Friday, 19 August 2011

An autumn of bass

Back in the UK in mid August it's noticeably more chilly than it was in various central European capitals. I watched the rioting on television but have little appetite to see the damage for myself: in fact I've hardly left the house since I got back I've had so much to pick up.

One of the most pressing bits of business involves getting ready for recording my second album as a member of the Inca Babies.  We've been writing and arranging the material for about six months now, mostly interpreting the vision of main man Harry Stafford, but setting a studio date is like setting a wedding date: you have to be ready. As a man who's just been through the wedding side of things - very happily, I might add and without a hitch, emerging with a fantastic and enviable partner - I'm glad to get all that detail off my mind.

Now, if you'll excuse the pun, I can concentrate on my parts and make sure they all make sense. Our engineer will be a fantastically grumpy producer called Tim Woodward who runs Courtyard Studios in the unfashionable area of Stockport's Hillgate.. where the plane crashed in 1967. I've known him since my previous band rehearsed there 25 years ago, and that kind of relationship is great: we're going to record in four hour bursts because he currently has a bad back. Seeing as I've known him half my life, I think we can allow him that luxury.

 There may even be a role for my vintage Framus Star bass, a semi-acoustic from 1965 once championed by Rolling Stone Bill 'Je Suis un Rock Star' Wyman. This was given to me last summer by folk legend John Tams and which I've restored thanks to the the help of several vintage German guitar suppliers and the advice of the Framus museum.

It was designed as a bass for guitarists - it has a very narrow neck which means those sensitive guitarists can get their hands round it (but play it without any sense of what bass is supposed to do).

It's really easy to play but on a guitar this old the electrics are wildly uncontrollable.. single pick-up humbucker into a 25 year old 100W H+H bass amp with dirty pots and high gain ... the feedback just builds and builds .. it's like being Jimi Hendrix on a bass. Perhaps we should do 'Hey Joe' or 'Star Spangled Banner' or something like that after a few shots of Lithuanian 999 vodka.

Anyway once the backing tracks are down we'll be heading for some of the cultural hotspots of Europe  like Amsterdam, Rome, Milan and Warsaw, so hope to see you along the way, eh?

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