Wednesday, 15 June 2011

THUNDERER & EXCELSIOR - Song By Song

Like the 'Railway Architecture' discussion here, this would've worked nicely as an audio documentary with lots of demo snippets etc. but who has the time? Maybe I will do that one day. Perhaps picture me saying all this sat at a mixing desk in a darkened studio. Anyway, 2008's CLASSIC debut album. Song by song. Go! EDIT: I had a listen to this the other day and it's not half bad I tell you. Might give it another spin tonight too.

Horrors The first thing to say about this song is that the chorus, due to a mix up with the 4-track machine in 2004, is the chorus of 'The Squadron Leader' played backwards. The verse riffs are excellent and live became my 'Hang Onto Yourself' as the favoured gig opener. I remember wanting it to be more '96 Tears' or Sparks 'I Wish I Looked A Little Better' but as I recall no one knew those songs. It came out much better anyway. The album version is the original recording that we did way ahead of the album sessions proper, it naturally became our first single coupled with 'Orders' as the first two songs we finished. I always liked that pairing as it was like all life is in those two words - 'Horrors' and 'Orders'. A cracking debut coupling. I actually remember where I was stood on Goswell Road the moment I first sang the chorus in my head. Then ran to work singing it so I didn't forget it. A great award winning animated video by Mr Dirty Earthworm too.

Devil In The Detail
Single number 2, and an early live favourite - even back when it was just called 'Devils' and was yet to gain the chorus hook. That was happy accident while I added keyboard to a half finished demo - a newsreader said the phrase while I still had the melody fresh in my head and WALLOP! the classic Silvery track. Extended somewhat with a key change at the end and a delicious guitar solo added, it had a long gestation period. Although you'll see it was still fully formed by the 2005 demo you can hear on that bad / fun video of us at the funfair on Youtube which was made a year later. Backed with 'The Squadron Leader' as our first bonafide non album B-side (we stopped doing them as it has become clear people don't actually listen to B-sides these days - hence two 14 track albums) the coupling outdid 'Horrors' in the Indie Chart and cracked the Top 20. Another good video too, but unfortunately led to a still ongoing phobia of video making.

Action Force Single number 3, and due to some creative tracklisting by the label, track number three on the album, 'Action Force' again dated back to 2002 or thereabouts, but with the guitar playing the piano part. Infact as the songs became more vaudeville, getting a keyboard player climbed higher and higher up the 'to do' list. I made a decent video too, collecting clips of old diesel locomotives, giving rise to my idea that any future Silvery DVD release will be called 'British Transport Films'. No idea if this charted as the label decided to withdraw the vinyl pressing so it didn't qualify. FFS. Before 'You Give A Little Love' and 'Two Halves Of The Same Boy', our biggest radio hit to date. Clue: repeat the chorus a lot and add handclaps. We did two BBC session versions of this (Radio 1 and 6Music) mainly to make use of the huge pianos that the BBC always had on hand.

A Penny Dreadful
An effort to write a song that was actually a song rather than exercise in cut up lyrical snippets, instrumental hooks and exciting drums like much of the material was before it, 'A Penny Dreadful' is probably the most successful song on the album. I'm not too keen on the recording, mind. Although I like the 'Ziggy Stardust' production, my voice was shot by that point. A good band performance. I'd have to say I wanted to start writing like that do due to certain bands leaking loads of demo sessions. They just didn't care what state of undress the songs were seen in. Although frustrating, I found that quite inspiring. So sure enough, 'A Penny Dreadful' was finished when I knew I could play it all the way through on an acoustic guitar without wincing. I remember the chorus came complete with lyrics and all in one go. That happens sometimes. Like 'Orders' too, which is basically the same riff moved up a couple of strings. One trick, innit? Lyrically, it is directly related to some of my earliest songs that celebrate the art of letter writing. A lost art form.

Warship Class
Curiously, and bar the slow metamorphosis of 'Horrors', the newest song on the album. Part of a 4 song demo I made naming each tune after an extinct diesel locomotive class, it is explained here. The instrumentation was pretty much in place on the demo, but it's fair to say the drums made it unstoppable. Notable live performance: Bath Moles Club, braining myself on the low ceiling during a big jump in the middle. I collapsed to the floor and had a twitching eye for the rest of the week.

