This is the diary we kept while making “Wax & Seal”. The newest entries come first… so in order to make sense of the whole thing you’re going to have to start from the bottom of this page. If you find yourself enjoying this diary or, worse still, understanding the references contained therein – please seek medical attention immediately.
Day — – 11 November 2004 – Freiburg
So we’ve secured the album release for early 2005. Probably february. We?re still planning and adding dates to our tour of Ireland (and the town of Freiburg!) at the end of November. Rehearsals are going well.
Big congratulations to Phantom FM. They’ve worked hard for that licence. Of course all of us Irish artists are selfishly rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of more airplay… well, we?re not all saints! I?d write something entertaining now but BellX1 beat me to it. They?ve started recording their eagerly awaited third album in Dublin and their studio diary is worth a read if you have a few minutes. Anyway. Congrats again to the Phantom crew.
Everyone is rallying around getting stuff done at the last minute for our flights, van rental, accomodation, music gear, etc etc etc. Times have been pretty frantic lately. I don?t know where I am. The main thing is that we?re now at the “selling” point of the record?s lifetime. I?ll get myself together sometime soon I hope. Sure there?s always Christmas. As Phil Hayes would say I?m looking forward to a Whopper Chrimbo.
In lieu of having the liner notes to read now, and before we start entering the crazy period of touring and radio gigs, I?d like to thank everyone who was involved in the production of the record. Also, a big hug to all the people here in Freiburg who have been real friends to me during my stay. Without them it would have been really really tough. Also, to all my friends and family who have gone through a lot of hard times in the time that I?ve been away. I shouldn?t gush… but yeah, they?ve all been fantastically understanding and supportive, when they had enough strife of their own. Anyways. Yiz all know who yiz are.
Adieu, Adieu, Der Teig
Day 288 – 27 October 2004 – Freiburg
Final day of mixing… Wax & Seal and I Knew Better are under the spotlight. I?m getting excited now. I?m also getting a little bit hungry. Why does this diary always seem to turn to the subject of food. Hmmm.
Mitch was around last night at Temple. Very impressed with the mixes. I?m looking forward to being thrown to the lions that are the listeners and reviewers over the next few months. Sure, it?ll be great craic altogether.
My faith in humourous german signs have been restored with the discovery of “park & ride”. Fantastic. Anyway, must ramble.
Day 287 – 26 October 2004 – Freiburg
Six O Two was being tackled this morning. It?s nearly done now. It sounds sweet with all that pedal steel madness going on in and Niel?s other guitar bit too. Very nice. Like a lullaby.
Just heard that John Peel, the DJ on BBC Radio 1 has died. A sad day for the music world. He was only 65.
So anyways, Frank is eating a banana beside and making me feel a little bit hungry. What to eat? what to eat?
There?s a sign by a part of the train station in Freiburg used for dropping off passengers, that I was told said “Kiss & Ride”. Disappointingly, it says “Kiss & Rail” or something like that. I thought I had stumbled upon the best thing since sliced bread. The Irish would be queueing up for it.
While we?re on the subject, English phrases have infiltrated almost all aspects of life over here. It?s disturbing. A lot of the phrases are completely misused too which adds to the peculiarity of it. TV is the worst though. It?s like watching the Fast Show sometimes… “welcome to dee Big Show”. Don?t get me started on MTV though. Such abuse of the word music I have never before encountered.
Um, yes… sorry about that rant.
Day 286 – 25 October 2004 – Freiburg
Work still going on in Temple. We should be really really tired by now but, for some reason, everyone is still going strong. We have 8 songs done now.
Not much other news for you… in fact, no other news for you.
Day 285 – 24 October 2004 – Freiburg
Monochrome, Roadmap, George?s St Arcade & Live What You Feel are all done now. You or I is under the spotlight now. All sounds good.
Today, while hard work was going on in the studio, I was packed off to the Freiburg v Stuttgart game. I have to say, I didn?t protest too much. The Dreisam stadium (as the fans still call it – the Dreisam is the river that runs through Freiburg, by the stadium, and marks my route exactly from the Old city to Temple Studio) is only two minutes walk from the studio. It?s small, but pretty, which is not a common quality of small stadiums. Freiburg won 2-0 surprisingly, because Stuttgart are or were top of the league and the home team have been struggling lately. Freiburg deserved it though. It?s a bit of a derby and Stuttgart never really got on top. Anyway it was fun, and I was back in the studio straight after the match. That?s the way it always should be.
So, that?s all for today really. We?re still in studio now and we probably will be here until the early morning.
Day 284 – 23 October 2004 – Freiburg
George?s St Arcade is done now too. Monochrome will be done within the next hour I would estimate. We?re working at tremendous speed now. We need to. It?s a bit of enjoyment finally after so much stress and worry. Worries not over… but then sure if they were, where would the excitement be? Suppin? tae in the Phoenix Park tea rooms bored out its mind after seeing the barmy polar bears, no doubt.
The deadlines are encroaching so we must work fast. Apparantly monochrome sounds like something Pink Floyd should have done. I don?t know about that. I?ll tell you later when I?ve formed an opinion. In the meantime the view is quite nice from the fence.
We took some nice photos with Britt recently. Some great ones. Maybe one or two will find their way onto the album sleeve. No decisions made yet.
So, that?s all for the moment. I may write something this evening too, depending on my mood. Take care now.
Day 281.5 – the 20th and a bit of October 2004 – Freiburg
Roadmap is done, mixed and pushed out the door. Finally. We made great progress today from a very bleak beginning. It sounds fantastic.
Big up to Davey G who helped out with the backing vocal arrangement. It sounds majestic D. I?m going to have a drink now. I don?t care what you say. No, don?t even think about trying to stop me. Shuddupshuddupshuddup…
Rehearsals are going well by the way. Forgot to mention that in my spiel about the gigs. We?ll give you more info on all that in the next two weeks. It?ll be worth it. Believe me.
Day 281 – 20 October 2004 – Freiburg
Frustrating times. So we?re still on schedule to get the album finished and available for our tour but we?re being left with very little wriggle room. Business is not nice.
On the other hand, the songs are sounding great, and if we can squeeze out this album after such a difficult pregnancy, then I?ll be a happy little bunny.
We organising a few warm up gigs in Freiburg so if anyone?s in the vicinity they may be interested in popping along. We?re playing in E-Werk on the 20th of november around 6pm.
While bored I gave the links page a bit of an overhaul. That should keep you occupied for a while.
Day 273 – 12 October 2004 – Freiburg
We?re putting together an Irish tour at the moment. The full band will be travelling with me :
Niels Kaiser on electric guitars, Mitch Schillinger on drums, Philipp Rauenbusch on bass.
The Open Zone gig will take place on Wednesday 24th November. It will be a cracker. It always is. Great venue, great crowd.
Day 268 – 7 October 2004 – Freiburg
Good evening all.
All has been quiet on the news page recently. Apologies. There have been a few changes made to the site. The brand new messageboard is now up and running. I?ll see what I can do about saving the old board?s messages somewhere. Until then, do feel free to clog up the new one with insightful comments and discussions. There will be a few more subtle changes to the site over the coming months… I?ll keep you informed of these changes.
So… We?re approaching our deadline at breakneck speed, but we should have everything done and dusted by the end of this month. At last. I can?t really say anything else right now. I?m happy with the way things are going. That?s it.
Oh and there?s talk of a gig or two around Dublin at the end of november with a full band. I?ll keep you posted.
PS. You will have to register for the new messageboard. Sorry, if you have already registered for the previous board. This will be the last forum change. Any other modifications will be made in the new environment. Viel spa?.
Day 246 – 15 September 2004 – Freiburg
I have begun to pick up the strange and unusual (to me that is) local dialect, adding “le” to the end of words, like “Hall?le!”. Or using shortened everyday expressions like “Tach” which is how they seem to pronounce Tag or Guten Tag. It?s interesting (to me alone, probably).
I?m over in Temple Studios now. I have a routine. I set out on a bike I borrowed from Shane and ride alongside the Dreisam River all the way out to the studio (which is situated on the Schwarzwald Strasse … or Black Forest Road). It?s a lovely ride, and it?s downhill on the way home which has got to be a plus.
We?re transferring all our recordings over from Ivy Court to Temple Studios, getting every track lined up and ready to go, and in the meantime listening to albums and songs we like to help keep us focused. I?m in good form and enjoying the change of scenery and fresh forest air. The equipment in this place is pretty cool. The kind of place where you wouldn?t mind go shopping with decorating your bachelor?s apartment in mind. It?s wall to wall iPod, iMac (the one that looks like half a football lying down with a screen sticking out of it on a protruding metal bar… nice), PCs, scanners, faxes, … that?s before I even mention any of the sound equipment which I must admit I do not understand or even recognise… only that it must be good. There is an implement Shane brought over called a Joe Meek Compressor, named after a mad London-based sound engineer and producer who revolutionised all sorts of sound equipment and produced some of the strangest records of his time… Met a sticky end too if I remember correctly.
I?m reading a book called Stasiland, about East Germany and the effects the Stasi had on its members, informers and victims. It?s essentially a collection of the personal accounts of these people?s experience written by an Australian writer who interviewed them while working in Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall. There are some mind numbing tales about how far a state will go to retain control. Brilliantly written. I haven?t been able to put it down, which makes eating tricky.
I?m beginning to think about lunch… mmmm
Der Teig (mmmm… bread…)
Day 242 – 11 September 2004 – Freiburg
I?ve got some new photos for you all. It will take me a few days to sort out the scanning etc, so I will let you know when they?re online.
I have muck-loads of things to do, but right now the weather?s so oomskh and sticky that all I want to do is melt into a little puddle. It has become very hot again in Freiburg. It?s like a second summer, only …later in the year.
My birthday celebrations are being planned as we speak. They involve a cake, some beer, some friends and … well that?s about it really. Just the way I like it. I have bought myself shoes and two books. I?m a happy camper. Cool books too. Reviews will follow if they?re any good!
The big review starts tomorrow. I?ll tell you what that is tomorrow.
So, I?m off to eat because Ich habe Hunger.
Day 238 – 7 September 2004 – Freiburg
We were discussing the merits of a trumpet solo on Know You Hate Me yesterday. Who knows?
It has come to my attention that I need some new shoes. Half of my shoe heels have gone and I?m in need of a bit of soul… sole… sorry. Okay, since Ronan is no longer selling shoes, I?ll be avoiding Grafton St and I?ll stick to the little streets of Freiburg to seek out shoes. Actually, I?m not sure if I?ve mentioned this before but there seems to be an unnaturally large amount of shoe shops in this town (even the odd schumacher pops up from time to time). So I suppose this wouldn?t be a bad place to buy shoes.
As you may have guessed I didn?t do anything today yet, but I felt the need to type something. The good news is that I only want to do one more lead vocal and the rest is just backing vocals… we?re experimenting with different voices and ideas on that. We?re erring on the side of too many vocals for some songs… but only because we can then remove what we don?t want or need later – much more hassle to do it the other way around.
Also re-reading Malcolm Gladwell?s The Tipping Point. It?s non-fiction, just so you know. Fascinating stuff. Check out his website for a little sample if you?re into it.
Must go and warm up.
Day 237 – 6 September 2004 – Freiburg
For “Withnail & I”, Bruce Robinson wanted to describe Marwood?s current state of mind and his surroundings to the actors. (If you haven?t seen it, do so immediately). He wrote something like this…
“Dostoyevsky described hell as
probably no more than a room with a chair in it.
This room has several chairs”.
We?re knee deep in backing vocals country right now. Experimentation and a little bit of messing going on. Not sure what it will sound like. It?s kinda funny when you?re in the middle of it, because you have the backing vocals up unnaturally loud in the mix so that everyone can hear what you?re doing… This has the strange effect of turning every song into Bohemian Rhapsody. Which I have no major objection to really, but it does sound a little out of place.
We?re moving to Temple Studios on Thursday. It will be good for everyone methinks. The change of scenery will lend an air of progress to the proceedings. It will be nice to hear everything in a different environment too.
As Nigel Tapley once said, “anything starting with ?this bloke…? is bound to be legal”. True enough….
