Ade's Blog

3 years

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Sunday, 08 November 2015 13:44

3 years


So...
Finally ...
The new album is finished ...
well ... almost ...
Just the final mix tweaks and mastering and we are done.
Quite an achievement again, and it's been some journey this time.
Ch ch ch ch changes!  .. bandmates, minds, attitudes, singers, responsibilities, and even pants.
As I have written before, at times I did not think that we would make it to the end of this album, and I came close to throwing in the towel a number of times. Now, listening back to the final album, I am so glad we all persevered. I couldn't be happier with the outcome. It sounds amazing, thanks to the great deal of work that went into every minute of the music and the hours and hours of mixing and tweaking. It's been a labour of love ... and war. I have had to fight with this one all the way.


What can I tell you about the album then? Well, it's dark, it's different and it's done. It's called LEAVES. It has a fantastic new voice, it has an angry, semi-depressed mentalist doing the writing and twatting about on the guitar a bit; it has great young talents adding flavours and brilliance and kicking my arse into new gears, it has a powerhouse engine room drum maestro driving it all along. It has weight (and not just my beer belly), it sounds amazing thanks to our brilliant engineer/mixer/producer, and it has it's own sound. A sound I like. I hope you will too.
Lyrically and musically it's been influenced by what is going on around me in the world, and my own reactions to it. Lyrics have been written in snatches as inspiration struck ... middle of the night, walking through fields in the summer, train journeys, flights, hotel rooms and at home over breakfast with a hangover. Inspiration strikes randomly. I always struggle with lyrics. I guess it's similar to how many people don't like the sound of their own voice when recorded and played back to them, it's like a horrible distortion of the perception of yourself. There have been many re-writes and changes along the way, particularly for 2 of the songs, with the last lyric being re-written again even on the day of recording the final vocal. I think I am happy with them now ... for now anyway.
So, "when can we buy it!?" I hear you all cry. All 5 of you. Well, there is still much to do to prepare for release. Final mix and master, artwork, pressing, organising a home for the release and distribution, and co-ordinating everything. I can't wait until the finished item is in my hands and then I can finally rest more easily. There will be promo video clips and things on the way in the coming weeks, and hopefully the lead pop single video, destined for the top of the chart! (not sure which chart that is though). It's all happening.


but first ... I am going on a much needed vacation with my wife in December. It's been a crazy year and a few weeks of downtime is needed to recharge all batteries before embarking on releasing my latest musical creation into the world. I hope that everyone who has supported Nine Stones Close so far will enjoy this new progression of the music. I am pretty sure it will confuse some people, confound, surprise and challenge others at times, but it's still Nine Stones Close, it still has the Nine Stones Close sound, it's heartfelt and sincere, and I hope that comes through in the grooves and the digital ones and zeros.
Here is a taste of what to expect ... hope you enjoy it!

Thanks again for all your support and patience!

Ade

 

Tokyo Tapes

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Tuesday, 18 August 2015 12:24

Oyasuminasai

So, here I sit, in a windowless office space in Tokyo, on a Saturday morning, working. The air con is turned off for the weekend and it's a cool 35 degrees C outside and 90% humidity. It’s slightly cooler inside …. Despite all this, I love being in Tokyo, and in Japan in general, it’s an amazing place. It might not be perfect, but the rest of the world could learn a thing or a 1,000,000 from this place.

I was just reflecting on the past few blurry months of my life and trying to remember where all the time has gone. This is my fourth trip to Tokyo this year on business. Along with other work destinations, I have been away from home for 10 weeks of the year so far. This really is not helping me to get the new Nine Stones Close and Jet Black Sea albums finished. I am eternally grateful for the messages of support I get from people in anticipation of new music, it keeps me going.
In between work I need to find time for my lovely family and also my music, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult. In stolen moments, weekends, afternoons, early hours, I have been working on the new music. The good thing is that it IS all coming together, it’s just taking time. I have been listening to the latest mixes of the new Nine Stones Close album this week and I am really pleased with how it is turning out, it will be a different kind of beast to “One Eye”. I really hope everyone enjoys the new progression of the music when it is finally released. I am also grateful to my bandmates and fellow musicians for their constant support throughout this process; it’s also very difficult for them when waiting around for me to provide updates, organize sessions, finalize lyrics and arrangement changes, organise promo activities, artwork, etc etc etc etc. Frustration is not the word.

