All About Howard

Howard Alan Sinclair is a Singer-Songwriter and Multi-instrumentalist with a simple ambition - to play to as many appreciative audiences as possible, and bring something fresh and different to the acoustic / electro-acoustic music scene. So, with a grounding in traditional guitar technique, cello, trumpet and piano, Howard decided to follow the music, move to where he could make his mark and start writing his own material.

Background
Hailing originally from the small village of Wrotham in Kent, Howard travelled West to join the thriving Live music scene in Bristol - a city which offers diverse opportunity and flexibility for artists seeking to break into the music industry; then migrated slightly further north, to the charming town of Cheltenaham. Most weeks he can be found either hosting or participating in Open Mics, when not playing his own pre-booked gigs, or as support to other artists across Bristol, Cheltenham and beyond.

Set-up
Howard uses a lot of open tunings on his guitar*, such as DADGAD and Open D - these particular tunings hark back to his early days playing in Folk clubs, where he would hear other musicians using the unfamiliar tuning, and curiosity led to him talking to others, learning what they were doing and discovering a variety of new and intriguing chords. His equipment set-up is simple (earning him high praise from many sound techs when touring, due to his infamous "two minute sound-checks") - utilising a standard six-string and an additional 12-string acoustic guitar, swapping between the two throughout his set, and occasionally re-tuning to fit songs - as a result of which, he has developed a warm and witty repartee with his audiences, imparting a mixture of witty banter and amusing vignettes during his practiced brief re-tunings.

Singing started out in the local church and university choirs, hence his love of harmony singing. His singing voice is inspired by a number of singers, although all his favourites have ranges at a higher pitch than he personally uses. Marillion, Peter Gabriel and early Genesis are major influences on his playing style, particularly his use of alternate tunings on 12-string guitars.

Genre / Style
The genre and style of his playing can be said to fit across several categories - there are elements of prog, folk, rock, pop, indie - Traditional folk, had a big part to play in his first album, but his 2012 release "The Delicious Company of Freaks" and newer recordings move further away from this and into the territory of his album collections which mainly stem from the Progressive Rock stable. Other notable artists that he has been compared with include: Nick Drake, Roy Harper, Donovan, Sandy Denny, and Pink Floyd.

Influences
Early influences were heavily classical, but as he developed an interest in 1970s progressive rock, Howard discovered there was a distinct cross-over that appealed. Early Genesis (the Peter Gabriel period), King Crimson and Camel were the sort of bands that focused on the music, the prowess of each instrumentalist. Later, he discovered Marillion, starting a life-long appreciation of the band (in both it's original and current formats) and with the acoustic work of lead singer Fish (particularly for his sheer determination, longevity and poetic vision). Other stand-out influences include Anthony Phillips (for sublime 12-String Guitar sounds), Eric Satie (for simplicity and the use of Major 7th Chords), Peter Gabriel (for versatility, vocal perfection and lyrical madness), Dvorzak (for his Cello Concerto in B Minor), Fairport Convention, Amplifier, Oceansize, Caravan, Van Der Graaf Generator, Dweezil Zappa and Steve Hackett. But being an active member of the Live music scene, Howard cites plenty of recent artists as influences too - including female-fronted, five-piece rock band Panic Room, headed by lead singer Anne-Marie Helder, arguably the best female rock vocalist out there at the moment.

Career Highlights
In 2012 Howard was invited to support Panic Room on their "S K I N tour" - with the release of their 3rd studio album; opening at the famed Borderline in London, Howard played a series of dates across the UK with them, sharing the support slot with upcoming rock band Morpheus Rising at the start and end dates of the tour. This tour coincided with the release of Howard's new album "The Delicious Company of Freaks" - with eleven original tracks, including a hauntingly beautiful duet with Anne-Marie Helder (of Panic Room) "These Dark Hills".

 

Current Projects
2014 sees Howard back in the studio to produce his next album ready for release later in the year; he is also performing on the Bristol and Cheltenham Live music circuit, hosting Open Mic and setting up gigs across the city. Howard is also looking to book support slots across the UK, although his priority is finishing and recording new material for his coming album.


Media Quotes

“Howard Sinclair was up next. He described himself as “the filling in the sandwich” and told us he’d been expecting to go on first. I find acoustic singer-songwriters need strong material and delivery to make much of an impression. That counts double if they have to come on straight after a high energy rock band. But Howard Sinclair had both the songs and the stage presence to carry it off, with a short but entertaining set, drawn from his new album “The Delicious Company of Freaks”.”

Tim Hall - Where Worlds Collide

“Support was provided by a brief but enjoyable performance from acoustic singer-songwriter Howard Sinclair. His set consisted of two covers (Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” and Tom Petty’s “Freefalling”) along with five original compositions, of which the closer, “Wrong Girl, Wrong Time” was my personal favourite. Hopefully it won’t be too long before Howard returns to the Midlands.”

David Waterfield - The Midlands Rocks

 

* The strings of a 12-string are usually tuned the same as a normal guitar (EADGBE), with the pair to each of the first four (bottom) strings an octave higher than its partner. With the last two (top) strings the pair are both tuned the same.