Analogue Dreams and Digital Bubbles Part One

I was listening to the radio recently and the guest was talking about his life in general and his career in music in particular. It was both an insightful and entertaining conversation but the thing that really piqued my interest was the section on his time spent in the studio recording albums. It got me to thinking about my own time recording and the experiences I have had putting down songs, both good and bad. My first band, as I have mentioned in a previous blog, was called Mythical New Underground and back in the dark and grimy recesses of January 1995 we recorded our one and only release: Newspeak. It was a demo tape and consisted of four songs namely: Start a revolution, Proof, Confessions and Concrete. A demo, for the uninitiated, was a demonstration, usually of risible quality, of a bands oeuvre. We recorded it in Poppyhill Studio, Co. Kildare. The demo was part of an exam by the budding producer Shane Leigh (who later worked on national TV on a programme called 2phat).I mention it was part of his exam brief as because of this the recording only cost us the princely sum of sixty pound.
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The night before was spent practicing for the day to come and when it finally arrived we all bundled into a van and set about on our merry way. I can remember being very excited at the prospect of getting into the studio and the band belted into the four songs. That I was so excited might seem a bit odd in the digital age but back then to have something recorded was alien and new. We quickly realised that there was a lot more to recording then we had previously envisioned and that we were a lot looser then we actually thought. Still, we had a tape and I couldn’t wait to hear it. However, when I got home it was really disappointing as it was very muddy sounding. Little did I realise that I was about to learn a hard cold truth :recording and the word disappointing were to go hand in hand. All that aside listening to it now transports me back to the writing of the songs and a more innocent time in my life. Start a revolution was the first song that Con (the guitar player) wrote and the first I had a hand writing the bass line to, our drummer, Mark added the beat and our singer Poggy added vocals and lyrics, it was a real collaborative effort.Proof was written by a friend called Joe ‘O Sullivan, Concrete was ,lyrically, a real Poggy number and Confessions had a funky, jumpy little bass riff and an intro that both myself and Mark made up in his parents garage.
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I thought this would be the first of many recordings under the band name and as time progressed Con and I honed our skills and started to write songs that had tasty little hooks. I am not too proud to admit I miss that songwriting partnership as it was a fruitful one but none of those later songs got recorded (there is a live recording of our one and only reunion show from 2008 I love it but it has no new songs on it) they remain but a trace in my memory. Again, recording and disappointment.

Even though the end result of my first foray into recording was a mixed bag I thought I would get chances to rectify my mistakes and learn more about the studio environment. However, the next time I had anything complete and recorded was a live gig from 2006! This was another collaborative effort with a singer/songwriter friend of mine by the name of Pierce O’ Donnell. We both spent the June of that year writing together,in his house and down in a shed in Kilkenny, to produce and bring to the stage his songs. Pierce had hit a songwriting vein that saw him tackle both the political and the personal and we really followed a muse over those thirty days. I learnt so much about my playing during this time and even though the recording of the gig was never released when I listen to it I am transported back to that summer night. There is just an energy and a joy that was captured that makes me think of this recording as part of my discography.

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The band that night also included Domo Thorpe(percussion),Davy Long (drums),Gordon Turner(guitar, Ashling and Laura Cahill(backing vocals) and Imogen Gunnar(violin). The set list read Times Like These, Cool, Two Cars in the Drive, Just Another Shadow, Who Showed You How to Groove, Pinches, The Scent of Your Skin, Afterglows, Night Out With the In Crowd, Almost an American and the beautiful After The Rain (see link below). It would be remiss of me not to mention that Pierce sung a song that was originally written by his late mother, and was entered into the Eurovision Song Contest, called Walking the Streets in the Rain. Listening to him sing it, is without doubt, one of the most emotional and affecting experiences I have ever had on stage. I had hoped that those songs would be recorded in a studio but alas, the fates had again conspired. Surely it had to get better…

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    • Emma
    • March 19th, 2013

    Brilliant.

    • Thank you Emma. It is a personal piece about a personal journey and is something that had been building up in me and needed to be said! It is in four parts with this being the first!

  1. Great piece! When you write about music you tell it “warts and all” and I think it’s great that you can do that. It’s a very honest piece and your passion for writing and playing exudes off this post.

  2. The only way to tell it is warts and all, being involved with music can be very difficult but also rewarding. It is good to show both sides.

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