For the new Nine Stones Close album we are working on the final pieces of the puzzle. I am on my 5th rewrite of the final set of lyrics, hopefully this will be the one, we shall see. It has to be ready for the final recording session in any case. The album requires one more lengthy weekend recording session for the final vocal and some minor arrangement changes, once that is done we can complete the mix towards the end of the year and organize release activities. Rest assured we are doing all we can.

In the background Michel Simons and I have been working on Jet Black Sea material. The second album is in the can apart from a couple of guest vocals, at which point we can organize mixing sessions and artwork and release the damn thing!
While waiting for the vocals and while on a small hiatus from working on the Nine Stones Close album, Jet Black Sea 3 appeared out of nowhere. After some sessions with Michel and working on arrangements, the whole thing is written and we hope to have it fully recorded fairly soon too. Who knows, it may get released before JBS II yet! And if that wasn’t bad enough we have plenty of material on the go for JBS IV. A box set looms large ;-)

Writing is never an issue for me, I always have more ideas than I am able to realize on a album, and every time I pick up the guitar something seems to flow. In that respect I am incredibly lucky. In sessions the band give that me that look of “Oh lord, not another idea, can we finish this one first please?”. The problem with having so many ideas is that I end up with a hard drive full of stuff that never makes it to an album, even if they are strong ideas, sometimes they simply don’t fit the theme or feel of an album and get shelved for later. While digging through some old ideas an idea to make an acoustic album appeared out of nowhere. This is also on the horizon. There are yet more projects on the horizon for next year, but first I need to actually FINISH something.

On top of that I still found time to add some guitars to the magnificent Northlands album and was incredibly flattered to be asked by Tony Patterson and Brendan Eyre to contribute guitars alongside some amazing musicians, including the brilliant Steve Hackett. If you haven’t heard that album yet you need to check it out! http://www.northlands-music.co.uk/

Another one to check out is the Ashes Left EP by Simons & Van Buuringen, released in March this year. Michel did a great job on this one too. https://anincompleteheterophonicinduction.bandcamp.com/album/ashes-left


What I could really use is a manager to administrate and organize everything for me, set things up, chase people, do promo, etc, then I could concentrate more on the music. Not going to happen though, so I will continue to run around in circles inside my head and try not to implode too much!
… and did someone mention live gigs? Trust me we are working on it, but this is not easy. We all have busy lives, some have other band commitments, families, day jobs (yes, let’s not forget that one!), financial commitments, different countries (Aio) and so on. Organizing playing live is not just a matter of turning up and playing. The material is complex and requires a lot of time and effort in rehearsal to really do it justice. That means we all have to commit time and money to doing it and rehearsing hard. Did I mention that word “time” again? There is no way I am going to play a half arsed NSC show, if we do it, we do it right! Rest assured we are trying to make it happen though. On the plus side, through playing together in the studio for this album, it gives me great confidence that we can do it and do it well.

So, now I can get back to working, and hopefully later today some time shopping for records and CD’s in Shinjuku. What a place that is, it’s a music lovers paradise for shopping. All those Japanese editions, limited editions, vinyl, … I love it. Tokyo is fabulous. The guitar and music shops in Ochanomizu are incredible, I have seen all kinds of new makes of guitar that don’t seem to make it out of the Japan market. I am going to see some traditional Japanese music on Monday evening with a friend, I am sure it will be inspiring.

Oh, and the food … the food …. <Insert Homer Simpson drooling noise here>
The people .. the culture …. The gardens … I could go on …
On a final note … thanks again for your patience, and for even taking the time to read this blog, I appreciate all of your support immensely. Please share if you can, as reaching people via social media is becoming more and more difficult these days due to the fact that sites like Facebook want to charge money for you to reach your fans. I don’t have the money.

Drink of the week: Sake.
Food of the week: The Gyoza I had a couple of days ago <more drooling>
Favourite place this week … Hamarikyu Gardens
In the words of Ozzy Osbourne … “I love you all!”

-Ade

 

So here I am

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Monday, 16 March 2015 21:19

It's been a  long time since I ...




A long, long journey ....

So ... here I am once more ... In the playground of the ... nope... wait .. Ah yes, blog.

It's been a while since I last wrote any updates here and there are a multitude of reasons for that. My world is increasingly more stressful and busy and I quite simply do not have the time I would like for my music. That is not to say that progress is not being made, but it is taking longer and taking a toll. I think that generally people do not understand how much work goes into making an album with high quality production values, and what a toll that can take on you as a person when you have all kinds of other pressures. Music may well be my life, however it does not pay the mortgage, so there are many other pressures to deal with. If it were not for the constant support of my wife and the encouragement from my fellow musicians this new Nine Stones Close album might never see the light of day. I am eternally grateful to all of them. Sleep has been optional of late, but I am determined to make this album great, not good.

