Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Engerboon

We're home, all done - and now the question will be whether the megaboon will continue once I don't have pictures of tape machines and persian cats to post..... lets see, I'm making no promises, to either you folk or myself...

Our album should be out in January or so, but hopefully there'll be a single available before then, so keep your ears peeled - and for now, time for a different video methinks - how about this one I made just before we left of Lee, in Chippenham - allowing the fatigue of one day on tour to get to him.....



 
 
 

 
Sunday 6th June 2010

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I have just returned from watching the pop group Rage Against the Machine perform a concert in Finsbury Park in London - free to all those who succeeded in accessing the online ticket lottery several months ago. Whilst the repeated speeches and sentiment regarding their Christmas no. 1 'victory' inflamed the cynic in me, their performance was outstanding....

They performed all of their classics, even more relevant today than they were fifteen years ago, and they dedicated the song 'Township Rebellion' to the people of Gaza.....

I am muddied and battered, after selecting a spot right at the front of the raging throng of pop fans - a position that I have avoided at many a gig since the late nineties, and I've just remembered why..... not that I'm complaining - if only all activists were this musical, or all musicians were this political, or simply all bands were this good.......

Your anger is a gift.......

 


 

Saturday 5th June 2010

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My first full day back in the UK was mainly one of remembering how you can walk to get places round here - In stark contrast to the roadways of Dallas, where everyone who doesn't have a car is a source of confusion to those who do, I walked and walked and walked across London today - mainly as part of the continuing protest at the siege of Gaza, but also in celebration of being in a place where walking is commonplace - oh my aching feet......

It seems her majesty has some explaining to do........

 


 

Thursday 3rd/Friday 4th June 2010

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The reason this blog covers two days is because the international time difference has merged these two days into one - I'm sat in a cafe in London - it's 2 in the afternoon, and it feels like I only left Texas five minutes ago.... when actually we set off for the airport at Noon on Thursday Texas time.....

The flights were uneventful (unless you count A mammoth kip as an event) - Tom did walk into a pillar though - that was pretty funny....

Once we got back our lift was waiting, we loaded the van and I left the boys to it - they'll be somewhere on the M1 presumably right now - but I stopped here in London, to catch up with some folk and watch Rage on Sunday night....

I returned to find news of some psychotic killing rampage in Cumbria (we heard about it briefly in the U.S but the details were unclear) and to see this joyous welcome party in Heathrow for one fortunate activist - This story has dominated my thoughts over the past few days, and to see this reunion, and watch as this particular girl was set upon by journalists made it all the more real - I of course left them be, and headed out into the sunshine - to begin the process of readjusting - coffee re-fill are no longer free, my accent is no longer novel, and I don't need to head to the studio any second now.....

Album no.2 done - in the can - Hang on for six more months or so and you might even get to hear it....

thanks for reading....

 P

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Ring a ding dong ding dong........

 


 

  Wednesday 2nd June 2010

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Album is done..... We spent most of today moving between the studio, to do the last three mixes, and the roof of the South Side building, with Jen, Jason, Pool, Sauna, baking heat and feast........ You can't really tell from the pictures, as we're over the other side of the roof to get the skyline - but over on the south side (of the South Side building) there was a sweet pool and sauna and sun loungers and etc etc etc.....

What a lovely last day - V.I.P guests in some sort of Texan roof short - artists, musicians, and an impossibly small dog called Fiona....

Tomorrow we fly in the a.m - best be sleeping now methinks.... 

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You know, the way you're dressed right now you sort of look like you could be an insane person....

 


 

Tuesday 1st June 2010

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Today we had breakfast over at Jason's - A full on Tex Mex feast for our last days in Dallas. When I say 'breakfast' I refer to it as the first meal of the day, despite the fact that it occured at approximately 1pm. We hung out in his yard, I stared at the skeltons in the tree, we met his friend Jen (who invited us to swim in her rooftop pool tomorrow) and he gave me the Texas cymbal pictured on the blog a few days ago as a gift - which is a sweet deal

Then We met up with John, mixed two more tracks - Boating Team and Triumph - the two with vocals, which are sounding sweet and then we rocked on over to the Libertine to drink heinously expensive ale, chat about Bill Callahan, and eat....