Star Of The Sea
I love this song, which maybe why I never found this recording satisfying. The long instrumental section was grafted on from an older almost identical song called 'Peachy', and the noise outro can be traced right back to my earliest musical experiments. Each musician read something that meant something to them, each divided up into the stages of man - childhood home, education, adult home. That kind of thing. Bassist Joe made the mistake of saying his complete home address, which bizarrely among the cacophony, was plainly audible in the mix. Took a couple of goes to hide that.

Revolving Sleepy Signs
Together with 'Foreign Exchange' the oldest thing on the record, dated right back in almost identical form to the late 90s. I guess that happens doesn't it? Bowie was using stuff he wrote at the age of 16 well into the 80s. Actually, if I think about it - the outro is even older, lifted from a 'Chiquitita' rewrite I did called 'Marriage'. Funny what this musical archeology digs up isn't it? The solo comes from another song of similar vintage called 'Never Ever'. That was a good song. I seem to remember the chords to 'Revolving' were the same as 'Ashes To Ashes'. I might need to check that though. One of the songs crying out for an organ on it to replace and expand on the similar original guitar line, I think the best keyboard performance on the album.

Orders A smashing little song, and a super original demo. Indeed, that sped up guitar bit at the start is taken directly from the demo. As things like 'Devil' were written imagining what the 4th Suede single would've sounded like if they hadn't got lazy, this was an exercise in Glam era Sparks. Of course, it ended up more like Blur doing 'Captain Of The Pinafore', but hey. I remember it was originally written using the city as a metaphor for the human body and an open letter to whoever was the celebrity junkie of the day. It changed quite a bit, but was better for it. To be honest, at this time I learnt a great lesson. Where previous demos had been made using the same methods, the writing came on leaps and bounds once I started adding bass, keyboards and sampled drums to the demo recordings. Unfortunately, that way it doesn't give other people much room to expand the arrangements.

1994
A love song to a year? Surely not? '1994' became the title track of the great unreleased Silvery musical (I should find the original tracklisting from that so I can reconstructed it with the finished songs from both albums). The drums on the demo were sampled from 'Talent Is An Asset' by Sparks (any song with a drum intro was fair game for looping on a minidisc for demonstration purposes) and the feel was trying to be like Swimmer's first single 'Boxes' (yes, from 1994). There was a similar song called 'I Am A Writer' that was good too, but this tune had a funnier guitar solo, hence became the one we did live. Radio top chap Steve Lamacq caught us off guard when he said it was his favourite off the album when we were convinced he liked 'Action Force'. I had to beg that this wasn't a single in 2009 when dickhead Blur got back together. We went for the very non-Britpop 'Nishikado' instead and missed out on a support slot. FFS.

The Nishikado
Like 'Devil', this has a long gestation and became arguably the best Silvery song to date. Performed for years in its original verse / chorus form - I pushed and pushed for it to go up and up and get longer and longer (a trick learnt from the great unreleased song 'A Man Has Disappeared In The Sky' AKA 'Waterframe'). Indeed, it was the last song recorded for the record sometime after the main sessions had finished as the arrangement just wouldn't settle. Should maybe have left it to the 2nd album, but I get the feeling it wouldn't have got recorded. Also like the 'Devil' chorus, this one was a happy coincidence as I was demoing it at home. I had the chorus melody but then playing Bamboozle on Teletext, one of the questions was 'Who invented Space Invaders?' I didn't have a clue, but me having to go back to the start resulted in a great chorus lyric of 'Toshihiro Nishikado'. It fit perfectly. An excellent keyboard sound, echoing the brilliant sound on Belle & Sebastian's 'Lazy Line Painter Jane' but that didn't stop me from leaving the recording session under a cloud. The video was OK - made for tuppence in my Shoreditch pad with my friend Nick helping in the edit. As it was my first attempt, it's worth noting that the nightvision thing wasn't supposed to be on. This did really well on some Dutch chart. Top 5 as i recall.

Ghosts
Almost identical to the demo, I decided this needed to be on the album as I wanted to see if people from the future would actually appear. There will be Silvery CDs on Earth far longer than me, so it was worth a shot. The lovely xylophone outro is actually the same scary / funny notes I made up for the outro of the original 'That Which Is' demo from 2002. Funny how these things get recycled. Originally shared the name '...Of Ghosts And Spirits Walking By Night' with another song but became plain old 'Ghosts' when we started doing it live and the setlist was never wide enough to fit the name on.

