CHEMIKALS

The actual process of recording album 2 ended up taking far longer than we thought….around 18 months in total. It all gets a bit blurry as to what actually happened when and where but I’ll try and sum it up swiftly in the following format. Read it as quick as you can:

“…TBOTB start recording 2nd album….function band forms with some members to try and make some money….Wit sings ‘Love Shack’ and feels he’s let himself down so quits function band before a gig is even played…other original bands form with various Bang members – Zegema Beach (Ox & Rox), Analogue Manilow (Wit & Dave) and The Retrospective Soundtrack Players (Ox & Elliott)…TBOTB continue recording 2nd album…..the inbred Southsea misery-folk Jelly Maid/TBOTB/Dawn Chorus non-scene gets stretched to breaking point….Ox leaves…..The Dawn Chorus split up…Sexy Keef (from DC) joins….Rox leaves…..Emily joins….Ox rejoins on guitar…..Rox rejoins….Jack still exists in limbo (Sherfield on Loddon)….some of the newly formed bands split….TBOTB continue recording 2nd album…Emily leaves…Wit has existential crisis/breakdown….TBOTB finish recording 2nd album…”

And we all drank lemonade. The End.

Except it wasn’t. As we were finishing the final notes two things occurred.

One was that my good friend from Uni, Mr Jake Gordon offered to mix the album and he had worked with some ace folks that year like Wild Beasts and Everything Everything. He also has golden ears and access to some incredible studios (and equipment) in London at his place of work so we knew it would sound far better than if it had just been left to me. We’d tracked a couple of early bits with Neil of 1st album infamy but he was so busy with the last DC album and The RSP we ended up doing a lot of it ourselves. The only issue was that Jake had to do it in his downtime which meant it was on a ‘as and when’ basis. Fair play to him though as it was a massive favour to us…just took a little longer than expected. All this drama also meant we binned off a lot of the songs that I had earmarked for the 3 act thing and honed it down what we thought were the best tunes. Thank God.

Two was that Jelly Maid Music, our label run from Old Blacksmiths by Rich Tamblyn, imploded as he sold the studio (to another good pal Whyntie – I told you Southsea was incestuos…) – we were now essentially homeless. Our fresh and spangly album finally ready in our hands and no way to release it. Balls. We hawked it around a few places to no avail and I was getting more and more down – so much hard work on something I was really proud of that no-one seemed to want. Sometimes you just need a helping hand and that came from a new and wondrous shop that had recently opened nearby. Pie & Vinyl. Exactly. What a place. They were lovely guys and we quickly became firm friends and occasional lovers. Steve from P&V told me that he wanted to start a label and so a plan was hatched for us to be the first release. It was an honour and exciting to be part of something up and coming, new and inspiring.

In the end, Record Store Day 2013 was chosen as the day of release and we pulled out all the stops to get it cut on actual vinyl, fulfilling one of my life goals. It’s another long story but we were still hand pressing the A & B side labels the night before release after a cock-up at the pressing plant. DIY til we die. Nothing is ever easy in this band. It never has been.

So…anyway…Chemikals….with a k. Why not? Jauntier than anything we’d previously done and benefiting greatly from the inclusion of Pauly B our favourite trumpeter as well as another friend Ken on Sax. The lyrics tell of how the main protagonist of the story (again, more on which later…) is a man controlled by his urges. After all, we’re all just chemical signals at the end of the day. Love, lust, fear etc….all just electrical flashes in the synapses of our silly brains. This being a human stuff is complex.

(Un)fortunately we filmed some of our recording process which I’ll put up in segments so you can see in to the dark corners of the minds of genius’s (genii?). It’s not just a bunch of twats playing Sweet Child o’ Mine constantly.

And below are 3 live cuts of the song from the Wedgewood Rooms in Southsea (w/ Pauly B), The Bull & Gate in Kentish Town and The Wheelbarrow in Camden…

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AIM HIGH

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh the difficult second album. Where to begin? Well…with ‘Aim High’ that’s where.

The ORIGINAL plan was to get in and record this new set of songs as quickly as possible, pretty much track everything live and get it done swiftly. How wrong we were. The band at this point I think had expanded to Myself, Dave on guitar, Ox on bass, Elliott on drums and Roxanne on keys. Jack had moved to the imaginary, made-up place of Sherfield-on-Loddon for work and, although he was still a member of the band, logistics prevented him on getting down much to Southsea to record anything.

Rox was a great addition – lending her ace vocals and silky piano skills to many a track. I’d always wanted dual male/female vocals (which is why 3 songs on our first album have ladies as guest singers) and I started writing accordingly. The mighty Ox had also stepped in to a full time role after we’d toured together as Dawn Chorus stand-ins. No-one slappa da bass like him.

So….what happened? Well, rather selfishly I went off traveling around Asia for 3 months (in order to…you know….like….totally find myself dahling…) and I got engaged. Upon returning, I’d had all these new ideas for songs and music. The main crux of which was a ridiculously overblown concept piece, more of which I’ll chat about later. I’d made recordings of foley and sound effects etc…while I was away and wanted to take the thread of ‘Beginning. Middle. End’ even further with a 3 act concept album. As you do. If you’re going to do something, you may as well go for it eh? Well thank God it didn’t actually happen like that as I think the slimmed-down, final group of tracks that became album 2 are much, much better for it.

‘Aim High’ was an early contender. I wanted to streamline my songwriting and condense my ideas a little. If there’s a major criticism (that I also sort of see as a positive to be honest…) with the first album it’s that it sounds like loads of different bands. Album 2 was a conceited effort to come up with a TBOTB definable ‘sound’. Still an eclectic one but more focused and direct.

Originally a gentle little acoustic number, I’d been inspired by some of the chanting monks (I’m not even lying…what a tool…) from Laos and Vietnam etc…so, wherever we could force a big, gang vocal harmony in, we did. Fittingly, we thought it should open the album and it ended up being our second single. I made the video using an iPhone app for nothing. It took forever. But it does sum up the whole period of recording quite nicely…

A live version from The Bull & Gate, Camden for Club Fandango…

…and from our album launch at The Wedgewood Rooms (nice intune vocals at the start there…few nerves I expect…)

…finally the song in it’s original guise shortly after writing…