I'll start at the beginning. I started writing Songs for 'The Loved Ones' while I was still in the middle of recording my first album.
'Helpless', 'This Twisted Love' and 'Good Old Harry' all came within a couple of days and I started on their demo's straight away (more of which later). I was working away and watched the films '12 years a slave' and 'Django Unchained' and the lyrics for the song 'The Loved Ones' came the following day. A day or so later the same thing happened while watching the news, seeing what was going on with conflicts in the Middle East, seeing a man carrying his bloodied child through the streets, out came 'Carried My Baby'. Those two songs were put to music as soon as I got home. Those songs plus 'My Heart' which was written by Steve Pellatt and given to me around 2004 formed the bones of the album.
I think 'Gonna Chase Your Clouds Away' and 'They Get A Feelin' came next, out of nowhere really.
The last two songs to be written were 'White Feathers' which I wrote on my new Gibson acoustic that I'd been saving for for some time, it gave of some lovely tones and got me playing around with chords I wouldn't normally use. 'Where The Love Grows' came last while I was sitting at the piano tinkering around while two friends were round havin a few beers.
I had a definite plan with this album and it was simply to have the same band playing all the songs, the opposite to my approach to my first album where I wanted to get as many people involved as possible. It was one of many experiences that I learnt a lot from and one I wasn't for repeating.
So, myself, Chris Holland (bass), Steve Pellatt (drums) and for some songs John Banks (lead guitar) set about making the demos for the album. When I wrote the songs, rather than doing a simple acoustic demo I got a rough idea of how I heard the songs on my head using midi drums/keys and the usual guitars/bass/vocals. The lads then went over what I'd done for their parts which was great because it added different ideas to them and it got them used to the songs. It also gave me an opportunity to practice and begin learning the mixing and production side of things.
In January 2016 the three of us had several rehearsal sessions so we would be tight as a unit prior to the recording. These sessions were invaluable and the songs really started coming together nicely.
So came the time to start putting everything we'd worked on so far into practice. The recording process. We went into the studio and Steve laid the drums down for the whole album in one night, I've worked with him in various different bands since we were 14/15 and he never ceases to amaze me. He's such a good drummer to watch and that night I left the studio buzzing at what I'd just seen/heard. I think he had one quick break all night, just soldiered on until it was done. He must've been knackered! Chris recorded bass at the same time but we only kept a couple of the takes and did them again later on.
Then it was onto the guitars, I recorded all the acoustic tracks on my own in the same day but Chris was there with me for the electric rhythm sessions and lead tracks that I played on. I wanted John to play lead on the whole album but time issues meant that he only played on four of them, although he did take part in the backing vocal session we did for 'The Loved Ones' and 'White Feathers'.
Chris did two and I did the rest which I really enjoyed doing because I've never been much of a lead guitar player. Chris was there encouraging me and it was one of those two minds are better than one situations. He pushed me to bring out the best I could offer.
The whole process was positive except my plan for a small choir on 'Gonna Chase Your Clouds Away' didn't really go too well and I was about to abandon the idea but my wife convinced me to take up the offer from Jo Byrne, Katy Connelly and Lou Roberts to come and overdub their parts so we ended up with a 3 male/3 female group which we doubled on to get the bigger sound that I was looking for. That song became such a monster through the recording of it. It wasn't intended to be so long but when Steve was tracking his drums he was really going for it and it was a joy to watch, I didn't want him to stop! When we were working on the demos, Banksy insisted that we get sax player Lewis Dickinson on 'Clouds' and 'This Twisted Love'. I'd never met Lewis but had seen him live a couple of times, I contacted him and he was happy to do it. It was some months later when I was ready for the sax to go on the songs and Lewis was brilliant, such a nice guy. He did 'Clouds' in 1 take and the whole thing was done in half an hour. His part really compliments Johns lead guitar playing and both go well with the choir. Chris had some great ideas with this song and really added some magic to it.
So the album is ready to go and I can't describe how I enjoyed the whole process, especially seeing other people adding their talents to it.
If you've read this, I'll assume you'll be listening to it and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it.