Foreign Exchange & The Drilling Machine
The absolute oldest thing on here bar the 'Revolving' outro. A trip to a Foreign Exchange immortalised in song, although a slow rewrite (on and off over 10 years) made it more Silvery, and the addition of the outro (originally entitled 'Battle Bridge', or sometimes 'On The Racket') made it the centrepiece to Silvery live in 2007 - 2008. A fantastic BBC version was performed live to the nation on 6Music which I think I prefer to the album cut. Was also renamed several times over the years - 'Hero Apollo Man' and 'The Lady Vanishes' spring to mind - but settled on the original name in a flash of nostalgia.

That Which Is / That Which Is Not
Frantic and compressed, this was a perennial favourite on demos - I think 2 previous almost identical versions were cut, and early live renditions had a second guitar doing the keyboard riff. We were even called 'fairground' before we added a keyboard, which is amazing when you think about it. The first Silvery song to have a video made for it WAY BACK, featuring rehearsal footage and badly edited UFO stuff off a TV documentary. It was nice. Not only the first Silvery song to be issued on CD, when Clash magazine issued it ahead of the album in Summer '08, but the first Silvery song to be played on Radio 1 when Lamacq played one of the early demo versions back in '06. Even at that point I didn't think that sort happened anymore.

Animals Are Vanishing
Started out as a pastiche of 'Scary Monsters' era Bowie, a swift timing change and hey presto, some classic Victorian circus glam. We played it in early form without the outro for a while, but then while reading a book about the lost rivers of London I set their names to Pink Floyd's 'Astronomy Domine' - replacing the stars names with the far more mysterious lost underground rivers. Hence it became the tale of real life Victorian explorer Jonathan Hollingshead who searched for the sources of these rivers. As the end got longer and longer in the studio, it became clear that he wasn't going to re-emerge into the light and could still be down there. The perfect ending. Then of course, it became impossible to do it justice live and only rarely got an airing - usually when enough Ex Silverys were in the room to add to the choir at the end.

But of course, there is an epilogue with the hidden track 'The Ship's Cat', inspired by me finding an old ship's compass on the beach at Netley when I was little. Mix that with vague memories of a Bagpuss episode and there we are. we actually did that live a few times, most notably supporting David Devant & His Spirit Wife at that big venue in the N1 centre in Islington. A good chance for everyone at the bar to go to another bar in another venue. Again, great organing underneath it, making it positively Tim Burton.

There we are then. I should imagine I'll keep updating this and changing it slightly - adding more links to stuff. I might even add some sound clips. All in all, a really great record I think. Over long perhaps, rushed in places, but a perfect artifact of an excellent line up. And that is a classic bit of cover artwork by Mr Dirty Earthworm. I keep being asked what the title means. Well, if you have a flick through Viz from August '04, you'll find the answer. Thanks for reading.

RAILWAY ARCHITECTURE - Song By Song

2010's second album. I was going to do this as a little audio documentary, including demos and live recordings playing in the background, but lets face it - I'd never have gotten around to it. At least this saves me doing one of those terrible acoustic gigs with 20 minutes of waffle between each song. No one wants that. The Kev mentioned is of course Kev Feazey, former 5th Silvery, now promoted to 2nd Silvery. See also the 'Thunderer & Excelsior' song by song HERE. EDIT: I had a listen to this the other day and it's not half bad I tell you. Might give it another spin tonight too.

A Deconstruction Of Roles
From the same batch of tunes written summer 2003 that made up most of both albums - in fact the only reason this one didn't get on the first album was because it shared so many similar elements with 'Star Of The Sea'. That said, during the recording of this (which was more of an experiment to try an recreate the original 4-track demo - something I'd never done before) it became a superior tune, developing a classic SKA feel. A mechanical Can Can I hope. Hence the first Silvery tune to have brass on, and a fluke of bad keyboard playing got it even jauntier. With two thirds of the album yet to do, this was slated as the opener straight away. Having the sound of a diesel locomotive starting up was a statement of intent, contradicting the UFO landing noises opening the debut album. I think the second Silvery song to actually have a proper guitar solo. Rules are there to be broken, man. You'll still hear this on in Topshop occasionally.

