The Wildhearts - Recording the new album - Apr 2009 · Words by Ginger, CJ, Scott & Ritch
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- Day 1 - CJ - Travel Day
- Day 2 - Scott - First Day Of Recording
- Day 3 - Ginger - Cooking with Confidence
- Day 4 - Ginger - Cow shit and salmon.
- Day 5 - Ginger - Of Love And Insomnia
- Day 6 - CJ - Gone Fishing
- Day 7 - Ritch - Parole
- Still Day 7 - Ginger - Lucky
- Day 8 - Ouch
- Still Day 8 - Ginger - For The Love Of Music
- Day 9 - Ginger - The Cardio Effect
- Day 10 - Ginger - Snack or Famine
- Day 10 - CJ - Detuning To C
- Day 10 - Scott - Not Too Shabby
- Day 11 - Ginger - Lord of the Flies
- Day 11 - CJ - Warm Fat Wall Of Guitars
- Day 11 - Scott - Pryor Convictions
- Day 12 - Ginger - Peaceful Easter Feeling
- Day 12 - Ginger - Isolation Sickness
- Ribe Photos
- Day 13 - Ginger - Happiness And The Infinite Wisdom
- Day 13 - CJ & Scott - AKA The Monkey And The Neck
- Ginger - Stuff
- Ginger - The Devil's Carcass.
- Day 14 - Ginger - Can Somebody Please Mend Our Broken Bass Player?
- Day 15 - Ginger
- Day 16 - Ginger - Furry Things, Suicide And Rubbish Fathers On My Mind
- Day 17 - Ginger
- Day 19 - Ginger - The Final Furlong
- Day 21 - Ginger - I Guess One Man's Hell Is Another Man's Malmsteen
- Day 21 - CJ - Monkey And The Neck Blog Off
- Day 21 - Scott - An Ode To Elephant Lager
- Day 21 - Ginger - The Picture Slowly Fills In With Colour
- Day 22 - Ginger - The Penultimate Entry
- Day 23 - Ginger - Goodbye
Day 1 - CJ - Travel Day
5.30am was my pick up time and although very early I was sort of looking forward to our short trip to Ribe/Denmark where we will be recording the new album. I know very little about Ribe apart from it's tiny and there is nothing to do so it's ideal for recording...no distractions. Anyway picked Scott and Ginger up from Heathrow and headed to Gatwick and our small aircraft and lots of free wine...Hey red wine for breakfast now that's cultured. 1.30 hr flight and we are in the land of sausage and smelly cheese.We stopped by a shop on the way to Hansen studios to pick up some supplies and nearly everything in the shop was either sausage or cheese based. Anyway we filled our bags and off we went to what will be our new home for the next 25 days...a farm in the middle of fucking nowhere. Jebus this is the land that time forgot...flat, featureless and smelling of cow shit...nice...Well we know the studio is good but what a suprise the living quarter was...We've named it Cell Block H as it resembles a prison, you know bunk beds and a shower that leaves a soapy taste in your mouth. Well fuck it lets just carry on drinking and enjoy our time here on the farm...and i'm the daddy and the boys are my bitches....
Day 2 - Scott - First Day Of Recording
I woke up with the fear this morning. That all to familiar feeling that things had got messy the night before and a hang over screaming the fact that an apology phone call might be in order. One look at the common room confirmed my suspicion. It was nothing less than an apocalyptic landscape of empty bottles, cigar butts, and fruit mashed into every nook and cranny. As we stumbled around cleaning the ungodly mess, I started to remember the day before. We'd spent our first couple of hours here hanging out with the camels, horses, meerkats, and wallabies that live on the farm next door. Pretty surreal really, being half drunk hanging out with a fucking camel in the middle of Denmark.....huh? After that we headed home to continue the party. It all gets a bit blurry from there. I know there was some sort of food fight at some point. The walls caked with oranges and bananas could have told you that. The rest is just kind of a wash of talking shit at the table and loosing my phone. Good times. Today we started recording drums. Best thing in the world for an exquisite hang over. One song in and I'm ready to go home. Let the good times roll...
Day 3 - Ginger - Cooking with Confidence.
CJ is my absolute favourite cook in the world. Last night he made us an awesome prawn curry and this morning he ushered in a brand new day with bacon, eggs, pancakes and coffee. What a treat to be alive.
Every band should have a master chef.
Spent last getting very drunk indeed after walking the 500 miles to the local store with Ritch. We offset the trek with conversation about a new ballad we're writing, who's working lyrics are "I've got a dick in my ass, and I like it"
Think we may have to change the theme a little before it is complete.
Also had an awesome idea for a new track based around a dance loop and a huge live drum beat. Got back to HQ to work on the song, throwing ideas into the mix until we almost finished the song. Which is just as well really, as the alcohol had kicked in by then and I became DJ for the evening, irritating (Deerhoof) and entertaining (Torche) in equal measure.
We're actually awake and ready to rock before the producer today, a great feeling considering we're supposed to be the reprobate rock n roll guys.
Something about mornings get the creative juices flowing in plentiful abandon, and this morning our collective well seems to be hopping. Going to begin todays session by re-arranging the songs Plastic Jebus and John Of Violence.
We have decided to fire the song The Greatest Man Who Ever Walked On The Earth because it is too traditional and metal sounding.
We seem to be surrounded by European heavy metal magazines, and the close proximity of so many bald, angry men has pushed our boat out into decidedly more experimental waters, away from the comfort of the old riff dock.
A good thing I think. I'm tired of The Wildhearts sounding like a heavy metal band.
And anyway, we'll never be as good at that stuff as Mastodon.
And we have too little body fat and much hair at 40.
Hey Ho Let's Get Creative, or something.
Day 4 - Ginger - Cow shit and salmon.
There's nothing like the potent stench of fresh cow shit in the morning to remind an urban dweller that they're far from home. And so it is, with great longing, that we tuck into a strong pot of joe and ready ourselves for Sunday on the farm.
We're still reeling, to be honest, from the portions of CJ's curry last night, another masterpiece ravaged by the starving hordes that we find ourselves becoming.
Typically the Danish hand of generosity has extended to us being given access to the local salmon farm by the owner of the camel/wallaby/meerkat collection next door. He's even given us exclusive use of his barbeque lodge, a very Swedish affair of pine and animal skins. An Ikea viking interface that seems perfectly at home in this most bizarre of settings.
CJ will later grab a rod and fish for our supper, which he will then cook and serve to our gastronomic delight. Such activity he savours as it keeps him out of the studio. Maybe if we put a stove next to the mixing desk we'd see more of the chap? No matter, he keeps our belly full while we arrange the music.
Pretty damned pleased with the idea for a new ballad we came up with last night. A potential hit in the making.
I say potential as it still seems unlikely that The Wildhearts will suffer the indignity of mass appeal. I guess we've been bottom feeders for so long that commercial acceptance would appear to be a dish enjoyed by others with a more ambitious palette than ourselves.
Still, how delicious an irony would that be? After 15 years of underachieving, squandering and general meandering we stumbled upon a popular formula that took the band out of our self appointed comfort zone.
Would we still have CJ cooking for us?
Would we still discover camels living next door?
Or would we just employ a chef to cook us a fucking camel, like Bono probably does?
I think he does.
Day 5 - Ginger - Of Love And Insomnia
There's a strange and quite thrilling atmosphere in the air today.
Maybe it's the lack of sleep?
God knows I didn't sleep for more than a few hours last night.
Reading a dull book before bedtime, good idea. Reading Richard Pryor's autobiography, Prior Convictions? A very bad idea. Relieved to have finished it, truth be known. Motherfucker can't keep up all night no more (meant in Richard Pryor voice).
Maybe it was CJ's delicious salmon soup that made us all realise that we still enjoy each other's company, even after all these years.