So, this bloke and his mate, decided after having a nice little lock in, to go down to Asda at about four or five in the morning. So, they get some grub and a mini-golf set (as you do). Then they stroll across the car park to a very well known English Premiership football team?s grounds. They proceed to scale the wall (still drunk) and make their way onto the hallowed turf, where they commence a game of mini golf and their own little mobile-phone photo session. They then stroll out the large gates of the ground at about seven in the morning (Yes, in broad daylight. God only knows what the night watchman was up to).
Day 233 – 2 September 2004 – Freiburg
So, I?m back in studio after an extended period of rest, recovery & recouperation. I have finally rid myself of the horrible throat infection that brought my sanity and patience to their knees. Yes, I?m still on drugs, but the good news is that they now seem to be taking effect and my voice is on form and sounding better every day. I?m not saying any more in case I jinx the whole thing… so enough of that.
I did a small gig in Dublin when I was home in the Parlour. Twas good fun. I CAN-NOT wait to get back gigging again. As a result of this huge desire for gigging and as a result of countless conversations with friends and family back home I?m all refreshed and revved up to get the album out. Lots of ideas circling in my head. Gave birth to a few nice ones today. It will all become clear later on.
We took a trip out to Temple Studios, where the mixing is taking place. It?s down by the SC Freiburg grounds. SC Freiburg have been in the top flight of the German soccer leagues for years despite the fact that they are the smallest team in the top league, have the smallest ground etc etc etc. It?s a great place to have a pitch though. Anyway, the studio is just beside the stadium. It?s a lovely warm studio and if yesterday is anything to go by, I think the mix will be sweet.
Apologies to those that I didn?t manage to see while I was home. If it?s any consolation, I feel really bad about it. I promise the next time, we?ll have something to talk about though!
Let me know how it?s all going for you people.
Talk to you all soon.
Day 193 – 24 July 2004 – Freiburg
Right, so first of all, I have a load of new photos on the pics page at last. You can check them out now. Some gems in there. There may be even more over the next week or two…but I?ll keep you posted. Keep an eye out for the long overdue pictures of Christ?s Happy Ring House, The Amazing Chip Fork, Radioactive man and a little spot-the-hat Triglyph thingy with Paul & Dave from BellX1. There are also old studio pictures that were found hanging about on the hard drive, like old socks after taking a washing machine apart.
I?m going to be updating the picture pages a little bit. Restoring a bit of order to the whole thing. I don?t think I?ll have that much time on my hands in the next few months. Florian, the bassist, is returning from overseas (it all sounds very sinister when I say it like that, doesn?t it?), so the core of the band Florian, Niels, Mitch and myself are going to start rehearsing for a tour of Germany and Ireland. We don?t have anything set in stone yet but we?re thinking of touring Ireland in October. We?ll keep you informed anyway. Don?t fret.
Thanks to those of you who downloaded the song samples from the music page. Your feedback was gratefully received.
Talk to you all soon.
Day 190 – 21 July 2004 – Freiburg
I have just put some new photos online. Well, they?re actually old photos… but they?re new to all of you. More will follow shortly. Better ones. Artier ones taken with my “new” old and battered all-analog camera. So yeah. Believe me there are some cool photos on the way. Honest. And no, I didn?t do another “Supergrass” on them. The less said about that the better.
So I?ve been to Austria over the last week. We stayed in the house of a friend?s relatives in a beautiful country village. It?s a lovely spot high up in the mountains. Strangely hot weather in a kind of rain and thunder storm way. Many boring events took place. It was great. Events included children?s board games, poker (I didn?t realise there was money involved mother, honestly, I thought we were playing for stones… turns out I won loads… didn?t realise until we finished we were playing for money…ooops), ski-lifts & a non-icy luge, whitewater swimming (well, not whitewater… but there was a strong current), walking or hiking as the Germans prefer to call it, crossing the old smuggler?s path through the mountains into Bavaria, listening to The Hitchhiker?s Guide to the Galaxy in German, sauna, reading, ….
Talk to you all soon.
Day 178 – 9 July 2004 – Freiburg
Well, the long awaited final pre-mixes have been completed. I have literally just finished 30 second (approx) samples of each song that may or may not end up on the final product. These sample mp3s are available from the “music” page. So have a listen and tell us what you think on the messageboard or send us an email.
That is all. I still haven?t updated the photos. I do have a lot of new ones so I?ll upload them altogether sometime next week. I?ll keep you informed.
Until then, take care.
Day 172 – 3 July 2004 – Freiburg
We are about to burn a disc with the final-ish mixes for the album minus two songs. I am pleased to announce that they all sound fantastic. Obviously I?m going to say that. But really, I do think the whole disc sounds great. Every song sounds really open and fresh.
In the next few days I?m going to update the studio pictures. I?ve got some pretty ones that should brighten up your day. I also took one or two a few weeks ago that (if they come out right) could make for a pretty cool album cover. We shall see. I have yet to finish that roll of film.
I was wandering around the shops this afternoon. Wading through the throbbing crowds. Maybe they weren?t throbbing. I digress. I came upon some lovely shoes. And some nice clothes too… but mainly shoes… very expensive shoes… I think I should perhaps lose this growing feminine side of mine. It?s slightly worrying. Wass denkst du?
That?s it for the moment. I hope everyone of you is getting along okay. Do send me a mail and let me know how you are. All contact will be received gratefully and a juicy reply will be forthcoming. That?s a promise. I wonder is that legally binding. Have I dug myself into a hole that I can?t get out of? Tune in next week. Same bat time. Same bat channel.
Day 164 – 25 June 2004 – Freiburg
Myself and a few of my friends here have taken to making the pilgrimage to one of the Irish pubs for the football matches. Great craic altogether. Last night was mental though. I mean, there were people who just came along for a bit of a chat… they ended up screaming like girls by the end of the match. Okay, this has partly to do with the fact that they were girls, but nonetheless… The guys among us just kept looking at each other wondering how long it would be before a player collapsed with exhaustion. I think that was the fastest game of football I?ve ever seen. Oh, the match was England v Portugal by the way.
Yesterday was very productive. Even though my voice has been back for a while, I was dogged with a bit of congestion – I believe that?s what all the cold/flu /cough people call it. Yesterday though was great. Aled Jones eat your heart out. Hmmm that gives me an idea… anyone for The Snowman as a B-side?
Day 160 – 21 June 2004 – Freiburg
Cut, cut, paste, cut, lower volume, twiddle the dingsbums until it sounds right, paste, listen again, no, listen closely, … mixing is a funny experience. The patience involved is incredible. When I?m not at the wheel or not involved physically in things I go a bit mental. So, I?ve gone mental. The songs are sounding great but I can?t really update you on why they sound great. The changes are so infinitismally small that it seems pointless to even describe them. But the changes are there nonetheless and they DO make all the difference. It?s a strange process.
Going out this evening to the Irish pub to watch some of the footie. I haven?t seen many of the games, and I haven?t got wrapped up in the who-plays-who-if-they-win-this-game -by-2-goals stuff (thank goodness). But some of the football has been great.
Had a nice request from an australian radio station for some material recently. It?s good to know, that even with the low I?m-recording-an-album profile that I?ve been keeping, that the music still spreads without having to nurse it the whole time. It?s a pleasant thought. One that I?ll leave you with.
Day 157 – 18 June 2004 – Freiburg
The football has been great of late. I?m now a big Swiss goalkeeper fan. That guy is the funniest ever.
Also in other footie news… there?s a documentary film being shown in the local Arty cinema called “the other final” or something to that effect. It?s well worth the entry fee. I?d recommend it to anyone. It?s about a Dutch guy who decides, because he?s so depressed with the Dutch team?s failure to qualify for the World Cup, to organise a different final among the world?s worst international teams. It?s a very entertaining film, concentrating on the characters and their lives rather than the actual football match… which is a great idea… because the football is really really bad. Great film. It?s in English too, which is good for me.
That?s it for now.
Day 155 – 16 June 2004 – Freiburg
I found a few scribbles in my little notebook that I carry around with me. My Other Festplatte – the inanimate one. So I thought I?d share them with you all. They were intended as diary entries :
….Can any of you mathematically minded people tell me what the chances are for crashing on water during a flight from London to Basel (Switzerland)? This is morbid curiosity on my part I suppose. This has probably occurred to many people since the dawn of commercial air-travel… but exactly how much use is a life-jacket on these flights? I?m guessing a life-jacket won?t be much consolation to you when landing in a field of potatoes from a height of 10,000 feet. Even IF you remember to pull down on the red toggles after you?re pushed out of the plane by the flight-attendant….
….I was walking along last night when a girl asked me for a cigarette. Before I could explain something to the effect of “sorry, I don?t have any”, my mouth decided to press ahead and say NEIN. Not “sorry” or anything. Just “NO”. As if I had a whole shopful of them in my trouser pocket but simply because I didn?t like the cut of her, she wasn?t going to be getting any cigarettes from me. Just as well her friends laughed and they all walked on. In France I have vivid recollections of people being attacked for refusing someone a cigarette. It?s like a basic human right there. Somehow I think France will be the last place in Europe to adopt the no-smoking ban. It feels like a basic human right there….
….There?s a little recording on the Easyjet flights to and from Basel that takes you through the safety demo in English with a French accent. It?s gas. They keep repeating the word “brace”. When you hear this word “brace” [which is pronounced with an impossible amount of rolled r?s – thus providing its comedic value] you are supposed to lean forward and put your head between your legs. I suppose its the airline?s equivalent to “duck and cover”. A fat lot of good sticking you head between your legs will be when coming to an abrupt stop after 10,000 feet. Although you?ll probably realise why your mother always told you to change your underwear in case you were in an accident of some sort….
Before anyone writes in to complain. Yes, I do realise that planes don?t all fly at 10,000 feet. I was just trying to be dramatic.
Alex?s website is up and running now. Very nice it is too. See the entry for the 11th of may for more details.
Day 154 – 15 June 2004 – Freiburg
Back in Freiburg. It?s a little bit overcast here at the moment. It has been nice weather overall though and it?s still warm. My voice is back so that?s good news.
I?m not in the most verbose mood right now, so I?m going to cut this short. I feel like I?m in a constant state of limbo at the moment; not staying in one place long enough to really settle. I?m good though, before I get a flood of emails asking if I?m okay. I?m grand. It?s just a bit strange.
The record is coming along fine and it?s clearer than ever in my head. Which is quite an achievement considering the gunk that resides in there.
Day 133 – 25 May 2004 – Freiburg
So Shane is horsing through the mixes while I do my best impression of a spare tool. I do a mean spare hammer. Have you seen my pliers? Uncanny resemblance. The songs sound fantastisch. Unheimlich gut. Roadmap is playing in the background. I love the jazziness of it all. I defy anyone not to dance, hop or even bob their head while listening to this track. I?m trying hard to resist repeating Fast Show phrases like “nice” and “for a challenging exercise try tapping your foot to the bass?s offbeat patterns”.
In a rather cruel twist of fate my voice is recovering its former charms on my last full day here for nearly three weeks. Ah well. What can one do?
We?ve found the pig, so we?re going to go the whole hog. I Knew Better has been calling out for an old north of england style brass section… we resisted and resisted until finally it got the better of us. So we?ve rounded up a quintet from a local (award winning) brass band. It?s going to be sweet.
This will be my last diary entry for a while. I?ll resume properly around the 15th July when I return to Freiburg. Until then there will be the odd (very odd) sporadic update. Keep yourselves amused until then. I?ve been suddenly hit by a worrying thought… how am I going to explain the corelation between my presence in Freiburg and the level of bicycle theft in the area? I suppose the first three rules of politics should come in to play here. Deny. Deny. Deny. Oooh speaking of politics… a friend of mine is up for election in Freiburg… so is Shane… bit mad that. Shane was roped into it (or so he says), but Philipp or Flip as we like to call him chose to stand… He was in the paper yesterday. Junge Freiburgers… or something.
Anyway, Take care of yourselves.
