Another evening session at The Pig Pen for the Songs from The Blue House Steering Committee and Artists and Repertoire Liaison Working Party - or Me, Gibbon, Our Glorious Leader and That Nice David Booth as we are otherwise known. We are loaded with exotic bottled beers from the far corners of the off license, biscuits, and a still touching faith in the redemptive power of music. After a couple of days of familiarizing ourselves both with our surroundings and with each other, the atmosphere is relaxed, yet workmanlike. There’s a palpable sense of needing to get things achieved, and yet still enough room to make light of the process. At one point I comment that I see one of my guitar parts as probably being quite low in the final mix. “Low in the final mix” ponders OGL, savouring the phrase as it hangs in the air like a fine Old Holborn. “What a curious way of expressing the phrase ‘deleted as soon as your back’s turned…’”
We are here mainly to get some more of Gibbon’s remarkable bass playing down, but since he’s being plugged straight into the desk we take the opportunity to record some more acoustic guitar parts at the same time, thus helping to maintain the organic feel of the thing and also to give Gib something to look at while he’s being creative. OGL, being temporarily surplus to actual performing requirements, quietly sets up a laptop in the corner and updates an anxious waiting world with our progress in real time. As he uploads a picture of TNDB slaving over a hot digital mixing program interface we learn that friend of the group Mr. Wendell is at a gig in Norwich and that the man standing next to him is reading a book. Such are the wonders of technology, where no-one needs to splice in the correct edit of a take with a razor blade and some tape, and we know that it’s the interval in a gig eighty miles away.
After a few hours’ work we have made a great deal of headway, and Gibbon is surprised to learn how much he’s already got under his belt in terms of 'keepers'. Many of these have been first takes, with the odd fret rattle or snatched note subtly fixed almost immediately, Booth’s brisk work rate helping to move things along in terms of keeping things fresh and ‘live’, without unnecessarily compromising on the quality of the actual performance. The technology is used as a tool, not a pre-requisite. At one point he expresses a healthy disdain for all things auto tune - which certainly won’t help his application to be one of the judges on the next series of X-Factor - and at another he subtly fades out the click track we’re playing along to, the better to bring an organic feel to the end of the song. On the play back I can hear OGL in the control room, playing along on piano, sniffing inspiration in the air like a caged animal, then leaping from his creative keening to pace the control room, his hands weaving an elaborate tapestry of interpretive gestures in the air. I open the door from the studio to see what subtleties his inspiration could be about to engender. Turns out there was a fly in the control room driving him mad and he was trying to swat it.