Maybe it was watching Pink Floyd's 'The Making Of Dark Side Of The Moon' from the classic albums DVD series, in a bid to get myself to sleep in between revisits to Pryor's riveting tome? Another bad idea, unless, of course, the plan was to have WAY too much to think about to be able to sleep.
Whatever the reason I have been dragged into today with the notion that we should be a more successful band. For a lot of reasons.
Being cult underdogs is fun when your loyalty is to Carlsberg Super, amphetamine sulphate and bong hits, as well as 'da cause', naturally, but when you're away from your family making an album in another Country you get a sense that this is important. Way more important than keeping it real and sticking out yet another album of pop punk thrash to satisfy deadline pressures.
The collection of songs you are laying down must mean something, to you and to the people that hear them. And then the people who will hear the band for the very first time based on this collection of songs. And the new countries you will visit, in which you hope to open markets and make new friends using this set of songs. And how this music connects with the people to whom the term 'fans' seems somehow inappropriate, people who have followed you through all the times of creative highs and embarrassing lows.
How do you satisfy everyone?
A true artist would say they must first satisfy themselves.
Then I guess I'm not a true artist.
I want YOU to love the new music, but not only that I want you to understand where we are coming from. To hear us speaking with you. To know that all we want is to live the times with you, times that we are lucky to have if we're still alive to experience them, and share the ride with you.
Our end of the bargain is to make music, and yours is to say "Yeah, it doesn't suck. Well done". But that barely scratches the surface of what is really going on here. What has always been the most important element of our times together. And we ARE doing this together. This life and these emotions. The ways that we choose to deal with the good and the bad. Sharing throughout.
It's always been this way, only right now it seems more important.
I dunno why.
Maybe I just needed to say this before this recording session turns into endless days of finishing off the songs, making sure guitars are in tune, okaying artwork and listening to the tracks a few hundred more times during mixing and mastering.
Maybe I just need some sleep?
Maybe I just need some coffee?
Or maybe we just don't say "I Love You" to each other enough?
Day 6 - CJ - Gone Fishing
Day 6 and the studio is rocking but at a slow countryside pace. Everything is going well and I think we are all settled in and there is a routine to our days. Ritch is almost finished laying down the drums and he will leave on Wednesday which will leave myself, Ginger and Scott here to finish off the album.
Yesterday Scott and I went fishing on the farms Salmon lake and would you believe it Scott caught a fairly sizable fish which I dispatched with my club. Don't worry it was a quick death and suffering was kept to the bare minimum.
I've fished all my life but I do not fish for fun or sport, I fish for my food. I find it strange when folks go fishing just to put the poor creature back in the drink. If your going to real something in the least you can do is eat it. A piscatorial assassin I am but a person who enjoys seeing creatures suffer I'm not. Anyway I turned our gift from the gods in to Creamy Salmon & Potato Soup and a fine dish it was. Hey it's heaven to eat freshly caught fish and a rare treat for us.
Day 7 - Ritch - Parole
Well, my time here is nearly done. It seems I've been a good boy and earned my parole and will be set free on Wednesday Afternoon. Just under a week here in Ribe and all the drum tracks have been laid down in the usual speedy yet precise fashion ready for the remaining members of the band to completely ruin my beautifully woven sonic tapestry of beats, breaks rhythms and fine time with guitars, bass, vocals and other such unnecessary nonsense cluttering the otherwise perfect display of precision percussion.
So tonight being my last night here I thought it only right to purchase a celebratory bottle of Jaegermeister to complement Cj's 3rd in one week curry, and to leave me to record the last track of the session tomorrow morning with a hangover from hell and to leave for blighty in that slightly paranoid uneasy beer fear frame of mind that I've left something important behind or have forgotten to record one of the album tracks.
Still Day 7 - Ginger - Lucky
Some guys have all the luck.
It seems that people are tired of my ramblings, so I'll leave myself out of todays blog and say only that I wish I was the drummer in The Wildhearts so I could go home tomorrow.
Still Day 8 - Ginger - For The Love Of Music
Groggy and shaken, the four rock soldiers rouse themselves from a disjointed slumber to a fresh morning set almost at complete odds with their hapless disposition. With the safety of the future of rock in their shaky hands and armed with volume and riffs they set about the stormy task of creating sonic mastery. The sheer might of the tsunami of soundwaves cascading from the colossal speakers shaking off the cobwebs like a melodic elixir.
Starting on bass and guitar today. Bass in one room and guitar in the other. Not the way we'd normally go about recording, naturally we'd play together with the drums, but we have a producer this time so we're listening to him with regards to making a killer album. We've also tuned down to C for most of the songs, occasionally D. It's something we've always toyed with but until we listened to Torche the other day and asked ourselves why our guitars always sound tinny on recordings, we'd been avoiding it. I assume we thought it was joining in with fashions to detune guitars, as everyone seems to be doing it. Fuck fashion, everyone is doing it because it sounds awesome. Huge. Grand. Powerful. Majestic. Expensive.
The quicker we lose this 'authenticity' thing the better.
It's great to be in the middle of the making of a truly great album.
- Great producer: check.
- Great studio: check.
- Great songs: check
- Open minds: check.
We've decided to turn our power ballad into a rock song now. We couldn't get to grips with how to write a Bryan Adams song so we opted for Pixies meets Weezer. Scott sings it now. I'm very relieved, I was starting to hate the song.
Sometimes when something seems to be going nowhere it's because it really is going nowhere. It takes a certain amount of courage to stop and turn around. Even more to admit you're lost and let someone else drive!
Scott is turning into a truly great writer. He's even surprising himself with his compositions. Yesterday he knocked out a quick pop/rock thing, tentatively called 'Start Over, and now we're talking about it being a single.
There are actually quite a few potential singles on this album.
The guy has either have fallen out of love with enjoyment, or merely out of time.
Today's attention deficient internet nation needs to read the odd paperback in the middle of scouting for blogs, visit the odd gallery instead of assuming hi res is where it's at, and enjoy the pleasure of a truly great album instead of thinking they're getting the full picture from one isolated track.
Don't tell me the future will be one where people can't spend 40 minutes to listen to a good album, or that music needs to make a socio-political statement. Music should be whatever people want it to be.
What seems to be happening is that with the dissolution of record companies the dictators are now internet nerds with the need to rule what is essentially an artistic statement.
Animal Farm anyone?
Some things are better than the internet, and music is just one of them.
Don't deny your pleasure, people.
And if you waste your time buying music that is creatively substandard then let it be known. Set up a site where people can openly berate artists peddling mush that falls below a certain level of quality. Send the results to the artists management and record label, most artists are pretty easy to get hold of in these baby kissing, fan friendly days.
Send the results to every forum in the world. Let it be known that you're tired of being ripped off from purchasing music with only a commercial interest, and you want your money back.
Naturally cull the hordes of dross in order to make way for musicians actually willing to make music an artistic statement, not just a commercial one.
Those people still exist. Please buy their music, Metallica don't need your money.
Don't starve the true artist out of a living and don't buy Guns n Roses' album. Use xtorrent instead. Fuck U2, steal their album, they can afford it.
And shame on you if you download anything independent.
Peace and out.
Day 9 - Ginger - The Cardio Effect
Current mood: fabulous
Feeling great after a day without drinking, so went for a nice long run while the sun was coming up. This will be my new regime for a while now. Drinking is fun for a while but it gets very boring very quickly. The secret for me is to stop before it gets too dull and get back to pounding the streets with the ipod on shuffle. That way I get to enjoy the odd beer with the boys but remember that nothing feels better than being in shape.
The guitars really are sounding astounding!
This de-tune thing has way more advantages than disadvantages. Sure, they're a bitch to keep in tune, but when they're singing with the bass in perfect sonic harmony there are very few things more thrilling. Fuck man. What a glorious sound.
