Today’s my last day in the studio, finishing some guitar parts for the new EP.
I gotta admit, I’m pretty exhausted. Not by the session, but by the mental toll bringing music to life sometimes takes.
Maybe part of it’s my decision to do things a little differently on this project.
It all started with the lockdown reset in 2021. I’d lost a couple of opportunities to play some important shows, and I wasn't in the best place. I was desperate to start recording, but I didn’t have the budget. Besides, getting everyone together to work on the new songs wasn’t really feasible. The whole thing made me ill, and it took a lot of soul-searching and focus to get out of the rut.
I also found myself in a bit of a weird space.
You see, normally what happens is you write a bunch of songs, you wrestle them into shape with the band in rehearsals, and then you rent a studio with a producer.
The problem with this as a self-funded artist is that everything’s on the clock. You get everything done — it sounds great because the studio versions sound so much better than the rehearsals — and you live with the results.
Then you start thinking you missed something.
No work of art is ever finished; it can only be abandoned in an interesting place
Jeff Tweedy, Wilco
I know what Jeff means. But I knew when I finally got the chance to record an EPs worth of songs; I didn’t want to leave anything on the table.
The chance came early in 2022 when my grant application to Help Musicians was approved. The grant went towards recording and marketing the new songs and meant that after years of trying, I could finally make an EP.
So I hooked up again with music producer Mark Tucker.
I first worked with Mark in 2015 when green as hell, I went down with my mates to record our first band songs. We’ve done a couple of things together since, and there’s a synergy where Mark knows how to wrestle the ideas in my head into great music.
Mark’s got a home studio called Green Room down in Uppottery near Honiton. So we put this plan together to get the songs into shape using midi arrangements. Then, we rerecorded the bits we wanted with the band. Sometimes we recorded bits at home. On other occasions, we shot back down to Green Room.
We didn’t put a time limit on recording the EP. It was more about fitting in with everyone's schedules and capturing those sparks of inspiration in the moment when they are difficult to generate under pressure.
In a way it was the right decision. I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve created. But the process wasn’t without its challenges, especially in the final sprint.
That said, we’re finally over the line.
Having the opportunity to make music is an incredible opportunity and one I’m eternally grateful for.
Everything starts with life experiences, those things a songwriter lives. Then the experiences get turned into stories. Finally, the stories get turned into songs with the help of amazing musicians and gifted producers.
At the moment, I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime with this project. But for you, the listeners, the journey's about to start.
We haven’t set a release date for the EP yet. But all of the songs are being released as singles in advance.
So expect things to get tasty in the new year.
Thanks for staying so patient. I’m grateful for your support.
But, before I sign off, I just wanted to go off on a ramble and share something very special about Upottery that puts life’s challenges into perspective.
You’ll probably relate to this more if you’re aware of Band of Brothers.
RAF Upottery is a former second world war airfield located on the edge of the parish.
In 1944, the American 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airbourne division, known as Easy Company, flew out of Upottery to parachute into Normandy, France, as part of Operation Overlord.
Many didn't survive.
When I drive through this picturesque village with its quintessential local church and pub, I wonder what life must have been like in 1944. The village would have been filled with GIs, amorous young girls, and parents not so keen on what was going on.
In a short space of time, these young men were parachuted into hell and destined to play a part in the freedom we all enjoy today.
War always seems so intangible unless it’s on your doorstep. I think we rarely take sacrifice at its true value.
My problems are minuscule in comparison.
Sorry for the ramble.
Yours in music,