After some soul searching, former Midnight Youth lead singer has emerged with a solo album - one he hopes strikes a chord somewhere between The Shins and Paul Simon.

Strolling down a long concrete driveway, unassuming suburbia piling up on either side, you hardly expect to come across a musician's den.

But tucked away, there's a small flat where Jeremy Redmore has been working his way from band frontman to solo singer-songwriter for the past 18 months.

It's a peaceful spot - sunshine streams in, there's a couch for contemplation, and books, family photos, and trinkets decorate the space. Plus there's a simple set-up for demos and playback: speakers, laptop, a mic, and two acoustic guitars resting neatly in a rack.

"Sometimes I don't feel like I fit a lot of the musician cliches," laughs Redmore as he pours cups of tea.


Read more: Album review: Jeremy Redmore, Clouds are Alive

Perhaps the den isn't as rock 'n' roll as you might expect from a guy who spent six years at the helm of local unabashed pop-rock giants Midnight Youth, but it's been the perfect place for him to effectively start over in a musical sense.

The break-up of Midnight Youth came as a bit of a shock to most fans in September 2012, but it had been on the cards for some time. They'd released their second album, World Comes Calling, in 2011, and spent a lot of energy touring it and pushing it internationally, but the band were no longer happy. "We did that whole cycle, we fully rolled the dice, went round the world, all that kind of stuff, and at the end of that we said, 'Let's have a break', because people were just a bit miserable. It had been pretty intense."

Redmore had been feeling like things weren't quite right for some time. The bravado-fuelled rock god act didn't come easily to him, and he was writing songs that didn't fit within the Midnight Youth sphere. So he decided to do some solo recording on the side and see what happened.

"I actually started this album before I left the band. In the middle of 2012, I recorded three songs with Wayne Bell, Brett Adams and Marcus Lawton at Roundhead Studio, and it went really well."

Too well for Midnight Youth, really. Redmore loved the experience, and it gave him some confidence.

"In a way, that first recording session showed me that I could do it myself. It was a bad thing for Midnight Youth, but a good thing for me" he smiles. Writing, recording, and producing a solo album was still an intimidating prospect, though.

He'd grown up singing in high-school productions, and entered Rockquest in a death metal band in seventh form ("We did covers of Satyricon, and System of a Down. I was really just screaming, not singing") but he never contemplated writing a song, until his mum sadly passed away. "That happened halfway through seventh form and, for some weird reason, this desire to write songs came out. I remember within a week of it happening, I said to Dad, 'Can you show me some chords on your guitar?' And I wrote a two-chord song straight away."

He didn't suddenly want to be a rock star - he studied history and politics at university, and ended up working as a sports reporter.

But he did join a Tool-influenced band (called Redmore), and when that band broke up, he looked around to see what else might be on offer.

The story of how he joined Midnight Youth is well documented, and he has fond memories of those early years.

"I guess there just came a point when I realised it didn't feel like me any more, and it probably sounds a bit selfish, but I think people should feel like they're being themselves when they're exploring their passions."

So what does Jeremy Redmore sound like when he's being himself?

Well after the Roundhead session, he realised he still wanted a band sound, but didn't have enough money to keep going with Bell, so produced the album himself.

He went about collecting a new session band to record with (Jesse Sheehan, Matthias Jordan, Haddon Smith, and Adam Tobeck were enlisted) and went into Dave Dobbyn's studio in Grey Lynn.

The songs all started as acoustic demos, but the finished product is rich with touches of country and folk, pop flourishes, and even some rock riffs - Redmore took each song as it came, and worked out a stylistic direction.

"I guess when I was writing this album, before I went to record it, I was thinking I wanted the impression of somewhere between The Shins and Paul Simon. Having that storytelling vibe, but also a bit of energy.

"I hope this album comes across as something really positive, and I hope it sounds imaginative - I guess that's what the title implies. I didn't want it to be an album about break-ups and drama and angst, I'd had enough of that. It's a reflection of my personality - there's moments of introspection, but on the whole it's positive."

Who: Jeremy Redmore, ex Midnight Youth front man
What: Debut solo album Clouds Are Alive
Where and when: Performing tonight at The Tuning Fork, Vector Arena, Auckland.

- TimeOut