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Hit me with your rhythm stick

April 8, 2012

It’s spring and I’m in the 4th year of my songwriting journey.  I started this blogpost back in November 2011 so I should probably finish it eh?

I spent summer 2011  balancing a new day job with writing, recording, the occasional gig and working with a bass player. By the autumn we were joined by a drummer/percussionist. Funny how that worked out: it wasn’t in my plan. I came to the realisation that the solo gig was fun but I had probably taken it as far as possible with the songs I have written.

Back in the day I would have scoured the Hot Press adverts and done a bunch of telephone tag before finding someone. Social networking (yes, that website) opened up a few avenues. I sent some messages and was introduced to Mark who has a really nice touch with his playing. As he said himself “we’re not 20 anymore” we know that fame-and-fortune isn’t around the corner.  We played a few gigs and it made a huge difference to the live experience for me. Having a bassline underneath the guitar enables me to underplay a little and adds more dynamic to the set as we play through the songs. I saw a gig a couple of years ago when a singer-songwriter played with a bass player and knew that from the audience point-of-view it would work.

Highlight gig for me has definitely been opening for my mates in Pugwash at the Spirit Store in Dundalk. Unfortunately work travel meant I couldn’t do more dates on their Irish tour but just to play this one show was great. Pugwash attract a classy audience and they listened through my whole set.

The more songs Mark & I worked up the more I began to listen to his suggestion that we really needed a drummer. I didn’t need much convincing but was hesitant because I have liked the agility of being a 2-piece and really wasn’t sure I could find a drummer. I kinda lucked out finding such a good bass player.  It was at a gig in the Grand Social when an old acquaintance turned up to have a listen.  Tim is a drummer with quite a history in Irish music (Skid Row, Bell/Brush Band and more). I knew Tim from some years back when I played keys in a couple of bands around Dublin and I knew he lived nearby.

We’ve done some rehearsal and tried a gig as a 3-piece. It has worked well.  In January 2012 we recorded some rhythm tracks using Tim’s electronic kit triggering nice drum samples : combines the ease of technology with the heart of a musician.

Then disaster: the MacBookPro which I have been using throughout this songwriting journey died a little while on a visit to the USA. It had most of my song recordings which were backed up but the real kicker was the set of software tools I was depending on was now unavailable to me.  I used the MacBookPro to generate drum loops, synths and strings/horns before firing the whole lot over to a 12 year old ProTools system for overdubbing and mixing.

A couple of weeks were spent researching whether to repair or replace the Mac and I eventually settled on a whole new system to replace both the laptop and the ProTools rig.  The result has been worth every cent spent. I’m doing everything in one program (Logic) and my production is speeding up.   I can demo a song while writing and use that demo to build a proper master recording. Saves a huge amount of work.  Luckily I was able to salvage most of the recordings I had done and imported everything into the new system.

The battle between writing, gigging, recording, working, travelling, family, real life has reached détente. I’ve accepted that I cannot do it all at the same time so I’ve put gigging and writing on hold until these songs are recorded.

So, what’s next on the journey?  I’m finishing the recordings and planning the release of 2 EPs with about 5 or 6 songs per disc which I’ll release during the remainder of 2012.  With the recordings done I’ll be able to focus on making a couple of videos and playing some shows.

Almost there !

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