MONDAY 14th JANUARY
My friend Clutch Daisy recently said to me “dismantling the recording gear is way more depressing than taking down the Christmas decorations.”
He’s right. This place has not just been a place of work for the last eighteen days, but also our home. Our entire world even. Dan has barely left the house the whole time, only to pick up some milk and tea bags. In fact, he’s barely left the mixing desk!
Feelings are mixed as they always are on such occasions. Part of me wants to keep on working, lay down more songs or begin the mixing process. Part of me will be glad to get stuck into something else (and there’s plenty of tasks waiting for us back in Manchester – not least of all a huge show at The Dancehouse Theatre in less than two weeks which will require a lot of preparation – it’s my thirtieth birthday so we’re pulling out all the stops).
It will be good (and healthy) to leave this project alone for a bit, allow it to percolate free from our tinkering. We all need a break from these songs, not because we’re sick of them (the opposite in fact), but if we interfere anymore with what we’ve already laid down we’ll end up smothering the tracks to death. If we overproduce what we’ve done here we’ll simply undo all our good work – after all, the entire point of moving into a house together was to make an album that sounds natural, unfussy and honest. We’ve done that. I think it’s strong enough to withstand the tastes and opinions of strangers. And ultimately, that’s all any of us can ever hope to achieve.
There was only one thing I regretted about our time here. On three separate attempts we utterly failed to record the sound of seagulls. We tried the port, the beach, the town, the arcade, the roads and the park. Every time we whipped out the Tascam the birds fell silent or were drowned out by a passing car (or boat or human or machine). But then, as we were loading up the van there came a noise from out of nowhere, a desperate crying, an airborne sob, a wail of utter despondency, such loss, such desire thwarted. Then another, then another, the gulls circled over our heads as we stood frozen in the garden, rooted to the spot, momentarily laying down the various pieces of recording equipment and roles of cables and mic cases. I launched myself to the door and skidded into the kitchen where the Tascam was sitting on the table, swung about on my heels and bolted back outside, waving the device above my head like some ancient talisman, my jacket held aloft in the other to shield the microphones from the wind.
We got it. That piercing, aching, dissonant despondent cry that sounds like nothing else and yet sounds so much like the word Help. I love that noise. It’s the ugliest, shrillest natural sound I can stand. And it soundtracks so much of my childhood, fitting so well with the working title of this album: Youth.