Writing the tenth album part 1: Are we really going to do this?
Towards the end of 2021, as the winter hinted at its arrival, we were sporadically meeting for practise. We’d belt out some set lists that we had each written, Stu went for some of the solo laden songs, Derek dug out a range of rarely played tunes from over the years, and Greg went for the early stuff.
It was fun, but we wanted to move on. Lockdown was still with us, there was little chance of playing live, and to be honest it hasn’t been on the horizon for various reasons.
One night, as we shivered in the cold night, enjoying fresh air and a break from the masks we started to have a chat about new recordings. Many ideas zipped around our heads, genres eps, balls out rock, another live acoustic album? Nah, another studio album first. ‘What about a double album then?’
And that got me thinking, could we write an album of piledrivers laden with guitars and an album of subtle acoustic thinkers. I started writing (pic of guitar and lyric book) and there was time as we were mostly confirmed to the house and hours of Netflix.
The tunes came think and fast, everything gets recorded to the phone using RecForge. Every little idea, every lick. What was missing was lyrics, hit a wee wall there.
After a few weeks though the songs were developed to a basic level, and just at the turn of the year I let the guys hear them at a rare practise. The response was lukewarm at best.
I’m guessing the mood had changed a little, especially from Stu who wanted something a little ‘darker’. The ideas were ‘too happy’ according to my lifelong guitar partner.
I wasn’t defeated though, I made a few changes and stored some of ‘happier’ tunes for another day.
Time flew by, winter arrived and departed as quickly and the world around us was changing once more, the war in Ukraine played on my mind, (and a guilty realisation that wars are taking place across the world, when it gets closer to home you start to wake up to this fact.)
What was playing out on out screens started to creep into my, lyrics and the ideas I had developed. We finally arranged a date to have a writing session. And it would be in Derek’s Slange bar.
April 1st 2022 Unnamed tenth album, writing begins.
I had about 7 or 8 songs, with printed lyrics, progressions, probably the most prepared I had been before writing with the guys. So, I was quietly confident.
Even in our mid 40s there was still excitement when Derek pulled up to collect the gear and myself, it had been weeks since I had seen him, but we just take off from where we left. We picked up Stu, he strode towards the car looking ready for a gig.
The bar is a cracking wee room with a tap, no half measures here. I started to set up, there was a buzz in the air. Greg arrived, the pints poured, and Derek, like our kids when we take them on a long drive was asking ‘are you not set up yet?’.
Once we had set up the Korg D3200 I opened the folder of lyrics and played these songs.
1. My Internal Wasted Mind
2. Fire in the Garden
3. Science Will Save Me
4. Bad Things Happen When You’re Bored
5. If Heaven Exists, It’s In Little Bits
6. I Try to Be Strong
We weren’t finished there.
7. Derek’s Piano riff
8. Gregs bass riff
9. Dereks guitar riff
All songs were recorded live, in stripped back acoustic form, and after not playing for so long there was an energy that we hadn’t had in a while. I Used the trusted Blumlien technique to capture the room while adding DI for the body of the guitar sound. Later Derek would add some keys.
We hadn’t had this much fun in ages. Perhaps since the ‘Haddows’ days of Firkin Outburst only this time we had recordings to remember the songs!
All the basic ideas I had went well, writing lyrics beforehand helped the structure, the guys helped bring dynamics and even changing the tempo of one or two tracks really brought out the songs. If Heaven Exist was practically transformed by the change of pace; the lower tempo allowed the lyrics to breath.
Dusk started to settle around us, the warm glow of the lights in the bar was perhaps a side effect of the ale, regardless the atmosphere was great as we shifted towards Greg and Derek’s ideas.
They came out with some really nice riffs and for the first time in an age we started to jam, one off moments caught in the recording. Greg adding some lyrics to the mix.
The first writing session was a success, sure the weeks that followed it was really hard for us to get together, but with the recording down we can develop them on our own and bring it together when we meet again.
Another couple of sessions like this and we’ll be off on another recording adventure…