As it stands now we are close to finished. This weekend we recorded the last track, Leaves, live in the studio and recorded the final vocal overdubs. it's a song that means a lot to me and playing it live together was always the intention, to get the right feel and energy ... and we did it. I am looking forward to the day when the new album is released and everyone can hear what we have been up to. It was great to play together live in the studio and feed off each others energy in the room, hopefully this will come across on the record. Thankfully we have a brilliant engineer who makes sure we can capture that lightning in the bottle.

So, what can I tell you about the new album? It's a progression again from the last. It's a different Nine Stones Close in many ways. Line up changes have brought new sounds and ideas to the mix, not to mention a new energy. The fact that it has taken so long to record has also meant that more time has been spent on arrangement changes and ideas, as well as culling half the material that has been written to ensure that what we have created is really a cohesive album. I have also changed, and what I want to do musically is always evolving, so there are new directions musically here too, but it still retains that Nine Stones Close identity. I have lived with these songs for over 2 years now, and that can also be enlightening; some songs didn't make it this time around but may resurface in another form somewhere else. Only the strongest material survives.

So, watch this space in the coming few weeks as we warm up towards the launch. Soon there will be clips and videos surfacing. There will be a launch party and it will be the first time that we will play live as a band for an audience. That alone is exciting and nerve wracking for me, another step along the musical journey, and I hope as many of you as possible can come along and make it a very special launch.

Thanks for listening and supporting ....

Drink more gin and tonic, it helps sometimes.
Cheers - Adrian.


 
 

Adrian One and Adrian Two

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Wednesday, 09 April 2014 19:39

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
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

Gun point

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Tuesday, 08 April 2014 20:22

I have been forced at gun point to write another wifey blog, sorry.
As you may have noticed, there has been feverish activity around 9SC; a metric fuck ton of it, to be honest. It feels like it has taken a very long time to get to this point, but as of now the guys are at the top of the virtual ski slope, about to hurtle down a slippery slope of creative creativity. (I may have messed up the metaphors somewhat).
Last weekend was a long awaited occasion, for Mr Adrian O'Shaughnessy joined us from the other side of Europe. It was only the second time he has been over here, the second time all the band have been in the same physical space, and the very first time they have interacted and been musical together! I didn't get to see that on the first day, I was merely the human vaseline (in that I smoothed everyone's passage.. ooer Matron). My task was to meet Adrian from Schiphol, then escort him to Arnhem, where Paul van Zeeland would pick him up and take him on to Pieter van Hoorn's brilliant home (set up for rehearsals). Of course I had baked a cake; an energy giving, stomach lining thing of beauty. Except they were so busy they didn't even get to it until gone 8pm! Having said that, they ended up working until 2am; tired but happy. I was home in the kitchen the whole time.


On Saturday I was up early, earning my Mrs Doyle nickname. Plates of sandwiches, another cake.. oops, I almost forgot to even hoover and dust the old place. As the studio upstairs would have been too small for everyone, they decided to set up in the living room; I had warned the neighbours earlier in the week, we cleared the floor space, and after lunch the fun began. We also had Michel Simons, Paul van Zeeland and Christiaan, a lovely crew and a joy to have here.
It's never an easy task, stepping into someone else's shoes in a band. Especially a singer, one of the hardest members to replace. Adrian (O'S) was absolutely professional from day one; a joy to witness in action. Enthusiastic, funny and very hard working, the chemistry was great from an onlooker's point of view. I'll let Adrian J talk about it from a band point of view though.
I can say it will influence the 'new' songs, of course.


We had a break for a massive Indian meal; some drinks may have been consumed too. I don't know about everyone else, but I was knackered; why did I even suggest Mojito's so late in the evening? (sneakily I stuck to wine and let someone else drink the rum).. it was a rather late night, around 5 I think?... especially since we had arranged a surprise for Adrian O'S for (too early) Sunday morning before he had to go home. We dragged him off on a bus trip, right across from the Heineken factory, where we picked up our little boat from Winter storage! It's a family joke; we called it Traces because there wasn't even enough profit to buy a tank of petrol from that LP, but since we haven't owned a car in nearly 9 years it's our one 'luxury' method of transport. YOLO, as 'the kids' would say (sarcastically, of course).
And that was it; after a leisurely sightseeing cruise of the waterways, it was time to say goodbye until the next trip. It went much too fast, of course, but hopefully it won't be too much longer before the real action starts. You will be the first to know :)

 
 

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