Some Notes On Writing


  • EVERYTHING HAS A NARRATIVE, a story of its own – and it isn’t necessarily the story that we think it is, and it isn’t the story that often we’d like it to be. With this in mind, for example – in the songs/pieces I’m writing currently, my ‘way in’ past the surface narrative is that of utilising automatic process  – initially fitting phrases together primarily for their ‘sound’, their musicality. Despite (perhaps) appearances to the contrary, for me as a writer the narrative ultimately is the element in all this that I consider to be the most important of all … because for me the whole business of writing is ALWAYS about communication. Tho, equally, that ‘communication’ would seem sometimes to appear to be a little incoherent and kinda difficult to place, the finished result is usually all the better for it.
  • For me, writing often begins with whatever particular words and phrases I ‘feel’ suit the mood and rhythms of the music. It always soon grows outward from here, however –  and all the while as I build the thing, considered ambiguity and multi layering are always to the forefront of my mind.
  • As I see it, the aim of the writing is to draw attention to a range of different phenomena: it is never just about cause and effect. You might say this is a protest of sorts – against those who would have you reduce the richness of experience into boxes of labels … ‘‘angst’’, ‘‘ennui’’, ‘‘happy’’ ‘‘sad’’ etc, etc. These places are real enough, they the places where people live / have their being – but such containment can’t be anything but reductive and unhelpful.
  • Next, all of this is crafted (of course!) and refined into songs, into some songs more than others. Songs are a mix of music and thought – they are a register of feelings that exist beyond definition – a wholly different place from the areas where ‘beliefs’ and attitudes rule the roost, those received wisdoms that run us all like automatons. It is music that enables/facilitates this, much more so words ever could – there are whole schools of thought that posit the idea that the very first vocal utterances were more akin to song and speech.
  • In writing, my feeling is that the songs, words and music here are NOT discreet entities – they are elements in the same discourse – where each casts certainty or doubt, illumination or shade, upon the other.
  • And, the overarching aim of the writing is to communicate one thing – that sometimes you make decisions for yourself on an obscure level: something in you is WISE, old and wise – wise enough to take care of you.
  • Always, the thing is to paint with words – effect is important and pivotal to the meaning: but meaning is essential. It is the most important factor in the writing – but also, importantly meaning is NOT fixed in place – and I do not see that as being the aim of art. The beauty of all this lies in its ambiguity.

        – October 2023 .


Martyn Bates




Martyn Bates has been half of the innovative post-punk duo Eyeless in Gaza, based in the West Midlands, since their inception in 1980. Their early albums were released (and since rereleased) by Cherry Red, who have also issued several compilations, with more recent work on labels such as Soleilmoon,  Monopol, Sub Rosa, Document, Integrity, and Ambivalent Scale.

He has also released several solo albums, starting with the lovely 10″ album Letters Written LP. Other collections include musical interpretations of James Joyce’s poems, noisier music as Kodak Strophes, reinventions of Murder Ballads with Mick Harris, and collaborative albums with Max Eastley, Anne Clarke, and as Twelve Thousand Days. He has also had two collections of his lyrics published as books, contributed tracks to many compilation albums, and reissued his early experimental solo work as The Migraine Inducers.


The official Eyeless in Gaza and Martyn Bates page is at

Eyeless in Gaza’s bandcamp site is at

Martyn Bates bandcamp site is at





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