Jacob Hansen is a real perfectionist too, which is great for us. Normally we get off on the riffs and the general excitement of creating something brand new, but he hears every out of tune string and every slightly late guitar accent. It's going to be a pleasure doing vocals with him, but for now I can safely say that the guitars have NEVER sounded so expensive at this stage of recording than they do now.
This is all new to us. I guess this is probably the first time we've allowed ourselves to be anal about the sounds and the performance. Absolutely no disrespect to anyone we've worked with before, the blame falls squarely on our shoulders. We've always been antagonistic bastards that will argue about the value of recording something in one take.
Thinking that nailing something in one take is a little like being able to drink anyone under the table. It makes the individual feel important but has very little value for anyone else. Taking one's time and savouring the experience is an entirely more beneficial pastime.
Scott is writing some amazing lyrics, which I'm very happy about. Taking the weight from my shoulders is very welcome after years of having to write every word this band represents. I'm really thrilled that, with this new album, you will get to see what's on someone else's mind apart from mine. And Scott's mind is a fascinating place to gain VIP access into, believe me.
Still being impressed by this album on a daily basis. Which is new to me. Normally, at this juncture I want to stay away until it sounds more coherent. And usually I can't as I'd be producing the bloody thing. The passenger seat is a much better place in which to appreciate the scenery.
Tally-ho Jeeves, mine's a mineral water.
Day 10 - Ginger - Snack Or Famine
Current mood: animated
Ouch! Ate breakfast a bit too close to running today. Should have stretched properly yesterday too. The result? I hurt like a motherfucker, but in a strangely pleasant way.
Denmark really is a beautiful place to go jogging around in. All sprawling fields and farmland. Running through areas where cows watch from within their iron prison enclosures sure makes a carnivore rethink the next steak. Pity, then, that God made filet mignon taste so fucking good, huh?
Anyway I always forget that fruit really makes sense when exercising again. It's like your rapidly detoxifying body is grabbing for those nutrients with real gratitude. I also find that I want to smoke more when I'm getting fit. A friend of mine says it's because the extra lung capacity makes for a better smoking experience, and I can't help but agree.
Scott is putting down the first lead vocals of the album. It's really weird listening to a song he wrote, CJ played all the guitar on, and now Scott is singing. This delegation is what I always wished for with this band, and still it feels slightly odd. Like I'm listening to someone else's group who sound a bit like Weezer. They're really good tho'.
Democracy within a band is a strange animal. At once impressive and slightly discomforting, like a large powerful dog. It is with great trepidation that I enter into a new phase for The Wildhearts and hope that I don't get my head bitten off.
I'm happy that I seem to be getting good internet signal recently. It was very sporadic for the first week, and then, with the departure of Ritch, the problem was no more. Bloody drummers.
It's Easter weekend and we forgot to go shopping. No huge banquets for us then, although neither will there be alcohol for the entire Easter holiday. Something I have a feeling I'm happier about than the rest of the guys.
For now I'm happy getting fit, eating healthy, writing my blogs, keeping up to speed with my internetworking and scribbling my reviews for Classic Rock (classicrockmagazine.com). Hey, I think there's one up today. Hope it's the Good Rats one. You really must hear that album.
Also, check out The Damned 'So, Who's Paranoid?'. Mostly a return to Strawberries form, give or take the odd slight stinker. Still the good stuff on there is amazing.
Busy, busy, busy.
Healthy, healthy, healthy.
Day 10 - CJ - Detuning To C
Current mood: busy
Day 9 on the farm and the sun is shining and the guitars are crushing. Been recording guitars for the last three days and the whole detune thing has really given our sound a mighty kick up the old derriere. It's a joy working with Jacob as he has a very laid back approach to recording and gets the most amazing sounds with such little effort, a true sonic master. Had to kind of learn to play again as de tuning to C makes the strings very loose so you can't really lay into them so i have to be ever so gentle and can't thrash away like an Indian punk rocker. Really can't wait for you guys to hear this album, as it has a freshness about it, that for a band as old as we are is a suprise and a beautiful thing.
The living side of the studio is still prison like but it's amazing how quickly you can adapt to your surroundings and there is a rhythm to days now. Had a problem with flies as we are on a farm and these critters are everywhere. I hate killing anything but the final straw was coming in to my room and seeing at least a dozen diptera holding an orgy on my pillow...Hey i don't mind the odd orgy but not on my pillow, the least they could of done was get their own room. Anyway got some industrial strength fly killer and zapped the dirty little horny bastards. No more copulating insects...Nice
Well tonight the guys are gonna be eating Creamy Bacon & Potato Soup with added peas for a flash of colour....Lovely...
Day 10 - Scott - Not Too Shabby
We've been here over a week now and I think the initial shock of being in the middle of a field has worn off. Tempers are begining to settle, we're starting to ease into the swing of things. Maybe it's because we're starting to hear the record's potential, or maybe it's because our drummer has fucked off (hehe), but there's a certain electricity growing in the air around here. I just layed down the first vocals of the session. Not to shabby if I do say so myself. Anyway, back to work.....
Day 11 - Ginger - Lord of the Flies
Current mood: bouncy
The solitary runner smiled at the shy old sun inching, with almost timid hesitation, atop the Danish landscape. With the choir of sparrows and finches cheering on its performance, like a reticent starlet appearing naked on the stage its confidence grew with every new shaft of sunlight that blasted away the dawns remnants from the blanket of cornfields.
The lonely runner no longer felt alone. The connection wasn't merely with the grand light show on offer, nor was it only with the birds providing the gleeful soundtrack, but with everything around.
'How could one not believe in a God, the supreme force behind all of this?', the runner silently remarked.
How indeed could the existence of the greatest power be denied in such circumstances? The runner needed to look no further than the butterfly crossing his path, whose origins could not be more far fetched than if fabricated by the greatest imaginations on Earth.
An insect crawls into its self made sleeping bag, dissolves completely, then reforms as an entirely new organism which then flies out of the previous insect's cocoon.
'With', the runner remarked 'no more of a molecular link with that caterpillar as I have with the road beneath me'. It would be stranger to think that there wasn't a God.
Me, on the other hand am starting to get really sick of these fucking flies.
Flies, man, they're like that episode of South Park with the super Nannies, where Cartman is incapable of behaving in a normal, rational manner. Flies, man, they're in the house, they're in the studio. They shit on the plates, they puke on the food. They try to crawl around on your face, and when you 'shoo' them off, it's like they're annoyed at your for stopping them from shitting and puking on your lip?
So what is God's idea behind the fucking fly then?
Maybe the souls of those that caused suffering in others, sent here for one last bout of punishment to be the most annoying species on earth, and if they don't get swatted by a spatula looking contraption they'll get caught by a spider and slowly drained of their juices? A shit life for shit people? Shit, you even eat shit. You live on shit. Then you shit your shit on a plate while you scavenge leftovers you can't eat unless they're covered in puke. Your puke.
They have a fly swatter in the studio with which they swipe these pesky fuckers to death with stealth like ease. I'm told it's the holes in a fly swatter that make it unnoticeable to a fly, the air between your hand and the fly being the dead giveaway for the little critter. I'm also told that swiping two rolled-up newspapers at once confuses the fly and makes them easier to target.
Until today I liked to think I was the kind of guy who would literally not hurt a fly, but if these motherfuckers don't stop landing on my mouth I'm getting me a swatter and I'm killing me some rapists.
Feeling very, very good. I'm up before everyone again, having got my run in nice and early this morning. I like to run four songs there (wherever 'there' ends up being) and four songs back. With the ipod on shuffle sometimes you get Ramones and sometimes you get Rush. Today my ipod wanted to go out doors for longer so it cooked up some epics. Funny how they know, huh?
