After the release of 4 albums combined called ‘Go Forth Bright Scenic‘ back in 2012 it’s understandable that one should be out of material.
That was always kinda the point for me. To draw a line under things and to start again.
This was after feeling that maybe as a solo artist I was risking feeling stale and so to shake things up following the release of ‘Go Forth Bright Scenic‘ was the best way to go forward, so to speak. And by shaking things up I really don’t mean much more than to really take my time with new material and to be a bit more calculated with the process of songwriting.
In the past I was simply writing songs as and when they came to my head. The real art (for me) was the urgency with which I would wake myself up (Ideas often came when falling asleep) or pull the tour van over; or stop whatever it was I was doing to fully focus on getting an idea documented.
This time however I wanted to go about things with a different approach. At first I thought it could be seeking inspiration elsewhere and so I attempted to broaden my taste and started digesting music less familiar and often much more discordant to my ears than previously digested hoping that somehow the influence may shift my subconscious to produce something new. But this didn’t seem to work as new ideas simply did not come. Also compounded by the fact I was on the road for nearly a year and songs just didn’t materialise at all.
Eventually 18 months later I decided to take a plunge and invest in some new equipment. I begun by going against all my musical morals and bought a sampler.
I had taken to some intense laptop time and as a result had developed some sounds which I knew would just never be able to be reproduced live. So with this in mind I took to breaking my rule of (never using pre recorded sounds in a live context). It took 8 years to get to this point but I felt quite confident that this was the right thing to do.
So I set up my live rig (Looper, guitar, mic, Chimes set) and would rehearse on a daily basis recording almost everything with little or no aim or direction. The Sampler would be run through the looper and it would be simply added to the layers I normally use. The music naturally begun to become more electronic than ever before.
Next I added to the mix two effects pedals. But instead of running them through the guitar I connected them to the mic that was already a part of the loop station set up.
The DD6 by Boss and the Vintage XP-100 Whammy Wah by Digitech were both there as back ups to my normal set up for guitar. So to have them with me was a natural progression and I knew how to use them. The DD6 gave options of messing with delays of various kinds including the super sweet backwards sound and the hold option for Glitch style time shifts. The XP-100 offered pick shifting and harmonising joy. Perfect to mess with the voice and the chimes set.
So then that was it. I messed around and listened back and then tried to hone what I had. Hours of indulgence (which I had little trouble with) 😉
Over time I was beginning to find a sense of structure in what was coming and eventually 4 new compositions found there way into the live setlist. Then it was time to return to the the road. My European tour would last 5 months and would take me through UK, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Czech Rep, Austria, Italy (where I am as I type), Switzerland & France tolling about 100 shows. This enabled me ample opportunity to play these songs live and to hope to evolve them with each show.
Then came additional purchases whilst on the road:
Despite it having a very christmas reindeer sound I invested guided by the inspiration of John Stanier of the band Battles who managed to integrate a very similar sounding device into a far from Christmas sounding song.
The final acquisition from the road came when playing in Kracow. I wandered through a market to find this cute little music box for sale. It plays a traditional Polish tune and when I hold it to the mic and put on the effects pedals it creates a wonderful and unique atmosphere.
Thus far the new bits are rarely being utilised within the new songs but are helping to create sounds refreshing to me and in good time I hope it will become a unique addition to the new material.
Anyway for anyone who made it this far into rambles here is a new live version of a tune recorded at the end of last month out in Pszczyna – Poland. I hope you enjoy 🙂