The fact that I'm not gonna write much tonight is perhaps a sign that we do the same thing everyday near abouts and its about the right time to be packing up and heading home - Some bands take years to make a record - imagine two years of this blog - today we hung out, went to the studio, played some sounds and then checked out a bar - yadda yadda yadda ad infinitum - nope home is calling it is time.....

 

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What possible reason could you have for doing that....

 


 

 

Monday 31st May 2010

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The laptop - was it Congleton, or another of my associates that said that in some ways it had replaced the TV, as we all sat round in his yard, plugged in - online..... Four out of five of us here in the band have brought them with us, there is a constant flux of videos, news, music, email and online video calling, being pumped into this house whilst we're here. Not to mention the outgoing blogathon, being perused by you right now - it comes like an informants report, at the end of every night - are you reading it on a laptop?

See Jeff there, he's from Chicago, but he's in Leeds, and we're from Leeds, but we're in Dallas, and this picture was taken in Dallas, of Jeff in Leeds, whilst we chatted online, but then the picture has been posted back online, where very possibly you might be in Leeds right now, looking at the picture of Jeff in Leeds, taken in Dallas and piped back to Leeds, by someone from Leeds - who is photographed also in the screen, in Dallas, captured at the very moment of taking the photo in question, and visible on his screen in Leeds, at that very moment......

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During mixing today (another two tracks - Lee idea 6 and Ornafives) Tom realised that one keyboard part (recorded using an old throwback mini yamaha keyboard) was too quiet, but was already submixed with another keyboard loop that couldn't be any louder so he had to do a quick overdub during mixing. It was one of the most ferocious moments in rock history - as the picture shows. This picture is art in progress - so intensely artistic that Tom had to wear shades indoors.....

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Another night back at the Lakewood Lounge, we made some friends, and then we sat up again with the man Garner chilling on the porch. When it came time to sleep we followed the example of Epstein here, who at that point in time was pushing the envelope of comfort.....

Yeah well this one time was worse, check this out......?

 


 

Sunday 30th May 2010

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Its hard to write a blog about how this tune sounds or how that tune sounds or where we had dinner or how hot it is in Texas when such incredible and disturbing things are unfolding in the waters of Palestine.... Just now I've been reading varying reports about how many international activists may or may not have been slaughtered by the Israeli government for the heinous crime of trying to get supplies to a starving people...... But at the same time I can't pretend that we're not here, with a task in hand, or that there weren't monumental attrocities going on somewhere every day that I have written about my relatively mundane experiences: and so if you're reading this page chances are you want to read about the aforementioned, so indulge me a glimpse at this website about the Gaza flotilla, and then I'll continue on with the vegan burgers and the adventures of Vessels and the Conglebunce....


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The above snap is fairly representative of the process. We stay away from the studio until Congleton calls or texts and then we all pile in and listen to what he's done and make our various comments. As of the end of today we have four mixes, Feb 15th (Meat man), Artichoke, Swooping and now Lee idea 1. They all sound fairly rinsing to my ears.....

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One of the main differences between this time and last, is that we're mixing to tape. This is Congletons 1/4" Ampex megaplex ( I added the last word for effect) and once we're agreed we're agreed and the mixes get 'printed' to tape and then Congleton zeroes the board, we leave him be and he mixes the next track, alone until he summons us....

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This is Spiral, the vegan joint where we all went for lunch - My food was immense, and I stood outside in the rinsing heat chatted on my phone whilst I waited for it to be served. Had I stayed out there for any more than say an hour I'm certain I would have died of heatstroke..... 

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After dinner, instead of leaving the studio to get out of John's hair we went into the live room and taped a one mic take of 'boating jam' for possible inclusion on the recording. Guitar, banjo, theramin, vibes and waterphone - all live, all nonsense - I hope it makes the grade.

The picture above was taken seconds after Martin complained of their being too few photos of him on the blog. Problem solved....

 BHave you got a Krodjer card sir?

