Chris | 2nd January 2014
Happy New Year! It’s that time of the year when you look forward to the new dawn of diets, gym, driving better, spending less money and drinking less, honestly and truly thinking that actually this is the year that you can fundamentally alter your DNA despite history (and science) proving to you otherwise. Ha ha. This year will be different though, I feel like I’m actually allowing myself a learning curve now. Might even be growing up a little bit. Even been listening to a bit of Radio 4 of late. Jesus.
The behemoth ‘Albion’ has finally landed, following endless mixes, remixes, recalls, masters, further recalls and the usual last-minute wrangling over… everything, which I am pleased to say I had no part of whatsoever. I’ll be honest, I had hoped to have been more involved in the mixes but actually in retrospect it was probably not a bad thing at all to have some people involved not getting involved, if that makes sense. I heard the raw materials when we were in the studio then the finished article, without the minutiae of the mix, and – if you’re Ginger, Kev and Gav – then I know first hand how confusing and unwanted it is to have a bunch of clowns like me chucking their oar in with ‘I’m not loud enough’.
For what it’s worth… I think it’s fantastic. Kev has done an AMAZING job with a LOT of raw material. There’s been a lot of talk about the production and I think it sounds like how we all hoped it would. Deep and crisp and even. Sonically it’s MASSIVE while retaining an edge of realness… This is a real album, played by great players, sung by great singers. Now I don’t want to get all Ocean Colour Scene on your arse, I love drum machines and technology and all that stuff, but the remit on this record was to make it as organic as possible. Like what records used to be like. Capturing a spirit, being a triumph of collectively hundreds of years of musicianship and craft, rather than being a triumph of autotune and Beat Detective. There are, as ever, a couple of things I’d change, but it’s all taste stuff really. For instance, I like to hear bass guitar louder and harsher than Kev, but that’s just me. There is a LOT of information in there, and to get it all out is nothing short of miraculous, so well done Kev.
The songs have come out fantastic too. I’ll be honest, there were a couple of times I didn’t really ‘get’ what we were doing, but – having been guilty of not doing this in the past on certain projects – I decided to take the tack of ‘get behind every idea and commit to it with the intention of making everything as brilliant as it can be and following the artist’s vision at all times’, which I am glad we did, as ideas that I wasn’t 100% convinced by have turned out to be some of my favourite bits. Working with people of the calibre of who we had in the studio, with a proven track record, means that a blind faith isn’t always misplaced, and it seems to have worked.
I’m particularly proud of ‘Burn This City Down’, which features chunks of a song I wrote for a solo project I was/am going to start in 2014. I didn’t feel like it fit in for Eureka Machines. Ginger re-wrote the lyrics (I did the drop bit before the last chorus, he did the rest) and added the chorus and it has come out great. I think it’s really different for both of us and for the band, and think/hope it bodes well for doing some more in the future.
I also really like how Drive, Albion, Grow A Pair and Cambria have come out. Some really spine-tingling moments in there, and you lot seem to like them too.
The album was not easy to make and fraught with the usual difficulties and some unusual ones, as is the wont of having seven bizarre and brilliant personalities all under one roof. But it’s a learning curve – for ALL of us – and I think we’ve all come out of it having learned a lot about ourselves, each other, what it is we do and how it is that we do it. I know that the recording process of this album was not easy for everyone, but I certainly will look back at it – and the resultant 15 tracks – with a great fondness.
Signing off for now,