Back to the Studio

This weekend I paid a return visit to Woodworm Studios with my friends and band mates. We've been working on some new songs for a while and foolishly thought we might get all five of them recorded in two days.
It didn't go too badly. We got all the drums, bass, main guitar parts and guide vocals done on day one. Although, by the time we were putting down the final song we were all so tired it affect our playing. The last song had undergone a major transformation in the last few days and simply wasn't ready.
Our trusty drummer went home to sort his car out and we remaining three stayed on for 
Indian food and a late night chat. I love my friends. We always seem to be able to pull out some new line of esoteric conversation when normal folk would be fast asleep or watching telly.
On day two we added obscene amounts of extra guitar and exactly the right amount of fabulous vocals. By the time that was done it was time to go home, a quick mix was made and we left, ready to return soon.
With one big exception I was pleased with my bass playing but I was disproportionately happy with the touch guitar part on one song. It's not the cleverest piece of playing but it worked well with the song.
The next trip to the studio will be all about guitar solos, possible vocal harmonies and mixing.


Mustang Sally? No thanks.

Regular readers of my blog will know that a few years ago my friend Rich and I gave up playing in covers bands to concentrate on making the music we wanted to hear/play/write.

It's been going well. We found a fabulous drummer and then an equally wonderful singer. We've written songs we're proud of that are both catchy and complex. We have put our hearts into this.

As this band plays original music, rather than covers this is making getting gigs quite hard. Even for support slots. One venue has, in its conditions... "Do you play songs that everyone likes? We have a party crowd that enjoy a mix of classic indie, rock, funk & soul covers from 70’s to current day to dance to. (We’re happy for bands play up to 4 songs of their own material)"

Do we play songs everyone likes? Maybe. But we won't know if we can't play at your venue. Sigh.

We could expand our list of covers, which would be easy given our history, but that would be missing the point. On the bright side we are booked back into the studio to record more of the songs you probably won't hear in certain venues.


When marnie was there

A short while ago I picked up a book for my daughter. I was drawn to it because it was to be made into the (possibly last) Studio Ghibli film and I have been a fan of their films for a long time. The film still hasn’t made it to the UK yet – we would have to pay a lot of money to get the un-dubbed Japanese version of the DVD – but the story appealed.

Freya is reading a lot at the moment. She is taking in all kinds of genres and is open to and surprised by story forms that I might have become a little jaded by. She hasn’t read Tom’s Midnight Garden yet and so, I thought, might be pleasantly surprised by how a story like that pans out.

So I bought the book and Freya wasn’t interested in it. She had too many other, more tempting books available and it turned out that I had misjudged her reading age slightly. Not wanting the book to gather dust I read it myself.

When Marnie was there was written in the 1960s and describes a world which is beginning a process of accelerated change. The references to people watching telly make it sound like pastime that had only recently been a novelty. Almost no one makes a phone call. The rhythm of the day is governed by the light and the tides.

The subject matter of the book is a girl who doesn’t quite fit in but who, maybe with a tiny bit of magic, finds a way to be happy. OK, I’m not a girl, but this appealed greatly to me. I loved being in this world. Because I had read Tom’s Midnight Garden I could see what was coming. Or at least I thought I could. But the dynamics of the story still swept me along and I even gasped with surprise in one of the last chapters. This was reading for pleasure and I look forward to seeing what Studio Ghibli make of it. More importantly, I can’t wait to see the look on my daughter’s face when she makes this discovery for the first time for herself.


Holiday books

To read...


I am now on holiday. This means I will be stressing about dayjob related things without being able to do anything about it. But wait, there is an up side. Two weeks with my family, a stack of books to read and a chance to 'relax'. Let's see how that goes.



Some years ago I wrote a blog post about playing fretless. You can find it here. Recently, with New Accelerator I’ve been playing more fretless than ever, and exploring what’s possible on the instrument. That’s what’s possible for me, not what’s possible generally. I’m not that good.

I passing comment in a recent rehearsal had be trying out an octaver on certain parts of a song. If you don’t know what I’m talking about an octaver (usually) creates a note an octave below the one you’re playing. On the higher notes of a bass it creates a really pleasing, fat down.

While mid song, octaver on, a name popped into my head. Keith Wilson. He was the bass player in a version of the seminal English band, Squeeze. Keith played a fretless Fender Jazz and produced a wonderful, lyrical growling tone from his instrument. I’d seen him in concert with Squeeze and playing in a trio with Jools Hollland and Gilson Lavis. I loved his tone and the way he played but, after that version of Squeeze broke up I never heard him again. Keith used to say, “every note is torn from me,” and I tried to put a bit of his style into my playing last night.


Auto correct

About six months ago I upgraded the software on my mobile and embraced the world of (supposedly intelligent) auto correct. It did help with my spelling mistakes but at a cost. Whenever I wrote a word it thought was wrong I would have to fight the software to get my own way.

Recently I found myself giving in and letting it have its way, at the expense of my original meaning.

That was the point where I deleted the software, turned off autocorrect and felt a lot happier.

Spelling is important, but not that important. Meaning is key.


Erase, reboot, destroy

I have been re-reading William Gibson's 'The Peripheral' and marvelling at the man's imagine. Not that the idea of a future where a mysterious server can connect people to a possible past time so that people from 60 years apart can interact using peripheral devices. No, it's more that Gibson can imagine a future where computers can do anything without slowing down or breaking.

I am having laptop issues. About the only satisfying interaction I've had with it this week is managing to click the button that started the seven level erasing of the hard drive before it goes to the repairers. that's not paranoia, just an expression of control that isn't there.

Now I'm wondering if the laptop hasn't become a metaphor.