 


 

Saturday 29th May 2010

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With only four days left to bunce we have entered the 'mixing stage' - which on the face of it appears to be where Congleton keeps on working really hard and we all take it fairly easy. He left for the studio without us this morning, to begin mixing, with the plan being that he would text us when he had something to listen to. Once the call came a few hours later we revved over to Elmwood in the monolith to check out his mix of Feb 15th, now tentatively titled Meat man, Piano tuner, Prostitute.... The mix was of course steller, and thirty minutes of discussion and tweaking turned it into ideal..... maybe some point down the line we'll wish it had been done differently, but there's a certain charm to doing it against the clock - "right, everybody happy - lets print to tape...." The above snap is Norma's where we had our 'lunch' - well we all make mistakes.....

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After a heavy day's mixing Martin and I bezzed over with Congleton to Trees, an awesome Dallas rock club - remember that scene in Nirvana 'Live Tonight Sold out' where Cobain gets lamped by the bouncer during Love Buzz, well that was in Trees. A fifteen year old Congleton watched the carnage unfold frdeom the balcony, and he says that tomorrow that he's going to tell us the bouncer's (who is a chum of his) side of the story. the headline act were Brutal Juice, at times punk, at times black metal, at times psychedelic, always frantic, and slightly twisted. It was a privelige to go with John Congleton of the Paper Chase and watch the reunion show of a band that he cites as a big influence. I thought they were never going to end, and after an hour and a half of pure inventive carnage, Congleton made an executive decision and we headed for the exit..... I have come to many a philosphical conclusion about myself and the nature of rebellion and music during his evening, that I will neither attempt to share now, nor remember by morning.....

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Dogs are for slaughtering Hogs are for feeding.....or something like that

 


 

Friday 28th May 2010

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I awoke this morning on one of the many couches of Jason Garner. David Bowie singing 'We could be heroes' began to emanate from the record player as coffee was served, and the day ploughed into gear. I had the feeling that I hadn't been asleep for that long - but since I had no frame of reference for what time we finally crashed or even what time in the morning it was I neglected to speculate....

We walked out back and surveyed the magic of the creek in the daylight - the closest comparison I could draw was Cubendoo's Meanwood yard on the stream, but here in Dallas it seems like everyone has so much land and space - a boon of the great colonial escapade I suppose - As we were hanging out last night i took Al MacSween's field recorder and left it taping down by the creek, hopefully some of the sounds I captured will be of use on the record.....

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Before heading out though we had to check out Jason's pad in the daytime. He showed me his beautiful bass guitars, an old 90s P bass and a vintage seventies epiphone with flat wounds and an f-hole - the kind of stuff that to the none musical amongst you will sound like classic nerd jargon, was to me another classic moment of axe envy and appreciation.....

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And this was just begging to be photographed. I failed to even ask if Jason had himself sliced this cymbal into the shape of the state of Texas, but my presumption is that he did and that there doesn't need to be a reason why....

 

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Then onto Shlotzky's for breakfast - significant because I could have posted twenty or so snaps over the last ten days of us in one sandwich outlet or another. Until Sean's last night we hadn't eaten a home cooked meal, but we've been well served by the various tacorias and sandwich shops of Dallas....

 

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Then onto the Congleyard for our last day of recording - some more vocals, some of my guitar, some keys, some bass - just generally finishing off all the little bits - I wasn't short of photos for this particular entry, and probably could have omitted the above snap of the Conglebunce without harming my narrative - but since it was taken from the couch where I've spent most of my time over the last five days I thought I'd throw it in as a sort of Pete's eye view of the man at work....

 

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And this snap is Lee on vibes. Things-that-we've-forgotten not withstanding, this shot represents the very last overdub of our album (We'll clearly end up doing more) and tomorrow we move onto mixing and putting this baby to bed....

 

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And so onto our evening out at Lee Harvey's (Yup there is a bar in Texas named after the man to whom the assasination of Kennedy is popularly attributed - whilst we were at lunch in Oak Cliff today Congleton pointed out the theatre where he was dragged out and arrested in front of the public and media) - We were on our way by taxi, to meet an old friend of Tom's who happens to live near here, when we saw this grizzly sight on the road, surrounded by firetrucks and police laying down lit flares to close the road. To me its unsurprising to see the aftermath of an accident considering how many cars and roads there are round here, and how confusing some of the junctions are.....