Identity
Like 'Murder Holes', this came into its own when it was recorded as part of 'The Nishikado EP' in 2009, and instantly became a favourite - much better than the live version we'd been doing every now and again for years. The only misgiving was that it was missing the 'Railway Architecture' intro I gave it during the albums sessions. Briefly retitled 'The Terence Stamp'. The sort of name that screams 'interesting song'. But then hastily reverted to the original dull name to satisfy everyone as at some point we'd have to play it to our dads. The third track done for the EP, 'The Public Purse' was given a superior remix and finished for the album but didn't make the cut sadly. Will need to revisit that one at somepoint. Indeed, when the second album was still being considered a stop gap release featuring all the previous non album material, even 'Devil In The Detail' B-Side 'The Squadron Leader' was given a 'Railway Architecture' remix. That one wasn't so good though. Done live in a BBC session and included on an Artrocker compilation CD, curiously becoming one of the widest travelled Silvery songs.

Two Halves Of The Same BoyMuch like the similar vintage 'Deconstruction Of Roles', this was an exercise in recreating the original demo - same no frills drums, same glam rock guitar bits. Lovely. However, as the 2010 BBC recording shows, it really didn't work live which is why we never recorded it earlier. So, naturally, the album version became playlisted by the BBC for 5 weeks and the amount of Last.FM plays tells it's own tale. A great little tune, but FFS. Lyrically, exploring the Lucifer Sam 'he's the left side' sort of thing, it could possibly be added to the list of Silvery songs that celebrate Silvery - in this case a more melodic 'Murder Holes'. Silvery - the band that celebrates itself.

The Naked & The DeadTo be bracketed along with 'Devil In The Detail' as a veteran of Silvery 2002. Mothballed for about 6 years and recorded roughly during the first album session which is where most of this recording comes from. Add a disco chorus for a bit of variation, and BANG - a good song, but absolutely terrible choice for first single off the album. Hence a passable BBC session version exists, preserving the 2010 line up of the band. In fact it was only because it had a video made for it that that it was a single. The one single I regret. The video by the same team behind the 'Horrors' clip was OK, but ruined by me being in it. Named after a line from Jacques Brel's 'Next' rather than the Norman Mailer book.

Will Self (or, 'The Man Who Wasn't There')Another song that might have made the first album, but left over for the second. And again, recorded roughly during those sessions, but dusted down and finished off a couple of years later. Testament to Kev's motto 'I don't delete anything'. Puzzled and hurt somewhat that no one wanted to finish their parts, the decision was taken to do it properly with woodwind and brass. That was a session and a half I tell you. Doesn't quite hit the heights it should, but a good attempt. Like a 40 yarder hitting the crossbar. Not about Will Self the chap (bit of a stupid name then?) but the development of machinery and a man who spends his whole time invented stuff as a young man and by the time he's an old man he is spending his whole time preserving those same pieces of machinery he made as a young man. Or something like that.

The Quaire FellowThis was given it's own blog entry here. An excusion into power pop that became something else entirely. The middle 8 is easily the best thing on the album, with some great fluting. Almost 'War Of The Worlds' shit.

The NodAs Adam said in the previous blog, when this came about it was considered the dawn of the new Silvery. Flight of melody and camp of everything else. The same message as 'Orders' (which, curiously, followed it on the 2003 demo reel) - a wake up call for lazybones everywhere, make something of yourself blah blah blah. And yes, I did realise almost straight away it was my subconscious telling me that. The development of the song can be traced back to various older demos - namely 'Adventure Band' and 'Footsoldier'. A great little song which we didn't even consider for the first album, but decided to record it as a fresh B side for the Action Force single (up there with Horrors / Orders as the best vinyl coupling Silvery ever did) the results were considered so good we made it the double A side as a preview for the second album which would've come out a few months later if it all went to plan. Which it didn't. Still ended up on the second album despite its age by virtue of the best bit of Radio play the band got - Radio 2's Mark Lamar playing it to Sparks and them being dumbfounded. Skillz.

Sparks & Fire
Another ancient tune, famous enough to give its name to our first website. Recorded along with Ropes & Sails as B-sides from the album sessions, I liked the results enough to keep them on the album. The drums were made to sound as artificial as possible to match the toy like feel we'd gone for on other tracks. There is a brief bit of a Thomas Hardy poem in the middle bit, and the song was reborn as a prayer to navvies and tunnel diggers rather than an exploration into the Hollow Earth as it was first written. Believe it or not, it used to lead (via 'Ropes & Sails') into 'In Insects' as a live medley musical. More about that later. The second verse was replaced by an instrumental passage very early on when I realised at one gig that it was utter shite and did a wonky guitar solo instead. That later developed into a brief passage to allow the band a chance to body pop. Badly.

