The Way Back

by Asher Baker

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about

Asher Baker is an independent punk rock singer-songwriter from London, UK. Armed with an acoustic guitar, a voice and a microphone, Asher stands at the ready for the call to jump on a train and play his songs to whoever will listen, wherever they are, whenever he can. Described by Songeist.com as 'a standout voice and character in the thriving UK folk punk melee,' he mixes punk, folk, rock and incendiary poetry to express his observations about the world we live in. Finding inspiration as much in the writing of Steinbeck and Homer as the music of Dave Hause and Noel Gallagher, Asher's own journey is set to reach its destination on his debut album The Way Back.

The Way Back was recorded at Regal House Studio with producer James Routh (Sonic Boom Six, Ghouls) and is the culmination of Asher's travels so far. Utilising his background of over a decade in the UK underground punk scene, Asher was able to call up a bevy of friends for the project, incorporating viola, violin, banjo and piano, guest appearances from members of Sonic Boom Six and The Karma Party, and vocals by David Bird and Kelsey Beth-Crossley. He and James arranged musical backdrops for Asher's songs organically in the studio, summoning a variety of styles to suit the mood of the lyrics, ranging from the fundamentals of his signature acoustic folk, and across heavy rock, Fat Wreck-style punk and classic Britpop influences.

Asher has written poetry since he was a child, so it's no surprise that the heart of the record is the lyrics, used to vividly express Asher's unique worldview. Subject matter ranges from personal songs about youth and friendship like 'Stories', memorable visits to punk festivals on 'Home From Home' and a powerful message to his mum - who brought Asher up as a single-mother - on 'Architects'. There are political songs too, like the stark expose of English Coalition rule, 'Something In England'. Title track 'The Way Back' details Asher's experiences with identity and elitism in the British folk punk scene, having shared the stage with such luminaries as Crazy Arm, Pete Doherty, Itch and Apologies, I Have None and many more over the last several years. Perhaps the most remarkable song on the record is where the politics and personal truly unite on 'This Ship', the story of a close school friend who joined the BNP, much to the chagrin of Asher, a conspicuously mixed-race Londoner.

On The Way Back Asher finally joins the ranks of veteran punk rock troubadours who smash the system by arming themselves with nothing more than a pen, a guitar and a belly full of fire.

It's a mission on which he'd very truly appreciate the pleasure of your company.

credits

released September 2, 2016

Asher Baker - Vocals, Lyrics, Guitar
James Routh - Guitar, Bass Guitar
Luke Hesketh - Drums, Percussion
Rosaleen Morshead - Viola, Piano
David Bird - Backing Vocals
Kelsey Beth-Crossley - Backing Vocals
Jemma Rodgers - Backing Vocals
Stuart Lawrence - Backing Vocals
Marc Walker - Backing Vocals
Pete Skinner - Banjo
Alberto Brigandi - Piano

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Track Name: Anabasis
If I could write,
I’d write a thousand songs
About the things we said, the things we did,
And the things we’ve never done;
And though my voice proves mute to some,
Others might reap dividends,
And to those I may’ve met, had you known me then;
I’d call you my friends.

If I could write,
I’d right a thousand wrongs,
I’d spin the ghost threads of this cursive
Into songs we could’ve sung;
But I tempt fate with this guitar,
And, oftentimes, I never win,
But sometimes, all we can do is carry on;
We take it on the chin.

“This is our anabasis,” as a foolish man once said,
And our songs echo through the ages
Once our eulogy’s been read;
Calliope, sing of the storms
And all the hardships Heaven sends;
And someday, we may write to you again.

In all the time it takes for us to mend,
We’ll be singing:

“There’s gotta be a record of you, someplace;
There’s gotta be a record of you.”
Track Name: Dear Sarah Alice
Looking back on all the pictures
From venues, and chalets,
A passing alcoholic romance,
Antacid to stop the pain,
We ran it up and down those motorways
‘Til our edges ran ragged with age,
Chasing heavy guitars in that worn-out car
For days, and days, and days, and days, and days.