Day 132 – 24 May 2004 – Freiburg
We?re at the part now where Shane works like a dog and I do very little except act the tourist in studio. I listen a bit, type a bit, wander about a bit, play various instruments badly a bit, write a bit, learn German a teeeny bit… this is a source of great mirth and merriment for me. I think we all write a bit better and become a little more focussed under pressure… but one should enjoy the lack of aforementioned pressure when one has it. Am I right?
I must get some photos of the strange signs that I found around the town before I leave. The camera is getting me out a little bit more. It?s a great excuse to wander.
Mitch played in the Freiburg stadium yesterday. 20,000 people in the crowd. He?s played to 80,000 people, 20,000 people. I don?t know how he?s going to react to playing to twelve people in a small bar in Ballaghadreen. I should point out that most of the audience were drunk. So no difference there then. Niels played the Wodan Halle a few days ago with a country/bluegrass band. It was great to see everyone in their button-down shirts and cowboy hats. Niels true to form wore his psycho country shirt and a straw hat. He says he?s a pedal steel player so they have to look mad. I believe him.
Did I ever tell you about Freiburg?s crime wave? There are two types of crime here these days. Bicycle theft and Graffitti. Graffitti has only sprung up recently. Nobody has done a thing about it. I?d love to take a hurley and go out with a little helmet and scare the bejeesus out of them, but I?ve no helmet and no hurley. It?s a shame because it?s such a picturesque little town. And the graffitti isn?t even good graffitti. Bicycle theft was always going to be a problem here. They ride bikes as much as the Dutch do. That?s probably because of all the students here. Whatever the reason though, I think it?s great. While on the subject of traffic though… I love jaywalking. I know this may come as a shock to all of you. I?m not talking about wandering across six lanes of bad tempered traffic on downtown fifth avenue.. but rather the kind of jaywalking that people don?t even think about. Example…
The time is roughly 03:00 in the morning. No-one is around except for me and this other stranger who is standing patiently at the lights waiting to cross. So I slip down a gear and walk right past, straight out into the absolutely non-existent traffic to the absolute horror of the person waiting for the little man to turn green (by the way, the little green man in Freiburg looks more like humphrey bogart with his hat on than the little stick man that we all know back home in Ireland). It?s sooo much fun. Now I don?t encourage doing this during the day when there are cars (and very fast ones at that) and trucks thundering down towards the autobahn, but at night it?s just funny. How can a city like this have a graffitti problem when its citizens are so law-abiding? … It must be the bears.
Day 130.5 – 22.5 May 2004 – Freiburg
I?ve just been listening to the Nick Drake documentary on BBC Radio 2 online. It was lovely. Brad Pitt did an excellent job narrating I must say. So I just wanted to say, prompted by that program… check Nick?s stuff out. Thanks. I?m off to find something that?s not moving and eat it. Mmmmm keyboard. What?s that you?re saying to me, enamel-covered clavier?
Day 130 – 22 May 2004 – Freiburg
For reasons known to a very few select people I have to call Shane “Captain” from this day forth.
My first batch of photos came out. I?m very relieved. I will now be seen everywhere with a cheap camera snapping pictures of everyone to stick in books and on walls to remember you all by. So go make yourselves pretty before I catch you. I have managed to catch Niels & Mitch playing live so if the photos come out I may put them up on the site sometime soon. But only if you?re good.
There were two storms with rain, thunder, lightning – the whole shebang – yesterday. So things were kinda quiet in Freiburg as a result. Nature tends to bother the Deutschies much more than it does the Paddies. Or maybe it?s because we pay less attention. I?m not sure.
Finally, in more hat news, Ray a local music head thinks my hat is suitably sleazy. I?m not sure what that means, but I?ve decided to like it.
Day 128 – 20 May 2004 – Freiburg
After our very slow start this time around we?re now flying through the material making great progress. The songs are sounding better every time I hear them. Maybe it?s because of the sun. I don?t know. Elvis & Foolish Part sound funking fantastic.
Mitch is due to arrive in about half an hour. We?ve had this old Korg beat on “George?s St Arcade” that sounds almost but not quite entirely unlike coconuts (to borrow a phrase from DA). It?s been niggling away at us ever since we used it. Breaking point arrived yesterday when we decided that it was time to get the biggest filthiest thonking thumping mother and father of all drums to replace the little Korg. So with Mitch being *just a little bit* more experienced than us at playing drums, we decided that it was only fair that he should play it!
I have since been informed that my hat is Dean Martin all over. So there.
Big up to DP and Phil keeping diaries alive and well over on the bellies site. Check out Phil?s science tip of the day. I think there?s a book in that somewhere. If in doubt, plug it out. Suddenly all those electricity black-outs in my area while I was growing up in the bad old eighties make sense to me now.
Day 127 – 19 May 2004 – Freiburg
I get the feeling we?re being watched. Call me paranoid, but…
My new thing is hats. I buy hats. I look like a cross between Franz Ferdinand (the band not the dead guy from the 1910s), Robin Hood and one of Bertie Wooster?s more stylish friends.
I have my own personal translator and tour guide here in Freiburg who has also become my official make-up artist and language tutor. Although you should probably ignore the language bit because I severly doubt that she would like to be associated in any way with my piss-poor German. I got some shots of Freiburg from the top of the Schlo?berg (the big hill that is basically an ant?s foot away from the centre of the town). The sun is out and everything looks great. I?m experimenting with photography. If anything at all comes out properly I?ll be extremely surprised and very happy with myself. I?ve decided to develop my inner-Luddite in order to balance my increasing nerdiness – what with all the writing, diaries, reading, learning languages, etc. So I?m using a completely manual camera. Completely manual. It has a slot for batteries that you can use for a light meter… but I?ve thrown them away. Who needs em? Well, we?ll see on thursday when I get the first batch of photos back. So now that I?ve got pictures of the outside of Freiburg I?m gonna take shots of the city and the city-zens.
Mitch bought a new car. He?s very happy with himself. As he should be. Niel?s is in the wars. He had a little accident with his eye. So I?m hoping all will be okay in a week or two. Alexander came around with all his keyboard bits again. So we have every piece of the puzzle now. Florian is still terrorising the Med. I got an email from him recently. Didn?t understand one word. Shane translated it for me. I still didn?t understand a word.
Last night I learnt a new phrase for “goodbye and good luck”. It comes from just south of Hamburg, or at least that?s where Mitch heard it. It goes like this: “Hau die h?hner” which means “Hit The Chicken”. I?m busily incorporating it into my daily speech.
Day 124 – 16 May 2004 – Freiburg
So, I had a bit of a mad one last night. The Eurovision or Grand Prix thing is taken a hell of a lot more seriously in Europe. That I knew already. I didn?t realise the ACTUAL scale of the problem. It?s immense. There was 20,000 people in the street in one of the cities (can?t remember names, sorry); I sat in a student bar, one of those huge warehouse type jobbies from the seventies with concrete floors and stairs and ceilings, watching the Grand Prix with a load of inebriated Germans who kept shouting MAX MAx MAX everytime the little fella popped up on screen.
I pleaded with them not to fall for it. That it?s all politics… I felt like the only sane guy in a zombie movie screaming at the actors to wake up and see sense… I told them that even if you have the two ABBA blokes with their happy heads, keyboard and guitar writing for you now, you?re STILL not going to win unless you write a crappy eastern sounding song with no discernible melody or musical qualities of any kind. In fact Ireland nailed the “no discernible melody or musical qualities” … but it wasn?t eastern sounding. In fact it was just bleedin? awful. Stick to the dayjob you, the writer, who used to be in Westlife. Hang on. Hmmm that IS his dayjob.
So, predictably enough, every country voted for their neighbouring countries thus averting the possibility of war breaking out for another year and then when they?d done that, they voted randomly for all the other countries to give the impression that this was actually a contest. Sorry. I know that it?s all supposed to be above board but come on! Would you trust a mobile phone company to count votes? I?d trust them about as much as I trust my bank (AIB – check the Irish news reports around the last few weeks and you?ll understand this more completely…). Enough ranting. Needless to say there were many disillusioned Germans wandering about last night.
So after that I went to some student-infested area of Freiburg (that I haven?t visited in six years) to drown my sorrows, of course. The student bar was like a dinjy (how exactly does one spell that?) community centre, crossed with a beach bar with wooden cut out palm trees, crossed with a drug rehab clinic. Not pretty. But then it?s a student bar so that explains that. All was fine. Had a nice enough night. Then I realised as I stood on the step of the house that I?d forgotten my keys when I was coming out. Buggeh. So I sat on the step. It was 3am. There was no way in hell I was going to ring the buzzer at that time in the morning because I?d be murdered horribly and there?s nothing like a bit of mortality to spoil one?s day. So I was sitting there for about 15 minutes feeling sorry for myself when I decided to start texting people to amuse myself. It was then that I discovered, cleverly buried under my phone, the keys that I actually HAD brought with me. As a friend used to say to me, “how do you not fall down more often?”.
You may remember my friends, with the penguin/world-travel stories, hiding in an attic in Leixlip, County Kildare, Ireland… well, they must be running out of supplies (or stories) because I?m meeting them in Dublin in two weeks… I should really leave this diary entry now because it?s getting very long. I?m in a chatty mood lately. I feel good. I even bought lots of German books yesterday. What?s wrong with me? I?m studying by choice? There?s something seriously wrong here. I?m turning into my parents. Right, I?m off to reacquaint myself with XML & XSL. If you don?t know what they are – Don?t ask. I just heard coolness slam the door behind it.
Day 122 – 14 May 2004 – Freiburg
Elvis In Us All a.k.a Elvis a.k.a Inner Elvis… has been tweaked a little bit. We?re going to put Alex?s stuff into the mix next. Everything else sounds perfect right now. Shane?s demonstrating a tape delay program to me now. Incredible what they?re doing in real-time these days.
Met up with Niels, Elka & Mitch last night in Weber?s Weinstube which is one of those cool little wine bars that serve food and drink until about 4 or 5 in the morning depending on how they feel. Everyone?s in good form. I can?t wait to start playing gigs with the guys now. It?s not that far away really but at the same time I?m chomping at the bit. I want to get some new songs together beforehand too… so we may be able to roadtest some material in the not too distant future…
In other news… that banjo story I warned you all about… On Ivory Heart I played some banjo for a few hours. Took me ages. It?s a battered old thing. Well worn. It?s an American-made banjo. You can just about make out the Gretsch logo on the head behind all the corrosion and dust and dirt that it?s accumulated over the years. Now… I hope I remember this correctly… Shane was given this banjo as a gift from an old German lady who was clearing out her attic. No-one she knew was a musician and it belonged to her late-husband. Her late-husband was on a boat during WWII, I?m not sure if it was a U-Boat or a fishing trawler or what or where he was at the time… anyway… This banjo was a bit of the flotsam & jetsam from a bombed or torpedoed American ship. It?s not a very good banjo. It?s impossible to tune it and the sound is not bright or loud. Still though, it has one hell of a history. On that note I?ll leave you. Take care of yourselves.
Day 121 – 13 May 2004 – Freiburg
We?re thankfully back on track after being plagued by technical difficulties (damned computers, interfaces and other electric/electronic appliances more complex than abacus..es? abacii? abacusibus?) for the last while. Great to make some progress. So it?s all go from here on in. Not to worry. Thank goodness my stay here is being funded by the Irish government.
That last sentence is a little misleading. It is in fact not funded at all by the Irish government.
In one of the Freiburg cinemas they show a film every week on a wednesday that you pay for only after you?ve seen it. It?s a sneak preview of a film. Nobody knows what the film is going to be but it?s a very popular night with the students of Freiburg. Students here are just as cheap as back home. Unsurprisingly.
Anyway I saw Vergiss Mein Nicht or Eternal Sunshine of The spotless Mind. Unfortunately, the film was shown in its dubbed form and not in its original form with german subtitles therefore I understood little of the speech. This is a bit of a disadvantage when you?re dealing with the work of Charlie Kaufman. So, I have to wait a while for the film to actually come out here before I can see it in its original version… by which time I may be back in Dublin… I?ll be home around the 27th and back in Germany again around the 14th june.
