Caverns

We started recording this at the very end of 2008. It was inspired by Silent Hill, Jimmy Eat World, and And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead’s song Source Tags and Codes, which has the lyric:

You picked me up and we went for a drive
into the stained glass cavern of the night.

Adam’s vocal was perfect, as usual, but then something on the muted TV made us laugh. We got another take but I left the laughter in. I originally programmed really hectic drums, as I’d been listening to The Most Serene Republic a lot. Some of it sounded good but I couldn’t get it just right. Tweaking the timing and velocity for each hit was so laborious I ended up leaving it alone, fiddling once every few years and eventually dumping the drum track for a more spacious mix. In the meantime, my band recorded an uptempo rock version at the Rich Bitch studio in Birmingham. We called that Air on the Radio. Check it out below, it sounds quite different with Jon’s nailgun drumming and airtight rhythm with Paul on bass.

Anyway it’s good to finish these things, even if it does take nearly eight years.

Here’s the Distant Signal version:

People Are Guitars playlist

I’ve cobbled together a playlist for People Are Guitars. I started recording these instrumental tracks in Cornwall, which is where the title ‘Do Nothing Beach’ came from. Except I couldn’t do nothing and started playing around with two new toys: Ableton Live and a Fender Strat. I tried to play some sparkling arpeggios like you hear on early Jimmy Eat World tracks.

We’ll see what happens next. I have a few new songs to record and am thinking about stripping back production in the next release for a sparser sound overall. You can see that direction on some of these tracks, though ‘When Feelings Attack’ definitely maxes things out. More Uffmoor Woods Music Club tracks can be found on SoundCloud. Thanks for listening!

Moving house, the not-so-minimalist way

Moving house is a time for deciding what to keep and what to throw away. A chance to be minimalist, if only I had the cojones.

We’ve decamped from Cornwall and marched on Devon. Now we are faced with many Things To Do, not least of which is deciding which of my faded treasures and never-did-come-in-handy gizmos can be safely discarded, and which are still awaiting their day of glory. Having become distantly acquainted with the idea of minimalism, I feel an urge to throw things away that is every bit as compulsive as my previous urges to acquire and hoard. The only problem is, I’m not a very good minimalist. In fact, I am minimally minimalist.

Minimalism when you hoard books

I am too sentimental. About old computer games I’ll never finish. About band t-shirts bought at gigs in my rockin’ twenties. About utterly crap films I should be ashamed to admit I’ve watched, nay enjoyed, nay owned. So while I’ve lived happily for ten months from a suitcase of clothes, I couldn’t imagine what skulking horror awaited me in a storage depot in darkest Hampshire. “Just what did I put in there?” I naïvely pondered many times. Ignorant fool! You know what the removal men awoke in the darkness. Flame and shadow. And 19 boxes of books. The b*stards were breeding in there. And three more guitars in various states of bad repair to add to the caravan of damaged string instruments I already had about me. These are the things I find especially hard to part with. Argh.

There is a process of domestic archaeology I have become too familiar with. I approach the box with strong resolve, thus:

  1. Whatever’s in there, I’ll throw out.
  2. I can’t need whatever’s in there because I already have everything I need.
  3. Oh, that’s what’s in there. I haven’t seen that in ages.
  4. It’s useful, but not to me. I’ll take it to the charity shop.
  5. I’ll take a photo of it. Then get rid.
  6. I can never be parted from it again. I’ll hide it in this box.

And now, on recovering my external hard drive, a similar mindset holds for my digital life. Can you be a digital minimalist? Not if you hang onto every text file snippet of poetry, every blurred photo, and hastily recorded song idea you’ve accumulated over the last ten years.

I managed to thin out the duplicate files using some handy software. Then, once the house was unboxed, my digital crusade began in earnest. I found some interesting things, such as this song I kind of improvised and recorded and then totally forgot about for nearly ten years. So, here is ‘The Blackest Ship’. You are one of the first people to hear it. I bought the violin off eBay and abused the bow with Jimmy Page-style antics at Distant Signal gigs. I haven’t used it much (at all) since those days but still cart it around with me.

For a brief time I was able to reconnect with whoever it is I used to be ten months ago, and ten years ago. Looking through a 500gb hard drive of old projects is a surefire way to witness the folly and doomed hope of man (me). Or, if you have the balls, go down to your local electronic waste recycling centre and shot-put it into a skip. But then again, maybe it’s worth keeping a few keepsakes around, so we don’t get too completely caught up in the current dramas and dreams of our lives, all of which will be archived sooner or later. Life goes on in its usual unexpected way.