So, leave the tax returns behind,
Turn up the radio
We can’t stop long at the services,
There’s still miles and miles to go,
And though we’re slow in the winter chill,
And you struggle to come up with something to tell him,
A playlist I’ll call “Sarah Alice” makes everything alright again.

Looking back, looking forwards,
Sneaking into bad performances
On a summer night, in the summer rain
In that British seaside town.
Though our consciousness is shot,
And the darkest hour’s just gone 5am;
I still remember holding your hands,
And calling you my friend.

So, make sure to print your tickets out,
And turn up the radio,
And I’ll meet you down at the station,
And we’ll get out on the road;
Though we’re slow in the winter chill,
And you struggle to come up with something to tell him,
A girl that I’ll call “Sarah Alice” makes everything alright again.

Alright again.

Some days, I spend in a rut,
Others, I feel we were born to run
Between our lives and our vocations,
Never sleeping, never done.
We’re not getting any younger,
And the road’s been harsh for miles, and miles, and miles;
When I wake up in the morning, I remember.

You always made me smile.

Though we might forget the words,
We could always sing along,
We’ll stumble home, drunk and stoned
Where we can rest our weary bones.
Track Name: Stories
It’s gotta’ be more than just a must
That our purpose in this life is to adjust,
Every time you hit a wall, bad luck,
The seas get rougher, and then we stutter.
Maybe it’s something more than fate,
Going out on the town, and we can’t see straight,
Laugh out loud when we make mistakes,
Under covers, or in the gutters.

Where’s this song gonna’ take us?
Where we gonna’ go today?
What stories await us,
When we step right off the train?
‘Cause folk like us need open spaces,
The blue skies and the rain,
Then when we wake up, hungover,
We’ll do it all gain,
We’ll be okay.

We’ll go down the slow lane,
And make the journey last a while longer.
We can take the stop train,
And tell our stories all night and day.
We’ll sing our blues away.

Sometimes, it’s a better choice to pretend
That your life means more when you’re out with friends,
Though not all of us will reach the end,
We came from nothing, we’ll leave with nothing.
Maybe we could call these nights a joke,
Drinking rum in a park, ‘cause we’re always broke,
Camberwell, to Alton, to Basingstoke,
It isn’t something, it isn’t nothing.

So, we’ll go on singing
Every word, of every line,
Until the music stops, our mouths run dry
And our hearts beat out of time,
Folk like us can’t work in silence,
Compliance, or control,
We’ll go on burning signal fires
As we metre out our souls,
The flame burns slow.

We’ll go down the slow lane,
And make the journey last a while longer.
We can take the stop train,
And tell our stories all night and day.
We’re far from the top, but
We can stop ourselves from going under,
So raise them if you’ve got them,
And we could sing our blues away.

We’ll sing our blues away.
Track Name: This Ship
I said good morning to today,
As I'm off to burn my life away,
I could read, and write, and research,
But I don’t think they really care.
I guess it really is a shame,
They paved the ground that we used to play
And when you walk down past the skate park,
You’ll see there’s no one there.
Since those days, we haven't spoken,
The TV says Britain's broken,
I guess I’ll never be the same,
And I’ll say the same for you,
But whilst I’ve become disillusioned,
You’ve been clearly institutioned,
The Polish steal your jobs and then you’re off to join the crew.

It’s hard to believe that was you in the past,
In your innocent light, we were kept in the dark
The Irish, the Muslims, the Poles and the Jews
Their denomination don’t matter to you

‘Cause you’re racist, prejudiced,
A stupid Nazi fucker
And while you hate the immigrants,
I really start to wonder
Where we went our separate ways
And you just didn’t turn the corner,
I may look like nigger scum to you,
But at least my mind is broader.

