This album is important for me because it represents the end of a four-year process of releasing my entire catalogue (10 albums including this one) via bandcamp and on CD. It’s also the first band album since Will died and to be honest, probably the first thing I’ve released which actually sounds the way I imagined it should. It has involved a lot of duplication of material, for which I apologise but also have to defend, in that (I hope) all the alternative versions are worthy of themselves and different enough in interpretation and arrangement to warrant release.
This is what I was trying to do with The Invisible Opera, but never really pulled it off. Jim’s aurision of psychedelic music was very much based on the west-coast sound of the Beach Boys and CSNY; I don’t think he was ever comfortable with my atonal space-crash punk tendencies. I loved what he did with my songs, it just wasn’t necessarily how I heard them. Maybe one day those recordings will get released.
It’s been incredibly liberating to play with Willow and Richard for the past year. It’s like being in a three-pronged no holds barred or punches pulled rock berserker squadron. I’ve been playing with Willow for something like 30 years, both in solo projects and with Invisible Opera. This might be the first time we’ve actually sat down and properly rehearsed a set. I think the world has really yet to hear what an awesome drummer Willow is, I’m hoping this new set we’re rehearsing will give him the platform to do so. Although a seasoned singer-songwriter and performer in his own right, this is the first time Richard has been The Guitarist in a band. His general musicality is a joy to work with, when the song calls for a solo he rips into it, when it needs pinning down he’s on it. Andy’s synthesiser wizardry similarly provides the kind of classic sound textures that I’ve always wanted to hear on my songs. When he’s not working with us he makes soft synths for ipads. Laura is our secret weapon; apart from her enchanting alto tones lifting us gently out of the boyzone, she also adds multicoloured glitter icing from her synchronised glock and handy hand percussion. Normally I dissuade vocalists from joining in on the shaky egg, but Laura just seems to intuitively know where to kick in with the tambourine.
We have 9 new songs in the set since recording this, including two of Richard’s tunes and one more obscure classic from the dawn of psychedelia. I know it’s very rock’n’roll to say so, but this really is the best band I’ve ever worked with. Finding people you can harmonise with I now know is a rare and wonderful thing, particularly if they can hold it together in the middle of some crazy space rock jam. It’s just magic. The band also shares a great commonality around why we’re doing this and wider ethical issues, so there is a combined consciousness when we’re playing. That’s another part of the magic. The third and possibly most important part of the magic is the way you (yes you) have supported making it happen, buying CDs and coming to gigs. I just wouldn’t have done this by myself.
So this album was the second gig with this line-up and after a handful of rehearsals. It was so well recorded by Pete Wibrew that mixing it was relatively simple, so it’s pretty much the gig as we played it with a couple of discreet edits. It’s the first recording of my songs that I can actually say I’m happy with. Finally actually getting a decent band album out there may be a small step for mankind, but it’s a giant leap for this man.