Ropes & SailsSlightly older than 'Sparks & Fire', I prefer this part of the medley much more. The first Silvery instrumental (if you ignore the singing fragments) which I remember actually demoing the afternoon of the 9/11 attacks. That was fucking ages ago. I guess testament to the quality of material that came later. Very early on the two songs became 'segued' and stayed like that on the album.

An Account Of The Raising Of A Spirit
Not much more I can say about this. We had to stop adding things to it as it was getting too stupid. I mean, we're not a joke band. Oh. One of my favourite memories of doing this one is Kev asking 'What do you mean, TAP DANCERS??'. Lord knows what I'd suggested. Former Silvery Dave adds a super Uke part (we couldn't find an accordion) as he did to the album version of the Bugsy Malone cover. I think another song that was the result of a BBC London Robert Elms phone in.

The 'In Insects' JerkAnyway - this was another mothballed tune from 2002 ish and was the part in the Silvery Hollow Earth musical when the explorers (Victorian, or course) come across a race of industrious insects. In fact the explorers might have been Pirates. I can't remember. Like 'Sparks & Fire' it was quite easy to rewrite to fit the 'Railway Architecture' concept - something about the simplest things (insects) being like the most complicated things (machines). Something like that. Hence sonically the nadir of the Silvery mechanical clockwork thing. A hoedown that became a jerk. I like this one live, a much more satisfying 2 minutes that speeds up to ridiculous levels at the end. Again, another 'Railway Architecture' tune to have been debuted in a live BBC session.

The Murder Holes Are About YouOn the album by virtue of the excellent oompah chorus. The Murder Hole became a dance craze if you were in Silvery in 2005. A murder hole is actually part of a castles defence through which nasty things are dropped on the invading hoardes. Quite an angry song, somewhat watered down by the Medieval imagery. Always worked better slower -as it was designed- to let those oompah bits to really kick in, but of course also a lot of fun to rip through? A decent enough recording, but like the next song, good reason for it to be hidden at the end.

You Give A Little LoveI love doing this live, but never listen to this version. Recorded the same weekend as 'The Nod', Kev had his work cut out for him. Should've done 'Seasick' as the climax to the album instead but just ran out of time and patience. Obviously, having a million selling Christmas Number One on the album made commercial sense. Rolls eyes. 'Seasick' will have to wait until album 3.

Hook Woods
A toss up between this and a tune called 'The Round Tail' to finish the album. This won out primarily because it was the total opposite of the last song on the first album. A sad reflection rather than an apocalyptic Wagner-eque onslaught. Originally it had a little music box at the start - one of several things cut from the finished album which really really irked me. Still does. I'd like to have redone the original rough vocal to this, but we deemed it good enough to keep - I don't like that breathy sound. In keeping with Michael Stipe's decision not to explain song meanings, this is not for all the ladeez out there, but infact about my old dog who loved those woods.

So, In all, a bittersweet album for me. Better than the sum of its parts, but I'll always see it as an album that should be so much better than it is - not material wise, not performance wise, just as a whole. The more I think about it, the sadder it makes me when I recall being left so totally high and dry.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

OVER TO OUR 2002 CORRESPONDENT

Editor's note: Adam Barnes was an old school pal who was part of my bandular experiments through University and eventual Pete N Carl adventures in Islington as Britpop died around us. I say died, by this point it was positively putrid. Previous incarnations included some fantastic names - namely THEME and SCISSORS (more of them here soon) and few gigs. Infact no gigs. Little changes, innit? In fact, most of our lack-of-bassist-gig-cancelations would've been solved if we realised then that guitarist Barnes should switch to bass and be done with. So a couple of years of floundering and pissing about with very hard Scottish landlords leads us to...

'SILVERY AND MY PART IN THEIR DOWNFALL' by Barnesy (Electric bass and quizical eyebrow 2001 - 2003)


Glam plus ska racket
Many stops remain awkward
Flyers did their job

(Silvery haiku)

And so the story begins…
In truth, I can’t remember the precise reason for joining Silvery. The band was pitched to me, and this was confirmed by the initial demo, as a primarily glam band with ska bits, a smattering of Sparks and heavy on the Victoriana imagery. Couple this with curious name, which wasn’t a plural noun as was the vogue at the time, and the foundations were shaky.