I can still remember all the games we used to talk about,
When that Chinese shop in Peckham sold you Final Fantasy.
And when we broke our bones,
“Look after yourself,” she used to say,
When Dr. Mehra fixed you up
So you could come and play with me.
Since those days, we haven’t spoken,
But I’ve secretly been hoping
That you might open your eyes
And we’ll have a drink or three,
But the pub has become Eastern Europe,
And you’re same colour skin
So when those German players win,
You don’t see the irony.

Because you’re racist, you’re prejudiced,
You’re a stupid Nazi fucker
And you’re firm in your ignorance
That this country’s going under.
Underneath the multiculture
This ship is going down,
Won’t you do us all a favour
And let go, before you drown?

It’s hard to believe that was you in the past,
In your ignorant light, you’re now kept in the dark,
The Irish, the Muslims, the Poles and the Jews
Their human rights don’t matter to you

‘Cause you’re racist, prejudiced,
A stupid Nazi fucker
And I see it on the news,
And then I really start to wonder
How these cunts could be a master race
With everything we know,
If I look like nigger scum to you
Then come and have a go

‘Cause you’re racist, prejudiced,
A stupid Nazi fucker
And you’re firm in your ignorance
That this country’s going under.
Underneath the multiculture,
This ship is going down,
Won’t you do us all a favour
And let go, before you drown?

This ship is going down, let go, before you drown,
This ship is going down, let go, let go.
This ship is going down, let go, before you drown.
Track Name: Something in England
I take the 8:18 out of Queen’s Road Station
And I work for a pittance that I give to this nation,
And they pillage, and steal before it gets in my pocket,
And the taxes they’re taking? We’ll see none of it
‘Cause their “best interests” warfare,
And their overseas torture;
BAE has the NHS well in its crosshairs,
While the lower among us, we simply live to survive,
They’re living life with blood on their knives.

The bombs are dropping, and the protesters scattering,
We won’t stop singing ‘til these wars ain’t happening.
A coalition simply strings us along, it tells me
Something in England just seems so fucking wrong.

We all sit at home, and keep track of our nation
Through a box in the corner, that feeds us information
And if it asked you to jump, you just ask how high,
And if it shows you a riot, don’t think to ask why.
It’ll tell you sweet truths about bloodshed, and slaughter,
The next dictator that’s just slept with your daughter,
And all the nuclear weapons he’s keeping under his bed,
You’ve found a new evil that you wanna’ see dead.

The bombs are dropping, and the protesters scattering,
We won’t stop singing ‘til these wars ain’t happening.
A coalition simply strings us along, it tells me
Something in England just seems so fucking wrong.

I hate that a protest song’s a means of catharsis,
It’s a terrible shame that we can’t just move past this,
The dearly departed, the heroes, and the fear,
The right wing resentment at “them” being here;
It’s a fear of the unknown that comes from Whitehall,
In a country divided, they will conquer us all
So cast off the knowledge you can’t change a thing,
With ire in our hearts, and blood on our strings.

The bombs are dropping, and the protesters scattering,
We won’t stop singing ‘til these wars ain’t happening.
Which side you on, boys? Which side you on, because
Something in England just seems so fucking wrong.
Track Name: Fragile Ink
It was always a struggle,
Those two weeks out on the road,
We’d come so far since last September,
We were never going home.
The phone lines and cats’ eyes flashed makeshift therapy,
Man, I was cleaning up so well,
But every heart that beats must pause to breathe.

I’m sorry my dreams died when they left us alone,
I’m sorry you can’t weather out the eve of the storm,
And I’m so fucking sorry you feel strangled
By the same four chords
Round the same old words
In the same old travel-worn love songs.

Have you ever picked up broken teeth
With bloodied, broken fingers?
Ever felt your passion burning out?
Picked ashes from the cinders?
Undergone that suffocation every time you try to sing
Your mouth runs dry, and your eyes begin to sting
And I…

You told me we’d keep running,
I honestly thought we’d keep shining on;
I wish that we’d kept on singing,
You know we always loved those sad, sad songs
And I will never forget that life is like a cannonball sometimes;
No matter what you do, my friend,
No matter what you try.

