Faster & Louder

Posted by Rich | 14th September 2013

We’re nearing the end of the road here in Wales and I’m just doing my final few guitar tracks and vocals and adding some bells and whistles (probably not actual bells and whistles but you never know) to the 3 or 4 songs that I have left to do. Yesterday I was really hit by the scope of this record – the torch-song swing of And After All You Said About Cowboys all the way to the furious punk blast of Capital Anxiety, this album really doesn’t stop twisting and turning and it’s all the better for it. We’ve got a lot of personalities in this band and I really feel like you get a feel for all of them here.

Working with Kevin Vanbergen has been a great experience. I know from his work on Mutation that the guy is a genius and he’s really showing it here, dealing with an ungodly amount of tracks, styles, and ideas and somehow making it all coherent. We drank some beers and tracked a ton of guitar and vocal ideas yesterday and then received an invite up to the studio owners house for a great dinner and probably a little too much wine. Despite all my cracks about The Shining, I’m gonna miss this place.

Anyways, the coffee is on and I’ve got some guitars to record. The lovely folks at Hagstrom sent a Viking P to the studio for me and I’m finishing off the rest of my tracks with this powerful beast. So that’s it from me. End transmission…

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…And Then There Was One

Posted by Rich | 13th September 2013

With time contraints and different plans being what they are, I’ve been waiting until the end of the album to finish my guitars and vocals. People had places to go, family to see, things to do and quite frankly I didn’t. Ginger is off with Courtney, Jon went home to his family yesterday, we lost Denzel last weekend and this morning Chris bid us adieu. I’ve just said goodbye to Gav and Victoria and now I’m alone in this large remote farmhouse. On Friday the 13th.

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Right. Better go record some guitars.

Chris’s Studio Blog – No Idea What Day It Is Any More

Posted by Chris | 11th September 2013

Sorry for the slightly tardy blog updates. We’ve all been racing against the clock to get this album finished and done for you, which means we don’t have a huge amount of time to sit down and write about it.

As ever, the finishing line approaches with a huge dollop of pressure as we strive to get done by the time we have to leave the studio and go back to our other lives, down t’pit and such like. Fortunately, we gallant troubadours eat pressure for breakfast, or rather we would were it not merely a barometric measure rather than, for instance, Weetabix, or for that matter, eggs.

I’ve spent a load of time putting down guitar bits that are part My Bloody Valentine, part Robert Fripp and part ‘Heroes’. This is excellent fun as it means I get to fanny around with guitars and pedals and amps some more. The favoured one this time has been Ginger’s Micro POG (which I appreciate sounds like an awkward euphemism). This takes the note you are playing and adds an octave below and an octave above, which when combined with a delay pedal (my bog standard Boss DD-3) and an eBow sounds like a jet plane taking off. Combine this with a whammy bar and it brings about the effect that might make you bring your lunch up. This is better than it sounds and adds some really interesting texture to the songs, giving you something that sounds half way between a guitar and a synth. You’ll see what I mean when it comes out.

Ginger is working hard on his guitars and vocals now, racing against the clock as he has Courtney duties to attend to (also not a euphemism). It’s safe to say he’s not bad at this after several hundred years in the business. It’s sounding magic, and with every harmony I get pulled into the studio to do, the songs have taken on a new life with each guitar part and each lead vocal. Victoria is adding to this all the while… I think as time has gone on we have all come to realise what strengths she can bring to the record without just adding to the harmony pictures.

I think it’s safe to say that this album is going to surprise a lot of people when it comes out. You know when people say that their record really has a bit of everything in there? This one actually does. From 70s punk to spacerock to country to (good) metal to 60s pop to soul to glam to 80s pop to a good hearty dose of rock. Okay, so we’re not laying any drum n’ bass shit down here, but you’d be hard-pushed to find a more eclectic album this year.

I put this down to the pallette of sonic chaos that makes up these seven (including Kev the producer) people’s record collections, and the ‘anything goes’ experimentation that we’ve been given free rein over (by ourselves). These are pop songs, but not as you or any of us know it. We can’t wait for you to hear it.

(By the way, we are also working on a bonus EP (might turn into an album) of stuff that has helped us idle away long bus journeys, tedious soundchecks and the usual waiting around that being in a band necessitates. Most of these ditties have been written by Jon Poole and some of them you might recognise.)

As The Final Curtain Approaches…

Posted by Ginger | 9th September 2013

Here we are in the final week of recording. I’ve got a couple more days of shouting into a mic and bashing a plank of wood before I’m removed from the tranquility of Wales and plonked into the decidedly non-tranquil circus that is New York, to write with Miss Courtney Love. This brain scrambling culture shock will be spiced with an evening at home and a festival in Canada, but I doubt those little treats will prepare me for the spiritual upheaval that will take place when I have to remove my current ‘comfy’ hat and don an army helmet in preparation for the large apple that I’m about to gorge on. Then I plan on staying home for a month and get myself fit again. man the studio does pile the weight on a person.

