My name is Brian Houston and this is my story so far..
I had played around Belfast for two or three years in bars and clubs with a band I was in called Mighty Fall. We'd tried hard to get a record deal coming close a few times but never quite getting to sign on the dotted line. To be honest it would have been nice to even see the line but that pleasure eluded us. By nineteen ninety two me and the final two members decided to call it quits and through 1993 I did next to no music.
Towards the end of '93 a friends brother lent the two of us hundred pounds to record a demo. Around that time a guy named David Grant saw me perform and asked me if it would be ok to write a play based on my songs. All of this was due to Jools Maxwell. He was the one pushing me to take risks and introducing me to his contacts. When the play toured in 1994 a DJ on a local radio station played one of my songs on his show in the middle of the night. Almost immediately people began calling the station requesting the song be played again and again.
Sales of the album soared taking it to the Number One spot locally. Soon I was successfully staging my own concerts in local theatres, word quickly spread, and suddenly out of nowhere I was a solo artist in my own write
With this growing reputation, doors began to open for me to tour Ireland and support big names such as Van Morrison and Elvis Costello.
I continued to release albums locally, as well as gigging around the North of Ireland. Recording my own songs and music at home and in small local studios, I learned how to sell and market the albums all from my bedroom !
When an ex-manager told me I had but one good song to my name, my game plan became to write as many songs as I could until by the law of averages I was bound to have more than just one good one.
In 2002 I was offered a support slot in England with an American band from L.A. The deal was; no fees, no expenses and you eat what you can sell in Cd's. England was a place I'd wanted to play for a while so I took the risk. On the first couple of tours I managed to break even and I was very encouraged by the way people began to respond to my performances and songs.
Tour followed tour and at some stage thanks to an agent who'd set me up the above tours, my album Mea Culpa landed on the desk of Bob Harris. From an ever growing large pile of albums Bob selected track seven "Scared of Fallin" and gave me my debut on national radio. He began to play my music from time to time and more doors opened to tour the length and breadth of England in 100 seat venues. The money wasn't great but the CD's I was selling were covering costs and letting me make it back home with some cash in my pockets. It was lets say, an interesting road but the signs were promising.
The habit of recording gigs by English sound engineers gave me invaluable feedback on my live performance and the standard of songwriters I got to tour with helped enormously with my development as an artist and entertainer. Up to that point I'd been able to rely on a backing band or the shear passion of my delivery to win a crowd but it was soon obvious from this environment that I needed to improve my songwriting and delivery.
I continued to gig repeatedly all over England hoping that sooner or later I'd climb up a grade and be able to play to bigger audiences.
At a gig in Southampton in April 2005 I met the producer Nigel Stonier. He loved my songs and we got on well. Soon we'd agreed to work on making the album that would be Sugar Queen.
From the start it was very different from the other albums I'd done. His input into every song was invaluable. He also hired the best musicians for the type of music I play and was determined to capture what he'd seen live and yet make a no compromise recording. For all the years I'd been playing this concept of making a record was my kind of holy grail.
The album was recorded in Liverpool in December 2005. Nigel played lot's of instruments including pianos organs and guitars. He vitoed someof my crazy ideas and encouraged me to sing in my own accent. His vison for the album was unusually clear from the outset and his sense of strategy was invaluable.
With input from Thea Gilmore and Robbie Mcintosh singing and playing on the recording and Nigel's sense of direction, Sugar Queen is the most honest and representative album I've made to date.
It's now in the shops all over England and Ireland and selling like crazy. It's already my biggest seller to date and it's only just come out.