Thursday, 21 January 2010

Sawmills - Day Four & Five


Day Four.

The final day has been perfection - we had a lot to do...overdubs on all the tracks, guitar parts, vocals, percussion, claps...."chuka chuka's" (you'll understand when you hear them!)...but we got it all done, and the tracks sound amazing. Really...we worked together in a way we never have before...John Cornfield was fantastic to work with (yes, I'm full of it tonight, but it's all true)...let me tell you about the tracks, in the order they'll appear on the EP:


1. Get Me. A track unlike any we've done before, and one I wrote quite recently...it starts with just guitar and drums, and is a short, tight, exciting track with a huge middle eight. I'm making a video to this track from footage from this week....lots of people seem to love the lyrics to this track too.

2. Something About You. We got this nailed in just a couple of takes because we were so full of excitement and energy! The big climax at the end of the solo is breathtaking! It's full of joy, which I can remember when writing it.

3. No Reply. I'm not sure what to say about this one. The first part of the track is just vocals and two guitars, and has a very melodic Sinatra feel to it (you'll probably disagree with that entirely....I just want to sing swing and jazz!). It was written a few years while ago about how someone I cared about drifted away from me.


4. Country Low. This song had the most
tracks by far - 69 individual tracks at last count! My brother Ian came down to put piano at the end, and it has a huge crescendo to the end. Though we were uncertain whether to do this track or "Run" I'm VERY happy with the end result. I wrote this song in the garden as it started to rain at my parents house in Somerset.

We've got to be up early and leave by 11am at the latest, or the tide will be out and our boat will be stuck in the mud. The only low point of the day was when I smashed my head on an open cupboard door. The agonising pain was really quite diverting from the coffee I was trying to make.

We're having a bit of a party now, which started in the studio with a bit of tipsy playing and has moved into the main house where we've found a big megaphone and...well....that's enough for now!


Day Five.

We all managed to get up and load the boat before the tide went out! Here we are about to board ship with John outside the studio (click on any of the photos in this blog for the whacking great full size versions, or just leave them for nothing to happen).




The drive back took hours and hours and hours. We're all a little sad to leave our little forest studio home, but it's likely we'll be back for a much longer session in the summer. We're also all totally thrilled at how well the recordings have turned out...it'll take a good couple of weeks for John to complete the mixing and then the mastering by our main man, Mr John Davis, who did all the previous singles.

Anyway, here's a little snippet of video from the studio when Jonno was doing some guitar overdubs to "Get Me" - full documentary to come in a couple of weeks!
I'll also be putting up video tasters of all the songs in forthcoming blogs.

video


Much love,


Nigel.

I'm going to be working on the second part of the 2008 tour video now, so it should be up this week...it's far naughtier. First part here, well worth watching!

P.S. I've had no phone signal (apart from the few moments I've had a walk in the woods) so that's the reason I've ignored any texts etc
)
P.P.S. I've had hardly any time free (apart from the time I've spent d
oing these blogs) so that's why I've not replied to emails and Facebook messages.
P.P.P.S. There are no spelling mistakes in this blog Alexandra!


"Thumping great dynamic, I love it" - John Cornfield, yesterday.

"Goodbye" - John Cornfield, today.

"Goodbye John" - Us, today.

The Foxes Facebook.
My Facebook.
The Foxes Twitter.
Do ask me something interesting too by clicking here.


Loading the boat. It's amazing how much stuff you can fit in it:



Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Sawmills - Day Three


Today was a long hard day - but incredibly worth it. I woke up late, which was fine as Jonno was busy early doing some guitar overdubs. After a stern dose of medically necessary and industrial strength coffee, we then spent around four hours working on "No Reply" It has several tricky time changes, and despite exhaustive attempts, we weren't happy with any of the takes. So we left it and started on "Something About You" which we perfected in just a couple of runs - it has a really great vibe to it, and sounds just how I'd envisaged the "band version" when I first wrote it. It really is special.

It was quite late by the time we'd finished the vocals, but we launched straight in to "No Reply" again and nailed it in the first take. As John said, "It sounds like you're enjoying yourselves now!"

It's been pouring with rain for most of the day. Whoever decided that having a roof on the studio was a good idea, I commend you. We would have been both soaked and electrocuted otherwise.

Tomorrow we're doing overdubs of certain backing vocals, guitar parts, hand claps and various other bizarre noises. My brother Ian is also bravely leaving his cat for the day to come and add some piano to the end of "Country Low" (there's a baby grand in the studio).