Yesterday we finished the vocals on Scott's as-yet-untitled song, and awesomely heavy slab of pop punk that sounds remarkably radio friendly. It would be great to see the band garner a larger audience based on something that Scott sang. The new audience assuming that he's the lead singer, would then force me to take my dream role as guitar player and second vocalist.
Hey, you often get exactly what you wish for.
So God, if you're not too busy making flies out of corrupt politicians, I'd like to be Scott's back-up singer on the next album please. Can you make that happen?
-clicks heels three times-
Fuck, now there's even more flies. We're not in Manhattan now, Toto.
Day 11 - CJ - Warm Fat Wall Of Guitars
Day 10 and Ginger has started putting down his guitars and rocking it is. The whole sound has this warm fat wall of guitars that just make you feel good to be alive. Jacob's approach to recording is very fresh and rather than just recording in blocks i.e. all the guitars then all the vocals, we are working on some guitars then some vocals so no one is getting too bogged down and it keeps things exciting. This whole laid back way of recording is appealing and new for us, as it sometimes gets stressful in the studio, so anything to make the whole process more enjoyable is a bonus.
On the farm we are getting low on food, just 2 pizzas and a stick of garlic bread so it's off to the shop today for a major restock. Shopping here is a problem as the nearest town is 8 miles away and we do not have a car so the local shop has to do. Well stocked it isn't but it's better than nothing and with what it does have I can normally knock up something delicious... But alas, Lobster Thermidor will have to wait until we are back in Blighty...
Day 11 - Scott - Pryor Convictions
Hey y'all. Nothing much else to report. I've just been listening to Ginger lay down his parts while reading "Pryor Convictions And Other Life Sentences" by Richard Pryor. It's kind of the perfect book at the moment. Takes away the monotony of being a fly on the wall. Makes me laugh my ass off on one of those days when you need it the most. Drinks anybody?....
Day 12 - Ginger - Peaceful Easter Feeling
Current mood: blessed
So it's like this, right. The farmer next door gives us three bicycles that he's kindly fixed up for us. Forgot all about them until last night when we're getting a bit stir crazy in the old house. CJ suggests we take them out for a spin, next thing we're pedaling like we're in the tour-de-France towards the North sea. We hit the beaches where you can almost see Newcastle, cycle along the coast until the road disappears into the waves, but the trees keep going, making a weird pathway into the depths of the water.
So we wait until the tide goes out and cycle across to Hamburg where we sell the bikes and head over to the nearest strip bar, where we're getting friendly with these three strippers. They take us in the back room where we're getting down to business, when all of a sudden we're being bound and gagged by these three Russian dudes. Turns out the strip bar is a front for the Russian mafia. They bundle us into the back of a van and drive us to Normandy where they nick our passports, shoot us all in the head and dispatch of the bodies in oil barrels.
Well, the story is true up until the bit where we wait for the tide to go out. At that point we rode the bikes across the beaten countryside to find the only bar within a ten mile radius, with a handy cashpoint about 100 yards away. With raging thirsts and a good old cardiovascular workout under our belts we conclude that it's okay to drink on Easter weekend.
Felt a little rough this morning, had to drag myself outdoors to run the 4 mile journey to the beach and back. They're always the best ones, those painful runs, where you can feel yourself gradually being well again. And so, while the boys sleep their few beers off I'm showered, coffee in hand and ready to face this wily ol' world.
The day is beautiful and so are you.
CJ will engineer today's session.
The studio is free and so are we.
Gonna put down some bass and generally take it easy.
It's Sunday, fer chrissakes.
Easter Sunday at that.
Hell, we'd take the day off if we didn't love doing this so much.
Hey, we still might.
Day 12 - Ginger - Isolation Sickness
Current mood: lonely
Category: Dreams and the Supernatural
Isolation fever begins to seep into the house like curdled smoke from a mysterious world somewhere outside of the present confines. A world where people mingle, internet exists, telephones link lovers in vital communication and television pumps information into the lives of the secluded. Somewhere out there a tapestry of industrial sounds blend in familiar harmony, the soundtrack to a social picture in constant motion.
Here in the barren landscape of nowheresville we could be blissfully oblivious to mass worldwide devastation, to an aftermath of terrible warfare where hideously deformed mutant beings crawl from the remnants of all too recent destruction. The world could have stopped spinning on its axis. Zombies could be roaming the earth. Giant Japanese monsters crushing every building in every seething metropolis. It could all be going on in the nearest city. We would never know.
Here all is quiet. Eerily so.
The telephones have stopped working, although CJ has a weak signal that occasionally gives us access to civilisation.
Internet is a luxury not to be exploited. For a couple of hours a day the world of cyberspace is ours, teasing with promise, thrilling with information.
We are allowed to work until 4pm, although it has been known to last until 5pm on occasion, daily (except for Sundays. And National holidays), and from late afternoon until the fresh new morning conversation, held around a grimy wooden table under the last remaining lightbulb, is the final bastion of sanity. Talk of bright new futures, exciting and untapped resources and artistic merit permeate the darkness.
The quiet, threatening darkness.
Without sound or vision the evening grips like an evil parent. The threat much more terrifying than the punishment, which, of course, never arrives. There is only, ever, the constant drumming of the threat. That awesome, desperate threat.
Slowly, resolve dissipates like oxygen.
Thrice told jokes no longer thrill.
A cold sweat spreads under unwashed garment.
A door creaks under the pressure.
Mice scuttle overhead through rooftop networks.
The silence suddenly begins to vibrate.
It's terrible hum oscillating in dark harmony.
Familiar and deadly.
The direction of the dull, aching hum is impossible to pinpoint.
It is not inside the room. It is not outside the room.
The awful truth is the final thing to register before insanity battles zero defense.
The sound is coming from within the mind.
Collectively, we share the sound, the hum, the threat and the awesome darkness.
In silence we offer ourselves to the mercy of the silence.
And, of course, there is no mercy.
For there is nothing.
Ugh, can you imagine that? Thank God we have our bicycles.
Photographic evidence that we did actually get our asses into Ribe on bicycles. Extraordinary, yet blatantly true.
CJ in rare contemplative mode.
Scott sits completely at odds with a church in the background
Ginger is grateful that there isn't a field in sight.
Day 13 - Ginger - Happiness And The Infinite Wisdom
Current mood: inspired
Washing my socks and underwear in the sink this morning (we have no washing machine) left me with an odd feeling of DIY that I haven't felt since we started the band. On one hand the band are skint, bored, restless and, for the best part, without communication, but on the other hand we are skint, bored, restless and, for the best part, without communication together. A sense of bonding permeates the household that wouldn't exist with abundant food, drink and city life. A closeness stimulated by lack of stimulation.
We have no music to listen to, so we talk about music instead. We have no TV so we create visual images using colourful conversation. We have no washing machine so we get elbow deep in the suds and pummel our smalls as clean as the human hand is able to battle grime.
The producer hasn't been to the studio for the last two days so we've discovered the joy of cycling. What else but sheer boredom would promote such a move, or make a person want to go running at 6am?
This morning's run was spectacular. The ipod (shuffle mode) began the session gently with Tori Amos and, almost an hour later, brought me back to base with a bizarre remix of 'She's So Taboo' by Clam Abuse. I'm glad I didn't turn it off straight away, as was my immediate reaction, because by the end I was enjoying it's toneless, anti-melodic charm.
As I cooled down Tim McGraw's 'Carry On' began. I figured I'd switch it off and instead look forward to it ushering in tomorrows run, but the message still stayed with me. Carry on, through the thick and the thin. Through the sturm und drang.
When situations seem the most difficult to surmount is when you dig in deep for the strong stuff. The stuff of heroes. The stuff of champions. Yes, things down on the farm aren't ideal, but neither are they impossible.