“Well, I love you, but I’ll leave you,”
And it happened once to me,
So she gave them all another life
On the banks of the Red Sea.
Track Name: Canoes to Campfires
Sat atop a monument in the city that took me in,
But, give it a week, and I’ll be on the road again
A road I’ve travelled, unravelled, and I’ve searched hardest to find
Some distraction, or passion, if only for one night.
I prayed for some redemption for my beat-up leather shoes,
I watched that bus roll out of Kingsway,
And I squashed in next to you,
And I saw tail lights all that night, as you made my arm your rest
Inside that beat-up Fiat Panda, as it took off back out West.
In tired, tipsy dialects we sang.

You can have your anger, babe,
I still have my pride,
It’s just a crying shame I’m to blame
For fucking up your life.
I don’t know where the time has gone,
But I can tell you this:
Sometimes the best of us get tarred and feathered
When we mess with stupid kids.

I’m not one for lamentations, and I don’t sing the blues,
But when you’re faced with contradictions,
You’re forced to pick and choose
As we’re bound for life, bound for strife, for a world dimly-perceived,
We’ll keep on and on that road again, in the Spirit of the Beat.
Back in that ancient month of May.

If I could take that trip once more, if I could take it back
If you’d be my Moriarty, I could be your Kerouac,
I’ve been levelled, dishevelled, and I’ve stayed up all night long
Over-arguing those splitting hairs with the girl who did you wrong.

Sat atop a monument of a heart ripped clean away,
I’ve watched the world turn, as it’s watched me stay the same
With a confession, and a lesson, the beginnings of a song
About a girl who lives in Gorseinon, she’s a girl who’s been and gone.
Rwy’n dy golli di, my dear.
Track Name: Architects
“Look to the skies,” I told myself,
Before our years of adolescence
Piping down the valleys wild,
My first notes of experience.
Come to the realisation that life is a bullet,
And they never tell you times are hard
Until they drop you in it, and

“You’re not a winner this time,” they say,
Struggle against the current, trapped in urban decay,
I took the fight to their door,
In spite of the blood in my eyes,
I still wipe the blood from my eyes.

It’s been five long years since we sang so loud,
Under that clear sky, and cried our songs out.
It’s been five long years since the blows rained down,
Are we too far gone to start again?
Let’s start again.

“Look what I’ve built,” she told me herself
Before our years in the wilderness,
And she tested the calm of the storm
With rum, and hash, and cigarettes.
Stoic, stubborn, travel-worn,
We staggered on for miles and miles,
Dark, benighted, and forlon,
Please stay, and limp for a while.

These inherent scars pass from father to son,
‘Cause he never gave us nothing but a body to burn,
I watched her take everything with a sigh in her stride,
She still wipes the tears from her eyes.

It was all because of you that I could write it all down,
And we never gave ‘em quarter as we started to drown,
I felt the dread of the devil in my bones
As understanding bled from my wounds,
My heart became a tomb.

It’s been five long years
We’ll tally more miles on our shoes,
It’s been five long years
There’s something in the metre,
There’s something about the blues.
Track Name: Anywhere
What’s in store for us in these directions we don’t take?
We could settle for the day to day,
Or we could take these memories to our graves, so
Tape your shoes, I’ll pack a bag,
Pop the trunk, and I’ll lock the door,
And tomorrow night, we’ll be half a tank away,
Passed out on Catherine Jackson’s floor.

These are the best days of our lives,
Nine to five, we’re chasing sunsets,
Come the night, we’ll come to life.
When trial and error’s “when,” not “if,”
This engine roars, but never gives,
Will you let me be in your dreams
If I let you be in mine?
If I let you be in mine,
We’ll be just fine.

