Sing Sing Sing!



... now it's time to sing, sing, sing!

I didn't get time to update my blog last week so loads of things have happened since the last update. I spent the whole of the last 2 weekends in the studio with help from Michel again at the controls. Last weekend we started the day working on a piece that Brendan had written a while ago. I was intending to use it as a kind of instrumental interlude but was suddenly struck by an idea for a song arrangement after listening back to it and noodling around on the guitar. After a little more noodling the composition started to come together very quickly. I wrote a verse and chorus and arranged the song structure. I often work like this ... writing on the fly. By the middle of the afternoon the entire track was done ... choruses, verses, all electric, ebow  and acoustic guitars, including harmony parts. In fact, everything but the guitar solo. After a quick tea break it was time to tackle that tricky beast ... the guitar solo. What is it about guitar solos? What makes a great guitar solo, well; .... great? For me it's all about the feeling, the touch, the way it fits with the melody and arrangement of the song, the sound, and some other, indefinable quality. I often find that an early take is the best solo, when you are in the song, writing it, living it. It's not always the case though. Coming back to a song weeks later to record a solo can often be very difficult. I find that if I do that I have to play the song through a number of times, play the chords, the rhythm parts and get into the groove of the song completely before I start trying to record a solo. That way I get into the whole mood and feeling of the song and I am in the right zone to play a solo. On the other hand, sometimes you have to really fight with a solo to get what you want. This was one of those fights. The solo for this new track took me about an hour and a half of constant playing, changing ideas, deleting and re-recording, to finally get what I wanted. Poor old Michel must have been about to quit from the pain of it all. For a while both of us thought that it wasn't happening, then suddenly a different approach to the start of the solo opened up the whole flow and finally I got what I wanted. In the end it was worth the battle! At least I believe it was.

After weeks of my wife cooking for us on these recording weekends I had offered to cook some Thai food for Michel. Anyone who knows me will know that Thai food cannot happen without the intake of Belgian beer. So, the cooking process was started with some Maredsous. On the menu was Larb (a Northern Thai warm pork salad dish) and a red chicken curry. The beers continued to flow as we enjoyed the spicy feast. A quick break from drinking and eating gave us enough time to do a quick mix down of the new track and then we were back to the table for dessert. Home made creme brulee and mango ice cream, courtesy of my better half. The rest of the evening was spent drinking gin and tonic, watching the Opeth Roundhouse DVD and laughing our asses off watching Jinsy! Great stuff.

Sunday was spent creating mixes for the rest of the guys to work on and completing a set of lyrics ready for Marc to do his stuff in his studio on the Monday. Finally, I managed to get a set finished and off to Marc after a chat on Skype. By Wednesday I had the demo vocal back plus another demo vocal for the track I finished on Saturday. They are sounding great already, just a few tweaks here and there required. The first complete song is now tentatively entitled 'Distance'.



Soon the weekend was here again and Saturday was booked in for recording again. I started the day with the customary cornflakes and coffee and before I knew it Michel was here and we were back in the studio again. Initially we started work on a piano piece written by Brendan. The original idea was to have classical guitar on it, but it just wasn't working. I tried everything after that on acoustic, 12 string, ebow, electric, but nothing was adding to the piece. Musically it's so strong that the guitars were detracting from it. I am now sticking with my original thought that it needs a cello. Back to the drawing board on that one.

Bacon and egg butties arrived at the right time and gave us a tasty interlude. After that we patched a few guitars and then worked on a solo for another track. I think we nailed that one! Then ... the pain ... I started work on a guitar solo for another track from a few weeks ago. It was painful. I had one of those sessions wherre I just couldn't come up with anything that worked, just couldn't get inside the song and play. After a couple of hours of frustration we decided to call it a day, especially as the food smells from the kitchen were very enticing, and I heard the pop of a cork!

After a hearty and tasty meal, wine was swapped for gin and tonic again. I played the new Motorpsycho album (The Death Defying Unicorn) for Michel at great volume. If you haven't heard that one yet, then do your ears a favour and get it; Michel was converted after side one! It's absolutely bloody fantastic, my album of the year so far, and it will take some beating, I can tell you. After that, more gin and tonic was required, more Opeth, some IT Crowd, more gin and tonic, and finally, sleep.


The current status is that all of the album is written and arranged! The only thing now is to get the rest of the guitar solos done, the keyboards, the lyrics and vocals, the bass re-recorded, the drums re-recorded, artwork arranged, mixing, mastering, pressing etc.... so .... almost there!!

Beer count: Maredsous Blond, Leffe Bruin, La Chouffe, Affligem Dubbel (not sure how many of each though)

Gin and Tonic count: lost count