After what seemed like ages we managed to spend the weekend in the studio recording vocals. It was our first time back in the studio for almost a month. We have been gigging every weekend for months so we have simply struggled to find the time. As you can imagine this is the main reason for the recording taking so long. There is so much to record in a ten piece band, over thirteen tracks, with a gigging schedule like ours. We may have to take a break from gigging for a bit. In addition Gav has been in California for three weeks. So it was great to get back into it, especially since we were recording vocals. Once vocals are on the tracks, they start to sound more complete. It was interesting as well, watching Gav’s reaction to hearing some of these vocal parts properly for the first time, hearing the songs come together. Some of the tunes he obviously didn’t get, when the vocals were missing, but as soon as the vocals were there, I could see the realisation on his face. We worked all day on Friday and went home around midnight, dropping Gav off on London Road, as he headed off to a party with a bottle of tequila. Next morning when we arrived at the studio, Gav was already there, passed out on the couch in the kitchen. The steamer had just rolled in from his party a full hour before us. As a result we left him passed out in his sleeping bag since he would have been useless, and I did the engineering on Saturday. We moved our Sunday recording session to the following weekend because Murray was busy that Sunday, splitting the weekend session over two weekends so to speak. After two days we got a substantial part of the vocals on about two thirds of the tracks completed and at least some vocals on the other tracks. Some tracks obviously take more work than others. Plus we like to try stuff out, experiment with different parts, different harmonies, different lyrics. Its starting to sound really good. We’ve also come to realise that Murray is almost definitely an android. When we have been getting him to double track his vocals, each take he does is identical to the last, right down to individual waveforms. It’s scary. No human could possibly do that.
Two gigs that week, the first on Tuesday night at King Tuts in Glasgow with The King Blues. We were the first band on the bill because we had sold almost no tickets. Going on first in the evening is usually good news for us because it means we sound check last and so have a reasonable chance of getting everyone there to the venue and sound checking on time. We went on first to a decent sized crowd and played a rapid fire set of about thirty five minutes. I have to say even I thought it was a cracking performance from us. The crowd and the promoters were certainly glad of our efforts. Next up were The Hostiles, who we liked a lot. Third wave of Ska type stuff, with horns and lots of jumping around. Finally, The King Blues who are really nice guys, and an incredible band. They didn’t have their regular drummer and were being helped out by the drummer from Capdown, who was excellent as a dep. I will confess to being only slightly aware of these guys before this gig but they were fantastic. They came back on for an encore and gave a big up to our good selves but also their three favourite Scottish bands, Junkman’s Choir, Ex Cathedra and The Amphetameanies. They then kicked into a medley of covers, mainly dictated by the crowd shouting out song titles randomly, including 54 46, Pressure Drop, and the theme from Bob the Builder, oddly enough. Good to catch our friends in the west, Esperanza, and of course, Gordon and Jane from the Meanies. Hope Gordon got home safely with his leaky petrol scooter.
Back in the Burgh. We’ve been overplaying Edinburgh a bit of late. Four or five gigs in two months or so. That’s way too much for a wee place like Edinburgh. The gig at the Exchange on Friday, was a bit of a last minute affair. We had moved the gig from The Ark because of health and safety concerns from the last gig, and we had left off promoting the gig until the last week because promoting music events during the festival is impossible because of all the competition. The Foo Fighters gig at Meadowbank was even struggling to sell out because of all the shows going on. They were practically giving tickets away outside the stadium last Tuesday. So with all of that in mind it was going to be difficult for us to fill the place, therefore getting two hundred of you down was not bad. I think most of the crowd were there to see Taking Chase and Big Hand, to be perfectly honest. Taking Chase kicked off the evening and included a couple of new tunes. Lee at one point broke a string on his SG so borrowed one of my back up guitars, my purple Tanglewood flying V, which is a bit much for most people, but not our Lee. I love Taking Chase. Even when they think they haven’t played a good set, its still usually twice as good as most other bands. Big Hand were up next. Also outstanding as usual. Anyone who doesn’t like Big Hand is quite simply wrong. They played most of their usual classics but also featured our Andy on harmonica (the name of the song temporarily escapes me) and also myself singing lead vocals on their final tune ‘Big Hand’. Our set went down well I thought, except for a few technical issues on the bass. I’ve started breaking strings again. It must be a lunar thing. Thanks to everyone who came out that night. Thanks to Jamie our engineer, who he haven’t seen since he did our sound in Lochinver in 2003. We only have two more gigs in Edinburgh this year. Hopefully October with Jerry Dammers, and then our Skalloween party with The Toasters. It’s the first time they have been to Scotland in either nine or ten years. Can’t wait.
Back into the studio the following Sunday, a bit hoarse from the gigs, but keen as a shed full of mustard. We got more backing vocals done and also more of the lead vocals from Andy. There are now only two songs needing vocals done. Which means we don’t have much more to do. Some more horn parts, a little bit of harmonica, and some more keyboards which we’ll do last. The only trouble is the more that we do, the more that we want to do. We put something down and then decide that something else needs changed or re done. Realistically another few days of studio time should have nearly everything actually recorded. Unbelievable!