Nature Strip’s Third – a recording blog
Prologue to a blog – problogue
Hello. Welcome aboard. Both of you. We thought it would be fun to document how this third album of ours develops. You know, include links to our old stuff and stuff in progress in the hope that the tentacles of the interweb spider reach out and snare you, your friends, unsuspecting innocents across the globe and beyond. So here goes.
If you’re here, you probably know that the good ship The Nature Strip released album #2, Presents, in June or July this year (1976 . . . uh sorry 2016). It’s so good I can’t even tell you. If I did I’m not sure you would believe me. I might be a bit biased. The story of album #3 is quite tangled up with Presents as both records, both the baptised and the yet to be expelled from the birth canal, were conceived in a pair of sessions at Love Hz studios in 1984 (sorry, 2014).
So . . . in February 2014 we wanted to get started on a second album (or something). Though we record most stuff at home we decided to record some basic tracks at Love Hz and then overdub at our leisure at home. (When I say we, I usually mean Pete and myself. Jess and Matt are integral to the sound and direction of the band but we don’t expect them to spend day upon day thinking about whether that backing vocal works or whether we need to remic the bass etc.) Then we did another session at Love Hz in August 2014. A bunch of this stuff has been released:
Feb ’14 session: ‘Plainclothes’, ‘Inside Out & Back To Front’, ‘Say It Like’ and ‘Take Me Over’ (spaced version) are on the Plainclothes EP. ‘Hippie Dribble’, ‘The Geeks or The Fuzz’, ‘Shoes’, ‘Dark Matter’ and ‘Take Me Over’ (terrestrial version) are on Presents. Yep, that was a solid day of basic tracks! On Dark Matter we used the recordings of the whole band, including the live lead guitar track. Good times.
Aug ’14 session: ‘Deadly By Night’ and ‘King Biggie’ are on Presents, but the rest of the tracks are unfinished. On both of these sessions we worked with Matt Fell (with Rebecca Guilhaus assisting). Matt’s amazing at getting great sounds really quick. We would have been just as happy to work with Michael Carpenter, Love Hz’s other captain of industry, who mixed our first album and has history with us going back into the Warmer decade of the 2000s. But we were tight with dates and Matt chose himself by being the one who was available.
In January 2015, Pete and I got excited about some new tunes we’d both written. I suggested we try the home studio of a friend of mine and that I’d play drums. Just get in quick and not have to worry about Jess and Matt’s availability. Is it called hubris? Probably, when we’ve got one of the best drummers around in the band. But still, thinking they might have some ‘character’ and that it would be fun, we did demos of Pete’s ‘Bad’ and ‘Waterfall’ and my ‘Break Through’ and ‘Hildegard ünd Winifred’. (Those who have seen us play the latter live will understand why it needs an umlaut). Of course I hoped that by some miracle they would be brilliant and not be demos at all but the basic tracks of things we could release. We knew straight away that I hadn’t nailed ‘Bad’ or ‘Break Through’ on the drums, but I had hopes for the other two. Having since worked up ‘Waterfall’ with Matt and Jess, we realise that the band version totally slays the feel of this demo. ‘Hildegard’ . . . we’ll see. Thanks for the laffs Nick Andrews.
Moving on . . . we really wanted ‘Bad’ to be on the second album, so we arranged a session at my house with Jess to record around May. While we were set up with the drums, I figured we’d record drum tracks for few more of my new songs.
So, in October 2016 when we convened to ‘start work’ on the third album, we had quite a lot of stuff to work with. Some of the Love Hz stuff we had already overdubbed with guitars, vocals and/or keyboards. A couple of tracks were well on the way. Our starting position – contenders already in progress:
From Love Hz August 2014:
Save The Hive
Peace and Light
Georgia’s In Town
Eyes Are Blinded
From the January 2015 demo session:
Hildegard ünd Winifred
From the May 2015 session:
I Wanna Do The Right Thing
(Break Through was also recorded again here, but will probably be rejected in favour of the band arrangement worked up for our gig at the PBC last night).
Plus, there are two demos of Pete’s which look like they have legs as finished recordings:
Miss You More
We Don’t Like The Heat
We’ve form in that area. Pete’s ‘What a Life’, my ‘Leaving The Lights On’, and our co-written ‘Where The Sirens Waited’ were all demos that had something and we persisted with because they seemed to capture something special. It’s getting harder to draw the line between ‘demos’ and ‘real’ recordings doing so much at home . . . though as soon as Jess and Matt and real drums and lots of microphones are involved, we think of it as a ‘real recording’. Of course anything might make it onto a record if we like the way it turns out.
So that’s eleven tracks already underway and in contention. Sound like an album! However, there’s another session with Jess (and later, Matt) in the works for November as we really want to nail the band arrangements of ‘Waterfall’, ‘Break Through’, possibly ‘Hildegard’ and hopefully an older co-write, a bizarre song (mostly Pete’s) called ‘Great Big Wave’. Pete’s been writing like a demon and I’ve got a swag of tunes old and new calling for attention. You always want to record your new stuff right away. But it does seem like the next one is taking shape. Do we get in its way? Are we showing discipline by limiting the contenders to those already mentioned? It’s probably the path to finishing an album sooner. More possibilities, more time considering them is going to put the album further down the track.
Bye for now.
John E. 29Oct16