And Lee Harvey's was ace - we watched the Graceland Ninjaz - an Elvis tribute act with a twist, in that they are fronted by an Elvis impersonator but they play contemporary covers, such as ;the Distance' by Cake, or a tune by the Low Riders...

We stayed out till they shut the bar at 2, chatting to, amongst others, Crazy Dennis the gun-totoing democrat, until it was clearly time to abandon ship and make a break for home. I left the field recorder on again for most of the night, except this time it wasn't on pause, so a nugget or two of Texan wisdom may yet work its way onto our record.... We'll see....

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Ya'll wanna shoot some guns....

 


 

Thursday 27th May 2010

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The wiley amongst you will notice the late appearance of this blog, which didn't appear at the end of the night as usual - circumstances left us without wi-fi for 36 hours - in part awakening me to my crutch-like dependence upon it; I felt like a child lost in the aisles - then I got over it and moved on.....

The day was spent largely recording vocals and various bits of other stuff. The vocals went well - Lee and Tom rinsing their vocal chords to the max in the name of rock etc etc etc..... The picture above is yet another composite that I've put together to facilitate my 60% listening mode. I tried to do this one with the camera in the same position for each shot, to make it slightly less Picassoesque, and in doing so I think it looks far cooler than some of the others.....we're almost there - I think......

We rounded off our evening with a quest over to see Sean and Jason of the Paper Chase. Sean cooked us dinner and we hung out in his yard listening to tunes and enjoying the warmth.... then Martin, Tim and I bunced over to Jason's to sit out on his lawn and chat till the early hours - soundtracked by the steady sound of the creek that runs behind his house and all of the animals that congregate around it. Pictured is the man Garner himself, sat on the rug of the unicorn, regaling us with tales of visiting all but one or two of the 52 states.......

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Dude my guitar is totally filled with your blood....

 


 

Wednesday 26th May 2010

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It would seem that it's best not to listen too hard during this process, or otherwise you start to obsess about the kinds of tiny details that no-one's ever gonna hear anyway - It has been suggested more than once during these sessions to divert at least 40% of your attention elsewhere, hence the hours I have spent, semi concentrating on the overdubs whilst putting together composite shots of recording studios on Photoshop. The above Conglesplice is a little messier than I would have hoped, mostly due to me taking all the shots from different positions, and the severance of his left hand was not intentional - He looks a tiny bit like Bruce Lee in Game of Death, except with only one hand and without Chuck Norris crudely edited into the mix....

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Here I am overdubbing some fingerpicked acoustic guitar onto 'Boating Team' - I've been worried about this part, as its tricky to make it smooth, but by practicing it a lot over the past couple of days and by doing a good hefty warm up immediately before sitting down to record it I was able to nail it in a couple of takes - or at least I think I did - 60% listening would seem to suggest I did anyway......

We didn't do such a long day today - a bit more guitar, loads of Tom's vocals, and some more silliness, but we did take some time out of our day to make one very special boy's dreams come true - This next picture shows Vessels, taking a well earned break from their hectic recording schedule to help Jonathan Leslie Conglecup achieve his lifetime's ambition and visit a real working recording studio. This magic moment was brought to you by Vessels in association with the 'Make a Wish Foundation' - We asked Jonathan how his special day felt, his reply  - 'It was just super, a super, super treat - can I have an ice lolly now please....'

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  The trick is not to over think it..... I think....'

 



Tuesday 25th May 2010

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The Congleyard is south of his house, as opposed to the Track which was North, so now each morning we get to rattle on by the skyline of downtown Dallas in our gluttonously large S.U.V. I don't know how I managed to take this shot, as I rocked back and forth in the throes of my self inflicted head throbarama in the car; maybe taking snaps is starting to become reflex again - who knows....

 

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Now that we're on overdubs its one person at a time - I already did the keys. So today was mostly Tom and Lee doing their guitars and some synth parts. Although I did get to plug in the harmonic percolator and wang out two minutes of feedback for the end of 'Boating Team'. Overdubs are a bit odd. Personally, I can't really play anything very well without a good long warm up, and a chance to get into it the particular tune; but since we've got so much to do, we're chopping and changing between songs and snatching fragments of lines here and there - it seems to be more science than art at this point - but if you were to peddle only musical expression with no consideration or self criticism, or logic or subtraction, you'd be a free-jazz sax player, and that'd probably be rubbish....