Day 120 – 12 May 2004 – Freiburg
Mixing has commenced in the studio. We?re going to continue with the mixing until I basically recover my vocal abilities. I?m back singing now but I won?t be tip top for a day or two more methinks.
I just ate one of Anica?s cakes and I?m completely stuffed. Not for the faint hearted. My eyes are bigger than my belly. So despite the self-induced pain in my belly, I?m sitting in the studio trying to write a nice change for a new song. I can hear the mixing process going on in the control room. I?m walking in and out when I hear something good. Klasse.
I was in possibly the quietest bar in Freiburg last night. It was so dead that we had an impromptu game of catch and nobody bothered to stop us. I think the two staff members were secretly betting on the outcome of our game. No, du hast recht, they DIDN?T have anything better to do.
So, I?m off to go through all my scraps of paper to see if there?s anything that occurred to me late at night that?s worth keeping at all. Hit and miss. All this writing is so hit and miss. Until next time…
Day 119 – 11 May 2004 – Freiburg
This section of the diary is really only for the nerds. So read on ONLY IF you qualify…
WHAT WE PLAYED ON THE ALBUM… SOME DETAILS…
So I have asked Mitch for the details of his drum set-up for the record and he has kindly revealed the following :
“On most of the songs, I played my four piece Ludwig set from the seventies, tama starclassic 14×6, 5? maple snare drum, zildjian cymbals including the 22? swish knocker! And perhaps we should mention the 14×8? Premier Resonator Snare with the Calf-skins on both sides,this is the real secret weapon together with the Swish Knocker!” [Editor?s note: apologies to all the wegetarians out there. By the way, the swish knocker was the evil looking cymbal with the studs.]
“But I think,the magic of Shane Brady at the mixing desk is the biggest secret on the drum sound of this record!!!!”
My (Tadhg?s!) guitar setup was simple. Basically we set up three microphones on an acoustic Lowden F32 that I bought recently. The mikes used are an AKG pair and a sennheiser. They look nice. That?s about all I can say about them because, technically speaking, I don?t have a notion. I also played (with the same setup) an electric baritone DanElectro guitar (acoustically), an ancient Gretsch banjo (did I tell you the story about the Gretsch banjo? unbelieveable… remind me about it sometime) and a bouzouki… I think that?s it.
Niel?s setup was approximately this… [Until I have the exact details this will have to do]…. Rickenbacker bass, Gibson Country Gentleman, Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennesean, Gibson acoustic (there?s a photo of it among the pics… it?s a small bodied guitar, old and battered… great sound), melody harp, ABM pedal steel, …
Florian?s setup was basically the famous three microphones set up around his beautiful old double-bass, or kontra-bass if you prefer.
Alex?s setup was … Hammond, Harmonium, Grand Piano, Synths and general Beeps & Buzzes. They were played through an assortment of filters/microphones/speakers/cables to give them a different sound. I don?t understand any of it. But it sounds fantastic. That?s what counts, right? You can visit him here and say hello www.alexanderpaeffgen.de … and yes, as you may have guessed, his full name is Alexander Paeffgen.
Jan?s setup was basically a Stick plugged straight into the mixing desk. You can find out what a stick is at Stick.com. Makes sense really. Who ever thought they?d see a company called Stick Enterprises. I mean, seriously.
Shane?s setup was a vocal microphone and a banana… so far. This is subject to change.
Day 117 – 9 May 2004 – Freiburg
My voice has made a partial recovery. Thank god. I?m twiddling my thumbs here. There is other stuff to be done of course but it?s incredible how much you depend on your voice after a while.
I got a hard time yesterday from people who told me that we (meaning Ireland) messed up postage stamps to celebrate the new EU countries. It?s all news to me. Perhaps it?s known in Ireland. Anyway, some bright spark designing stamps was supposed to have confused cyprus and crete and managed to render useless the whole million or so stamps that were already printed. According to the guys here the stamps were withdrawn… but I checked it out… and it turns out the stamps are not being withdrawn, and An Post come out sounding a little heavy handed. A spokesman said…
“What appears to be Crete is in fact Cyprus. The map has been tweaked and Cyprus did not fit into the perspective, so we had to move it.”
So there you have it. If you don?t fit into our vision of Europe, we?ll move you. Personally, I think someone wanted to make the commemoratives more valuable. I?m getting very cynical these days.
Mitch added some lovely Udu drumming to “I knew better” which we?ve been wrestling with for a while now. It sounds great. Although I still think his Udu drum looks like a flower pot with a hole in the side of it. On that note. Take care of yourselves.
Day 114 – 6 May 2004 – Freiburg
Greetings from sweet pea. Everyone in Freiburg is shocked at my new voice. I do the best Satchmo impression now. I see fields of green… red roses too… The reason is because, although I feel fine, my voice sounds like it was attacked by a crack team of genghis khan?s most loyal servants who paid particular attention to completely destroying everything in their path. So my voice has dropped 8 octaves and a half.
In other news I?m converting ze Germans to Bachelor?s Walk and The Fast Show. A strange combination I know, but it made sense at the time… doesn?t it always. So that?s all that?s happening here. Talk more when I?m besser.
Teig im Breisgau
Day 110 – 2 May 2004 – Freiburg
I?ve got a little bit of a sore throat today. I talked too much last night. Not one of my more inspired actions. Still, it was fun. The kettle is on so I?m going to make some more tea for myself.
I?m really pleased with the stuff we listened to last night. We?re on course. It?s great to have an overview now and again to remind you of the progress…
I?ve added a few more links… there?s loads to follow… they?re down at the bottom of the links page in an unsorted section for the moment. Enjoy. Oh I take no responsibility for what?s on those websites by the way. They were all genuine enough when I checked them but if they?ve since been turned into sites of ill-repute don?t look at me.
Teig im Breisgau
Day 109 – 1 May 2004 – Freiburg
The gig was great last night. I didn?t even realise that it was part of the first of may celebrations. Shows you how in touch I am.
All my mental spring cleaning and organisation of my notes and papers, addresses and telephone numbers is paying off though. Everything is becoming clear in my head. Well almost everything. I?m writing a bit again too. Maybe it?s the sunshine too. I don?t know. The pheromones and what not. It is pheremones isn?t it? I never did know my biology.
Today was terrible weather apparantly. I say apparantly because I was still roaming around in a shirt looking every bit the-lost-paddy.
Doing our review of what we?ve recorded up to now… It sounds great. Whenever I go back and listen I?m pleasantly surprised. That?s a good sign, right? Anyway, must go. Things to listen to. Plans to be made.
Teig im Breisgau
Day 108 – 30 April 2004 – Freiburg
Niel?s and Mitch are playing a gig later on this evening so I?m going over to Jos Fritz Caf? in a few hours to check it out.
I?m actually doing lots of administrative stuff at the moment. I?m trying to organise it all in a way that?s both portable and easily accessible. Easier said than done. Still, it?s better to get it all out of the way now.
The weather is lovely here. Not too warm yet. It?s just right. I?m going off to sit in the shade now. To those of you in Ireland, “shade” is relative darkness caused by light rays being intercepted by an opaque body.
Teig im Breisgau
Day 106 – 28 April 2004 – Freiburg
Back in Germany. Brain is on a go-slow protest. I?m not sure why. It?s not talking to me. I hate sulkers. Especially when they?re vital body parts.
The links page was down for the last few days. Sorry about that. It?s back. With a few updates. There will be more to follow. I?ll let you know as they appear. Oh I fixed a few of the broken links in the pics section too. Thanks to Karlos and an undeveloped roll of film that I had at home, I have a load of new photos to deal with. You probably will see some of them over the next month or so. They date from january all the way back to 2000. Tune in to see the youthful me. Had some pasta mit teig today. Mmmm.
Day 100 – 22 April 2004 – Dublin
100 days. Another milestone. Well, I’ve no real news for you so I won’t keep you for long. Just two items of note.
Item #1 : The man who gets all my gigs in Wolverhampton (Steve Emerson) is doing a gig with his partner in crime (John Crowther – I hope that’s spelt correctly) in Wolves on the 16th in The Varsity. You can check out the full gig guide, or just turn up on the night if you’re in that part of the world.
Item #2 : Thanks in part to the aforementioned duo and to the sterling work done by friends from all ends of the space-time continuum, it has come to my attention that we have built bridges to many areas of the world. Thanks to your harrassment of friends and family I have received messages of support from all sorts of unlikely places. Not that the places themselves are unlikely. Many are indeed as likely as a fish and chip shop in Dublin. However it’s unlikely that my recordings end up in these places. So if you’ve made contact with a being from a distant place please post it up on the messageboard. It’ll be like a static chain mail, that you can check every now and again… Bit like an election I suppose too. Hmmm. “We’ve got New York. Yes. We can confirm that.”
To give you an example of what you’re up against… we have…
St Petersburg, Heidelberg, Freiburg, Watford, Wolverhampton, Montauk, East Hampton, Korea (I’ll be more specific later), Canada (bear with me), Manhattan, Paris, … check messageboard soon for a more complete listing… and you can add your own.
Day 96 – 18 April 2004 – Dublin
Little itty bitty mistake there… I’m on the ICON show on Phantom FM next week on Sunday 25th April. All other information is correct
Day 94 – 16 April 2004 – Dublin
Just to let you know…
I’m doing an interview and, if all goes well, a song or two… on the ICON show which will be broadcast live from a secret location somewhere in Dublin on Sunday 18th April. Check it out. It’ll be my first appearance on Irish radio in months. You can find Phantom at the moment on 92.1FM in the Dublin area OR on the internet at www.phantomfm.com . I’ll be talking to Paul & Lynn about recording the album and other subjects like latin socks and cuckoo clocks.
Also, I’ve been going to a few gigs recently. All brilliant. I’m loving this smoking ban. I really enjoy the concept of being able to breathe on a night out. One upshot of the whole ban is that there will be an astronomical rise in the sales of deodorant, cologne & perfume. I’m not kidding.
Day 91 – 13 April 2004 – Dublin
I’m at home on my newly refurbished computer with it’s whopping big boost in kbps thanks to a strangely superior modem that’s found its way into the house. It’s a welcome addition. I have to say the old modem was a pain in the backside.
I’m on the cusp of spring cleaning and getting rid of all the junk I’ve accumulated over the past ten years. I think it will do my head good. Clear out the living space. Clear out the head. Allow the creative juices to run freely again. Also, I’m playing around with some websites in my spare time, I’ll unveil the results soon enough. Patience my children.
The Whelan’s gig on saturday went well methinks. Although I hate sticking my neck out. Dangerous thing to do really. Lots of well-known faces there if that’s anything to go by, although it probably isn’t. Q & the Hallucinations played a stormer.
I’ll be back in Freiburg on the 27th and I’ll probably be there until we finish up the mixes. It’s all a bit scary really. We’re getting ever closer to the point where I have to get out there and prove that it wasn’t all talk on my part and that I can actually do this thang. Yes I did mean to misspell thing. It’s for emphasis you see. And I don’t give a DING of a Ding-dang-dong-do WHAT you do! Yes, enough madness. Back to work for me. Will talk soon when I have more urgent news for you…
Day 85 – 7 April 2004 – Freiburg
Only one day left to record this time around. I?m off to visit my friends and relations tomorrow evening in Sasana for a few days. I?ll be back in time for Easter too. Eggs. Brilliant. I?ll shtick de rabbit in de vice, faadehr.
I?m also going to a nice party this evening. Apparantly there?ll be music tonight. Perhaps a song or two. This time Niels is about. Unfortunately Florian is not now. So once again we have an incomplete line-up. Still, I?m not going to let that spoil our fun.
I just found out that Davey G, leixlipian guru and accomplished songsmith with Bell X1, has a song featured on a Dyson advert in Ireland & the UK (maybe elsewhere too… let me know if you know). To check it out you can go to this Dyson Ad page . The gentle strains of Daybreak. Congrats to the Bellies!
Yer man in Breisgau
Day 84 – 6 April 2004 – Freiburg
Yessum. So the vocals are not coming as easily as yesterday. I blame the pigeons, the prevailing wind, the lack of curry sauce, the coddle… everything but myself. A whole host of clich?s rush to mind but I?m not going to butcher the english language just at the moment.
