
Chris, who plays the Leconfield Hall in Petworth on October 14 and a sold-out gig at St Paul’s, Worthing, on October 22, has brought the single out as a prelude to a new album next year.
“I lost my brother at Christmas 2013,” says Chris who prefers not to go into the exact circumstances. “I carried on performing and doing shows, but really I was just going through the motions, and eventually I got to the point where I needed to take myself out of my music. I was pretty much ghosting throughout that year, but then I went to India.”
It proved a healing experience:
“I had been before, but it is really a strange place. I genuinely feel that there is something in the soil there that is very different. I just believe I needed to go there to heal. I went to Kerala and Goa and I jumped on the train and travelled around, just me for three months. And I found that I could start writing. You are there and you feel different. There is a definite physical manifestation. I just started writing again. I had my guitar. I always have my guitar with me, and for a while I didn’t even pick it up.
“But then I did, and for the first time in I don’t know how long, melodies started coming out. I think it was really just acceptance of what had happened. The song is The Deepest Wound. It is about the fact that you have wounds that will never really heal. One of the lines is ‘Love becomes regret unless you shed what is weighing down your head.’ It is saying it is OK to be happy, OK to smile.
“ I would not say it is about moving on. I am just saying ‘Don’t feel guilty for suddenly forgetting.’ The whole message of the song is that we have got each other as family and that we can get through this. And then I was able to start writing my album.
“The other song is Gold Dust. It is about missing someone and loss. I just thought I could not put this album out without getting these two songs out there first. It is like a cathartic process.”
The single is available on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon.
“I feel like I have shared. I didn’t want to write a song that was ‘I have lost someone, pity me’. That’s not what I wanted to say.
“I wanted to say that this has happened and that there are ways of dealing with it. That’s the weird thing about death and loss. We have got better, but those kinds of things are still taboo.”
Tragically, Chris lost his brother just as his own music career was really starting to take off. Chris had supported Passenger and Suzanne Vega. He had also supported Squeeze and worked with Squeeze’s Chris Difford.
“That Christmas I was on quite a lot of tip sheets for acts that were going to break next year. It all came at a really bad time. It took the wind out of my sails. That’s why I soldiered on for six months. I was thinking ‘This is happening, this is happening’, and I didn’t want to lose momentum, but in the end it got to the point where I realised I needed to sort myself out.”
Chris feels he has emerged a different musician now: “I want everything to have some meaning now.
“I definitely want messages in the songs. I like it when you sense there is a message in what you are hearing, and I want people to sense that in my music.”
He feels the new album is his best work so far: “Quite a lot of people are private-messaging me saying that the songs have really helped them deal with stuff.”