You can’t deny Richard Morris’s commitment to the cause – ahead of the release of his new EP and a short run of shows, he’s quit his job to focus on his music career.
The Portsmouth-based singer-songwriter had spent four years travelling, including two years as a surf instructor, before he decided to return home in 2015 so he could pick up playing music again.
He says: ‘I’ve just quit my full-time job to pursue this as a thing, and it was really scary. I found that at work I was tired and being told off for being on my phone and doing e-mails all day.
‘When I left travelling I left loads of really cool people behind and I don’t see them any more, obviously. So when I made the decision to move back to the city and do my music, I was thinking about that over Christmas – I had made that decision to try and do this, and realised I was doing this full-time job and not doing what I really wanted to. I wanted to honour that earlier decision, so I thought, right, I need a kick up the backside here and get back on it.
‘My background through surfing took me all over the world, and took me to some really cool places where you’d step out of the door where it’s all palm trees and surf.
‘I guess I was feeling trapped in the city for a while. It was ultimately a decision I’m happy with, because it’s making me do the things I want to do, but it took me a while to settle into the city.
Now we’re happy with our sound and direction we want to pursue this as far as it will goRichard Morris
‘I’ve never worked so hard for anything in my life.
‘Anyone who does music and takes it seriously will know how much time all the other stuff takes up. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.’
His gig at The Wedge next Saturday marks the release of new EP Stay Alive, the follow-up to last year’s well-received debut Await The Sunset.
2016 was a year packed with highlights for Richard and his six-piece band – headlining stages at Wickham and Victorious festivals, scoring some major support gigs and being the first band to play a session in BBC Introducing South’s live lounge.
But Richard is ambitious, and with a clutch of anthemic new ‘bittersweet’ songs sounding purpose-built for festival singalongs he’s hoping 2017 will be even bigger.
‘This EP is the thing I’m most proud of in terms of what I’ve written and production. I worked with the same guy as on the debut, David Evans at the Old Chapel Studios.
‘We spent a good 10 months deciding how and what this EP was going to be. We knew we wanted it to be very different to the first EP, and once we had those songs, we were dead-set which way we wanted it to go.
‘I very quickly decided I wanted to write songs for live situations.
‘The first EP was quite chilled out, and had a good vibe, but I wanted to give people more of an experience when they come to the show and what I wanted the songs to do, but still keep them emotional and heartfelt.
‘It’s gritty and raw – I want people to come to the shows and feel good, but when they’re at home and listening to the lyrics, they’ll realise what the song is about.’
‘Now we’re happy with our sound and direction we want to pursue this as far as it will go.’
Among the new songs is a hymn to the heart of Southsea, Albert Road. As Richard puts it: ‘We’ve obviously been doing a lot in Portsmouth around Albert Road. We got to he point where we’ve done this and that, so what do we do now?
‘We came to the decision that we can’t play on Albert Road forever even though we want to, it’s us kind of saying that we wish the road was bigger, so then we could play on this road forever.
‘We love playing here and all the people who come see us here.
‘It has really sparked my love for Portsmouth – I see there is so much cool music here – I can’t believe how many bands there are here, and all doing good shows and good releases. We’ve met so many people through the music scene here, and lots of people want to do shows with you and help each other.
The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
Saturday, February 18