We wandered out with Mitch today for a hotdog by the M?nster. We were picking up a beautiful old reconditioned neumann mike to do my wocals. That?s not a typo. Over here they?re Wocals.
So today I am mostly doing wocals, but I?m now drinking some fine Fierling beer in the studio. Man it?s unheimlich gut. I?m not sure how to spell that. Still, it?s the sound that counts, right?
I?m beginning to hear from old friends now which is nice. It keeps the spirits up. I hate losing touch with people. In a way the songs help me keep in touch with friends. That sounds really corny. The truth is often rather corny. Corny is such a stoopid word. Funny that I mentioned Nick Drake last night because I just read today that BBC2 radio are doing a show on the works of Nick Drake and it?s being presented by Brad Pitt of all people. It?s kinda wierd. It?s nice to see him reaching so far with his music… I never expected Drake?s stuff to permeate the hollywood iron curtain. Speaking of which, what do you make of all this fingerprinting and photographing? Star Spangled Iron Curtain anyone?
Yer man in Breisgau
Day 83 – 5 April 2004 – Freiburg
Last night I found a minidisc that I packed for myself to listen to while recording over here. I planned to listen for a few minutes and then doze off to sleep… unfortunately the bloody compilation was so good I ended up listening to the whole thing. Some of the delights included “Heard it through the grapevine” (groovetastic), that Wuthering Heights song by Kate Bush (call me crazy but I love it), “Hazy Jane” by Nick Drake (one of his happiest sounding songs methinks)… the list is endless, or as close to endless as you can get on a minidisc.
We stuck a fork in the guitars. They?re done. So we moved on to vocals today. We?ve nailed two. It?s great when you?re in the mood you can just get a perfect take with the aid of some tea. Tea is great. The best drug ever. Irish people and tea. What makes us so into tea? Some experts said (great that isn?t it, completely source-less facts… I?d make a fantastic tabloid journalist with my creative mind) that the Celts originally came from somewhere around northern India… India has tea. I?m wondering is it the Celt in us? Although at this stage, a few hmmhmmm years later, we?re probably a mix of Pict, Celt, Saxon, Fir Bolg and Smurfs, so who knows. Anyway, the point is, we did some lovely vocals after some tea.
So, we grew sick of our take of “know you hate me”, so we?re redoing the drums/percussion. Mitch is setting up behind me as I type. We?ve already got a sweet groove going so when we add the drums it will be dynamite. Or as close to dynamite as a summery camp fire singalong in jazz pants CAN sound.
Niels is coming in soon too. I think we just may have a beer tonight. Well, the lads will. I think I?ll have some mulled wine with vitamin C, hot lemon and zinc. I?ve got to look after myself.
Day 82 – 4 April 2004 – Freiburg
I got the plaster off last night. Played without my plaster on today despite the whiteness and sensitivity of the skin on my finger. Damn those band-aids. We got Not in My Nature?s guitars done this morning. I?m not sure what we?ve left to do guitar wise … but there?s only a few left to check.
So we?re about to start vocals. Cue Tadhg with a towel over his head inhaling steam and all sorts of herbal goods to loosen and to soothe the vocal chords.
That?s all for the moment…
Day 80 – 2 April 2004 – Freiburg
… and so with incredible foresight and using the knife skills I picked up as a chile on the streets of Dublin, I sliced my finger open last night. My middle finger. My medio, in guitar-speak, or spanish if you prefer (if that?s wrong please let me know and I?ll correct it!). Shane?s rooting about upstairs looking for a plaster to bind my hideous wound. He should bind my hideous face while he?s at it. Hur hur.
We?re getting through these guitar bits. I?m improving I must say. My ear is now growing accustomed to the necessary sounds… so I can say things like… oooh that?s late… or, ooh that?s a bit early, let me try that again… With a bit of concentration I can get it right too. Whoopee.
I should point out that this is the eightieth day since we started recording in january… it?s not the eightieth day in studio. I can tell this simply by the fact that I haven?t gnawed my legs off in frustration. Last night I walked up the big hill, which is only around the corner from the house here. I don?t actually know what it?s called so you?re going to have to make do with “der gro?e Hill”. I know that?s wrong. So sue me. Anyway from the top of this hill you can see pretty much all of Freiburg. It?s a cool vantage point. It gives you a sense of where you are, and also a sense of tiredness from having climbed up it very quickly. I need to get myself a camera and take some snaps, especially now that the weather is good… I?m looking forward to this gig in Whelan?s now. Should be a bit of craic. First gig on the old sod in a couple of months now… Anyway, gotta run.
Day 78 – 31 March 2004 – Freiburg
Today I had spag bol. I plan to eat something sometime in the near future too. I?m not sure what that will be. I?m thinking of making myself some milk pudd. Yes, that?ll sort the head out.
Myself and Shane, the only ones currently working in the studio, left the lads last night at about 12.30. They were in bits this morning it seems. So glad I opted out of that one. Yeah. Mitch is giving drum lessons today too. Poor man. The Casa Espagnol has some great wine.
We were up early this morning trying to get these guitars done. It?s slow going but we?re getting good results so it?s worth it. It?s all good practice I suppose.
I?m about to post up some of the more peculiar and unusual titles for the album on the messageboard… enjoy.
Day 77 – 30 March 2004 – Freiburg
Still doing guitars. It?s getting a little easier for me to get into the groove now. It?s all experience really. Up to now I?ve had none! However I?m rectifying it as quickly as possible. The ones we?ve done sound pretty cool though. The song formerly known as thunder sounds especially thumpin?. Possible single contender? Will I have singles? Hmmm.
I wonder how many times I?ve said Hmmm in this diary so far.
The weather is nice and warm now. The clocks have gone forward so there?s a good stretch in the evenings. I defy anyone to say that last bit without sounding like their parents. Aye.
Florian?s leaving today for the far east and Niel?s wasn?t able to come out to play on Saturday so we?re all getting together again this evening. Twill be the first time since we finished recording.
Today I had bratwurst, spuds and some class of bratwurst sauce. Twas lovely.
Day 76 – 29 March 2004 – Freiburg
We?re back to work in the studio today. It?s time to nail these tracks. The more I go on the less I?m talking about the music. I think I?m getting more conscious of the fact that all I talk about is music and food.
On saturday, Florian held a little soir?e for everyone in a cellar not far from the studio. Computer motherboards and other assorted boards shone out their eerie green lights, and par-cans illuminated the rest… it all had a very strange feel to it. But it was cool. There was music supplied by the numerous inebriated musicians present… At the end myself, Florian and Mitch played a few tunes from the album. Niels wasn?t able to come which was a pity. He was sorely missed. Anyways,… we need more practice and less booze. Still, it went down well. I?ve had my fun, and that?s all that matters.
I stepped in a little stream near the M?nster, which led to me being informed that I will marry a girl from Freiburg. I?m okay with that whole idea…. but… When I was a kid, I jumped with two feet into a cow pat in Tara (Tara is a historical site in Ireland) or so my uncle tells me… I wonder if that has any significance? I?ve stepped in a LOT of things in my time.
By the way, I?ve checked and I can?t find evidence of any latin word for sock.
Day 73 – 26 March 2004 – Freiburg
The oft-impersonated and much maligned diary is back with a vengeance. I?m tired now. Travelling through stansted is an experience that you?d be much better off not experiencing in your lifetime. The airport itself isn?t too bad, it?s bright and airy and has lots of shops while still being relatively simple to navigate. However, it seems to take an age to do anything routinely travel-like there. For example, checking-in takes ages; going through the sheep runs that they use for crowd control so that they can put just about everything you own through scanners, beepers, x-ray machines and a car wash .. takes ages; Even taxi-ing down the runway takes ages. Bleedin? hell. How annoying is it? Very annoying. I don?t really mind the whole waiting ages thing either, … I can get over that… but I don?t know… I can?t help feeling that things would move more quickly if the uniformed people, over to the left of the massive queues, who I can only presume work there or else have a stansted uniform fetish… if they?d actually join in instead of ignoring the queue completely… Ah, I?m just irritable now. Don?t mind me.
In other news… I?ve been listening to a cd of all the current contenders for the album. I?m enjoying it but I?m having difficulty figuring out what the best running order would be. It?s disastrous trying to get me to make decisions like that all by myself.
I?ve no other news really. Was at a great BellX1 gig in The Village on wednesday night in Dublin. Apart from the usual batch of great stuff the lads threw in some great covers… Short People, a Johnny Cash song, and the familiar snippets of Hey Ya, Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes, etc etc. Twas magical to see the lads selling out a large venue like that. Restored my faith a little in the domestic scene.
I?m trying not to let the business of the album get in the way of the much more important Six Nations games tomorrow! All going to plan we should win the Triple Crown for the first time in twenty years. Who knows… thanks to the crazy league system we may even win the whole series.. of course that depends on a number of factors… Ireland must beat Scotland by 50+ points, England must beat France by no more than 1 or 2 points, the wind must be blowing from the north-east, Arkle must come out of retirement (or death), Plymouth Argyle must beat Liverpool 5-0 (not altogether unlikely at the moment), I must be wearing my lucky blue socks, You must all be wearing lucky items of clothing too. Clothing may be deemed lucky if it : – is found unharmed in the middle of a burnt department store. – snags on a barrier preventing you from crossing the road as a bus ploughs by. – is a pair of socks, and you?ve found them. They?re not lucky… they?re miraculous.
Enough of this lunacy. I?m off to research sock-based religions. What?s sock in latin? Okay so the romans didn?t wear socks… but what did they do in northern europe and (the poor eejits!) Ireland and Britain? Seriously if anyone knows post it on the board. I?d love to find out. It?s hard not to sound sarcastic, but I?m serious. Honest… Really.
Day 66 – 19 March 2004 – Dublin
I’ve had a few days shelter from the storm. I’m feeling very unfit right now. I’ve started a new regime. 5 million press-ups before noon. Then in the evening 6 million sit-ups. This regime may eat into my productive writing day but it’s such a small price to pay.
Seriously though, I’m getting myself together for the return on thursday to Germany. We won’t be into the thick of it immediately but I’ll be busy working away on vocals and guitars.
The gigs in Wolverhampton went quite well. I managed to keep it together for the three gigs thanks to Steve Emerson and John Crowthers. Steve E arranged everything and risked the wrath of his housemates by allowing two strange people stay in the box room. I’m not exaggerating either. It is a BOX room. John C is owed thanks for the 24 hour security provided for my guitar and bag. Good men both. Again huge thanks to the other aforementioned strange person, John Paul, my chauffeur for the short stay. I will be back again after we’ve got this album done, dusted and available at your local music store.
I got a learn-to-speak-german-you-fool cd and book for myself today. It should come in very handy. Funny how I buy the tools for learning the language a few months after I arrive in the foreign land. That’s where my brilliant mind comes in. Or not as the case may be.
That’s all for now
Day 57 – 10 March 2004 – Freiburg
All packed and ready to go. Have a bit of a head on me, as they say, after a few glasses of wine with the lads. It was good wine though because I should by rights have a hangover.
No news really. Going home to think about what I?ve done. Man, it sounds like I?m back in primary school. But first, these gigs in England. Should be a blast. Niels set my guitar up for me. He did a lovely job, because the guitar feels great.
Anyways, that?s all for now. Talk to you all sooner or later.
Day 56 – 9 March 2004 – Freiburg
So, Stevie texted me last night from Wolves. Would I be up for doing another gig? So being the person that I am (sure who else would I be?) I says to himself, Yeah. Sure. So he says “It?s the same night as the other two gigs. I think we can go from the wanderer to that gig” (or the other way around.. I?m not sure of the times… bear with me). “This promoter was wondering if you would support a guy called john feenly from the pogues”. So I?m thinking to myself… I don?t know anyone by that name from the pogues but at the same time it?d be great to play with an ex-pogue. So a little while later Stevie texts and says “I think his name is Jim Feeney”. Suddenly I put 7 and 3 together and figure out that it?s bleedin Jem Finer, co-writer and writer of some of the Pogues greatest hits (Fairytale of New York, Siesta etc..). So as soon as I figure this out Steve texts me again telling me it?s Jem Finer. Should I support? Should I hell. I haven?t texted back so furiously in my life. My thumbs are still sore.