Life, eh? You want an interesting one and you get a fucking mental one in its place. And that, brethren, is what this mortal theatre production is all about. To paraphrase (probably) one of my favourite proverbs, just because things aren’t going how you’d planned doesn’t mean they aren’t going exactly how they should. And so it is that I have three days to cram in all lead vocals and guitars. Again. For this is always how it is.

I reckon you could have 5 years to make an album and you’d still be frantically racing against the clock with 24 hours to finish an un-Godly amount of work.

But what of the album, then?

It’s every bit as majestic, sprawling, ambitious, adventurous and sparkling as I’d hoped it would be. Bryan has brought a deliciously twisted brilliance to proceedings in the shape of keyboard insanity and the most characterful voice in the band, Victoria paints glittery washes over the massive walls of harmonies, Denzel and Jon do Keith Moon and John Entwistle even better than they themselves do (largely owing to their being dead, of course), Chris has found the keys to closet that contains all the guitar effects in the entire world and Gav had captured it all for your visual delectation. I gather Rich Jones is in the house somewhere but we’ve seen so little of him that I doubt this is true. There are rumours that he will be cramming a great dollop of punk rock into this great sandwich, on my departure, and I trust this to be terrifyingly accurate owing to the massive dose of cabin fever that he’s been heroically dealing with. A country boy he is not.

There is so much information on this album that I’m pretty positive it will do exactly what I’d hoped it would, namely channel the collective personalities into your sonic experience, presenting an album that is almost impossible to fully digest in a single sitting, warranting repeated listens to fully latch onto the beast. Most of my favourite albums have been slow release drugs that reward the curious with a much longer buzz once fully in the system. There are enough pop moments and colossal waves of harmony to drag your lifeless body in, with little resistance, but enough crushing depths to enrich every subsequent visit.

It’s a monster.

It is the album I wanted the Ginger Wildheart Band to make, handsomely standing out from the other projects I have lined up, namely an acoustic album early next year, a bunch of Courtney writing in 2014 and quite possibly a Wildhearts album at the end of next year, which (if it happens) will be a far more simple affair than this crazy bastard of an album. I understand that some of you want a stripped down punk rock Wildhearts album, and if that’s the case then who am I to argue? I like stripped down punk rock too.

But as a practical musician I have to say that my first love is in experimentation. I adore grandeur, I live for musical challenges and I would drown without masses of harmony vocals to keep me afloat. This is the album I’ve wanted to make for decades. I feel purged and satisfied.

As ever, watch this space.

Ginger lead vocals

Posted by Gav | 8th September 2013

Today marks 4 weeks in the studio for a lot of us.  Mental.

Bryan officially left the PM house yesterday and will be a missed by all.  He has certainly added a whole new flavour to these recordings. He comes from a different world musically (he hadn’t heard the Wildhearts or Gingers solo records prior to starting) which allowed for some very fresh ideas and twists.  We’ll definitely be bringing him over for the Birthday gig in December.

Today, Ginger is in the studio laying his lead vocals down.

“Body Parts” is in the bag first thing, and “Chill Motherfucker Chill” is being nailed with precision as I type. For a man who hates (or says he hates) singing he’s darn good at it.  He is also someone who has great voice at 9am in the morning, which after the last few nights is an amazing feat in itself.

Over on the Pledge page we are up to 11 videos if you haven’t checked them out already.

Todays Pledge update invites you to send in questions for any of the Ginger Wildheart band.  I’m hoping to get as many people in the band involved with this as possible – so send great questions!  What some of you might not be aware of is that Producer Kevin was an assistant tape operator on Endless Nameless when he was just starting out!  I have a feeling a few of you suddenly have questions for him…

So today is being planned out in 3 parts – Ginger lead vocals this morning, Ginger guitar after lunch and Victoria vocals this evening.

Spirits are good even with some tight deadlines approaching.  I think Ginger often does his best work when the world (and time) is against him and I think (secretly) he kind of likes things that way.

