At the end of 2014 my wife and I relocated from London to Montana with our cat.
I’d pretty much retired from making music and sold off all of my studio gear and all but my most treasured instruments to help fund the transatlantic transition.
Two years later, the dog whistle became audible again.
So I kitted out a pretty simple home studio with a “less is more” philosophy; nothing very fancy. I got it all set up with a DAW and then looked at it for a few months.
I got the distinct impression the whole studio looked back at me with not a little pity.
I’d started stringing together some chord progressions on an acoustic guitar and then recorded a few half hearted tracks, mostly to remember how to use to software again.
I have to admit it had come a long way in a few short years.
I’d been listening a lot to “Ram” by Paul & Linda McCartney, and got a bit obsessed with “Ziggy Stardust.” They were both recorded around the same time.
There is a fearless creativity and production simplicity to both records.
I set out to record today’s equivalent of a 4-track recording.
I knew I wanted it to be pretty organic, stripped right back to essentials and not covering ground I’d covered before.
I wanted it to sound like a 1970s record.
I completed the songs in their entirety first before writing any lyrics or developing any melodic structures. I’d never done that before and it was actually both liberating (I didn’t have to worry about words and singing) and terrifying (until it came time to worry about words and singing). When the backing tracks came into focus it was intimidating to try to think up themes that were equal to the task of what I felt were some really solid backing tracks.
My plan to do it solo went out the window when Michael Woodman (Thumpermonkey) more or less insisted that I re-record the tracks with real drums and real instruments, not the drum machine and MIDI I’d been using.
Shackles off I now had a drummer, brought in a cello player pianist and formed a backing singer group from the local high school chorus.
So much for plans.
Chris Baumann at Black National recorded the drums and bass tracks.
I took them back to my studio and finished off the tracks, then went back to Chris at Black National to record the vocals.
I was still working on some of the vocal parts between takes.
In this day and age of song-orientation rather than albums, some of these tracks probably sound a little odd and lonely in isolation.
But in the context of an album, played in order – hit side A then refill your drink and flip it over to side B, and I think you’ve got a tidy little record to listen to.