I know you'd kill me if I left you without a...erm...food update, so for lunch we had real Cornish pasties, and dinner was a sumptuous spicy Spanish pork casserole. Lemon cheesecake dessert was as doubly enjoyable as it was listening back to the four tracks in the control room. There MIGHT have been a little bit of childish dancing around at how good they sound! Not me though.

I'm sorry there's not more to report tonight - it has just been a very long day of solid studio work, without time to explore the forest or drown one of the guys in the river for a joke.

We're relaxing and watching "Carlito's Way" now. Oh, Alex has just passed me a cinnamon biscuit. What a nice guy.

Much love,

Nigel.

P.S. I do love reading your blog comments (it'll be quite embarrasing if there are none to this one now...)
P.P.S. I've tried to decide which track sounds best, but I can't! They're even better than I thought they'd be.
P.P.P.S. The same links as yesterday: The Foxes Facebook. My Music Facebook. The Foxes Twitter. Do ask me something interesting too!
P.P.P.P.S. We're all exhausted, but happy.
P.P.P.P.P.S. That's enough!
P.P.P.P.P.P.S. Is it?
P.P.P.P.P.P.P.S. Yes.

"There's no law against cheescake in the control room" - John Cornfield, today.

"Can I have Nigel on his own? Twice? " - Alex Douglas, today.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Sawmills - Day Two


We've just finished fourteen hours solid work, and despite my having only managed to get to sleep at 6am, it's gone extraordinarily well!

So far, we've pretty much completed the basic tracking for "Get Me" and "Country Low" and I don't mean to hyperbolize, but they really are truly sounding quite fantastic. Spending the first evening getting the right mics in place (two for each guitar amp, and about a thousand for the drums) and checking the levels really paid off. The sound is actually quite different from our previous singles - still the same energy and excitement, but far more rounded and full. As you can see from the quote at the bottom of this blog, John seemed fairly impressed!

So far the trickiest part has been getting the tempo right as we're not playing to a click track, as this is far better for getting something with a bit of feeling and soul, not some regimented piece of manufactured pop.

The studio is incredibly secluded, and there's ZERO phone signal, so there are few distractions from making the best music we've ever done (in the studio at least...there's such distractions as a pool table, internet, digital satellite TV, loads of DVD's, computer consoles and beer up in the main house...) Dinner tonight was steak and stilton pie, with potatoes, salad, vegetables and hot buttered rolls courtesy of the lovely Ruth!

I've been doing plenty of filming, so will be putting together a recording documentary at some point. You would have seen some footage tonight, but Geve's computer is just not playing ball. It's not even changed for the game.

I genuinely can't wait to start again tomorrow!

Much love,

Nigel.

P.S. I've just heard on QI that people who sleep just 4 to 7 hours a night live LONGER than those who sleep 8 or more. RESULT! ;-)
P.P.S. Did I mention how fantastic the tracks are sounding?!
P.P.P.S. Some links: The Foxes Facebook. My Music Facebook. The Foxes Twitter. Do ask me something interesting too!

"To be honest, I'm fucking amazed" - John Cornfield, today.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sawmills - Day One (arrival)

I write to you from a former 17th Century water mill in deepst darkest Cornwall and will be doing daily recording blogs. But before I say anything else, I hope you've all seen the first part of the mini documentary video I made recently from our 2008 UK tour with Yeti?



Part two will be up soon, and will have to have an adult viewing rating. Be excited!

Speaking of which...

....the drive took about four and a half hours. Alex drove, Jonno was dying of a cold in the back, and Geve kept him company....they had a little nap, bless them! This was the only photo where they weren't cuddling.



The only way to reach the studio is by boat, and we really didn't think we'd fit all our equipment on, but did it in one trip. It really is beautiful down here - there's a vibe and atmosphere in the studio too which we've not felt before, and I truly feel these recordings are going to be something special.



So, what are we doing here?!

We're recording an EP called "Depression, Joy and a Moment of Fame" and it will be a four track taster of the full length album we're planning on releasing later this year. The track listing is:

1. Get Me.
2. Something About You.
3. No Reply.
4. Country Low.

(You can hear the acoustic demos and read the lyrics to all these songs on my Facebook page by clicking here, except "No Reply" which you can hear here).

