Blurry month

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Where did the last month go?

Hard to believe I haven't posted an update since mid-March, the weeks have just flown by in a blur recently. A lot has been happening since the last update and the album has taken a massive leap forward. We are still aiming for a summer release if all goes well, but we are up against it to hit that self imposed deadline. Keep your fingers crossed for August!

So what has been going on? Firstly let's talk about the drum sessions. After Pieter came on board we discussed the drums and also our respective availability in order to get things recorded. We soon found out that we only really had March in which to get the recording done due to Pieter's commitments with Knight Area and their upcoming European and US tour dates. Pieter worked incredibly hard to fit this into the tight timelines including the hours spent rehearsing and creating the drum parts as well as organising the recording engineer to record the sessions at Pieter's home rehearsal studio near Arnhem.

The first drum session took place on the 19th March. We set up the portable studio and mic'd up the drums on the Sunday evening in order to make an early start on the Monday. Paul van Zeeland, the studio engineer, set everything up and we tested the equipment on the Sunday evening to make sure we could get the sound we wanted. Everything went pretty smoothly despite a bit of a fight with a dodgy firewire cable. On Monday morning we made a reasonably early start and worked our way through the tracks. Pieter was incredibly well prepared and professional (either that or my songs are really easy to play) and things went pretty smoothly with only a few minor changes and suggestions here and there. We did have a bit of a discussion about one section of one of the new tracks; the original rhythm I had in mind didn't really sound right with the snare hit as I had it on the demo version and with Paul and I giving input Pieter tried it by replacing the snare with tom hits and everything sounded much better. It was a pretty complex part of the track so it was good to hear it back and realize that it worked well. In all, we made it through 4 of the six tracks requiring drums during this first session. After listening back to them through the week it was clear to hear how much life the new drums added to the compositions, even in their unmixed state. We called it a day with 2 more tracks left to work on the following week. You can see Pieter in action on the clip below ... mind the beard!


ArtCreative Design and Custom coding

So, the next drum recording session took place on the 25th of March. Unfortunately on the 24th of March I decided to cook some Thai food for some friends .... one thing led to another ... far too much beer .. very late night, around 2am, and of course it was the weekend when the clocks went forward and I had to be up at 6am to get the train to Arnhem. Not exactly sensible behaviour ... oh well. To make matters worse I manually changed the time on my phone, which then, during the night was automatically updated to add an extra hour so I arrived at the station in the morning an hour early, cold and massively hung over, before I realised my mistake. Fortunately the coffee place was open and a huge coffee helped things ... a bit.

I arrived at Pieter's house still a little worse for wear and within 30 minutes we were in the studio with mugs of coffee discussing where to start. The first track was fairly sedate and my head survived. The second cretaed a small drumquake which seemed to shake the entire neighbourhood, the mugs of coffee were bouncing. My head was imploding. Boy this guy hits the drums HARD! :) After a couple more takes we decided that we were finished and had a quick listen back to make sure we were happy with the takes before packing away the portable studio and mic's and heading over to Paul's home studio to listen back edit the drum tracks properly. It was a long session, especially for me having to follow the conversation in Dutch much of the time, but after about 10 hours we finished some time after midnight with the final tracks for me to take away and import into my studio. Finally we finished the night with a beer and then a much needed sleep.

In early April I made a date with Paul van Zeeland to come over to my studio to start mixing the drum tracks to get the sound right for the album. We spent a full day getting a basic mix on which to build. It was a great experience for me to watch an expert at work with the mixes. I learned a lot in one day! After that session Michel and I created a basic set of track mixes to work with and then spent some time eating and drinking wine, which we thought was well deserved. Having listened back to the running order a few times I am pretty settled on how things should run, but that is always subject to last minute change of course. I am already thinking of adding another small instrumental piece to the end of the album to bookend the whole thing, I think it will complete the flow. I am also working on a special guest guitarist appearance on one track, more news soon if that works out.

I am still struggling with the lyrics for the last 2 tracks, and concentrating on the drums and mixes meant I didn't have them ready in time for Marc to start work on the the last 2 vocals. I aim to have them done in the next week though so that Marc can get the guide vocals done and we can work towards getting a final set of vocals for the album by the end of May.

Marc and Brendan are very busy with the launch of the Riversea - Out Of An Ancient World album at the moment, so Brendan in particular has had very little time to work on the remaining keyboard parts for the album. Hoepfully once the launch is complete things will go a little faster and we can stay on track for the summer release. You can find out more about the Riversea album on the link below, be sure to give the guys your support, it's a great album featuring some fabulous musicians and I am honoured to have been involved in the project.

http://riversea-band.com/

The second weekend in April was the record fair in Utrecht so I spent a weekend with my best buddy, Rod, in Utrecht shopping for vinyl. What a fantastic weekend it was. We also managed to pack in a gig on the Saturday night in Utrecht. The fabulous Motorpsycho. What a gig, absolutely stunning! If you haven't bought or heard The Death Defying Unicorn yet, I suggest you get the hell out of the web site and check it out!! My album of the year so far and I can't see it being beaten, to be honest.

Pieter, Paul and I next arranged to meet at my studio on the 26th opf April, which was also my birthday. We spent a full day tweaking the drum sound for each track, trying to get closer to the sound we are aiming for. We did a pretty good job I think and will only need to make some more final adjustments once all of the keyboard, bass and vocal parts are also added. Generally it's sounding great already!! I really can't wait to get this thing released so you can all hear it.

The following evening I went to see Pieter in action live with Knight Area at the Boerderij in Zoetermeer. It was really great to him play live with his band, great stuff indeed and they played a great set. Karmakanic were headlining and were also enjoyable. Fabulous musicians. Beer was drunk and suddenly here I am a few days later after a bout of illness and Queens Day finally finishing this blog entry!

Anyway, I think that's enough for this update, I am sure I have missed loads of things, more news in the next few weeks as we move closer to finishing the album. In the meantime check out the sale in the web shop and grab a bargain, help us to fund the next album release! Take care everyone .... more news soon!

Oh yes, and finally ... this new album has to be released on vinyl, it's been decided!

Beer count: massive...  Leffe, Maredsous, La Chouffe, Affligem, Carolus, Westmalle

Vinyl count: Bought some fabulous vinyl at the record fair, including some great Zappa and Zeppelin bootlegs

G&T Count : Heading for rehab methinks