Back out on the road again,
A pub, a room, a squat, a stage,
Cloudy city pilgrims residing on a road-worn, torn-out page,
Even past the midnight hours,
As your lungs begin to sting,
We’ll play out that final number

On a beat guitar, with a dozen broken strings.

These are the best days of our lives,
Let’s give up, and run away,
We’ll leave this world behind.
Watch our dreams burn out with those Marquee lights,
In a life where travellers grow tired,
Adrenaline devours the blood,
But we’ll be fine.
Yeah, we’ll be fine.

These words are weapons in this battle for narrative,
They’re brandished with our backs against the wall
As they cave in.
There’s a record of you there, someplace,
It’s twenty miles to Portway Place and
Money, though she’s needed, she never meant a thing.
No, she never meant a thing, that’s why we sing…

These are the best days of our lives,
And when I scan the radio, I remember that sometimes.
Track Name: The Way Back
I’ve got depression,
At least, that’s what my lover says,
The problem is, I need to work
So I can pay the rent.
I’ve felt regression,
A strange, synthetic thing
That breaks the news that you’re no longer
The young hero in the songs you sing.
I could sit here, remembering the times,
The needle’s crackle as we sang out every line,
But those optimistic songs were penned
By younger, better, different men and
These days, I can’t find the time.

Growing old, and giving in
Shouldn’t mean the same thing,
Youth is wasted on the young,
The songs we sang went on and on,
I’m trying to get better
With the devil on my side,
It’s hard not being bitter
When your friends leave you behind.

We don’t get boring,
Sometimes, people just get jobs
When it’s no longer about parties,
It’s about the ones you love.
Spent our nights touring,
Wishing we could go back
To when “Walk It Off” meant something else,
Before it showed us what we lack.

Growing old, and giving in
Shouldn’t mean the same thing,
Youth is wasted on the young,
The songs we sang went on and on,
Taking risks, and asking questions,
Finding God, or learning lessons,
Snatching victory
In battles you can’t win.

I’ve got depression,
At least, that’s what my lover said
As we listened to the needle skip,
Our frozen hands no sense to grip,
We buckled up, and kept walking.
Track Name: Home From Home
As the train pulls out of Blackpool town,
I'll watch the bars and restaurants as they're all closing down
And for another year, we'll long to hear that revolution sound,
We'll learn to fly again, and we're never coming down.
For a mere four days, we're careless, and we're loud
And we drink Buckfast for breakfast and we blend in with the crowd,
And when we're old, and when we're over,
Place your head upon my shoulder
And we'll tell ourselves that we lived in the here, and the now.

We're anchorless, like novels writ by Steinbeck,
We wake up dressed like trainwrecks
And expect nothing more, or nothing less.

We always called it, "home from home,"
But home is where you are,
So let's sing our favourite reggae songs
And dance under the stars.
We always called it, "home from home,"
But home is a means to an end
So we'll sit out on those steps, my dear
And drink to the weekend
The four day weekend.

In that seaside town, the rest of life was far away,
We forget that people change as we're chasing those middays
Into early sunsets, mohawks, dreads, that B&B on Adelaide
And though the business wears away, the written word remains.
You're beautiful against the drop of boarded up department stores,
Playing up, and staying up, and sleeping rough on bedroom floors
Take me back there, years from now,
When I've given up, thrown in the towel
And maybe we can sing another anthem on the walls.

If you really wanna hear about it, we're just passing through
And after twenty years, I've learned that no one stays for more than two
So we're left with phantoms, strays, a guitar I can barely play
And there's another pilot down, another song about the blues.
If you really wanna boogie, then I'm sure I'll show you how
Forget about back in the real world, and we'll be okay for now
Instead of money worries, early sleep, your old friend, Insecurity,
The Queen of Lower Chelsea as the sky is coming down
The sky is coming down.

We always called it, "home from home,"
But home is here and there,
And I guess this life was much easier when
I thought you didn't care.