Add a 4 hour round trip to each rehearsal or gig into the bargain and the fact I didn’t own a bass or requisite amplifier and it makes no sense to this day. Still, these were lean times. The great bass player famine of 2001 had hit the capital hard and we all had a duty to do our bit.
I’d like to attribute it as a favour to a mate or something of that ilk. But even that somehow doesn’t go far enough.

So, I understood the concept of root notes, octaves and playing something irrelevant to the song and this proved to be more than sufficient for Silvery purposes. Turned out that my initial inauguration was to end with a gig to be broadcast on local radio. 8 songs, 2 weeks to learn ‘em and one rehearsal with 2 unknown quantities of band members I had never met. Things were looking up.

To be fair, the less said about my debut Silvery gig, the better. First on the bill and below a Coldplay (circa 2002) covers band. Debut gigs don’t come much worse. Christ alive. The gig was a right howler from my perspective. I think I bumbled through Revolving with dignity intact but that was all. Suffice to say, I never forgot to pack colour co ordinated shoes for a gig ever again. In my defence, the gig was a charitable one. Alas, we were not considered to qualify for any funding.

By rights, there should have endeth my tenure. But it did not. The reason for this remains a mystery to this day. Gigs followed thick and fast. An intense rehearsal regime of once a fortnight and at weekends ensued. This would surely have been too much for all but the hardiest of rock n roll marines.

Irregular rehearsals took place at Backstreet Studios in Holloway (don’t look for it, it’s not there now) on the basis that Orman had once heard a rumour that Suede used it and David Devant & his Spirit Wife had been confirmed as using it. Relatively inexpensive to use, an amusing guy on the front desk and an manly odour of mould, honest sweat and 1000 cigarettes per hour burning in each room sealed this as the Silvery HQ.

No gig was considered to be too small or unalluring. The darling of early manhood – the Camden toilet circuit was stormed and fell. The Bull & Gate. Check. Too much scholarly ink has been spilt on the whole flowers incident and I do not propose to repeat it here. Suffice to say we rocked like “a dog on a stick” England 5 Germany 1. Stick it to the Bosh only to return to the scene of the victory to face posters featuring Howard on stage.

The Hope & Anchor Islington. A gig worthy of recall. A coach load of Scousers had descended upon the big smoke for a day to celebrate a birthday and a gig at the H&A. These kindly merchants kindly donated their second billing to a much worthier cause only to turn out to be a second rate Robbie Williams tribute act (the cunts) whose musicianship and showmanship is charitably described as ill foundedly confident. The ghost of the early Jam had surely taken it’s queue to bugger off up the Postman for a quiet pint.

They left, we took the stage and they took the audience. We proceeded to win over the remaining bar staff with a storming drunken set included a never to be repeated back to back rendition of the mighty “Toads” One without keys and one with. Great gig, great photos. We were on our way. (I think you've confused two H&A gigs here Barnes - my birthday one with the Scousers was rammed - the first one supporting McFly was the empty one. Ed.)

The Dublin Castle Gig begins in my recall as any gig should. Crap sound check, token argument with sound guy, knowing sneers directed at other bands followed by a swift exit and pints at another pub down the road. This time out enabled frenzied set list writing, repetition of forgotten chord sequences and flyer distribution. Your basic format which can only be learned and perfected through hard graft. This is an art form , a ritual, akin to the Japanese tea ceremony. A thing of great beauty. The greatest oversized Victoriana flyer in the history of rock were proferred up to the great unwashed by Muzz on account of his being the handsomest silvery. Ice to the Eskimos? I do believe that we actually left the high street with more flyers than we started with. The obvious solution left flyers for the night gig evenly distributed between post boxes, pub tables from the high street to the Castle, forming an alluring Hanzel and Greteleseque trail right to the stage. Hearty promotional groundwork that remains unrewarded to this day. That went well then. Today, if you look closely, and have luck, maybe you will find one of the several. The discounted door price is unlikely to still be good, but Silvery are likely to be playing.

We returned to venue and argued with sound man again. A thin skinned gent who took exception to being told how to do his job. Surely this was his job? If not, he would be on stage or just fuck off right? Instructions on leaving the vox low in the mix were simple, lucidly explained and promptly ignored. An amateur error on his part, this was easily over come by Orman cranking the guitar amp slightly between after and during each song combined with standing farther away from the mic and whispering. Surprised we did over 10 minutes there.