So to sum up :
I?m supporting THE TWOMANBAND
featuring DM BOB (Bob Tooke of DeutschemarkBob & the Deficits) and JEM FINER (The Pogues)
in THE VARSITY, Wolverhampton on thursday 11th march. More info.
Anyway, that?s all the story for now. Alex was just in a while ago doing some harmonium on “I Knew Better”. He then went off composing other little bits and pieces for a few of the songs… for “Sparks” and “You or I” in particular. I really like what he?s done so far so I can?t wait to hear the rest.
We?re waiting for the others to come in over the next few hours. I think I?m going to get everything more or less packed now so that I don?t have to worry about doing it at the last minute tomorrow.
Day 55 – 8 March 2004 – Freiburg
Got an email from some friends of mine down in the southern hemisphere today. Well they?ve really been hiding in their attic in leixlip, Co Kildare for the last few months but they told everyone they?d gone on a trip to Chile. Anyway as part of their alibi they sent me this…
“we got to see penguins on an island yesterday …. they win the Oscar for best alternative living creature, webbed feet down.”
I want to start a poll on the messageboard. Vote “yes” if you think that people should not lie about going on big trips abroad. Vote “no” if you think that George Bush should be allowed back into society after his stay in the White House. You can also vote “Penguin” if you believe a penguin should contest the forthcoming US presidential race. Thank you for your votes.
As you can see, the impending break has gone to my head along with all the celebrations of the last few days. I?m leaving Freiburg for London on wednesday 10th march and racing up for two gigs and an interview in Wolverhampton on thursday and friday. Must say thanks to J for the lift and I promise the penguin joke is not mine either. Things are winding down here. We?ve re-recorded anything we thought needed to be re-recorded. We?ve recorded other bits and pieces and painted around the edges of songs. We?re at the end of chapter one methinks. I?m coming back in a week or two to record some bits on my own. I?m looking forward to it. Then we?re going to wade into mixing and mastering. Then we?ll be doing the cover and the promotion and the touring and the refusing interviews with the press and throwing tvs out the windows and watching spinal tap and withnail & I for helpful hints on how to succeed in the artistic world.
It sounds like there?s two, 8 tonne, nine year old kids jumping up and down on the floor above. A deafeningly bassy noise is beginning to squash my eardrums. So I?m going to go. I?ve nothing worth saying anyway, as you may have guessed by now. Quantity not quality. Heard Turn do a cover of a cover called One Man Guy by Louden Wainright. I?ve only heard the Rufus Wainright version. Tis pretty cool. I?m new to his music but I like it. There you go. The hot tip for today. Good note to end it on.
Day 54 – 7 March 2004 – Freiburg
Yesterday was a good day and it had nothing to do with music. I went to O?Kelly?s, stuffed my face with their “bacon butties” & guinness while the Irish rugby team stuffed the current World Champions at their first home match in Twickenham since the World Cup. Made my day. I feel safe saying everyone else in the bar had a good day. Apart from two english fellas and all the Freiburgers… Freiburg lost 3-0. Ah well, can?t please everyone.
The day continued on that note. We partied in a Hansel & Gretel type log cabin way up in the hills surrounded by woods last night. It was sweet. Cake & beer to finish the evening.
The guys are due in any minute now for more recording fun. I?m feeling spritely and trying not to get too wound up about the gigs in Wolves. They?re the first gigs I?ve played since the Wodan Halle in january, and that was the first gig since october 2003 I think. It will be great to air all the new songs but when you first start gigging new songs it?s like you have to learn them all over again. Bit scary.
Mitch brought in tubular bells. I thought tubular bells were more like wind chimes. I didn?t expect something that looks like it just fell out of the industrial revolution. They are enormous. We?re experimenting. There?s no harm in experimentation… unless it kills you. In that instance, I suppose, experimentation could be deemed harmful.
Day 52 – 5 March 2004 – Freiburg
Hey all. Alex came in with some new noises for “Inner Elvis” today. Great stuff. Apparantly he was up all night composing and playing around with sounds. It sounds worth it though. Really tasty.
By the way, my lawyers tell me I should make it clear that the “wurlitzer” crack was not a joke. I was seriously quoting the bassist. I cannot take responsibility for his jokes. I am merely a conduit.
That?s all for today really. I?m getting myself mentally prepared for the gigs in wolverhampton. My little guitar, still nameless, is going to undergo some surgery before the gig too. I want it to be in good condition.
Gotta run… recording about to take place.
Day 51 – 4 March 2004 – Freiburg
Day 51? Where does the time go to?
We had this nagging feeling about Know You Hate Me. It wasn?t living up to the standard set by the other tunes. So we decided to tackle it from behind today. It may be illegal but it?s damn effective as any half decent central defender will tell you. It?s sounding better already. Der Schillinger, the machine that he is, layed down some percussion this morning. They sound great. Really chunky.
I?m also getting a little bit worried about my declining social abilities. When you?re surrounded by musicians you tend to start saying things like “yeah. but we want it to sound more blue” or “no, play it like it?s in a cupboard and all you?ve got to strum with is a tortoise shell” or “I want it to sound like an orange chair from the seventies”. How can you hold your head high in public, hob nob and/or be in a position to accept roundy chocolates from ambassador types, if you speak things like this. Does anyone know of any speech classes for recovering musicians?
Day 50 – 3 March 2004 – Freiburg
We?re at that thinking stage of the record now. Every decision takes ages. Even cups of tea can take hours. To milk or not to milk. Do I need sugar or am I sweet enough? I suppose in a way we?re trying out underlay for the new house. Everybody sees the carpet. Everybody walks on the carpet and thinks “mmmmmm how lovely”, but nobody mentions the underlay. Nobody even thinks of it. So that?s what we?re doing now I suppose. Choosing the right underlay. Nice comfy things in the background… essential in a way… but nobody will ever realise they?re there. Unless of course I tell everyone in a published diary. Hmmmm.
Der Paeffgen was here today. Working his magic. We?ve got some very unusual sounds. Things that you?d hardly notice. More carpets and underlay.
Pronunciation provides me with endless entertainment here. Today I learnt about the “wurlitzer song”. “What?s the wurlitzer song?” I hear you ask. “Wurlitzer one for da maney, thooo for da show, bada bada ba ba ba baaa baa…”. I?m going to beg forgiveness for that.
Day 49 – 2 March 2004 – Freiburg
The mexican bass was returned today. It?s an amazing piece of work. We?ve had a quiet day or two. We?re getting stuck in today though. Alex is coming around later with a few ideas. Alex is a keyboard player by trade. By keyboard I mean anything with keys.
I?ve been playing around with an hourglass dulcimer in the studio. It?s a strange instrument. It?s got a bass and treble strings that you play and a middle drone string. Very unusual sound. I spent a bit of yesterday trying to get to grips with it. I?m contemplating a purchase. Yes, I?m serious. If you want to know what it sounds like … listen to Joni Mitchell?s BLUE album. I think there?s about 3 songs that she plays a dulcimer on. Although matters are confused a little by James Taylor?s guitar playing matching the dulcimer?s notes… it?s hard to know where the dulcimer ends and the guitar begins.
Day 47 – 29 February 2004 – Freiburg
Was out last night in the town. Met these two guys coming out of the bar. Was chatting to Mitch who?d directed me to this bar. Anyway the guys hear us speaking English and start asking me where I?m from. So logically enough I tell them “Dubbelin”.
So this guy says “Ah, Ireland! Our good CATHOLIC friends! ….” Slight pause. His finger is then raised to his friend and he says “He?s protestant!”. Where to look? What would you do in a situation like this? Rather than tell him the history of the troubles and the fact that most people down south don?t know one end of a religious divide from the other, or say “I?m an atheist”… I stupidly said “ah sure it?s okay. There?s peace now”, gave him a pat on the back and left the scene. All the pithy replies have been running through my head since. That?s the great thing about writing. You always have a second chance.
Day 46 – 28 February 2004 – Freiburg
Go see Dave Belly and the Rotators on Sunday in The Sugar Club. That?s the best advice I can give you right now.
You remember all those movies with the mexican bands? You remember there was always these big guys with things that looked like guitars that were as big as the smallest member of the group? Well, Shane found one yesterday and brought it in. It?s ridiculous. Brilliant sound. It?s huge though. We?re getting a photo of the ukelele beside this mexican bass. Like a little family it is.
Day 45 – 27 February 2004 – Freiburg
Rerecorded “not in my nature” today. Another caesarean according to Shane. It?s been cut back and pruned. We think it?s cool though. Good beat. Nice instrumentation. Not sure what the bass will be like… We?ll see tomorrow.
No other news really. Walked through a lovely part of town today. Mitch lives in a lovely quiet area right beside the town. That?s a cool thing about Freiburg. You?re never really too far from anywhere.
The lads have been filling me with tales of world-famous musicians from germany who really aren?t world-famous at all. I suppose this is kind of proven by the fact that I haven?t heard of any of them before. It?s funny though, because they actually bill them as world-famous. Surely there?s laws against this kind of thing!? In fact, DOWN with this sort of thing!
So what else is happening? I?ve gained a few nicknames along the lines of Teigerlinger, Teiglinger, Teigelberger, Teigelheimer… No idea where this places me… Oh well. Also, when out with the young hip crew in Freiburg there is a nominated translator for every group. It?s strange because they can all speak English very well, but they don?t like speaking in the presence of a better english speaker than them… so as soon as the translator leaves the room someone else takes over… I find this very amusing. I?ve also been spotted kissing girls around the town. I find this greatly disappointing. If I?m kissing girls I want to know about it and, if possible, be there at the time. I?m making a mental note of this. I hope you are too.
I like the new more restrained garagey sound we?ve given the faster songs. Tis good.
Mitch and the lads say Bye! We?re off for cheap food.
Day 44 – 26 February 2004 – Freiburg
Elvis has been more or less completed. Sounds completely different. Very spooky.
Watched a Blair press conference this morning on a well known news conglomerate?s channel. Entertaining stuff. He said something about his country’s intelligence services always acting fully within the law. I?m both surprised and disappointed. I had always thought the whole founding principle of intelligence services across the world was to do as much as they can without being CAUGHT acting outside the law. No wonder they want to restructure MI5.
Anyways, back to Elvis. I?m playing a bouzouki on it. No guitar. We cut it. Sounds much better without. Niels is playing dustbowl guitar. Florian?s doing some deep soulful bass at the start and then going a bit mental. Mitch does likewise on the drums. It?s all lovely. I?m very pleased. I?m also full. Had a lovely meal. So that contributes slightly to my happiness. Food = Contentment.
Day 43 – 25 February 2004 – Freiburg
The song provisionally titled Elvis In Us All has started it?s refitting. It?s been taken down a notch and slipped into something a little more unusual. Florian has just put down a very strange string kontra-bass part. Very eerie. I likes it a lot. Niels and Mitch are coming in tomorrow.
It?s taken a day or two to get back into the swing of things. Especially as we?re now making the tougher decisions. It?s all good though as the fella says. I can see, hear & feel the album taking shape.
Day 42 – 24 February 2004 – Freiburg
Two gigs are planned for march, both in Wolverhampton, England, I think the dates are the 11th and 12th of March. Check the messageboard for my updates on the gigs. Meanwhile we?re tipping and tapping away at ideas. I haven?t buzzed creatively so much in quite a while. I?m going to invoke the computer analogy. Don?t groan. Bear with me.
Songs are like running computer programs. RAM is like your short term memory. Running programs fill up your RAM and if your RAM is pretty full then the performance of your computer (ie you) suffers a bit and it?s difficult if not impossible to run new or extra programs (ie write/compose/create) while these others are still humming away. When your programs have run and their processes have finished (ie you have completed the song and recorded it), you can shut them down, they?re passed onto the hard drive (long term memory) for access when you want them. So in recordig an album you?ve effectively shut down tonnes of programs, freed up loads of RAM, and suddenly you have lots of room to play in. So what to do with all this new found space? Fill it, of course. The ideas start to flow again and the whole process starts over (unless a virus gets you).
