Life & Death PT. 1
I grew up in the South of England and was a late-comer to music. I think I was always creative but, from time to time, my energies have been channelled into other areas. My early guitar influences were British blues players like Paul Kossof and Rory Gallagher and later, Carlos Santana, Jan Akkerman of Focus and John McLaughlin. Singer-songwriters were a big infuence in my early years and I briefly lived and toured with the elusive icon of Scottish folk-soul Jackie Leven. I was inspired to front my own band after seeing Joe Jackson live. For a time, the stripped down, three-piece format was liberating and exciting but I have always loved lead guitar whether it was in fashion or not. To me it is the most expressive instrument and after a long lay-off from music I decided that this album would be whatever it would be without attention to current vogue of trend. I didn't touch a guitar until I was 19. As it was my brother's, I had to learn to play right-handed even though I'm a lefty. I failed English literature at school. I've never had a music lesson. I can't read music. But who cares? Rock music is about personal expression and after 15 years away from music I felt the urge to write and record again. This is the result, with the help of some truly great musicians with whom I never could have dreamed of working before I started this project. Life and Death (Part 1) This album took three years to make and came after a 15-year hiatus from music altogether, when I finally found myself in a time and place to be creative again. It was inspired by the technical advances in digital technology over this period, and the Boss BR 1600 digital recorder in particular; unflinchingly encouraged by Katherine; sorted, polished and whipped into shape by Allen Farmelo. The fact that Tony Levin and Rachel Z (among others) agreed to play on this album gave me the enormous boost of confidence I needed to complete it. Allen gave me the ability. Tony, Rachel, Tim, Allen, Matt, Steve and Bobbie made it much better. It's songs about life (and death), thoughts (and dreams) hopes (and fears). It's for Katherine and anyone else who feels a connection. I probably won't be playing this music live, but never say never - I never thought this album would actually get made. I think the songs speak for themselves but the lyrics page on my website might help. I'd be happy to explain them to anyone who is interested, though. Basically it's a personal statement of thoughts and feelings at this time in my life. There are some dark clouds in there but there are also a few silver linings. I hope you find them and thank you for looking. Instruments. Electric guitars: Most of the electric guitar on the album is a standard Fender Strat from the 80s. I don't use a whammy bar at all so I locked down the bridge with some paint sticks. Otherwise it's a completely standard Strat that I got in a garage sale for $100. The only other electric I used was my self-designed and built model 002 used on the last solo on Coming Home and a couple of parts on Separate Worlds, I think. All the tones were created entirely within the BR 1600 with occasional use of external compression, distortion and wah pedals. Allen re-amped a lot of them through his Savage Macht 12 guitar amp but this was mainly to achieve an analog signal rather than to radically alter the tone. Acoustic guitars: My Yamaha FG180 from the 70s, a Martin on Souvenir and Kunji's Blueridge dreadnought guitar on Miracle. Drums: Again, the BR 1600. All drums with a couple of additions by Allen and live cymbals on Mosquito by Bobbie Lurie were sequenced from loops that came with the unit. My sequences were extensively edited by Allen in Pro Tools, though. The Process. All my basic tracks were recorded on the BR 1600 at my personal studio, Whiterock, in Long Island City, NY. These were later transferred digitally to Allen's Pro Tools system for editing. Additional musicians were recorded by Allen at Mavericks (Tony Levin, Matt Cowan and Steve Swell) and Allen's own studio, The Farm (Rachel Z and Tim LeFebvre). Souvenir was recorded entirely at Mavericks. Musicians: Tony Levin - Bass; Tim LeFebvre - Bass; Rachel Z - Piano and Synthesizer; Steve Swell - Trombone; Matt Cowan - Tenor and Baritone Sax. Mixing. All mixes are by Allen, ably assisted by Matthew Agoglia (with a few suggestions from me). Mosquito and History of Flight were mixed at Mavericks, everything else at The Farm. Mastering. Mastered by Allen at The Farm. Sleeve design. Roger Gorman for Reiner Design Consultants.