The Substance of things. Analogue Dreams…Part Two

After my recording hiatus of eleven years between 1995-2006 I was determined to make up for lost time and get recording just a little bit quicker! Happily this proved to be the case. My second major band (and the one I dedicated most of my life to date to) Substance set about recording from 2006 onwards. We had now fully entered the digital age, which meant we could record a lot cheaper and easier than before and we worked furiously on demos of our own material. The first recording that emerged was a four song eight track demo. It is a bit of a curio this one as it had very early efforts on it and it is more a document of a band finding its sound than a fully fledged release. The first song was a funk number which included a fantastic saxophone breakdown. Entitled (somewhat cheesily) Summer Love it really had its moments and is indicative of the bands love of all things funk. This was followed by Things Fall Apart (yes Yeats again). This had real spikey guitars laid over a running, looping bass motif. It was a great tune that never really seemed to fit. Con (guitar)and Danny (vocalist) had written a song called ‘Shoot Me Down’, which was like a soundtrack song for a cowboy flick that never got made. Finally, there was a slow and darkly introspective vibe of a song which we called Universal. Both the latter songs had bass lines written by me, two of the few I ever wrote for the band. Suffice to say this was a very rough and ready recording and was never released but it did end up on the jukebox of not one but two local pubs!

Underneath all of these songs we were working on another dark number called ‘Twisted'(see below). This was based around an Egyptian/ Arabic vibe that the main songwriter Mark had been working on. I contributed lyrics but Mark was the real driving force behind this song and, truth be told, behind Substance especially in terms of writing the music. Anyway, Twisted went through various demo versions before being recorded  properly by Poggy in a secluded house in Kildare, Ireland and was included on my second official release: a compilation called ‘Stranded in Paradise’. The albums raison d’etre was to raise money for a local art initiative called The Culture Factory. I also played bass on the track ‘Long Time Coming’ by a friend called Appo but the real bonus was to appear on an album alongside both Luka Bloom and Christy Moore.

Stranded in Paradise

Lifted by the fire that was lit Substance set about recording our debut EP but not before recording  our debut gig in Whelan’s Dublin! Alright I am talking it up, the Whelan’s gig was recorded through the desk and wasn’t mixed or anything. But I used to use it when I was practicing on my own and it had some great songs that never made the EP. Boys in the Backroom and Run for Cover being two that really showed that we could rock! Anyway, back to  the EP which was recorded over a year by Con and Mark and was called Intercession. (See song below)

The track listing for those that care:Turn it On, Any Fate, Open Wide, Denial and Turn it On (remix by Co Brady ex Super Extra Bonus Party). As i mentioned it was recorded by Con and we all spent many a long hour on bringing it to life. We released it in 2012 and it stands as a testament to six years hard work by the band. However, (and I know he will hate this if he ever reads it) it is a real testament to the songwriting ability of the guitar player Mark who is one of the most talented musicians I have ever played with and, I have to admit left me for dust musically many years before hand!

So, where is the tragedy? Well after all the time we had spent getting the songs together our drummer, Eric, left and I joined him not long after. We never had an official launch for Intercession. When I am teaching I tell my students to be honest when they write and keeping that in mind I have to follow suit. I miss that band and I miss the friendships I made in that band. Having to leave it and living without it and the people in it is one of the hardest things I have ever done and as a consequence listening to the recordings can bring back bittersweet memories. Wherever the lads are tonight I salute them and I hope they know the difference they made in my life.

  1. Another very honest piece. Looking back like this must be very therapeutic? Your willingness to recognise each members’ creativity is admirable and I hope that they too recognised and remembered yours.

    • It is therapeutic especially when you are nuts. I do hope they remember my contribution as fondly as I remember theirs.

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