Now those in the know whill wonder aloud why I don?t get more RAM, a new processor etc… Well my head?s full right now and there are no empty RAM slots. Why not get a new frame? Well, as you may be aware, any attempts at head transplants have thus far been unsuccessful.
Day 41 – 23 February 2004 – Freiburg
… Much mirth and merriment ensued… Today finds me back in my little room in Freiburg. I?m scribbling this on notepaper. I?ll type it up sometime over the next day or two.
The temperature was hovering around the zero mark all day but since the sun disappeared the mercury?s fallen through the floor. The entire population of the town is running around in nightmarish costumes to the beat of pagan drums and entirely in the pagan spirit. We?re driving out the spirits of winter. Well, that?s the excuse. It?s really st patrick?s day season here.
After our little sojourn we?ve decided to cull some of the recordings. We?re redoing a selection in the interests of unity. Who knew unity had interests?
Day 27 – 9 February 2004 – Freiburg
Last few days have flown by. Took it easy yesterday. Game of pool. Bit of grub. Lubbly.
Will be writing again in a few days but as this is my last day in Germany for a while I?m going to leave the diary until I return methinks. I?ll add in one or two entries but that?s it.
Listening to the basic recordings that we?ve made so far. Some crazy stuff going on. Seems like ages ago since we did some of them. Current titles….
I shot a man in M?chengladbach (not sure of spelling) just to watch him die – (Scallio)
Thank you Carlos (santana), …that was very nice.
Should I egg?
That?s all that I feel safe posting up. The rest are too risqu? for this website. Many include shaving references, completely black album covers (ie. censored to bits), eggs and Carlos Santana (and how he has succeeded in influencing not one single note during these sessions).
Check back in a few days for some new photos and perhaps an improved gallery for viewing them! Later…
Day 25 – 7 February 2004 – Freiburg
Recorded parts for muse like joanna and foolish part/heart/cart/dart… Foolish Part started out life as a folky tune… however it?s been beaten up and made to dress up in a funk disguise. I know that sounds scary. It is. Listening to the playback now. Mad shit. Muse like joanna is conservative in comparison. Can?t scare away the muse can we?
Mitch, Shane & I had a few drinks after recording yesterday. I think the wine wasn?t the mae west because I felt rough this morning.
By the way, before I forget, I must thank people for their letters and texts of support. It means a lot. I?m not going to continue this until I win a grammy. I will allow myself to get emotional then. I?ve pencilled it in.
Mitch has arrived with a yufka to cure his head. What?s going to cure mine? Hmmmm.
We?re not working on sunday so really this is the last day. Monday won?t be very productive – I?ll be packing and stuff. Fly home on tuesday. Bit sad. I?ve enjoyed this recording so much… but as Shane says, the real fun starts now… overdubbing and mixing… I?m going to take his word for it. I hate decisions though, so I?m not sure if it?s going to be all that much fun for me!
Two old jokes for you:
Two musicians walk past a pub.
Did you hear the one about the decisive Irish man?
Not only am I picking up the language but I?m picking up the bad sense of humour. Woe is me. Or rather woe is you.
Day 24 – 6 February 2004 – Freiburg
Anyone ever heard of a stick before? Look it up. We?ve got a guy to play some for us on Like A Stone. Tis the wierdest looking instrument around these here parts. I forgot we were doing this today, so I had to drag myself out of bed early… well, it?s early for us because we?ve fallen into bad habits such as working until 2am. No rest for musicians.
Feeling a little homesick today. I?ve forgotten what it feels like to be fleeced every time I buy a pint. I can barely remember the embarrassment of needing a bank loan to buy a pack of biccies in the city centre. Oh hang on, sorry, it?s a slight hangover I?ve got.
We?re nearing the end of the first phase of recording here. It?s home on tuesday and then back to Germany after a short rest for the overdubbing phase. It?s all a blur really.
Day 23 – 5 February 2004 – Freiburg
Sven, our resident photographer, took a load of great shots of everyone over the last while. I?ve just seen them for the first time this morning. Great stuff altogether. I think that rather than put them up now and create more of a mess on the site, I?ll burn ’em to cd and bring them home to cut them down to the right size. Objections should be posted on the message board, accessible through the contacts page.
We listened back to Wax N Seal this afternoon. It?s pretty impressive as it is methinks. The out-takes are priceless. I can see myself compiling special edition cds with this stuff on it.
We lunged into Sparks today. I?ve been dreading the recording of this song the whole time. The EP version was so cool and popular as well I might add, that I?m half expecting to be bashed about the head and neck area for even attempting to re-record it. However, I?m pleased to say we layed down some sweet bass and drums an hour ago. So that was nice!
Day 22 – 4 February 2004 – Freiburg
Today started with a few guitar bits. It was all running well as usual. Niels on top form.
The evening session was dedicated to Wax N Seal. We took a much more gentle approach than last time. Due to some early jamming we decided to use twin acoustic guitars, live and with vocals. Bit mad. Took us a while but we got it. Bottled it. Mitch?s egg playing is fantastic. We played sans-click too so god only knows how he kept up with speedy gonzales (that?s me by the way). Bless the whole team?s patience! It?s cool. It?s all Ballerina and Independence Day Van Morrison… Who?s cooler than cool?
Ice Cold T
Day 21 – 3 February 2004 – Freiburg
So Niels, Mitch & I recorded the basic Thunder track last night. It felt sweet. We did three takes after a few run throughs. I think playing some of the songs live is really a cool way to work. We captured the essence of the song. Brilliant.
Not sure what we?re doing today. The lads have just arrived and Mitch is eating pastries (word for pastry is very similar to the sound of my name – did I say that already?) again.
I?m considering sending home a recording to scare my parents. We did a forty second cover of Eye of the Tiger the other day. It was incredible. It takes immense skill to miss absolutely every beat, play entirely the wrong chords, sing the wrong lyrics and still have the song sound like the song you?re supposed to be playing. It?s amazing. One day I will let you all hear it. One for the box set maybe? Also did a helium version of moondance. Don?t think it was recorded. Thank god. It?s amazing the rubbish you come up with in a soundcheck.
Sven is in today. He?s going to be filming and taking photos. So yes, time for arguments to be recorded for all posterity… just like the Beatles. Hey did I tell you all about Christ?s jewelers on the main st? All that stuff about carpentry and humility etc and the whole time he had a flippin jewelers shop.
This evening we recorded a song about …. well that would be telling. It?s cool though. Wait and see.
Till later. Schnitzel to one and all!
Day 20 – 2 February 2004 – Freiburg
I went AWOL for the weekend. To keep you up to date since friday… we re-recorded one tune and sent Bitter Feeling to the sin bin. Poor diddums.
I just discovered a casino around the corner. Well, not so much discovered as led to. It?s a bit of a feeble casino really. No alcohol is served on the premises. How do they expect to make any money if the clientele are not drunkenly throwing their money onto black 26? Anyway they have a few pool tables, so I steered clear of the blackjack and roulette and we had a terrible game of pool. It was fun. But man we stink at pool.
The snow has vanished. Even higher up in the hills. The weather completely changed overnight. It?s now warm enough for you to feel foolish in possession of a scarf and to scoff at those who brought theirs (if you?ve left yours at home).
Ate more prawns last night than a giant sea creature. About nine courses of prawns were dished out at Shane?s friend?s house. It was amazing. They were all different types and everything. We finished it off with some sinful chocolate/ice-cream/alcoholic pudding that nearly finished me off completely. All hail the King Prawn.
For any of you car buffs… An NSU Ro80 has just parked out the back. I?ve never seen one in the flesh before. What?s so special about an NSU, I hear you ask. Well, NSU made some of the first production rotary engined cars… in fact they may even have made the first rotary engined car… I?m not sure…
Anyways. That?s the update for now. Will write more later probably… This weekend was nice. I relaxed a bit. Can?t believe it?s the second already. Home in just over a week. A lot done, more to do as they say.
Day 17 – 30 January 2004 – Freiburg
Danke Der Krunschie est Freitag. Or something.
And now for something completely different. Just recorded a song live… Bitter Feeling… provisional title… sounds kind of psychadelic… a bit like Tim Buckley in places methinks.
Had Flo on electric bass, Niels on lead, Mitch on drums and me on vox and acoustic g as usual.
Kind of eerie. Has some things in it. Really liking its vibe. I?m happy that the songs don?t all sound the same now… although we haven?t really done any looking back on what we?re recorded. Keep marching on. Gotta run in… they?re playing back version 2 which I think we all felt was the best… Bye now. This week I have been mostly eating worms.
Day 16 – 29 January 2004 – Freiburg
Monochrome is done for the moment. We?ve taken it to the stage where we may regret doing anything else to it right now. Time to sit back and think for a while.
We?re having mad visions of brass on this next song “I knew better”. All north of england, lonely moors, coal mines and Kate Bush wailing summat about this Cliff fella. It?s going to be a little sparser than some of the other tunes have turned out. I think gut-wrenchingly melancholic is the feel we?re looking for…. although it will no doubt end up sounding happy as a pig in muck as all the other sad songs do.
I?m remembering wise words of friends when encased in my ignorance induced silence here (I am beginning to crack the German code – I now know that bakers don?t talk about me all the time… Tadhg sounds remarkably alike the German word for dough or something). Like Nigel?s great words of advice “… any story beginning with ?I know this bloke…? is BOUND to be legal…”.
I?m going to be eating a belly full of prawns within the next few days. Can?t wait. Hmmm some titles for the album that I thought of… Nope. Not one. Well, I have a few ideas but I?m not going to divulge them. I can confirm they will not include smelling of gloves, entirely black sleeves, venus de milo or other similar ideas.
Day 15 – 28 January 2004 – Freiburg
The work continues at a frenetic pace. We?re doing a song a day on average. Not that I?m overly concerned by how long these things take, but it?s always good to know how you?re progressing.
I?ve put down a vocal and guitar for “monochrome”. I think this could turn into a bit of an epic. There?s a good solid riff and chunky kind of feel to it. We?ll see where it leads us anyway.
Songs recorded so far (in their raw form anyway…) : Roadmap, Know you hate me, You or i, Like a stone, Ivory heart, George?s St Arcade, Stepping around your ego, … and from the november sessions we still have “six o two” and “not in my nature”.
Mitch is driving up and down outside somewhere looking for a parking space. Shane is taking a nap. I?m going to get some grub with Mitch. I think Niels is coming at around nine. Florian has gone off somewhere, not sure where. But like a stick that returns when you throw it, he will be back. Shane was talking about using a “stick” for a certain song?s bassline.
Day 14 – 27 January 2004 – Freiburg
It?s 02:02 local time in Freiburg. Late night again tonight. So I suppose technically this is the 28th but sure we won?t get all technical this late in the day.
I?ve been talking about the snow for days now… but the snow stuck today in the town. We stumbled around town a few hours ago when we went for a little break. Quite amusing. I expect much mirth and merriment will follow tomorrow. I have scheduled an afternoon snowball fight tomorrow with schnapps for everyone afterwards.
We finished the basic Ivory Heart stuff today. The guys seemed impressed by the level of madness in the basic tracks. I must say they are very patient fellas. My timekeeping is a little erratic at times. History is always kind to the writer. Bear this in mind when reading these diaries.
Florian, as usual, has been bouncing off the walls dying to play more stuff. So while the iron was hot we layed down a basic track for Like A Stone. It?s a lonely sort of song, yet not depressed… I don?t know… almost glad to be sad…. or something.. melancholic… but not in the bad way that many songs described as melancholic can be. Mitch got some beautiful deep snare sounds due to some nice miking and yet another of his fine crazy ideas that he is becoming known for. To protect his genius I cannot reveal his secrets. Niels has some beautiful playing on this too. Really sweet.
Anyways, it?s time to go home now, and I?ve got an aching head. So eh… yeah. Later kids.
