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Blog: Laying Down Some Tracks

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My weekend of IMMENSE ROCK commenced on Friday afternoon with some CUNNING use of THE SYSTEM. I was due in DERBY for recording that evening then was heading to Durham next day before returning to London on Sunday. I therefore bought a return ticket to SHEFFIELD, a delightful city which, this time, i had no intention of going anywhere NEAR. It is THE MADNESS OF THE SYSTEM: this ticket meant i could get off early in Derby on a train going TO Sheffield and then, on Sunday, get dropped off in DONCASTER (as to get from Sheffield to London on a Sunday you usually have to first go NORTH to Doncaster) and come home that way. MUCH cheaper than any other way, including SIngles AND/OR a ticket to Doncaster via Derby. A Ticket to DURHAM, by the way, would not only be HEINOUSLY expensive but also involve Rail Replacement Buses. Yes.

Thus feeling RATHER pleased with this act of STICKING IT to THE MAN I arrived at Derby's famously thrilling SNUG studio to discover Robbie and Tim looking even MORE pleased with themselves, for LO! they had gone INSANELY MAD and ... wait for it!.. used a FLOOR TOM as a RACK TOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Apologies to anyone whose MIND has BLOWN from reading that, and to anyone who doubts if this is PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE I can assure you that, yes, it is. For any readers unaware of the IMMENSITY of what had occurred - the floor tom is a drum that usually sits on the floor next to the bass drum and is slightly larger than the one (or two) marginally smaller drums that sit on a rack atop the bass drum. O! M! G! STUDIO MADNESS!

We got the drums set up, which always seems to take AGES but which this time was probably sped along by Robbie's dreams of SOUND ON SOUND MAGAZINE features on "The Newman Method: How To Set YOUR Spare Floor Tom As A Rack Tom". We then set up a microphone for me to do GUIDE vocals, plugged my guitar in for guide GUITAR, had a quick warm up until Francis Albert MAchine arrived, then GOT ROCKING.

First up was a RE-TAKE of All The Good Men, as the PREVIOUS version had been a bit TOO "nuanced" i.e. we sped up, slowed down and got variously excited to a NOTICEABLE extent throughout. By this time Rich had arrived and leant his Ear Of Precision to proceedings - it was a bit like having a JOB interview, as we waited for his word of APPROVAL. Things were made more difficult for me by the fact I was so used to listening to the old version that i TRIED speeding up where we used to, but with WILL and some Technical Jiggery Pokery we got there in the end.

Next up was It Only Works Because You're Here, which we did to a BOSSANOVA beat. Well, OUR version of bossanova anyway - Tim had got himself some HOT RODS so he could in theory play it a bit softer, but made up for this buy HITTING them even harder than usual! We had a couple of goes at it with all sorts of FILLS emerging, and ended up doing a few DROP INS to get it all to the end, but it sounded a) DIFFERENT and b) pretty darn GOOD by the time we'd done.

Following this we did We're Old And We're Tired (And We Want To Go Home), a song which NEITHER Frankie NOR Tim had ever played before, so we spent a little time LARNING it up before delivering it in an EVEN MORE Skiffle style than I'd expected. I must say I was WELL CHUFFED with how it turned out, it's EXCITING. Ukelele, I feel, we be called for.

Tim and I ZOOMED off for CHIPS at this point, enjoying the rare treat of SCALLOPS when we were there, and returned to find Frankie finishing off an overdub of his bass lines for It Only Works Because You're Here. It sounded LOVELY, especially as it drowned out the sound of a band practicing downstairs,who had treated us to "versions" of "Angels" and "Purple Rain" that made up for what they lacked in EVERY OTHER WAY by vigorous useage of CHORUS pedals. It was all A Bit Much my dears.

Anyway, for our final track we embarked on a song CODE NAMED "Kinder Scout" - a JAM we'd done at our last practice. It was LUCKY that we'd taped it as Frankie (and, later in the weekend, both Emma and Tom) denied ALL knowledge of it. Our attempts to JAM IT UP a bit more were slightly curtailed by a COMPUTER CRASH, during which Rich tried to look calm and Robbie went "AAARGH!", but VERY HAPPILY all was eventually well. The song has two distinct SECTIONS, seperated with a gap which will probably be chopped down a bit as it was quite LARGE by the time we managed to get it all right. Still, it all sounded pretty good and I'm now halfway through some WURDZ for it.

At this point Mr Machine left us and we moved to our final task - the vocals for The Drummer's Lament. This was Tim's LEAD VOCAL DEBUT and he approached it with some nervousness, tho carried it out with APLOMB. I was expecting it to sound OUTRAGED and GRUFF, but clearly the Deep Sadness inherent in the lyrics affected him and it came out sounding surprisingly SOFT. The same could not be said for the Miners' Choir Backing Vocals that I then went in and did, three tracks of me BELLOWING which were LAYERED UP by two each from Robbie and Rich to give us a NOISE where you can practically HEAR Foaming Jugs Of Ale being Heartily Swung.

Job done we finished for the evening, heading off to Chez Pattison, then heading back ten minutes later to get Tim's keys, then going all the way home to his house where we WOUND DOWN from our ROCK ANTICS by some of the INSANE METAL BEHAVIOUR for which The Validators are known: we had a small glass of white wine each and watched a BBC4 Documentary. OH YEAH!

posted 28/1/2008 by MJ Hibbett

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