We will know when things are impossible, because we will be helpless.
We are not helpless. We merely asked the wrong question of the Universe.
"Can we make an air-tight, awesomely heavy/melodic and in-tune album with a, amazing European producer who specialises in huge sounds?"
And the Universe heard us.
The Universe is like a computer, and if you ask it for porn it will give you porn. Unless, however, you express, in detail, exactly what porn you want you may well end up with your 'girl-on-girl' bundled up in a greatest hits medley of 'boy-on-boy', 'girl-on-shetland pony' and 'grandma-on-midget'. See? You have to be detail specific if you want the Universe to work for you.
And I believe it wants to work for you, it wants to make you happy.
I also believe that the law of life is to be exactly who you are. Just do it to your full capability. Whatever, and whoever that is.
So, you see how complicated things can get for the Universe?
There is no right or wrong way, there are no rules, just a ton of different types of folk asking for different stuff. And the Universe obliges, as best she can, based on detail, or lack thereof.
And so the next time we make an album we want pretty girls, interesting people, all night bars, late night shopping, bright lights and WAY too much stuff to do. As well as a great producer. (Preferably a workaholic who works late.)
We have received EXACTLY what we asked for, nothing less, and certainly nothing more.
And for that we are truly thankful.
And with that we head in to make some noise.
Or at least we will when the producer turns up.
Day 13 - CJ & Scott - AKA The Monkey And The Neck
Life on the farm is not for everyone, being here has made me realize just how much I love the city. I never miss London when I'm in an exotic country but Denmark is far from exotic and I'm so homesick for my dirty metropolis. Life that's what I need, as here in the countryside everything is so slow it can seem you're in a constant daze, going backwards and quietly rotting in to the earth. Our bikes are a tiny slice of freedom and just riding about in the lanes is enough stimulation to remind yourself that you're still alive and that we are here to make music. Sometimes I see dead people in my room but that's just boredom and when we are recording it all makes sense again. We are still working on guitars but a large chunk of the music is recorded and I think we'll be on vocals tomorrow. Every day our album moves forward and that means the end is closer. I for one will kiss the ground when I leave the farm and forever be thankful for the constant riot of my fair city... London!!!
After the frustration of spending the day trying to fix my damn phone (which decided to stop working out of the blue 2 days ago... WOOHOO!), CJ and I decided to take the bikes out again today. It's fucking gorgeous out so we decided to take a ride down to the water and back just to get some fresh air. We cruised along effortlessly until we reached the end of the road. I slowed down to almost a complete stop, hit some loose gravel, and totally bailed. Yes I did. As CJ doubled over in laughter, I had a nervous flash back and remembered the last time I crashed a bike. I was living in LA and had spent the whole summer being as bad as I could possibly be. After a week long stint of not sleeping and staying constantly drunk I decided to ride my bike from the valley into Hollywood. I was flying down Vine as fast as I could when I hit a hidden tree root in the sidewalk and flipped over the handle bars. Not only did I flip OVER the handle bars but I held ON to the handle bars and brought the whole bike down on top of me. Fucked me up good. Crushed the small finger on my right hand and put me in the hospital for a week. It was kind of like God saying "Hey Sorry..Slow the fuck down or I'm gonna make you myself!". Two weeks later I left LA for good. Good times...
Ginger - Stuff
Wow, this tuning down lark is a bit infuriating. Take after take of tuning up and tuning down can drive a rocker to distraction.
Modern recording is a bit odd too. No song is played from start to finish. Parts are edited and supplanted into other parts of the song using Jacob's amazing cyber pen contraption. It's weird, anyone can make a terrific album these days. The age of having to be able to play is behind us, ladies and gentlemen.
And as for open chords, well tuning as low as C makes them pretty impossible to play, so you opt for bar chords and if you absolutely MUST have an open chord section you play every chord separately, having to tune each chord to the song before playing it. Bizarre stuff.
The future isn't as rock n roll as the past, but then neither is it as sloppy.
The results, however, are amazing. Truly amazing.
I never thought we'd sound so good!
Yeah, okay, with a little help from pro tools, but still, ya gotta write the shit in the first place. Pro tools ain't gonna write you a chorus or come up with a huge riff, is it?
Oh no, pro tools is our bitch, and no doubt about it.
CJ found a skeleton of a huge animal, completely full apart from the head. Makes me imagine Satanists lurking in the corn fields, or tiny critters with fearsome teeth attacking the wildlife.
Anyhoo, I'm going to get photographic evidence later, so hopefully I'll have proof of his find for you by the time you read this.
Other than that it's business as usual for your merry band of miscreants, mendicants and minstrels.
It's been a good day.
I think the Universe liked my 'stay positive, dammit' stance today, because she blessed me with a day full of gratitude and promise.
And for that I'm sticking with the brand loyalty of optimism over frustrated rage.
It's all about perception. y'know? 100%.
Ginger - The Devil's Carcass.
So here's the bones I was telling you about yesterday. Man, it was an eerie search to find them.
I've made the trip down into this empty wastelands by the sea with the guys, but I'd never been alone, and headed so far into this netherworld of intimidating tranquility.
No sooner had I lost sight of the mills and farms, and all familiarity, I began to feel really nauseous and very far from civilisation. The stillness was broken by a sinister bell. No sooner had the creepy peal ceased but an industrial whirring started up, the likes of which could only be responsible for grinding up bones and flesh to make food. Or something.
Was this some cannibal version of Old MacDonland? What dastardly deeds had taken place in this barren expanse of secrets?
Was the black shed really the home of local Satanists?
Anyway, this is my report. I'm off to write a proper blog.
Day 14 - Ginger - Can somebody Please Mend Our Broken Bass Player?
Doing vocals right now, and they're sounding sweet, and awesomely in tune. It's a refreshing soundtrack to a sluggish day, the result of last night's surprise party.
The Jackson Whites is lower than we've been playing it live, and is now much more menacing for it. The Greatest Man Who Ever Walked On The Earth wasn't looking likely to make the album but it sounds so good now that it is, once again, a contender.
After blissing out on the bicycle yesterday, intending to just find the mysterious skeleton of the Fjords I ultimately got progressively and more wildly involved in nature and the cardiovascular properties of cycling, Arriving home hours later than intended the boys had already eaten and were getting concerned about where I was, my bicycle and laptop nowhere to be seen. The laptop was actually resting in the studio where the signal is stronger, and the bicycle was under my ass the whole time, but CJ thought our producer may have locked my computer in the studio and so I'd gone to the water to drown myself, unable to bear an evening without internet.
The truth wouldn't be too far from the joke.
The internet has thoroughly saved my bacon while we've been cocooned in nomadic seclusion. Without Twitter (are you all Tweeting yet? you MUST get yourself into the TweetDeck), Facebook and Skype I've no idea how I'd be doing now. And without being able to communicate with you through these blogs I'm not sure how I'd keep myself mentally agile.
Without doubt a terrifying thought.
Anyway, on arriving back at the ranch after my adventure, I was beckoned over by a smiling CJ to a blazing fire, some crates of beer and our neighbours, the people kind enough to loan us the bikes, entertaining Scott, CJ and yet another thoroughly decent Danish neighbour.
Stories were told, free beers were downed and logs were burned as we relaxed by the fire to the sound of salmon leaping in the pond behind us. Long after dark, me and Scott took the party indoors where we gently tore the world apart and gently reassembled it as a mended place.
Which is more than can be said for Scott's phone.
In his ongoing communication breakdown saga we opened his troublesome mobile to find that the insides appeared to have been up an elephants arse. Nothing else could fully explain the filth and grime seemingly holding the thing together.
Scott's temper has been temporarily cooled as our manager is sending him a new phone. The household will once again bounce happily along with the welcome arrival of the new cell phone, until then tension will reign, so thank God for evenings like yesterday.
