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It took me a long time to get to my second solo record. I don't have much of an excuse, except where my head was at, slogging through some bad times that whittled my confidence away, and made making music of my own (I was very busy with Dive Dive throughout this period) a fence that the horse of my psyche would refuse every time I approached it. But in the end I felt compelled anyway, even though perhaps in retrospect it would have been better to get my life and my head and my confidence right first.
I honestly remember very little about the writing of it, but it must have come out somehow. I had become friends with Mark Kelly, the keyboardist of Marillion, and I impertinently asked him if I could use their studio, Racket Recordings, while they were away on tour in 2005. I'm insanely grateful that he was insane enough to say yes. Initially I went in and set up with Dive Dive's live sound engineer Mark Eitzen, but he was a little out of his depth, so I called Graeme Stewart who I knew very vaguely from when I did a drum session in Radiohead's studio just outside Oxford, for a movie score that Jonny was doing. He came in and set me up a dynamite drumsound one evening, which was the inspiring springboard that got me throught the remainder of the album.
Every evening for a week, after I'd finished a day at college (and wasn't going straight to the O2 Academy on Cowley Road where I was also working as their in-house lighting guy) I would drive over to the countryside near Aylsbury and lay down drum tracks, as far as I know entirely to the songs and music in my imagination, with only a click track for company. After that I took the songs home and fiddled with them for some time, but couldn't fight may way through my self-doubt, nor come up with sounds that matched up to the excellent drum sound Graeme had achieved, so for a long while it festered.
After I had produced Andy Yorke's wonderful solo album at George Shilling's studio I finally committed to finishing mine as well, so I booked a few days with him where I hammered through guitars, vocals and backing vocals, while Jason came in to provide bass parts and some acoustic guitar that was beyond me. All of the keyboard arrangements had been sorted out at home, bar acoustic piano parts that I laid down on George's beautiful Steinway (with simultaneous vocals on Wedding Songs and Dressing Down).
While I would have liked George to mix it as well, the budget did not extend to that, so I took it away and did it myself, using the studio downtime at the college where I taught. It was a long process, but finally it was ready in early 2007, just as things were getting really busy with Dive Dive's second album release and this beardy solo artist we'd recently started touring with, having already made an album and an EP with him...
Marillion, via Mark, invited me to appear at their biennial weekend in Port Zeland, Holland at the very end of January, so I opted for that to be the 'release date' for the album. It turned out to be quite hectic - we had 3 days off from the tour I was doing playing for Dive Dive, supporting Frank Turner, whom I was also playing for and tour managing. In that time I had to drive to Holland with the band (me on keyboards and vocals, Jason of course on bass, Mike Monaghan who I had met on the music course drumming, and a certain Matt Nasir on guitar), set up, play a show, drive back and then meet the DD / FT tour wherever they were next. And during this I was also driving back between tour dates to teach at the college. I was too old for all that, even then.
- Progressive Rock