Devils, soon to be lyricised and christened Devil in the Detail was debuted this night. No issue with such a cretinuos mix given the camp vocals. The chord progression, unlearnt by myself had been addressed with a chanting all the way down the high street and had cemented. Still got the recording of that. Tight as fucking arseholes mate. Deemed only fitting to close the set the RFTC influence was not entirely becoming or representative of the bands sound at this time. Still, the released version of it contains the bass line (i.e. bass notes) virtually undisturbed from this rendition but without the greatness of the bass on the ska bit. And what on earth is that key change about? That was never meant to be there. Actually, most of the songs from the official release debut record were in place in my day, in varying stages of completeness. And most of the second album. What we lacked in polish and keyboards was made up for with rawness and a lack of keyboards.

Songs appeared with an alarming regularity. Always fresh, never to be repeated (but often reworked) and not always working. The songs were fresh at this point which always helps. Ok so I could only make rehearsal once a fortnight but this was no issue. Rehearse the hell out of it on Sunday and it would be in the set the next Saturday night. No one listens to the bass anyhow. Salad days. A demo cd completed by Orman in the summer was presented - dubbed “Theme: The Musical” contained a batch of songs which would also make the cut for these records. The demo was produced over a 2 week period during the annual Orman summer holiday where he locked himself in a room with a 4 track tape machine. “The Nod” as I recall was worth the last 2 summers work alone at the time. “1994” and “Two Halves Of The Same Boy” also came from these sessions.

Most of the surviving recording from this time were simply done at Backstreet. There was one session at a recording studio, which is probably the reason we continued to do things ourselves.
The plan was simple. Record as many songs as possible as quickly and as cheaply as possible. I suspect that this theory gained credence as a knee jerk reaction to the infamous Hoxton incident of 1997 but that is another story. As an ethos, lo fidelity became us.

A studio in a non distinct seedy area of London (of which there are no shortage) was booked for an ambitious 4 hour slot on a week day evening. Much cheapness. £100 is the figure that springs to mind which in today’s money equates to about £100 give or take. As ever, my contribution/responsibility was to leave work early, jump on a train trust plank in tow and be prepared for the worst. Oh and chip in despite being mugged for the ever increasing train fare.
The mostly German sound engineering contingent seemed less interested in gaining valuable work experience than setting the studio record for the most bodies in the control room. This was not our concern, although their lack of English soon became just that.
The drums were set up in record time and the record button was pressed. We continued to play uninterrupted for the best part of the 4 hours.

The genius of this plan was in its simplicity. The money was spent, nay invested, in a none too lavish live ish recording, primarily to get a decent drum sound. Words and additional squelchy noises were to be added onto this via James' 4 track at his leisure. Simple in theory.
And we played a blinder. With no singing to put the band off, several versions of a few songs were committed to tape.

What had been forgotten in the excitement and became clear and the kit was being packed away and the fruits of the session played back through the monitors was that the intense compression remained in place rendering the sound not unlike a toy drum kit.

Never a band to be put off by such trivial adversity, the demo process went full steam ahead. Not a sterling success in terms of the outcome but more a process. That’s lo-fi innit?
I still have copies of a few of these kicking around today. The songs are solid, the production not so much. They do retain a certain charm and yet another reminder that in this life, you get what you pay for.

Personal faves from my tenure which have as yet to rear their heads was an instrumental surf/ska instrumental ditty called 'The Hollow Earth'. This had been rehearsed up but never played live with our line up. I suspect it was considered a through away ditty not worthy of further consideration but contained a kick ass ska bit and riff and the juxtaposed parts worked well together. (Yep - a cool song. Nostalgia Ed.) 'Uncatchables' is worthy of mention too. A stalwart of those early gigs, present and correction the first demo tape the song is a strong contender for best ending of all time. Album number 3 is being recorded whilst I write. You never know if any of these may make the cut yet.

If I learned anything from my time in Silvery, surely it was this: record everything. No matter how poorly played or recorded. And maybe make some contacts - that would have helped. Still, we knew better than that at the time. If we could have done anything different, it would have been parting with a few quid and getting a decent demo out. Scratch that, that was what it was all about. The lo-fi ethic. Not for want of any artistic statement so much as being tight for the sake of it. More photos would have been a good thing though...

That's quite enough of that. Back to the studio for sport.