And thank God for the generosity of Danish people.
Day 15 - Ginger
Current mood: focused
Recording vocals all day. No repeated tuning needed save for my own internal pitching mechanism which has tightened with almost surreal professionalism over the years, I must say.
One of the more pleasant side effects of this singing lark is the ability to 'place' your voice in a comfortable place when pitching. This is something that Willie Dowling told me about about when I first started singing, and as he described the process of placing your voice somewhere within your throat where it feels most comfortable I remember looking at him almost impressed that he could speak Chinese, or much like a dog tries, with tilted head, to understand his master.
I used to dread recording vocals, but with Jacob at the helm I'm comforted by his thorough understanding of the instrument. He is also the fastest engineer I have ever met. Within one hour the lead vocal in performed, edited and laid down forever. His confidence in his abilities is hugely impressive. I've never enjoyed doing vocals as much as I'm enjoying these sessions.
The first song of the day, and indeed of the album, is Chutzpah 1, which is very short and very endearing. Everyone is having way too much fun doubling each others harmonies and trying to sound like little girls. Sometimes you have to marvel at how immature some grown men can be in their daily lives.
Chutzpah 2 is up now. Man, this a funny song. It benefits from the down-tuning massively. Scott and I yell a verse that sounds like Slayer and early Anthrax meet NYC hardcore. Funny and awesome. Scott hates me pushing his vocal range way beyond where he'd comfortably hang out, but I have a funny feeling he actually loves being worked like a dog.
Either way, there is currently a studio in Denmark, far away from civilisation, where responsible adults are laughing like naughty school kids, and it feels damn good.
Such is often the life of The Wildhearts. There is fun everywhere, and so we maintain the search for this elusive elixir in our daily lives.
All in all this is a very colourful album that I feel thoroughly benefits from being written in New York. The lyrics remind me of the regular awesomeness that is the streets of NYC, that, when taken out of context seem alien and impossible to imagine not being part of a film set.
I miss being back home really badly. I watched a movie about New York last night, and instead of the streets looking like expensive 70's film stock they looked like a home movie. I guess that's what New York must seem like to New Yorkers. The place is in my bones now. Nowhere is like it. Nothing is like it. It's expensive, sure, but it's worth every single penny for the street theatre, the colour and the culture.
And with a sense of purpose and conviction I drive on through this album, inspired by that fair City, remembering the moment when I first came to New York, the moment I fell in love with it, and it with me, and look forward to being back there one day very soon.
Day 16: Furry things, suicide and rubbish Fathers on my mind.
Current mood: confused
Amazing run this morning. My ipod really knew what it was doing. I wondered if it has some kind of knowledge of the structure of music, like that of itunes genius, but then it wouldn't make sense that shuffle predicts the next 10,000 songs in advance of you playing the first one. So, in that case, I guess it's just co-incidence. But there is no such thing as co-incidence.
When I was a kid all I wanted to know was how they cut a woman in two.
ALL I wanted to know.
Now that I've found that out (kind of, although it still doesn't make sense when her toes are wiggling across the other end of the studio...how do they do THAT? aaarrgggghhhh) all I wanna know is how your ipod knows what to play next.
If anyone has any idea then PLEASE put me out of my misery.
Or if anyone knows how those toes are wiggling on the other side of the studio, I'd like to learn that too please.
So, I'm getting warmed up for the most unpleasant part of the 4 mile journey. The first 5 minutes. I hate the first 5 minutes so the first song is very important. Recently my ipod likes to begin with strong female vocalists. I've been getting Tori Amos, Lucinda Williams, Sinead O Connor recently, so today it's Sheryl Crow's turn to guide me through the first, painful half mile. 'Soak Up The Sun' is a song I've feared for years, it was released right at the height of my addictions and reminds me of scoring, or at least it did until today. Another demon put to rest, and the run begins with a philosophical jog down memory lane.
Shonen Knife are up next, where I'm planted back in LA supporting the Darkness and talking to Dave Grohl, who had missed our set. "It's a good thing I didn't miss your opening act when you played Brixton Academy", I said as we both agreed Shonen Knife were easily the better band of that evening.
I'm smiling when the awesome Crunchy start name checking The Wildhearts in Sorority Girl. Came as a bit of a shock too, and a wonderful surprise. And I'm still smiling when the awesomely drunk Nuclear Assault bring chaotic rock to my motion. The rock is maintained with Desperado, the band-that-shoulda-been featuring Dee Snider and Bernie Torme. Headed back but I can't see the house yet so I'm gonna need to keep the pace up. No problem, Pendulum provide some frantic beats that act like a push from behind.
Then a strange thing happens. Elton John's 'Daniel' comes on and completely throws me. Sends me back to my grandmas house when I was a little kid, drawing pictures of my favourite pop stars. That day I'd done Slade, Sweet, Elton John and little Jimmy Osmond. I'm wondering where my Mum and Dad are. Fighting somewhere, presumably. Dad would leave soon after that. Dads that leave their kids, and don't stay in touch with them should be made to give their fucking balls back.
You don't need 'em, you sure ain't using them.
Fountains Of Wayne take me to my door, literally. As the last note fades I reach for the door handle.
Where on earth would we be without ipods?
And how does that toe wiggle so far away from her body?
I'm feeling happy. Last night was a very dark one. Scott was on an Elliott Smith trip last night. An amazing singer/songwriter, Smith cut his life short by running into a wall holding a kitchen knife against his chest. His music and this awful image played tricks with the loneliness in my head, making me believe I wanted to die too. And I do, I just have no intention of doing so. I want to die like I want to smoke crack again.
Anyway, I need to find out how those toes are wiggling before I kill anyone, me included.
Took a walk around the animals last night. It's a grand world where humans and animals can mix without prejudice. They're happy here, certainly a lot happier than I am. Still, the album is sounding great, and that's all that matters right now. That and these guys:
So there you have it:
- iPods are weird.
- Dads should stay in touch with their kids.
- Suicide sucks.
- Animals are great.
And how DO they get those toes to wiggle at the other end of the studio?
Day 17: Ginger
Current mood: melancholy
Woke up feeling oddly displaced. Stumbled around the studio. Drank some industrial strength coffee. Tried to skype someone, anyone. It's a beautiful day, the sun is pouring goodness on her audience, the songs are rockin', so why can't I get my engines going?
Decide to go for a run. The ipod shares my disembodiment and throws an all male set of confusion and incoherence together, which includes Mitch Hedberg, Paul Stanley, Mike Skinner and Andre 2000. Start to feel a little more alive once I get into the shower but still can't fight the impression that the earth has turned into glue during the night and is tugging at every step that I make today.
Surely I can't be feeling melancholy because this is the last week and something deep within me is going to miss this place?!?!?!?
Maybe I'm feeling that the 3 members of the band have bonded in a way that we never would have in different circumstances. With Ritch gone and no money around (and nothing to do), there are two lanes of progression on offer. Kill each other or bond. I'm very happy about the fact that we chose the latter.
Maybe we're making an album that we wouldn't have made without the work being held under a microscope born of gratitude for breaking the extreme isolation?
Maybe it's the smell of shit?
I like the smell of cowshit, I really do. And horseshit. Pigshit too, although it can be a little overpowering early in the morning too close to a fresh spreading. Then it smells a little like too much like human shit. Lying on top of the earth as it does, stinking, you can't blame the pigs, they have to eat as much crap as we do.
Horse and cows are like "fuck your leftovers man, give me some grass and make it fresh", pigs are like "I'll eat cows and horses, fuck it".
As you are what you eat, so you were what you shat.
If I'm coming back as an animal I'd like it to be a horse. Horses are cool as shit. Big, gentle, respected, and can kill you with a foot.
Nothing hates horses, man.
