The specialists and technicians who keep the UK’s live music scene going are to get some much-needed support and relief from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, thanks to an epic new piece of music coordinated by a University of Huddersfield lecturer.

Under the UK Metal Merger banner and constructed from the contributions of 18 of the UK’s top metal musicians, Senior Lecturer in Music Technology and Production Dr Mark Mynett has created a 12-and-a-half-minute track called ‘In Solitude’.

A truly collaborative effort, the track and video were pieced together during successive lockdowns by Mark and the musicians despite being forced to work remotely.

The collaborators hope that anyone who watches or shares the YouTube video and track will donate to the UK Metal Merger Stagehand Crew Relief Fund.

Lockdowns forced by COVID have a had a devastating impact on the largely self-employed workforce in the live music industry, from roadies, and drivers, all the way through to sound and lighting engineers and visual and pyrotechnic specialists.

Watch the Radio Edit of 'In Solitude' - the full-length track will be released on 4 May.

Track is a true team effort

Mark is also a highly respected record producer on the UK metal scene, and is currently researching the mixing and production techniques that give heavy metal its heaviness alongside colleague/primary investigator, Dr Jan Herbst. Mark used his extensive contacts to pull 'In Solitude’ together, initially during the country’s first lockdown in 2020.

“The drum recordings came from Jeff Singer. He plays with My Dying Bride, the Yorkshire-based band that I’ve produced,” says Mark. “I then sent these out to eight different guitarists, who collectively returned hours and hours of riffs and different parts that I had to sift through.

“It was like a patchwork quilt of all the best parts to make it into something cohesive. It then went out to different male/female vocalists for vocal contributions, after which it quickly became apparent that the song needed to be quite a significant length to factor in all the different parts.

“We then introduced cello, keyboards and piano. Although a shorter radio edit was also created, about 300 hours of audio was condensed down to the full 12 minutes and 37 seconds version. It was fascinating to put together.”

Mark is also a front of house engineer that has worked at the Download and Bloodstock festivals, and has had direct exposure to how his friends and colleagues from live music have struggled over the last year. He knows how extremely challenging their return to the industry will be.

Mark Mynett in a recording studio Mark Mynett

Experience and skills of road crews are vital

“We hope that In Solitude will help to get support in place so the live industry doesn’t suffer a huge loss of experience and niche skills,” Mark adds. “The pandemic is going to have a huge effect on the UK live industry if all the live technicians and highly-skilled crew members don’t go back into it.

"If they stay delivering for Amazon, stacking shelves at Aldi - or working in an aquarium as a lighting designer friend who counts Iron Maiden and Motley Crue as clients has had to - it will be a huge loss for decades to come.

"These people have tacit knowledge – the knowledge you can only gain by experience. Musicians have had a hard time of things, but I don’t believe it has been anywhere near as hard as for the technicians and the live crew. Bands have royalties and merchandising, but you don’t get royalties from the mixing desk.”

Under the government’s current roadmap, live music in front of audiences is set to return after 21 June and Mark hopes proceeds from ‘In Solitude’ can give some much-needed support while the live scene gets back onto its feet.

“It was a very negative time, a destructive one for the music industry and it came on top of Brexit – which is horrendous for the music industry. The implications for UK musicians touring Europe are dire, and then we had the pandemic to deal with as well.

“It was a case of trying to take something positive from that time for those most impacted, which are the technicians and live crew members.

“There has been an incredible reaction to the song, already with Sky News and Radio 5 carrying out live interviews about the project, and significant airplay of the ‘radio edit’ version on national radio. However, the full 12”37” version and accompanying video aren’t actually released till 4 May. The response has been great and I just hope that translates into an enthusiasm for the crowdfunding. That’s what it is all about.”

Please donate to the UK Metal Merger Stagehand Crew Relief Fund.

Follow the campaign at www.facebook.com/UKMetalMerger

The Musicians of UK Metal Merger are:

AARON STAINTHORPE – MY DYING BRIDE
JEFF SINGER – MY DYING BRIDE
ANDREW CRAIGHAN – MY DYING BRIDE
LUKE APPLETON – ABSOLVA
JO QUAIL – SESSION CELLIST
MARK DEEKS – ARD / WINTERFYLLETH
MARK MYNETT – KILL II THIS
SIMON GORDON – KILL II THIS
DAN CAPP – WINTERFYLLETH / WOLCENSMEN
RICHARD SHAW – CRADLE OF FILTH
ADRIAN MAYES – KRYSTHLA
NEIL HUDSON - KRYSTHLA
ANDREW WRIGHT - MOTHERLOAD
STAN HAVARD - XENTRIX
SOPHIE DORMAN – PYTHIA
CHRIS O'TOOLE – DIVINE CHAOS
MATT GILMOUR – DIVINE CHAOS
STACEY GAUNT – PLAGUE OF ANGELS

Produced, Mixed and Mastered by Mark Mynett; Mynetaur Productions www.mynetaur.com

Video Production by Hal Sinden of Eulogy Media; http://www.eulogymedia.com

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Watch the Radio Edit of 'In Solitude' - the full-length track will be released on 4 May.