Certainly it's hard to keep critically listening the entire time, but really the only person doing that is Congleton - the rest of us seem to have developed a natural rotation - I've spent my day flitting between playing my acoustic or reading old Mojo mags in the lounge, and then drifting into the control room to see how things are going and to make a comment or two, at which point someone else may nip out to take in the sunshine, or to mock Martin......

Making a record, or at least making this record is like a game, or a puzzle; a puzzle that as we progress seems to be getting easier. Sometimes recording the parts seems like a distraction from being silly, which is one of Congleton's fortes -  and sometimes being silly seems like a distraction from recording the parts. But the more that is done, the closer we are to the endgame, the easier it feels like its getting - I think the trick at this stage is to capitalise on that good vibe and use the time to experiment with the incredible banquet of instruments and toys that Congleton has here to add some really special touches to our ever so steadily growing record.....

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Monday 24th May 2010

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Today, after a trek over to Lone Star Percussion, to return Robert from the Nervous Curtains the cymbal that he loaned us, and a trek to the Track to collect our equipment and chat about Obama's healthcare plan with Perry at the Track, and then a trip to the Guitar Centre to return an amp to Kevin, we decamped to Congleton's studio to begin the overdubbing session, read old music mags and break his phone. This picture of Tom pretty much captures the vibe of the Congleyard......


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And here bless him, after too many days absent from this tale is the man himself, John Ashley Conglebunce..... He told me who was on his belt buckle, but I've forgotten, and all that comes to mind is Edward Worlington.... which can't be right....(edit: I've since learned that it's Alfred E Neuman , the fictional mascot of Mad magazine)

 

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Then, to celebrate Lee's 31st birthday, we went and hung out in Cosmo's, a local cocktail lounge, drank Long Island Ice Teas, and made friends out the back in the yard where they keep the detergent.....

Pictured are Ryan and Alison, who I lost all sense of time chatting too. Not pctured are Daniel the German raised American, surrealist vibing war veteran, and the guy whose name I've already forgotten who had just been to see 'Of Montreal' at the Granada. He told us about his Gretch maple drum kit, and about Hall and Oates, and then about his band. I asked him if we could listen to it online, so, perhaps fuelled by substance, he gave me the login and email addresses of his two band's Gmails - one being the 'serious project' and one being the drunk jam....' The first one didn't work, but I've been vibing to his drunk jam whilst writing this blog, and I'll probably be embarrassed in the morning by how much I'm enjoying it.... Maybe some sound recordings of our meeting might work their way into our opus....

And I shall be forever glad that we Persuaded Tim to not frolic through somebody's garden sprinklers moments before the Dallas Police pulled up to chat to us.....

  

  And they played all of these instrument at once!!!!!

 


  

Sunday 23rd May 2010

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These last two days have been mostly one song days - kind of like one horse towns but less equine and more sonic. Yesterday and this morning were almost entirely taken up piecing together the jigsaw known only as Lee Idea 6. And after lunch until yawn o'clock tonight was spent on 'Social Boating Team', an acoustic driving kind of pop sort of tune that used to remind us of Broken Social Scene when we started writing it, but doesn't any longer...... And with that, the basic tracking is finished, including all of Tim's drum parts, which means that the man has nothing to do now for the next ten days except eat burritos, drink margheritas, and furrow his brow during philosphical discussion. This picture was taken at the Track a few hours back, after we taped the last cymbal thwack and then packed everything away; a moment of triumph tinged with sadness, as we move to Congleton's studio tomorrow and I shall miss this enormous primary coloured mega yard.....


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Since this would be our last quest up route 75, and to celebrate the fact that we're still on schedule - we went for steak, or at least the boys did, I had a baked sweet potato with salad, but that is beside the point - Note, in this image of the carniverous quotient of Vessels, the doggy bag in Lee's hand containing his salad - which was half of an iceberg lettuce (not sliced beyond the inital division from the other half) laid on its side and covered in shavings of Bacon and blue cheese - Texas baby......

