Adrian One and Adrian Two


Adrian One and Adrian Two

Well that was a crazy few days.
Finally we got the new album rehearsals fully underway. With over 2 hours of new music demos ready it was time to test them out together and work on the final arrangements. It's hard to describe how great it was to actually all be in the same room together working on the new songs, it was inspiring and the more we played together the better it got. The main aim was to work on a few of the songs which may need final arrangement changes and most of all to work on the vocal melodies and arrangements together. This meant revealing my latest unfinished lyrics, luckily no-one seemed to care what the hell they were playing and singing along with haha.

Having spent the week readying demo materials, restringing guitars and organising everything for the sessions, I headed off to Arnhem on Friday morning without my earplugs and portable recorder. Genius. Just after 6am with a couple of hours sleep under my belt, I headed off to Pieter's home studio in Arnhem. Not a great start, but hey, sleep is optional at times like these. Luckily my dreamlike state induced me to write a set of lyrics on the train journey which fit perfectly with one of the new longer pieces of music. Result!!

After a few cups of coffee, we got started and warmed up by running through Traces, the first time we have ever played it, and it sounded pretty decent for a first attempt. After that we moved on to working on one of the new pieces that needed more arrangement work. It's a tricky one with some strange timings and transitions and some interesting rhythms. Working together on it helped push parts of it into unexpected new directions and a new arrangement was born! Pieter took the strange bridge section and made it into something new with inspired drum patterns. It's a very different sounding Nine Stones Close track and I can't wait for everyone to hear it. To be honest the new stuff has moved into new territories muscially and sonically, and has progressed on from the last album, which is always the point .. never stand still ... keep moving ... keep progressing.

Adrian (Aio) O'Shaughnessy arrived in the mid afternoon from Ireland and after some manly handshakes, hugs and hellos, we warmed up with a run through of Traces and half of Thicker Than Water before starting work on the vox arrangements. Things went pretty damn well, to be honest. We managed to get 2 new complete vocal arrangements done and rehearsed the tracks together live. One new track, titled "Leaves", is sounding particularly awesome and we are all very excited about that one. We recorded couple of live versions for reference and then went on playing and working on tracks through to midnight before calling it an exhausted day and retiring for beers.

I admit having underestimated how much work was still to do, and how much we could achieve in one day, not to mention underestimating how difficult these songs are to play. That said, we made great progress in one day and the cold beer tasted good after all that hard work. Chris, Pieter and I sat around until the early hours talking music, listening to Johnny Cash (yes, you heard that right), and finally topping the night off with the underrated Yes masterpiece, Big Generator. Trevor Rabin is simply a musical genius and I don't care what anyone else says, that line up of Yes was as good as any other, in its own way.  

After collapsing for about 3 hours of sleep it was time to head back to my own home studio in Leiden to continue working on the new tracks and vocal arrangements. I never sleep well away from home so I was awake ridiculously early and took the opportunity to play the guitar for a bit. Unfortunately Pieter was unable to join us on the Saturday so we decided to work acoustically. Fortunately we arrived to a very warm welcome, bacon butties, tea and cakes courtesy of Nine Stones Close's catering and hospitality director. We are so well looked after it would make every other band jealous :) Michel Simons also joined us to work the controls, and due to my amazing organizational skills Paul van Zeeland was also there (oops). Yes I screwed up and wasted their time. I owe them both. Two men for one button is never a good thing.

Initially we worked on the vocal for another new track, which proved to be a very difficult one to arrange. Maybe it was my lyrics ... shouts of encouragement like "wow, that's a lot of words" and "can we cut some more words" and "what the hell is this song about anyway?" really helped. Yes, it is a weird lyric, so what? Eventually though we did end up with what we wanted and it's sounding very nice indeed. Having been playing the 12 string for about 3 hours I was surprised that my fingers had not been shredded. Thank heavens for my beautiful Faith guitar, it's simply a joy to play. Damn I love that guitar.

Having battled with the song for hours I once again realised I had underestimated how much we could get done in one  weekend. Sometimes I am an idiot. No scratch that, most of the time. We decided to have a bit of break from the intensity of the writing and to play though a couple of old songs acoustically, for a bit of fun. So we did a couple of takes of Traces and a couple of takes of One Eye On The Sunrise (video below), both off the cuff and with about 10 minutes preparation. We filmed it on my crappy camera and recorded it for you all to have a listen to. It was good fun to do and a nice way to finish the afternoons work. Now it was really time to relax together.

Once again the catering and entertainment director had excelled. Masses of gorgeous home made Indian food, Lamb dopiaza, chicken vindail, tarka dal, vegetable dishes, poppadums, dips etc etc ... awesome, followed by lemon meringue pie. Delicious. The band were a very happy bunch and my crap organization was just about forgotten. We shared loads of laughs and stories, to a soundtrack of great music from Elbow, Beck, Zep and more. I am truly blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful, talented people. Soon the beers were flowing ... and the red wine was damaged again. Michel sensibly decided to call it a night before things got too out of hand. The hospitality director suggested Mojitos and things degenerated from there. Aio and I sat listening to music, plotting, planning and enthusing until just after 5am, when he sensibly suggested it might be a good idea to call it a day. I wasn't convinced, but decided to go along with the idea. Half a bottle of Talisker may have been damaged during this episode.

After a huge amount of sleep again, it was time to nurse the hangover, drink coffee, eat fried egg sanwiches and head out to pick up our boat "Traces" for the summer. Typically, that means rain, of course. It was a nice end to the weekend and cruise around Leiden was in order to finish the weekend off.

Onwards and upwards, this is only the beginning of the new chapter ....

Beer count: Loads
Whiskey Count: Talisker .. a lot
Mojito Count: Shedloads
Sleep count: about 6 hours in total