Actually I'd be happy to be a dog, or a bird, anything but a fucking human.
I don't understand humans. Friends who act like they're collecting people instead of loving them. People supposedly close to you who have no idea who the fuck you are. I guess it's more merciful to invent a personality for someone than to shave their current one to fit. And butterfly collectors aren't concerned with how pretty just a few could look on a wall. They don't care about the butterflies, they care about the pretty wings. They care about their own appreciation. Their own gratification. The butterfly has very little to do with the deal.
I seem to be thinking about other people way too much when I should be letting people walk their own path, and concentrating on walking my own. Still, even Ghandi must've got frustrated at people occasionally.
Kim, the guy playing keys on the album, stayed with us last night and is back in the studio today, putting down strange noises and loops etc. I'm liking his involvement very much. For me it's way overdue for us to reinvent ourselves a little, and the strange sounds he's making sound every bit as exciting as a guitar solo or another hand-me-down chord progression.
Maybe we should think about getting a keyboard player for our live shows? Stick him at the side with a mini bar set up so he doesn't get too bored during the old 'favourites'. It would be a little like a constantly whirring time machine, whipping you from '94 to present day. The effect slightly disorientating, yet depressingly familiar.
Little Sabina from next door has stepped in to provide vocals for a section of a song called You Are Proof That Not All Women Are Insane. It's a very cute part that I'm excited about you hearing. She's done a great job.
In fact everyone involved in this album has done a really great job. It's been a truly collective effort, like nothing I've ever been involved in before.
It's going to be a pleasure to work through this final week.
Day 19 - Ginger - The Final Furlong
Current mood: adventurous
Tension rears its taunting, ugly little head as stress threatens to infect the final 5 days of recording.
Yesterday was a dead day (hence no blog) with no-one at the studio and very little to do.
Highpoints were very sparse, containing themselves within a few morsels of pleasure, like listening to Imani Coppola's 'Black & White', The Jayhawks 'The Sound Of Lies' and Little Hell's 'Demonic Advisory Centre' (all truly awesome listens) and Scott teaching me how to shotgun beer. I realised I'd never done it before, and thought it was a bit over rated, to be honest, although Scott and CJ went to bed laughing like air raid sirens.
Although my experience didn't scale the frat-boy thrills of my co-hosts I'm glad I didn't wake with the hangover they have today.
We're concentrating on finishing all the guitars today. And when I say concentrating, I mean tongue out and furrowed brow like a little kid determined to writing their name correctly for the first time.
'All That Zen' is up first. We have some basic backing tracks laid down, but it's lacking the groove that the song needs to breathe. Stripping down a song is quite a chore, but not as awful as trying to make slightly incorrect backing tracks work. Man, the time I've spent in my life working for hours with a guitar or bass track that is never going to work. Going back to scratch eventually saves you a big chunk of your life.
The camel got castrated yesterday. Poor guy was humping (sic) anything from bales of hay to the shetland pony it shares the enclosure with. Strange thing was I took an afternoon nap, right about the time when he was getting snipped, and had strange dream where an overzealous fan was violently grabbing my bollocks. Couldn't get them to leave go. It was agony.
Wonder if the camel and I touched base somehow? I certainly felt for the poor guy the entire day. Anyway, he's fine today. A little wobbly on his feet but in good spirits.
Getting excited about seeing my family again.
I allow myself the luxury of missing them for the first few days and last few days. Need to get into work mode between those periods. You can't make an album being constantly homesick. It's no good for morale and it's certainly no good for performance.
Only have to hold on until Friday when we will be reunited.
The sense that we are in a timeless void has vanished and has been replaced by an overwhelming sense of hope.
Working on a song now called 'Mazel Tov Cocktail', which has a very Stonesy feel to it, classic and timeless. At least I think so. Not sure the rest of the band are as into it as I am. That's what makes this album recording so unique to us, there are some songs I'm less fond of than others, as are there for everyone. Anyway, CJ thinks it sounds like Kings Of Leon, which is a good sign as he likes King Of Leon.
Me? I'm just glad I'm in a band that can sound like Primal Scream one second, Kings Of Leon another, and NYC hardcore the next. And still have time for some Dark Side Of The Moon hugeness, Pixies weirdness, and the occasional bit of Cheap Trick meets The Clash.
Who else sounds like that?
It might be that our style is too confusing for the average consumer, and that we will sacrifice commercial gain to remain thrilled in the music we record. Still, we wouldn't (couldn't) have it any other way.
To be hugely successful and have to pull yourself back from experimentation would be massively depressing.
Now if, on the other hand, we could have both, what a wonderful life that would be!
I think it's always wise to live the life you want to live. Or at least try your damnedest. Ignore societal pressures and matters of the ego.
Be the person that you want to be, no matter how far away that seems, or how scary a move that would be.
Fear only regret not failure.
Who knows? It might all work out!
Day 21 - Ginger - I Guess One Man's Hell Is Another Man's Malmsteen
Current mood: rushed
Sorry there was no blog yesterday.
I spent 13 hours playing lead guitar/bits and suffered severe trauma as a result.
Not mere trauma like losing a leg or something menial like that, but SEVERE in CAPITAL letters, oh hang on, it just was.
I'm surprised they don't use the frequency that electric guitars make as a form of torture, in much the same as the Chinese water torture works. Me and Jacob were talking about this over a steak yesterday evening, and it's common that when you start lead guitars everyone wants to listen but gradually the room empties. Boredom eventually makes way for annoyance until a special kind of madness manifests and eventually everyone HATES lead guitar playing.
I understand that some people actually like to hear lead guitarists widdling in self flagellating onanism.
Ugh, I guess one man's Hell is another man's Malmsteen.
Anyway, all guitars are done now, thank Vai, and we're spending today doing lead vocals. We have a lot of songs already completed in the vocal dept, just ticking off numbers from the list.
Gonna be another full day of activity so this blog will be brief, but I promise to get together the mother of all blogs, with lot's of photo's of gear for the techies, and anecdotes surrounding the sprint to the finish as we clean up and head into the final straits of this album.
It's been a strange experience, and one I look forward to writing about later today when I lose my voice and am unable to sing anymore.
Which, quite frankly, can't come soon enough for me.
Nah, that's not strictly true. I'm actually enjoying the singing process on this album. Jacob is an amazing producer who effortlessly gets the best out of his subjects.
This is an awesome album and one that I really can't wait for you all to hear.
I know, I say that about all of them.
And I mean it.
Anyway, I'm off into the booth to bellow the new version of 'Zeen Requiem', which I know a lot of you are dying to hear. I'm glad we're bringing you this version. Dunno if it'll make the album. Maybe we'll just give it to you for being so patient and waiting to hear it for the last two years!
Right, gonna badger the guys into writing something today to give me a bit of a break, and I'll see you all on the other side of the recording session.
Red lorry, yellow lorry.
Day 21 - CJ - Monkey And The Neck Blog Off
Well we are getting close to the end now and I got to say I for one will not miss the farm, I need to get back to the city and people. This place has served it's purpose in giving us no distractions so that we could make the best album possible and I feel we have achieved our goal, as the album is sounding very exciting and fresh. We are working on vocals now and pulling a couple of late ones as we have to have everything finished by Friday. Friday will for me be the happiest day of the year so far as we will depart at 4 PM. I will look back one day and smile at our 25 days on the farm in Denmark but right now I just want to be in a clean house, sleep in a clean bed and be around my girlfriend and friends and not wake up in squalor. Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed recording this album and being here has made me realize just how lucky I am. I have a good life in London and may be I was taking it all for granted but never again and I'm a member of a great band. I will miss all the animals here and our bike rides and there are some lovely folks here, very kind and friendly but home is where the heart is and come Saturday i will wake up with the biggest smile on my face and thank the lord that i'm back where i belong...