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And here is Malachi, the other suspect in last night's mystery malteser secretion in Martin's bed game - except that Professor Epstein has been ruled out as a suspect by Congleton, thus solving the mystery and charging the accused, although not before he could leave Martin a secondary more fluid present in his bed for tonight - personally I fully support his protest......

  

  John, I'm telling you, its all about the 1099s.........

 


  

Saturday 22nd May 2010

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Today was day four of five in the Track and we finished laying down the basics of another two songs. We worked on Feb 15th in the morning, laying down several more takes of the basic track before eventually settling for the last one from last night. This is the song that Stu Jacob's Stories recorded the vocals for back home, and it may end up being called 'Meat Man, Piano Tuner, Prostitute'.......

The image shows one of our two newly aquired Fulltone bassdrives (as recommended by Jeff Juffage - cheers dude), I was using it on my keys in Feb 15th and Lee idea six, and I took a picture of the settings before we changed them for the heavy bit in one of the outros, so that I can dial them back in for the overdubs....

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This is Perry - the owner of the Track. He comes and goes throughout the day, but tends to keep away from the session. He's a really sound dude, and seems willing to go out of his way and run about to accomodate our many extravagant requests. He was bound to pop up on these pages somewhere, and once I spotted him outside having a 'Hannibal' moment with his cuban cigar the perfect snap presented itself.

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After tracking and scooping up the obligitary taco at Taco Cobana (seriously don't leave your car even for thirty seconds, it WILL get towed - and your handbrake will hate you for it...) we mosied on down to the upscale dive that is the Lakewood Lounge for a beer and to chill with the Texan folk. We chatted about recording with Joe the engineer, and about Persia, Europe, life and art with Al the Iranian, and we did our best to avoid chatting about buying vicodin on Ebay and handgun calibres with 'Talking at you yet not listening to you at all Mc Redneck lady Face - I also learned a thing or two about how to really really position yourself when making small talk outside a Texan bar:

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And to cap off a lovely evening, we came home to find that somebody had left Martin a special present in his bed. Tom took a photo of the gift in question, but it wasn't fit for publication, so I'll instead include this snap of one of the two likely suspects....

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I've had surgery six times on my knee - wanna see?

 


 

Friday 21st May 2010

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The isolation is not what it was last time - we're not locked away in a cabin in the woods, there are more than three non band members to meet and talk to, we can go out into town for food after the day's recording, we can chat to friends back home with our laptops and webcams whilst we work, and therefore the process is not as intense and focused, but seems to go quicker for that, because we're putting less pressure on ourselves, so we're more relaxed, and therefore more likely to get a good take first or second time (or less likely to notice/care if we don't)..... does any of that make sense? Or is it just the inane ramblings of a man tired from the working day.....

We recorded four more tunes today, plus appraised the third tune from yesterday and declared it fit for purpose, which leaves only two more full band tunes to track before we can get to the details..... although they're the two most likely to take longest, but there is time....

Shortly after lunch, whilst we were appraising and doing punch-ins on the ingeniously titled 'July 1st', the studio was plunged into darkness. At first we thought that Lee had simply rocked so hard that he had sonically overwhelmed the junction box - but a quick scan of the mobile wi-fi informed us that the whole area was blacked out - So, whilst Congleton snoozed on the couch, we sat outside the studio, drinking Dr Pepper, playing Backgammon and taking photos with the timers on our cameras to get us all in shot  at once - said photos turned out quite dull though, unless measures were taken to capture moments of japery  - which tended to involve some form of jumping or enthusiastic pointing.......

 

  They have a word for it..... I think it was something like 'mega-explosiono'.........

 


 

Thursday 20th May 2010

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Until today we'd known only sunshine and warmth - the kind that if I lived here, I'd sit out in all day long playing my guitar on the back porch; but then I'd be a cliche, and I'd also get nothing done..... Today however, only minutes after pressing send on an email gloating about the weather, a biblical thunder storm erupted from the clouds and we were treated to half an hour's torrential downpour, thunderous rumblings, and flashes of lightning across the skyline.

The ether soon tired of that one, and before we'd even started tracking for the day the sun was smiling upon us once more; so to celebrate this fact we decamped to the windowless world of the Track and got to work...

