Overworked and underpaid

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Overworked and underpaid

Things have been so crazy since the last blog update that I have completely lost track of what has been going on! So, forgive me if I ramble and jump around the timeline of the last couple of weeks, it's been exhausting, exhilarating and .... well ... manic!

So,. what's been happening? Well, I guess by now you have read the news about Pieter joining Nine Stones Close for the new album, if not you can read about it here. As you can imagine, I am very excited about this, it's fantastic news for us all and I can't wait to hear the results. Over the last few weeks we have been discussing how things might work, talking through the demo tracks and also meeting for the first time. Logistics are a little tricky and we have to move fast to fit everything into our respective schedules so Pieter has been working hard on the demos and I have been finalising the album to a point where we can record the drums. This has involved a fair amount of swearing and general frustration in the studio as I found that exporting a metronome track to audio was not possible. This meant building my own midi click tracks for each track .... time consuming and ultimately tedious, not the glamorous side of the recording process. Luckily my trusty studio engineer was on hand to help things along. Just as well as I cannot work with midi and am a self confessed midiot. The end result is that I think we are pretty much ready to go for the drum sessions which are starting the coming weekend. Wish us luck! Obviously a full report will follow from those sessions. It's exciting for me to see how this will be done and how it will all come together.

On the vocal front I managed to get some more lyrics finished and off to Marc. Marc has spent a couple of sessions in his studio now working on the new album tracks and they are starting to come together. Tracks with working titles of 'new song again', 'angrybirds' and 'epic monster' (I kid you not) now all have lyrics, vocals and proper titles. So far we have the following tracks with vocals, two of which are final vocals:

The Distance

A Secret

One Eye On The Sunrise

The vocals are sounding really great already and I am hoping to have the final 2 sets of lyrics completed in the next week or so for in time for Marc's next studio session.

On the Keyboard front, no news yet other than technical issues, the keys so far on A Secret and 3 other tracks are sounding absolutely fabulous!

Some guide bass lines have also been laid down and will be finalised at a later date .... things are moving fast!

Last weekend Michel joined me in the studio again for 2 full days. It's been a real slog to get all of these ideas out and recorded and ready for the rest of the guys to work on, thank goodness Michel has been there to help or this album would be WAY behind schedule. He keeps me productive and on track..... as well as making sure that I get the best takes. Sometimes a look is enough to let me know it wasn't up to scratch, sometimes the delete key has been hit before I even get 'the look' :)

After the midi click tracks had been created on Saturday we spent the rest of the day working on the last few guitar solos. The solo for One Eye On The Sunrise was a bit of a challenge as I struggled to avoid the old cliche licks, finally I nailed the end of the solo that had been causing the problems and its sounds .... odd ... but great, at least I think it does. After that the last few solos for the albums flowed pretty well, everything was sounding good and my finger tips were slightly shredded from fighting with the guitar. It was time to call it a day.... recording wise.

I cooked Hainanese Chicken for dinner, which is always a treat, and washed it down with vast quantities of Belgian beer. far too much actually, as me and my drinking buddy, who had joined us for dinner, washed down loads of bottles of fabulous Belgian beer. The beer count this week was off the scale!

Sunday began with the inevitable hangover and fuzzy head, which was soon cured by a walk in the sunny morning to the supermarket to re-stock the beer fridge. Priority 1 of course. I think we also bought some food.

The sole purpose of the Sunday was to record some cello for two of the album tracks. In the afternoon we were joined by the lovely and talented Katy Bell. Katy is a friend of a friend and a wonderfully talented concert cellist. It was the first time we had ever met and it was incredibly kind of her to give up her time for free to have a go at the songs. Having never recorded cello before I was worried that the results might not be that great, but after we had made a test recording we realised we were on to a winner! The sound was wonderful. A superb instrument, plus a great player, plus a decent microphone equals success! The intrument was a 19th Century English cello made in Oxford in around 1840. Beautiful. It sounded incredible too. I can't believe how lucky I am to have been able to record it. Hopefully what we did record was enough and we don't have to re-do anything, I guess I will know when I create a rough mix later this week.

The cello on One Eye On The Sunrise was a bit of an adventure for us all as Katy improvised and we tried different approaches. Luckily Marc's guide vocal arrived in the evening and we were able to listen to how things fitted together. One of the sections where we multitracked some cello parts really sounds brilliant, I can't wait for everyone to hear it.

Finally a late finish in the studio, followed by a few glasses of wine, slow cooked harissa lamb, home made red pepper hummus and roasted mediterranean vegetables was enough to finish off a busy but successful weekend.

Onwards and upwards .... watch this space for mmore updates mext week!

Beer Count: La Chouffe, Mc Chouffe, Maredsuous Bruin, Leffe Blond, Karmeliet Tripel  .... in various quantities.

Wine Count: Enough

Later ....