There’s a little place that I had, of late, taken for granted. Quite a magical space where we’ve spent some of our most creative and enjoyable time over the last few years. It’s packed with the most beautiful and well used instruments you could hope to see (as well as some of the most disfunctional and beaten up) and is just about the best sounding place to sing a note that I’ve visited in recent years. It’s a toy box. A hide away. Or “club” as my better half calls it. Walking in to the Crypt for this latest Hope and Social writing session I realised I’d been away from the place for too long. It’s very very exciting to be back in there making something again.
We’re three weeks in to it all now. The best laid plans to write a blog every day have been stopped in their tracks by admin, baby bottles, In the Night Garden and experimental theatre. It is, at times, a funny old life. But things are going very well. A real splurge of new material in a relatively short space of time. We kicked things off with our now customary “meeting” to discuss the shape of the album. Taking its usual form of pubs, brown booze, crisps and increasingly passionate calls to arms we discussed the usual things – influential records and a context for the music. To an eavesdropper, some of our conversations may seem to have delusions of grandeur or ideas above their station but as a great mind once told me, “once you start to make the work you have to take it totally seriously otherwise there’s just no point”. We talk of politics, of struggles, of soul records and of the end of western civilisation and capitalism and whilst we make the work these things are relevant and important and vital but we still stand up there with a kazoo between our lips and bang out the best country version of Living on a Prayer this side of the Pennines. Once you start making the work you have to take it seriously, otherwise nothing gets done.
The days have consisted of the very base line of song writing so far. In for 10:30. Coffee on. Somebody throws an idea on the table or just starts a chord sequence or sound and we jam it out until it turns into something that feels worthwhile. Some ideas have more meat to them than others at the start of the day – more parts or chords or lyrics etc – but this doesn’t seem to be a measure of how fast or easily they might progress to being a song the band feels comfortable in. We must have been hitting at least 3 a day so far. Hux has a new guitar which sounds beautiful. Ed has a new reverb effects box which doesn’t work. Both these things effect the process in their own way.
Yesterday was review day, listening back to the 20 or so ideas/songs to see where we’re at and what we need to work on. So where are we at? We’ve tried not to hold anything back as we’ve been writing so far – if any idea doesn’t sound like the kind of records we were discussing at the start of the process of a lyric isn’t holding true (“no more melancholy” – says Ed) we haven’t kicked it out at the conception phase…that comes now. Most things aren’t soulful enough…we listen to Talking Heads again and ask “how do you make a soul record that isn’t a soul record?”. Some things are too durgy, too…late 90s shall we say…we listen to Graceland again and ask “how do you get such lightness of touch, such bounce, whilst staying true to the songrwiter/band you are”. Some songs are just too down…we listen to Snoop Dogg and ask “how can something be that sparing and yet so damn good?”. There’s a lot of work to do but there are some great starting points in there and some lovely touches. Keep mining I reckon.
Hopes… That we can experiment enough. It’s so easy to keep ploughing the same ideas, especially as you get older. That we can make something relevant, or self contained, or both. That Ed doesn’t pick up the reverb unit again.
Worries… M.O.R. Time. Fun. Crunchie Biscuits becoming boring.
I become a man of 35 tomorrow. How can I only just have started listening to Veedon Fleece.