Hungover Together

Posted by Rich | 7th September 2013

Last night we had a little party here at the Overlook Hotel, partly to celebrate Victoria’s birthday and partly to send off Bryan Scary who flew back to New York today. I had been down in London and so I got a train back up with Dunc and Denzel and we had our own little pre-party party. Our friend Dom Lawson dropped by as well as some significant others and before you knew it everyone was extremely merry and more than a little messy.
So today we’ve all been trundling around the house in various states of disrepair. Gav kindly fetched us supplies (Bloody Marys in a can from Marks & Spencers – amazing) and I’ve spent most of the day lying in bed with a medicinal beer or 2 and this brilliant archive of old punk flyers to keep me entertained and inspired. Go take a look: http://oldpunkflyers.tumblr.com/archive.
On the off-chance that you’re feeling as bad as I am today, here’s a picture of Debbie Harry
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You’re welcome.

Chris’s Studio Blog – Wednesday 3rd/Thursday 4th September

Posted by Chris | 6th September 2013

Vocals. Loads of vocals. Loads and loads of singers. There surely isn’t enough oxygen in Wales for us to be able to sing all of this stuff.

Recording vocals is a dark art and everyone has their own comfort zone with it. Ginger and I like to get in and get out. Victoria and Bryan like to experiment and get a vibe going. The key to it is letting everyone do their thing and be sympathetic to everyone’s different needs. Fortunately Kev has done this once or twice before and is great at getting us all comfortable in front of the microphone, which can be a real psychological battleground. Production is as much about this as knowing which mic to use, or how to correctly mic an amp, or tuning drums. Everyone reacts differently when it comes to singing and it’s about knowing what is going to get the best out of people.

I heard a great story about how Oasis did it. On the day it came to Liam doing his vocals, Noel would needle him. ‘What was your missus doing with that bloke out of Toploader the other day?’ ‘What was Robbie Williams saying to in The Mirror about you last week?’ ‘Is that a scratch on your new Range Rover?’ etc.

This had the effect of knocking Liam’s precious ego, which, as you might guess, is fairly important to him, and he would immediately need to fan his peacock feathers in front of the microphone stand which had become, essentially, an extension of his cock. So firing Liam up in this way would appeal to his macho baser instincts.

Being slightly more cerebral chaps and chapesses than the younger Gallagher sibling, we prefer to warm up with a cup of tea and a couple of oohs and ahhs.

Kev has got us stood in front of a Neumann microphone which is significantly older than me. It has that weirdly reassuring slightly fusty smell of an old Aga or something.

Did I mention that the mixing desk used to belong to U2, and they recorded ‘The Joshua Tree’ on it? The last album I made (Remain In Hope by Eureka Machines, available from all decent record shops etc) was made on the desk that Lou Bega made ‘Mambo Number 5’ on, so it’s nice to continue on that path of heritage. It’s nice to think that my voice has gone down the same channels as The Edge’s guitars, or, for that matter, Lou Bega’s.

Speaking of The Edge, Rod who runs the studio answers the question we’ve all been wondering about. What do the rest of U2 call The Edge? ‘Edgey’? ‘Do you want a cup of tea The Edge?’ etc.

Apparently, they just call him ‘Edge’.

Don’t tell me that I don’t give you cutting insights into the heady business of rock and roll.

Anyway the vocals are sounding suitably brilliant, Ginger as ever is laying down the foundations with his heartfelt performances, Bryan and I have found that our voices match weirdly well, Jon is rooting out his inner Costello again, and Victoria is flooring everyone as usual. I get to sing the highest note I’ve ever sung, or ever will sing (if I ever decide to have children anyway).

Mainly, we’re just waiting for Gav to come in and show us all how it’s done.

Back in the studio now for more singing. Singing singing singing singing singing singing singing.

Cambria

Posted by Ginger | 4th September 2013

The clan (alternatively known as Chris, Jon, Bryan and Victoria) are in the vocal booth, singing like chirpy wee larks. They’re doing ten tracks of layered vocals per chorus on a track called Cambria, which Gav has penciled in as the opening track on the album. There are no click tracks on this song, so there will be no ‘flying in’ of choruses (a trick used largely by lazy musicians when using pro tools in order to avoid working), instead they will sing the line a total of 30 times. And there will be no auto-tuning either, so the ‘chorus’ effect is in full flow. For non musicians this means things are sounding very fat indeed.. Like albums used to, in fact, before everyone started tuning everything to sound thin and perfect. Thin and perfect is silly, and everyone knows that.

It sounds insanely good. I think you will be impressed.

We have great plans for this song.

Are you a budding film-maker? Want to make us a promo video?

We hope to make this song public at the beginning of November and run a competition where you all get to make your own video for the track. We want hundreds of videos flying around YouTube for this song. Imagine that, a Cambria take-over, with you on the frontline!

Expect a more detailed update from Gav very soon, but in the meantime let this message whet your celluloid whistles and get hold of Final Cut Pro, or suchlike, and start editing stuff in rehearsal for your big moment.

C’mon you budding Spielbergs, let’s make movie history.