Day 13.5 – 26.5 January 2004 – Freiburg
It?s 02:09 local time in Freiburg. The only sounds apart from the computer?s fan and the tapping of the keyboard is the haunting muddled mess of sound that is twenty two banjo tracks playing in the next room. Scared yet? You will be.
Day 13 – 26 January 2004 – Freiburg
In Germany they call Euros a quare sounding name that?s something akin to “Oyro”. At least that what the Freiburgers call it. This talk of fried burgers is making me hungry. There?s a great Greek place around the corner, that will fill you so full of food for a tenner that you?ll have to be rolled out of the place.
It?s snowing here. The snow isn?t thick in the town though. It?s about two or three feet high outside of the town though. There is dangerous black ice all about the place though… I nearly plastered myself to the pavement walking from the house up to a little casa to meet the lads. Just strolling across the river with the rapids below. One car at the traffic lights. Late at night. Slipped. Tried my best to look nonchalant. As in all small towns (I think freiburg?s about 300,000 people), an embellished version of the above story will find its way back to me within the next few days. I look forward to it.
Day 12 – 25 January 2004 – Freiburg
We kind of finished in a bad vibe last night. No bad blood or anything. We were all really tired though and not in the best frame of mind to record anything. Our energy was sapped from the past few days. So we went for a little beer to end the day last night. Everyone?s in good spirits. Excuse the pun. Anyway, we needed an upbeat number today to cheer everyone back up. Who the hell are the strokes? We just recorded the simplest belter today. It rocks in the silliest way. It?s great though. Service with a smile.
We?ve got some sublime stuff recorded now, and already my mind is wandering during the quiet moments here …. What?s it going to sound like? How should the packaging be done? What in the name of funk am I going to call it? All title suggestions so far have been shot down as soon as they leave the sling. If anyone has any ideas please email them to me.
Today was really fun. We jammed the song and played it a few times. Ironed out the creases a little and recorded it live. It was utter madness. The tempo is just mental. Stepping ?round Your Ego is the working title. We?ll see how it turns out. Anyways gotta go. The mad kontra-bassist Florian is rehearsing something on Rhodes behind me…. ?til later.
Day 11 – 24 January 2004 – Freiburg
We?ve decided to forfeit the weekend and work through it. I think it?s a wise move too because we?re trundling along at a great pace and ?twould be folly to stop now.
Last night was a bit crazy. Florian is a danger to the serious business-like atmosphere we?ve worked so hard to build up. He is in short – a messer. I WISH I could understand what he was saying. He is simply the best kontra-bassist around though. It sounded like Astral Weeks in here last night. Amazing soloing going on. I?ve also learned never to play guess-the-song with Shane. He?s just too bloody quick. I subsequently learned that he was disqualified from any similar competitions in the local pub… because he won every time.
Know You Hate Me is on the agenda today. Also biscuits, tea and cake are high on the agenda…. and another trip to our beloved Fierling, the king, queen, father, mother, son & holy ghost of all beers. I?m thinking about paying for a pipeline, when the album goes platinum for the millionth time worldwide of course, that runs directly to Ivy Court. Everyone has their dreams.
Needed lip balm badly today. Only pink ones available. Decided to risk it anyway.
Day 10 – 23 January 2004 – Freiburg
Shane, Niels (yes I?ve been spelling der Kaisers name wrong the whole time), Florian (a local Kontrabass player – that?s double bass to you and me) are sitting in the studio limbering up for the recording of Roadmap.
Niels & I have been working on it for a few hours. We?ve got it pretty much nailed now. It sounds really jazzy so we decided in contrast to our mad stuff yesterday we?d go a little more traditional on this. Flo had the bass worked out in about two minutes. It sounds really really cool. Very organic or something. I think we?re going to get Flo on the recorder or blokflute or whatever it is in German… Shane picked it up and started playing with us and suddenly we were moving from cool jazz into english folk and back again. Trying to find the right balance of being different and just sounding strange is something I?m acutely aware of. There?s nothing I can do about it though so I?m just going with my instincts and taking on board everyone?s ideas… whether I use them or not.
Anyway I gotta go record, so till later… Oh I think we?re going to have Mitch brush through the drums on this… we resisted it last night on George?s St Arcade but I think it feels right with this… Right I AM going now.
Day 9 – 22 January 2004 – Freiburg
Before I forget to mention it, I?ve put the names up on the freiburg photos page so you know who I?m talking about.
More later today…
George?s St Arcade has turned into mechanical jazz. All sorts of odd sonics are going on. It?s got another great groove though. We?ve been lucky so far. I?m not going to say anything more for fear of antagonising the jinx monster.
At this point I think it is appropriate to mention the most evil cymbal of all time. Imagine a big beast of a cymbal, wandering down into the roughest looking tattoo and piercing shop in uptown New York; across 110th street as Bobby Womack so beautifully put it. The cymbal screams in pain for four hours solid and then emerges with studs every centimetre around it?s circumference. This is one evil cymbal. It?s called a swish knocker. The K is silent in English of course. Mitch however pronounces the K and it sounds just plain evil.
Today was great.
Day 8 – 21 January 2004 – Freiburg
We finished up at midnight last night after some inspired mandola playing from Nils. He picked it up and played it the whole way through after one trial run. He?d never played mandola before. It?d make you puke and feel inadequate in the way that the good musicians always do.
The guitars sound great. Really chugging along yet sitting nicely in the groove. The drums are fantastich – those half beats have transformed everything. It?s a straight-forward song really, so I think we?ve succeeded in pulling it away from the standard approach, although it is quite traditional at the same time. So we have the basics down and I?m doing vocals tomorrow.
And now for something completely different. I had this really dramatic new tune that I wasn?t really sure if we?d do but it seems to have struck a chord (puntastic) with everyone. As we speak, or rather as I type and you read, Mitch is sitting in control room with a Korg machine on his lap about the size of a Milk Tray but much more offensive with loads of flashing lights and dials and buttons all over the shop. It looks like he?s playing a game. But it?s no game I assure you. Not sure where this will take us but I have this vision of an electronica backing an acoustic guitar track with haunting vocals and samples of people chatting on their way between stalls and coffee shops somewhere in the city. I?m half expecting thom yorke to come in for guest vocals.
I got some jumpers to keep me warm earlier today. Plain and functional. Very peaceful here right now. It?s amazing how many times a day you can use the phrase “Ich habe keine Deutsch”. My other most useful phrase is one I borrowed from a BBC language website. It?s for car owners. “Volltanken Bitte” means “fill ?er up” basically. However I can use it at the pub, having tea with the musicians… so useful. I get strange looks but sure what the hell. I feel really bad about not knowing German.
Oh yeah, the song title is George?s St Arcade.
Day 7 – 20 January 2004 – Freiburg
Got everyone soundchecked and ready to go really early today. I?m taking that as a good omen. The kit was right first time.
We?re doing a song called “You or I”. We started playing it in a way that sounded crazily fast, so Mitch started playing half-beats instead and all of a sudden we?re sitting on this really cool groove. We?re pretty much ready to take another whack at recording a proper take now. So I better stop now…
We?ve got the take done now. The lads are due back any minute now. So I?ll keep this short. Today has been productive. I like working like this. Shane has corrected my spelling of bazouki to bouzouki. Sorry. Also the mandolin is actually a mandola. My bad. We also have a melody harp. It?s out of tune though so it sounds like something out a horror film.
Not snowing today but it?s still cold. I?m going to go shopping for pullovers, scarves, and other garments you would normally associate with warmth tomorrow if I can. I?ll run out during break-time.
Waiting for the others to arrive back in after the evening nap (it?s 20:30 now). Mitch says “hi… and… cheers… and… now we?ll nail it”. Couldn?t have put it better myself. Auf Wiedersehn.
Day 6 – 19 January 2004 – Freiburg
Drums were set up yesterday. Studio tidied up a bit. Had a lovely meal with the Brady?s. Roast spuds the works. Ice creamy, frozen fruit cakey thing. Divine.
I?m growing fond of this bazouki. Reminds me of Led Zepp and Planxty all at once.
Tried a different bank machine before storming into Shane?s bank demanding money from my card… Just as well we checked it too… It?s decided that it works now. I don?t understand it but I don?t care. It snowed today by the way.
Frank and Shane are rewiring in the control room. Oh they?re finished now… Must go. We?re off to see a man about an edible dog. A big edible dog with a side of fries perhaps. With a string-bean lead. A cauliflower ear.
Day 4 – 17 January 2004 – freiburg
Bleedin?ATM card doesn?t work. Better be resolved quickly before I?m forced to eat the neighbours. They look tough. I?m thinking I?d need to marinate them.
We?re starting recording properly on tuesday. Mitch is setting up the drums tomorrow and on monday Frank and Shane are rewiring the studio. I?m doing nothing. I?m going to watch. I don?t understand any of this stuff. It?s all quadraflux to me.
“Roadmap” is one of the newest songs we?ll be recording. It has a real jazzy feel to it. I think we?ll be using some double-bass on that. Shane?s suggesting a classic old sythesiser sound to sit atop a chorus of “You Or I”. I?ve got three notes in my head that may work for it. Meanwhile I?m mucking about with all the instruments in the studio. A hammond B3 with leslie speaker, a baritone ukelele, a bazouki, a mandolin and a dulcimer. Mad instruments. I?m having fun with all this stuff. If only I could play ?em.
Day 3 – 16 January 2004 – Freiburg
Shane, the producer, told me he?d secured a nice room for me across the road from the studio. I was happy with that. Turns out the entrance to the flat and the studio are only a few feet apart. Score.
My little room overlooks an old monastery/tannery from the middle ages. It?s cool. I?ve got bed, bathroom, couch, kitchen, table, tv… Perfect is not the word, but in the absence of a better one, it will have to suffice.
I?m lying about the day. It?s about 4:30 in the morning on the 17th. We soundchecked for the gig in the Wodan-Halle early today. I went for a power nap and then got up to play at 20:30. The place was jammed and the audience were supreme. I could do no wrong. However I didn?t understand what Ray said when he introduced me… so I could?ve been introduced as a comedy act. He assured me he didn?t.
Shane & Nils played a stormer. So everything went well. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The night went well therefore the morning didn?t go well. I?m wrecked and I can see myself being quite hungover tomorrow. It is but preparation for what is to come.
Day 2 – 15 January 2004 – Stansted
Mental note: Leave enough time when making connections in stansted.
What a comfy chair you are, o airport seat.
Davey G has just texted me. The lucky lads are touring europe in a sleeper bus as musical ambassadors for our little green isle. I wanna be doing all that. Meeting foreign dignatories, eating roundy chocolates galore, sipping champagne from fountains… I feel a daydream coming on.
Day 1 – 14 January 2004 – Home
So it?s the night before recording and none of the children can sleep. Just like Christmas. I?m listening to Buzzin Fly and trying to imagine what my album is going to sound like when it?s finished while tryin to relax my mind in order to get back to sleep and I?m simultaneously making mental notes to remember socks, strings and this thingummy and that whatummy.
It?s clear to me now, before I do my first gig in Germany, that there is something perverse or at least ironic about spending your college life and a year abroad learning french and then going to record an album in Germany, a place where understandably they don?t speak too much french.
The stories of the happy monday producer who dismantled an entire drumkit because he was unhappy with the sound in the room, only to reassemble it again on the roof, keeps popping into my head.
19th January 2004
Hello to all. I?m going to start publishing a diary which should account for all that needs to be accounted for while we?re recording this album of mine. It would of course be much easier if I put the diary entries on the messageboard, however, I don?t care much for the aesthetics of aforementioned board so I?ve figured out a way of putting my diary online without the use of madly powerful programs such as Dreamweaver and FTP clients. I find myself clapping my own back for navigating windows xp through german to figure this all out. Bravo me. So without further a tullamore dew, I will start updating the site in between takes and recording sessions.
I should add a little disclaimer. I can only presume that my humour will get even darker, the more we get buried in DAT tape. Apologies to anyone I may offend or just plain confuse.
Also, Shane has just told me that he has a digital camera that I can use for uploading images to the site. So I may do just that. I had the intention of doing all the photos when I get home, but sure if I have a chance I?ll throw some up while I?m here. No time like the present.