So here we are in the Crypt and with all the urgency of an oil tanker we’re racing to finish our new EP for release into the wild next Wednesday. For once it isn’t just our terrible planning that has left us with so little time to get the record done. In fact there wasn’t supposed to be a release at all, just a little tour to wrap up any left over ambitions we had for our FEEL album before we move on to pastures new. But, if life in this band has taught us one thing, it’s to expect the unexpected.
In September we were asked to write the soundtrack to a large outdoor light show that was supposed to be touring Yorkshire through the whole of February. Over four weekends and visiting four towns the work entitled Yorkshire Electric would have used rare and unseen footage from the Yorkshire Film Archive to weave a story of the rich and varied communities of the Yorkshire Dales and East Coast. I was one of the artists providing the video element of the project and I put H&S forward for the soundtrack thinking what a great fit it was – an epic work about the lives and the land of Yorkshire. Perfect.
The footage was ready, the funding in place, the storyboard almost compete and we’d done our first 10 days in the studio. We were producing a 15 minute piece of music which, if our dreams came true, would use community choirs to deliver its live ambition. So far so good. Then as we started our second week proper in the studio I had a call to say the project had collapsed. Despite the best effort of those involved one of the main commissioning festivals (and personal friends of the band’s from projects past) had been forced to cancel their 2018 programme and possibly close its doors forever following another funding refusal from the Arts Council. As we’re all involved in the arts in one way or another we know these things happen and 2017 had way more than its fair share of disappointments in funded projects. But for the Arts Council to effectively close down the lead festival of a project it had already pumped a considerable amount of money into seemed to show an incredible lack of joined up thinking (I hate that phrase but there really is no other for this situation). But the powers had made their decision and we just have to hope there’s a master plan.
We were left with two options. Bin it all off and go home or make an abrupt about turn and turn it into an EP rather than a soundtrack. Fortunately for us we’d realised our own limitations early on in the process and had started the whole thing by doing what we know best – writing songs – and so the choice seemed obvious: finish the songs and record them as an EP with the same ideas and sentiment at the centre of it.
So that’s what we’ve done. We have 5 tracks in one format or another, all of them exploring the land and lives of this bit of the country and looking at nostalgia and memory. It’s well trodden ground for us but hopefully there’s a clarity and focus to this which warrants its title. We have four days left and a LOT of work to do, but we want it to be out there, a record of this period of time and project rather than an unfinished demo. Fingers crossed that we can consume enough Lemsip to finish it by next week – visit the website on Wednesday to see if we get there!
And as a postscript – the Yorkshire Film Archive is well worth half a day of your time. With loads of films online already you can really lose yourself in a trip of…erm…nostalgia I suppose. Enjoy!