SWAG 3: The last five years pt. 2 – Of Elephants and Exits

By the start of 2010 I’d been able to pick up the guitar once again and, with the energy of one reprieved from premature career death, had started writing. The material came really easily and, in no time, we had songs for a new album in demo form. The ‘elephant in the room’ throughout 2010 was “How are we going to record it?” With Thomas in Stockholm, the band couldn’t rehearse the material before recording it. Without rehearsal, Mark and Andy were faced with learning the material on their own, for basically just the one session, with no ‘cherry on the cake’ of a series of gigs afterwards to make it all worthwhile.

A lot of effort was put into trying to make everything work. Many hours of discussions, ideas, emails etc. We all wanted to make it work because there’s such a sense of band loyalty when you’ve spent so much time in each other’s company, and been through so much together. All to no avail, though. Towards the end of 2010 it all boiled down to a choice from two options. We either replace Thomas and remain a gigging/ recording band, or lose a rhythm section (and any gigs in the short term) and keep the Amy/ Thomas/ Phil writing partnership together. Not a choice I ever want to have to make again, but choose we did, and both Mark and Andy departed the band.

2011 dawned and TK were a three piece band. We booked Aubitt studios for a week in the summer to record drums and bass. Aubitt is pretty popular nowadays as Rob Aubrey is so well regarded (and rightly so) and we had to book well in advance. The problem was, we had nobody to play the parts. I’d been introduced to the music of the Antique Seeking Nuns, and then Sanguine Hum, a few years previously by Paul Beecham. An excellent band with many great aspects to their songs and playing, and one of these is just how well the rhythm section complemented the music. Paul and Brad were our first choice. First I called Joff (Winks, guitarist and singer of Sanguine Hum) to make sure that their involvement wouldn’t impact the band in any way, and he was really enthusiastic. Did I mention that all four are great guys too? Paul and Brad said ‘Yes’ and a deal was cut. One worry I had was just how involved the new material was. No way was anybody (and I mean anybody) going to just show up, read the charts, and play along. So, I booked a weird kind of rehearsal with Paul, for him to play along with the sequenced demo tracks of the songs. I still have the recordings I made of him that day. He’d clearly done his homework, injected his own character, had lots of ideas of alternative approaches … he just aced the session. No more worries. The recording sessions proper went amazingly well and the songs just came alive in their hands.

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