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Life Stream

December 12, 2009

Last week we got our first test master copy of our album. After some 20 months of hard work, we’re finally coming to the end.

When we headed into the studio in March 2008 we were excepting to have the recording wrapped up within a couple of months, and we were hoping to have it released by September that year. Sure enough, we did make quick progress; most of the initial track laying was done by June and we had something resembling a finished record by August.

We originally went into the studio with 18 songs – the idea being that as we went along some songs would fall by the wayside and we’d have a couple of back up songs for b-sides. The plan soon changed, because we ended up finishing all 18 songs and we wanted them all to be heard.

So, we  decided to put seven of the older songs we recorded on the ‘Put Your Slippers On’ EP, which we self released in November 2008. We’ve been truly overwhelmed by its response – we even had to get extra copies pressed because it’s done far better than we ever expected.

Touring to promote the EP, as well as the subsequent ‘Summer Solstice’ single meant that our record was left sitting there for too long. Eventually we felt that it no longer represented where we are as a band; we’d moved on simply through constant touring and playing together. So we decided to head into the studio again to make some alterations, bringing the album back to life.

This opened a can of worms. We re-recorded some tracks, completely changed others and even ended up re-tracking all of the percussion with our new drummer Jamie (Fordy had left to go to university, and Jamie brought a totally new dynamic to the songs). We’d work with our producer Marc from 10 in the morning until 10 at night for weeks on end. Sometimes we’d come back from playing a show in London at 5 in the morning only to be up soon after for a 12 hour day.

Then came our biggest task so far: vocals. As you know, we’ve always been an instrumental band. This was never a conscious decision – the band just grew that way, but vocals have been something we’d wanted to try for a long time.  We set about trying to get guest vocals on 4 or 5 of the album tracks, keeping the rest instrumental. The initial response was great – we got some truly amazing singers interested, and all of the musicians we spoke to were very enthusiastic.

Pinning down everyone proved to be massively difficult, however. Understandably, most of them were so busy with their own music we were never be able to get enough tracks finished to make the idea work. After months of trying we had to abandon the plans.

This meant we had an album that we were musically very proud of that still wasn’t finished, despite all of the time we’d spent on it. It almost looked like we’d have to shelve the album completely, or condense it to yet another EP. This was the last thing we wanted to do after putting so much work in to achieve our dream. We felt we didn’t have much choice other than to jump in at the deep end and do the vocals ourselves.

Never having really done any singing before, this has been a big challenge for us. We wanted to be very careful not to overshadow the music, ideally making our voices blend in like another instrument. Slowly but surely, we pinned down vocals for 5 tracks, keeping the other 6 instrumental.

Then came the mixing. If you’ve heard the EP, you’ll know that we love experimenting with instrumentation. Some tracks on the album are similar to the way we play them live (with 5 or 6 instruments), but others have nearly 200 tracks of audio on them. As you can imagine, mixing has been quite a task! It took a long time to get it just right.

Finally, we’ve done it. And it feels great. But whilst we are massively proud of what we have achieved, there are obviously lots of nerves bubbling underneath, and we’re continually asking ourselves questions. Will our fans like our new direction? Will people like the tracks with singing on? Will we be able to do it all live?

What we do know, though, is that we have a finished album, and we can safely say we’ve put our hearts and souls into it. We’re really proud that we overcame all of the obstacles that got in our way.  It’s easily been the biggest and hardest project I’ve ever been involved in and it’s a great achievement that it’s done. We think it’s a coherent, beautiful album that really represents where we are and what we’re about. We hope you’ll agree. Life Stream.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be having the CDs and Vinyl pressed and getting the ball rolling with its release. Fingers crossed, it’ll be out in the spring. More details very soon.

Tim and Sam x

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