We debated for WEEKS on whether to record "Country Low" or "Run" - but decided that while Run is a great song, we wanted something a bit different for this EP than the bluesy rock feel of "Run" and something to showcase the vocal harmonies etc. Don't worry though..."Run" will feature on the album, and I think you're going to love what we're going to do with "Country Low!"

So far tonight, we've just set everything up and had a quick run through "Get Me" to make sure we have the right sounds and levels...tomorrow we start recording first thing...well, 10.30am. For musicians, that's the middle of the night.


Much love,

Nigel.

P.S. Ask me anything by clicking here.
P.P.S. We've all brought "lucky charms" - care to guess what they all are?!
P.P.P.S Click on any of the photos above for the full size images.

"Ok guys, time to make history" - John Cornfield, today.

Friday, 1 January 2010

It's a new dawn, it's a new day...



I've been way too busy to post anything since October...so what's been going on?!

Well, you won't be surprised to hear a lot of gigging has happened and we played with The Buzzcocks on the Isle of Wight a few weeks ago, from which the live video above to "Get Me" is taken. There's loads more live videos on our Youtube page, and photos from the gig are here. It really was a brilliant night, and thanks to Doug Alldred and Airon Baker from Blunt Promotions for putting on the show. Special thanks to Doug for the quite incredible aftershow party, of which we're not going to say too much (stronger Honey next time Doug?!) apart from it went on past 7am and Doug makes the BEST cocktails...oh, and his Guinness "surge" device is amazing, as is his vinyl collection.

The Buzzcocks were really nice chaps, and we had quite a time with them after the show. Must remember to include four bottles of Champagne on my next rider too....

Well, the big news is that from 17th to 21st January, we'll be recording a brand new 4 track EP at Sawmills Studios with producer John Cornfield. John produced and mixed several of my favourite albums, including "Origin of Symmetry" by Muse, and "In it for the Money" by Supergrass, though he's also worked with Razorlight, Oasis, Robert Plans, The Verve, The Stone Roses etc. The studio is in the most beautiful areas of Cornwall, and can only be accessed by boat...yes, we'll be transporting all the equipment from our van to the studio by the river, as you can see from this photo:


We've firmly decided on three of the four tracks we'll be recording...which are:

1. Get Me.
2. Something About You.
3. No Reply.

We're still pondering as to the fourth track....which will either be "Country Low" (which you can hear on my Facebook page here) or a new version of an old song "Run" (which you can hear here).

We also need to decide upon a NAME for the EP...which might be based on some of my lyrics - suggestions welcome on all counts, though don't feel bad if they're ignored...it just means they're rubbish.

Oh, and "Lover, Killer" has been used by a New Zealand company in a Skiing video which you can see here. It's also now up on Air New Zealand, if you happen to fly with them....

ANYWAY, all of this is all piffle, compared to the GIGANTIC NEWS that the FANS IN OUR VAN HAVE NOW BEEN FIXED. No, we don't carry repaired girls around in it, I mean the HEATING is fixed. What better time to have done that too, than after months of FREEZING COLD?! Honestly, this will improve my life immensely, and I might finally start to feel better. We'll be announcing a big UK tour shortly, and I think we all would have frozen to death without this. The wheel that nearly came off the van when we were driving (which would have killed us), has also been fixed. So that's good.

Those of you who have had the time and strength of mind to have read my previous blog entries will know that I had....er...ALL my stuff stolen on my wild European Road Trip with Jonno in September. Luckily I was insured, and you'll all be as delighted as I was to hear that out of about £2,000 worth of stuff stolen, I've received the princely sum of £164.74. Isn't life so very fair?!

However, on the bright side, I DID manage to get another Mickey Mouse top after months of searching Ebay.

The photo above and right is HMS Warrior in Portsmouth Harbour, which I took just before getting the ferry to the Isle of Wight. Pretty pretty!

IN THE NEXT BLOG: There'll be news (and maybe even a snippet) of the World Cup song I've been asked to write, as well as video compilation I'm putting together from the filming I did on the YETI tour way back in 2008....PLUS more random photos and weird videos.

I'll leave you with photos from our Death Disco Christmas Party, and just for a laugh, a video (which someone uploaded just six months ago and I found by chance) of our playing a song we never play anymore nearly two years ago.....ah, the memories!

Much love,

Nigel.

P.S. I ramble on Twitter sometimes.
P.P.S. I've got a new girlfriend.



"Desperation is the raw material of drastic change. Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in can hope to escape." William S. Burroughs.