When I finished my One New Tune A Week challenge, I said I was going to take some time off to write and record an album. Shortly after this, I announced a tour with Ryan Hamilton and then went onto play another 238 shows (2016 gig count of the day of writing this blog). Since I started taking this whole music career shenanigans a little more seriously, time off does not sit well with me. A few years ago, I would play 2 gigs a week and then do a couple of tours which usually lasted less than a week. It was at this point when I referred to my self as ‘The hardest working band in Wrexham’ after one too many drinks at my friend Steve’s house. They’ve never let me live this down. Little did I know…that was part time. And if I was to survive in that Big Bad London….2 gigs a week wouldn’t cut it.
I did take some time off of writing though, as I felt like the metaphorical cupboard in the creative side of my brain was bare. This was my first mistake, it took me a few months to get back in the habit of writing. Around May time, I had 5 new songs in my arsenal, 2 of which I liked. The problem that I was having, is that I didn’t have a deadline. I needed to push my self harder. I kept a piece of paper on my wall of all the new songs that I’d written, and every morning I’d feel guilty about the sparseness of the page. I started to read a lot more and was taking inspiration from that. The issue was, I was gigging 5 times a week, which throws your routine off. I kept writing and by August, I had 12 new songs, 6 of which I liked. This was when I really needed to start putting the wheels in motion. I scouted around for a few producers before I chose Andy Hawkins to produce my album. Andy has an impressive body of work, amongst that work was ‘The Candle Thieves’. I’ve toured with the Candle Thieves a few times and they are one of my favourite bands. I’ve always loved the way their albums sounded, so Andy was the obvious choice.
I booked 3 days in November, and 10 days in January to record and mix this album. So there I was, November 14th, in Leeds, about to start work on my first ever album. I didn’t sleep a wink the night before, I was nervous, anxious, paranoid and every other similar feeling you can imagine. Were my songs good enough? Was my gear good enough? Is Andy the right guy? Am I doing this too soon? About an hour in to the session, all my fears had gone away. We started work on a song called ‘Comfortable’. We were arranging the track and seeing what parts to change. There was a great moment when I was thinking in my head, ‘This song is crying out for a key change’, and just at that moment Andy said, ‘You know what, I think a key change is what this song needs’. I knew this project was going to fall into place at that moment.
We also looked at other tracks called ‘Coffee Beans’, ‘Pieces’, ‘Country Song’ and ‘Share the Same Skies’, but we spent most time on a song called ‘Surprise’. ‘Surprise’ for me, was the opener, it sets the tone for the rest of the songs that I had wrote. It was a bridge between my old material and where I was planning on going. By the end of day 2, we had finished tracking all the instruments and creating this epic outro. Any bit of space we could find, it was filled. We also tracked music for ‘Country Song’ and ‘Coffee Beans’. The studio is beautiful, check it out: http://www.navestudios.com/
After the sessions, I feel a lot more inspired to write. I feel like I now have direction. We decided to go ‘big’ on this album. Originally, the album would finished in January and released by March. I’ve booked in 4 extra days in February to finish it off. Not quite sure when it will be released though. Watch this space.
More studio time, does mean more money. So I’m starting to put more things on my shop! Check it out. Newest addition: Handwritten lyric sheets!