A quick RTD album update,
Saturday 4 April.
As of ten minutes ago, I finished lining up Steve's vocal takes on our Precious Empires album!!!!
Almost exactly a year after we delivered the complete demo of the album to drummer Dave to learn on the ocean waves, this thing is now very, very close to completion. During these sessions, it was the first time I'd actually sat in the same room as Steve and recorded (and re-recorded) him. It was an easy and enjoyable thing to do really...he takes suggestions on board and we laugh a lot. The hardest part is convincing him that he has delivered the goods.
From day one, I wanted to make this album more about the feel rather than about virtuosity. Myself and Steve could have delivered more accurate and polished performances, but I have unashamedly dropped technically better takes in favour of heartfelt vocal lines and looser guitar, bass and keyboard takes (although they are still bloody tight and together!)
It only remains for Annie to come over and lay down her takes in the next couple weeks. The preliminary mixes are sounding good and will provide a great platform to begin tweaking.
Soon, folks. Very soon, we promise.
Well, it happened again. Steve and I usually loose the thread a little during the winter months and this winter has been no exception, with Steve hatching cunning plans for a new direction in life with his wife, Jude (exciting times ahead for them) and work taking me away from home yet again.
As Steve has revealed on Facebook, we have secured the services of a fantastic female vocalist to add a new dimension to the sound on this new album of ours...Annie Leighton Ashton.
I was at school with Annie and I seem to recall being in a school band with her which lasted about half an hour! She has a background in art and sings folk music as a de-stress-aid with friends and family. She used to hang around with the slightly older local guys who played in bands, who sort of doubled as my heroes as a young guitarist...
She came over a few days ago and met Steve. We talked art, music, the eighties, old friends and family. All this over coffee, tea and biscuits...well, I had biscuits!
We listened through the album and Annie sang her improvised lines to Steve and I. We were impressed! We discussed where the vocals were heading and the feel required in various points. She scribbled notes and underlined the lines and part-lines where we asked for specific things.
In the week since this meeting, I've come to realise that these are not just backing vocals, in some places Annie's voice will be an additional instrument and in others, a duetting foil for Steve. I can't wait to record her.
April has been pencilled in for this, as Steve needs to finish his vocals first.
In the next ten days or so, Steve will be over to Cammylot, with only four pieces to do...Great Spirits, Halo, Angels and Get Up. He intends to record the latter three in one session, as they join together into a 15 minute epic...
So, what about mixing you might ask? Well, I have been doing some preliminary mixing of the finished tracks, which really just need tweeking with fresh ears.
Yesterday, I tore down the mix of Empires Falling and started again...it was just too messy, with the tracks competing against each other. Slowly, the track began to come together and I'm now delighted with the mix so far.
As with the rest of the semi-mixed tracks, Annie's vocals will slip easily into chaos!
I know that there are one or two people who are impatient to hear the finished product, the lovely folk who have pre funded the release for a start...but by having it almost mixed and in a listenable state will actually mean that it could actually be finished within a few days of Annie's sessions being complete.
The end is in sight...we may have lost the winter, but spring will be ours!
Diary of a Mad Man Undergoing Therapy- by Steve Simms (10th March 2015)
A genuine lovely moment tonight. My wife (Jude Simms) returned from getting supplies at the shops, and tells me that its the first time she has listened to a "whole" album for years. In fact she sat in the car outside the house and listened to some more.
I said "thats nice...what album?".... "Yours" she says. I must have left a copy of the Demo Album in it...
To put this in perspective, my wife is a very busy lady who hasn't much time for music and normally tells me to turn it down
So just for the record (excuse the pun) I think we are onto a winner with PRECIOUS EMPIRES. Bare in mind we have to add Annies vocals finish mine and mix the MOFO. I am very excited.
8th MARCH 2015 ALBUM NEWS…
Yesterday Cammy & I, met with Annie Ashton, to discuss her putting down the female vocals for "Precious Empires" .
The schedule for the album has been revised folks.
So we are looking at the end of March for my (Steves) vocals and April for Annies. Mixing for the end of April....and no its not an April Fools
This time we mean business. An album out before summer...Boost!
We listened to the whole album and discussed tactics, and I have to admit to forgetting how good it actually is.
Its a lush production, with a sinuous track list, that ticks most of the boxes in this old rockers "what an album should have, manifesto".
BE WARNED! THIS ALBUM WILL MAKE YOU ROCK...IN A PROGRESSIVE MANNER! STAY FROSTY PILGRIMS!
RTD Precious Empires Album Diary part 20
A new year...and a new gear!
My first update since way back in October...and the first of 2015.
I was away for all of November and the first half of December and absolutely nothing got done recording-wise, not even a quick listen when home for a day and a half at the weekends.
I resolved to break the back of the guitars as soon as possible after New Year and hit the studio on New Years Day with a bottle or two of Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer for company...and for once the music just seemed to 'happen'. I also managed a short while on the 2nd and 3rd, despite having to go do late shifts at work.
The result is that I managed to finish the guitar parts for Precious Empires and Stonewall. All the guitars for King of the Eighties are also complete, minus a short lead break which won't take long...Great Spirits only requires some verse
Steve visited today for a listen and was blown away!
That inspired me to do more...After making dinner I had a couple hours in the 'zone' again, working exclusively on 'Cat and Mouse'. As of 9pm tonight, I only have some verse parts to nail. All is going smoothly for the first time in ages.
So, what has still to be recorded?
1. Empires Fallen. This is a long, complex piece but thankfully there aren't many individual parts that need stitched together...just some riffing that will feel right if I get my rock 'snarl' on and a bit of bouncy delay parts that I can play in my sleep. I made up the lead break on the fly at the demo stages and for some reason, the melody has stuck in my head...which is nice.
2. Get Up. All the guitars have to be done for this...A 'D-tuned' double-neck stomp, with some simple melodies played on my 'rotary' setting (it sounds like a Hammond Organ!!!) Perhaps some simple acoustic strumming for light and shade and a 'slide' solo (gulp).
I bumped into a lady from my school days recently and she is visiting with us at the end of this week, to listen, learn and hopefully provide some b-vox in the not too distant future. We cannot wait!
In other news, the packaging and format of the album has kinda been agreed over coffee and biscuits...Those who pledged the funding of this album will receive a CD in digi-pack form, the Precious Empires short story (based on the album concept) in book form and a selection of the original artwork on postcards, franked with our own Roads to Damascus rubber stamp!
We think that will be a nice little package, don't you think?