Day 21 - Scott - An Ode To Elephant Lager
Like a shinning beacon of hope in the cold sea, you've shown me the way Elephant Lager. When I felt beat down, your 7.2 %vol. strength picked me up again and made me go on. We laughed, we cried, we smashed the place up and for this I will forever be in your debt. Now that I return to the lesser Lagers of home I shall always remember our time. So as the sun sets in the east..or west..whatever, I bid you farewell dear friend. Keep the wind to your back and never lose your amber glow. I think everything is gonna be alright.....
Day 21 - Ginger - The Picture Slowly Fills In With Colour
Current mood: busy
Phew, just got done singing lead vocals on the track 'Vernix'. This is an amazing song with more twists and changes than anything we've ever recorded before. Singing lead vocals on this has been a real task and has subsequently blown my voice to smithereens, which gives me a chance to write to you sweet people, and get Scott and CJ in the vocal booth for some backing vocals.
So, as we sprint towards the finishing line, with determination our guiding force, the thoughts going through my head are positive and warming. We've been here exactly 22 days and will complete 19 songs by the time we leave on Friday.
That's pretty good going in my book.
We've seen castrated camels, cycled to the edge of Denmark, drank with the awesome neighbours, ate fine cuisine courtesy of CJ, smelled the meerkats, stroked the kangaroos, ran for miles, pined for activity, starved, shotgunned, laughed, fished, got violently happy and gently crazy.
And in amongst this we've made probably the most ambitious album of our career.
With this in mind I declare that bands who complain about their lot are bands that deserve nothing more than an existence worthy of complaint.
We make our own luck, and if you're gonna blame anyone for the way your life is turning out then yours is an existence of cheap options and limited returns.
- Forgive quickly.
- Find something to be happy about with every angry thought.
- Think about something or someone you love while you fall asleep.
- Don't criticise.
- Don't listen to crappy music.
- Don't eat too much.
- Don't eat too little.
- Try to exercise a little just for the mind and read a good book.
Oh, and tell someone you love them every day.
So anyway, here are some pictures of the gear we've been using, for all your techies out there that dig this shit. Me? It's just a bunch o buttons, knobs and planks, but they make a grand sound, and no mistake.
There are a few guitars that we couldn't show pictures of because we're using them unlawfully. Like I said, planks, but someone else's planks, and they probably have a fondness for them. Probably shouldn't have licked them before putting them back in their cases. Probably shouldn't have shat in the cases either.
That's a lie.
We didn't shat in their cases. We left it in a paper bag next to the case.
See? We care.
Day 22 - Ginger - The Penultimate Entry
Current mood: accomplished
And so, as we sprint towards to finishing line, confidence spilling from every orifice and exit, brimming with hope we see the metaphorical girl-with-flag waving at us in the distance.
Since the album's humble beginnings we've always believed this was going to be a good 'un, the band all reading from more or less the same page (at least in the same library), new management, a new agent, plans to open the group to new markets, etc etc etc... but this means nothing without a finished album that kicks butt.
As with any album there are dark periods during the second trimester when it looks unlikely to ever be finished, such is the workload, especially with an album as adventurous as this.
We've always been quite ambitious with our arrangements, but never have we utilised the use of so many different sounds.
And we've always given ourselves a lot more time to record.
This time, however, we did demo recordings of the songs to make sure everyone knew the parts, and boy did it work out.
A few songs ('Under The Waves', 'Shine' and 'The Only One') were written at the studio, and one track ('Mazel Tov Cocktail') was briefly rehearsed but never demo'd as Ritch and Scott hated it (it's actually turned out to be one of everyones favourites), but the majority of the songs were ready to go the day we set up gear in Denmark.
This is a process I would recommend any band employing as it saves a lot of time at the point where time is money, namely studio time.
Racing through the harmony vocals today makes me thankful that the time seems to have flown by. I'm also thankful that we have so many great singers in this band that, between them, can reach every note in the human male spectrum. There really are some astounding harmonies on this album.
Tomorrow I'll sign off and say goodbye, and probably miss getting to report on our little outing, but for now here's a run down of the songs.
- CHUTZPAH 1: First song on the album. A crazy little number that kicks in the whole shebang.
- ALL THAT ZEN: Grooving and anthemic.
- YOU TOOK THE SUNSHINE OUT OF NEW YORK: Very poppy and classic.
- TIM SMITH: The heaviest song of the collection.
- THE SNAKE, THE LION, THE MONKEY AND THE SPIDER: A crazy jungle stomper with some very twisted lyrics.
- THE ONLY ONE: A surprise addition from Scott. Very cool pop.
- UNDER THE WAVES: The controversial dance-based number.
- SOME DAYS JUST FUCKING SUCK: A great rock n roll track.
- ZEEN REQUIEM: We finally recorded this lost classic, properly.
- VERNIX: The most complicated song on the album, easily!
- THE JACKSON WHITES: A heavy and moody anthem.
- PEOPLE WHO DIED: A cover of the Jim Carroll classic.
- JOHN OF VIOLENCE: A stadium sized rocker.
- LOW ENERGY VORTEX: Another huge atmospheric song.
- PLASTIC JEEBUS: A stomping anthemic monster.
- MAZEL TOV COCKTAIL: Classic Stonesy vibe brought up to date.
- YOU ARE PROOF THAT NOT ALL WOMEN ARE INSANE: Up tempo punk number with classic Wildhearts dual vocals.
- SHINE: Another late addition that we hope to finish.
- CHUTZPAH 2: A massive, split personality song that is sure to finish off the album.
So there you have it.
Not all of these songs will make the final album. We're looking to keep it as short as we can, using only the tracks that have a natural feel together.
I have my opinion on which ones will make it and which ones won't, but not a living human being knows for sure. So from this point on we're all in the same darkened room together.
All I can tell you, for sure, is that this will prove to be a hugely enjoyable listening experience, and one that I really can't wait to hear your opinions on.
I have a feeling you're going to treasure this one.
We've had a blast making this album, and bollocks to anyone who says the album is dead.
We'll keep making them as long as you keep buying them.
Day 22 - Ginger - Goodbye
Current mood: accomplished
And here it is, the final curtain and so I say etc etc.....you get the point.
Last blog, final day, album complete and another chapter begins.
It'll be possibly the most crucial time of our lives as a band. This album will either push us into working harder, capitalising on more opportunities and making a more stable future for ourselves, or it will set the band in a concrete stasis.
Don't worry, we'll always be around, we actually like each other's company, and no matter what happens we'll always play live.
This album will merely make us work harder or force us to rest.
Me? I can't rest. I have no idea how to. I need to make music full time, play music full time, live music full time. For me there are no breaks. How do you take a break from the juke box inside your head?
So you'll be seeing a lot of me in The Wildhearts, or solo, or with other projects.
We're all very proud of the album we are currently listening through to, picking out any unfinished moments, taking notes for mixing ideas and generally patting each other on the back.
As the closing dramatics of Vernix jabs at our egos and wrestles with our pride, the final feeling is ultimately one of humble gratitude.
We thank the wonderful Hoeiberg family for their wonderful hospitality and good company, and hope to see them again someday. Inga, keep eating that ice cream. Soeren, thank you for the beer and the bikes. Sabina you are a star.
And of course we need to thank the wonderful studio guys. Jacob you are amazing, Martin hope everything is okay now, Jeppe, hope your taste in music improves.
We can't say we're going to miss this place but we're certainly going to miss the creative process that has went on here, and one that wouldn't have been as fertile in a different environment.
Hopefully CHUTZPAH will be in your ears and hearts by August, and we'll be seeing you on tour around September. Bring a friend.
One final listen and then we're off to the airport, bound for babies, love and clean beds.
It's been a great ride. See you next time I've got something to write about.