Northern Irish singer-songwriter Lee Rogers has taken a handful of his “more deviant and sinister new songs” – plus an inspired cover version of the Bee Gee’s classic “Stayin’ Alive” – (see the video below), to assemble the “Dark Notions” EP – with striking artwork penned by former top tattoo artist Lee.
Recording throughout 2021 for a forthcoming long-awaited second album – due spring next year – Lee has released “Hellbound” as the first single….”insistent dark blues groove”.
Lee has just been announced as the support to compatriot and long time fan Foy Vance on his mainland European and US tours in April and May 2022, and of Lee’s new work, Foy says: “It’s good to have Lee back. Who would have thought that such a wild man could age like wine? I have never heard him sounding better”.
“Dark Notions” is produced by Gareth Dunlop, a fellow Northern Irish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, recorded in Dunlop’s Belfast studio, and mixed by Grammy- winning engineer Alastair McMillan. The EP is out now from digital outlets, with a 10″ vinyl version due soon.
Hailing from Carrickfergus, just north of Belfast, Rogers spent his formative years growing up under the dark cloud of the troubles. His musical inspiration was drawn from classic voices such as Bill Withers, Marc Cohn and Tom Waits.
Rogers’ own voice and sound pulls from the vast well of timeless Americana, underpinned by autobiographical writings about his life.
Having signed to Belfast-based Zenith Cafe Records who released his debut album “Drawing Clocks” in 2006, Rogers suddenly withdrew from music, turning his creativity towards tattooing and opening his own studio in County Antrim in 2008.
He became a multi-award winning tattooist, and only made a return to the recording studio in 2020. The label that originally signed him reached out and they picked up where they had left off all those years before.
Drawing on the skills of his recently ended day-job, Rogers himself has created the distinctive artwork for the EP and its associated single releases. “My work as a tattooist flows over into my music quite a lot. I was lucky to have lifted a few awards over those years and earned the respect of my peers.
“I had lots of fun with plenty of good memories and food for writing. There are design sheets that you find in tattoo studios called ‘Flash Sheets’; skin coloured paper, old looking, with 5 or 6 designs on them and minimum colour palette that a customer can choose a design from before committing to it being in their skin forever.
“The thought came to me to create a design for each of the songs on the EP, so I sat down and started drawing. That ‘Flash Sheet’ idea became the cover art for ‘Dark Notions’. It was a relief to know I could still draw old school style tattoo art!”
Photo: Ken Haddock