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It’s been an eerie last few weeks. The virus that took me out just after Leamington persisted for over a month and refused to give me my voice back.
I traveled to Germany to visit my girlfriend carrying with me the up to date demos that Steve Vantsis had burned off at the end of a week long session that should have provided a bit more if the chanter had been on form. As I didn’t have a voice it was impossible to play with ideas and so we fuddled around with arrangements and parts coming up with some fantastic additions to “Can’t See the Beautiful”.
As I sat on the balcony on the first night the demos played through from the living room and I found myself relaxed and surprised at how far we were down the road with the songs we do have in some semblance of order. They were to be played throughout the week as I sat most mornings with boiled eggs, toast and coffee counting the crows swirling around an old oak tree in a neighbours garden before they threaded off in various formations towards the mist swathed ridges of the woods on the rim of the valley on some mysterious cue. I fell into writing patterns while Simone, my girlfriend was at work and the house empty of kids. The flat in Durlach was a perfect retreat for me and words started to make sense on the pages. My voice reappeared in the shower towards the end of my stay adding to the reinvigoration of my spirit which had been low and drained by the pervasive illness. I was returning home with a better outlook.
I was further excited on hearing the live versions from Leamington on rough mixes taken from the weekends recordings. The arrangements were rough and the playing less than convincing in some areas but for a first live performance after only a weeks rehearsals I could see and hear what was required and what needed to be removed. Robin Boult had been approached to join the writing sessions and both Steve and I felt that his input could greatly add to the process. We were all looking forward to getting together when I came back from Germany and we had scheduled around 12 days to get into the 7 songs that Steve and I had already set in motion and were close to taking to an advanced demo stage. Robin being such a talented guitarist always means that his services are in demand and we had agreed to have a loose arrangement around the writing schedules but all determined to get together in the run up to Xmas. News from Robin of racked up deadlines on projects he was working on and shifting dates ate away at the available time and we all realised that the chances of getting a meaningful writing session before the holiday period were fast disappearing. The plan of having 7 songs completed by Christmas with the other 4 sections of “High Wood” to be written in January was evaporating. Once again I was aiming at a recording schedule that was in danger of badly disintegrating as I wouldn’t be ready.
To add to that Mark Wilkinson has put a lot of effort and energy into the “High Wood” imagery which, as some of you saw in his “in progress” exhibition at Leamington has taken a major profile position in the overall album artwork. There is a heavy onus on me to deliver a “High Wood” suite that matches his contribution and I do not want to go of half cocked.
The research into the WW1 lyrics as well as the other “miscellaneous” “Feast of Consequences” subject matters have drawn me in with a vengeance. It’s been a real eye opener and at the same time quite depressing reading about hurricanes, droughts, earthquakes, financial collapse, global warming etc etc. Don’t get me wrong it’s not a depressing album but I want to get the background in order to catch the essence of it all. It’s all making sense and I’m finding my bearings on the “High Wood”. I can see the trees!
Foss was supposed to drop off some ideas last week for me to channel on but he’s disappeared into the grotto somewhere and I knew he had a lot of other issues to sort out. Another slight set back.
Adding it all up I had to admit that February recording schedule was not going to happen and phoned Calum Malcolm for advice. He was totally understanding and advised me to hold off rather than rush into it all. We have now marked down recording to begin in June directly after the tour. It’s meant some jiggling around with ideas but I’ve come up with an idea that has been accepted by all concerned, from Yatta, with a UK tour now without a released album, Mark Wilkinson, who has more time to set up and current writing team who breathed a huge sigh of relief.
This means January, February, March and April will be allocated to writing and rehearsing with the recording band going out on tour for the 2 weeks in the UK, a short break then we hit the studio with a unit totally at ease with the new material which will allow faster recording and a studio feel from a full band playing together. I’ll be able to examine what we have from night by night live recordings which will also give me bonus material for the deluxe limited edition packaging as well as the ability to see what works and what doesn’t. I know nobody wants to hear 70 mins plus of new material that they are not familiar with at a concert so I will be changing sets nightly to feed the material in. The album will be available for advance sale at the gigs through vouchers sold at the merch stall.
Obviously with such a long wait after this new unforeseen set of delays there will be a lot of emphasis in the weeks running up to the tour to put up examples of the new songs on the Fishheadsclub.com web site as well as keeping you up to date through filmed interviews etc.
The 4 months also allows me to look at the repackaged re-releases of the catalogue as it is about time I started to get the old material back out there. I have taken note of the responses on the Facebook pages regarding the main reasons for the slow sales of the new “Fishheads Club Live Acoustic” DVD and it appears that financial concerns rank highly with “no new material” and ” no desire to watch DVD’s” coming up as 2nd and 3rd and well behind. I’ll be taking this on board and will not be pursuing elaborate releases and will try and keep the price hopefully within reason.
“Vigil” and the newly remixed “Field of Crows” are first up.
There will be more promotion around the new album and with other releases following around during the year it’ll be easier to spread the costs. Another comment on the Fishheads Club DVD – a lot of people didn’t know it was released!
I am discussing the Leamington Spa convention footage with Russell Cherrington tomorrow and we are looking at that for a release in May for the tour to help directly fund the album recordings. Again your requests are noted re price and available audio downloads.
As expected there is yet another delay on the Polish film documentary DVD. I have a finished edit of over 2 hrs 30 mins to consider but other elements such as a “missing” producer and a camera man who resigned a few weeks ago have thrown it into confusion. Only “Magic” the editor remains! It will come out this year – eventually! The “making of” would have been hilarious for those not involved 🙂
The 4 months, although focused principally on the new writing, will also give me time to look at other projects for later in the year.
Yatta has booked around 6 weeks of electric band touring from September. Dates will be released as soon as I have full confirmations. This will be the limit of our touring capabilities this year. Costs have increased and promoters are nervous with guarantees in this economic climate. It’s been tough for Yatta to get the routing together and to make financial sense of it all. Everyone wants to tour these days and venues are getting booked up and are in the driving seat re deals and percentages being taken on merchandise. I refuse to play venues who take percentages. They are just becoming retail outfits where we bring in the customers. Everyone concerned with touring wants bigger slices of the pie but there is just not enough pie to go round these days. I may go back to a more affordable Fishheads Club tour scenario in 2014 but the full electric outfit is doubtful. It’s time to examine other options.
Friday was supposed to be the End of the World as the Mayan calendar ran out. I don’t think this blog signals the end of an era either but it does herald the beginning of a new one. A time for changes!
It’s going to be a great album 🙂