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Blog: A GRATE Weekend In The History Of ROCK

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I was back on the Midland Mainline on Saturday afternoon and heading for distant DERBY, where we were due to do Many Things. First of all i went to the shop to get some BEER for later, then strolled back to The Music Shed for item ONE on our official agenda: BAND PRACTICE.

Some things had changed since our last visit - there was, for instance, a big sign asking people NOT to go and wee behind the skip in the car park, which seemed a bit mean... or maybe someone needed a better view? - but most things were THE SAME. The huge piles of GEAR were still in the room we use, and the studio stuff that was going to be set up for use this time last year was still gathering dust in the corner. It felt GOOD to be back, and we LAUNCHED into practice by playing the ENTIRE NEW ALBUM from start to finish. We were a bit ropey in places, especially on songs like "Dino At The Sands" and "Mental Judo" which we've hardly ever played - "Dino" had NEVER been played by all five of us together, I don't think. It was also nice to be being a BAND again, and LARKS, also HILARITY, ensued as the always will in such company. My two favourite BITS of the evening were as follows: firstly, whilst playing "Quality Of Life Enhancement Device" Mr R Fleay RIPPED OUT a FANCY LICK, which i noted by saying "Oooh!" Hearing this Mr T McClure EASED THROUGH a ROCKING LICK on his electrical violin. We all turned to Mr T Pattison, who dutifully engineered a COLOSSAL FILL. Then we all giggled a lot, and felt pleased with ourselves, it was LOVELY. My second favourite bit was at the end, when we did "Hey Hey 16K". Mrs E Pattison wanted to try out a new vocal bit, and I think we all ENJOYED playing something that we KNEW quite well. It was also PLEASANT to go back and play the original verse, free of any HINT of Commercial Sellout.

Happy and slightly moist with sweat we got into convoy, picked up Mrs Machine, and went for a BAND CURRY. This was GRATE. After that myself and the machines went back to their house for a NIGHT CAP of BOOZE.

Not quite enough hours later myself and Messrs Machine and Pattison were together again at THE HIVE with Mr Robbie Newman, where we were gathered to MASTER the album and single. Rob had come down to make sure we got off to a flying start, but for some reason he didn't want to listen to the whole thing all over again. It seems strange - having mixed it all he's surely had hour upon hour of pleasure hearing every track hundreds of times, you'd think he'd only be EAGER for MORE. We did "Better Things To Do" and he FLED, leaving Tim, Robbie and I to WORK - Tom and Emma had already been EXCUSED pleasing having the aforesaid Better Things To Do.

Over the next few very relaxing hours we went through the seventeen tracks needed, with Robbie getting things sorted, then me and Tim saying "Hmm, it sounds a bit Dobly to me - can you de-fuzz the middle?" and similar INCISIVE remarks. We MULTI-TASKED the whole way through, with Tim working on finalising the album artwork and me getting a bit carried away - after spending time asking for microscopic levels of extra treble on certain tracks it was very easy to then say "Can we have the second paragraph ONE MICRON higher up please?"

By about 3 o'clock everything was done and we got to THE BEST BIT of the Mastering, if not the entire ALBUM CREATION PROCESS: THE GAPS! Now, some bands just say "Yeah, Standard Two Seconds Between Songs, that's fine with us, for we neither CARE about nor LOVE our listeners, and are happy to fob them off with thoughtless gaps", but that is NOT OUR WAY. We spent a very enjoyable hour or so making sure the gap between each song was EXACTLY the right length, AND that the track markings came at the right place. Robbie, bless him, was both patient and CORRECT about the whole thing, so that it now flows rather SUPERBLY, especially the tracks that have - oh my! - CROSS FADES between them. OH YEAH!

We finished about 4.30pm, Tim dropped me off at the station, and I headed back to London with a MIGHTY CARGO OF ROCK! All we need to do now is make a few adjustments to the multimedia, finalise the artwork, get some QUOTES, and then next Tuesday (hopefully) send it off to the Manufacturers. THEN it's a few weeks updating our MEDIA DATABASE while we wait for the product to come back, then it's OFF TO THE POST OFFICE! It's all a bit strange to be honest, to think that this HUGE PHASE OF ACTION is coming to an end, and also that soon Other People will be hearing the ALBUM! After all this, I hope people like it...

posted 10/4/2006 by MJ Hibbett

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