We played through and recorded three tunes today, none of which have been formally named, and until we peruse them with the fresh perspective of the morning we're not certain whether they're keepers or ditchers..... 

I was on keys for quite a while, so from the comfort of my Rick-Wakeman-esque-sonic-boon-station I took a whole pile of pictures and then spent far longer than is healthy sticking them together - I was hoping it would communicate the sheer size of the room that we're working in, but I suspect it just communicates the magnitude of my nerdiness....

 

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  The full version is even bigger but it didn't fit on the blog...

 


 

Wednesday 19th May 2010

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Day one of our five days in the Track was a pretty sweet deal (we're spending five days here and then we'll decamp to Congleton's smaller more suburban yard for five days of overdubs and five days of mixing) although by the end of the day, as is to be expected, we hadn't recorded anything....

The boys scooted off to buy a crash cymbal from a percussion yard whilst Congleton and I rinsed over to Elmwood to pick up the Congledrums - a set of 1970 acrylic Ludwig vestalites that we had taken on trust would be the right sound for our band - and sure enough they sound really, really awesome...

Then Tom, Perry (The owner of the Track) and I rinsed over to the Guitar Centre a couple of miles away to collect a couple more amps, a couple more cabs, the weighted piano and to lose my sunglasses - what a douche...

The day was spent mostly miking things, sound checking and dealing with the logistical problems posed by having 25-30 pedals or keyboards or such the like all with english plugs all needing to run off one single American step up transformer. Fortunately, we brought about ten English fourgangs, and by the end of the day we'd used em all up.

At some point Perry had to go back to the Guitar Centre to grab a speaker cable, and when he returned he proudly presented me my lost sunglasses which had been found in the Guitar Centre, except now instead of aviators they were Vanilla Ice's ski goggles - but what can you say......

We ran through Ornafives eight or nine times at the end of the night but we didn't nail it, we were tweaking sounds and deciding where to put loops etc etc etc etc etc, but we'll nail some keepers tomorrow...... Now if only I can find my missing seven pairs of underwear.....

  Taco?...

 


 

Tuesday 18th May 2010

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There is the beast that was our carriage - although I've since learned that I risked having my camera consfiscated and possible detention to take a picture that beyond the jaunty angle is pretty much just a stock photo of an aeroplane. The flight was uneventful, and due to an administrative error on my part my vegan meals consisted of some bad salad and a pizza crust....

Immigration is pretty tight here in Texas, what with it being on the Mexican border, and even after we'd all cleared passport control (thanks to multiple deployments of Congleton's letter saying that we WEREN'T here to earn, only to consume) Tom still got hauled off into a darkened room for a full 'baggage' inspection, where some fairly benign headache tablets raised a lot of questions......

Then we picked up our incredibly obnoxious SUV type device, and headed over the freeways of Dallas to the Track - our home for the next five days..... We hung out with Perry the owner, unpacked our underpants from our guitar cases, drank some coffee, and marvelled at the scale of this place..... When we recorded in the Pachyderm, it was an old retro studio from the days of yore - but this place is still a toddler in relative terms, built by Perry and a team of about 20-30 contractors only a couple of years ago. There will be plenty more pictures to follow, but for now here is the bridge - I mean, the mixing room.....

 

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And after that, on to Congleton's ranch, out in the suburbs. This time he's not only going to spend two weeks recording our music, but he and his wife have invited all five of us to stay at their place the whole time. We had a leisurely evening, out in the 30 degree heat in our t-shirts and sandals; we went out for a Mexican, got told that we smelled in the off-licence (to be fair we were all stil 'fresh' from the plane) by a man you wouldn't disagree with, and soaked in the hospitality of our friends....

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This is Professor Epstein, one of Congleton's two cats, plenty more snaps of him to follow methinks - and yes, he is real..... Just before we went to bed I witnessed John Congleton of the Paper Chase cleaning out the litter tray, he turned round and told me to tell my friends back home what I'd seen and that 'he was human' just like everyone else..... Then he dropped the contents in my lap...... human..... I don't think so..... 

 

Do you work alone? I said do you wear cologne?...

 


 

Monday 17th May 2010

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Packing - weighing, unpacking, checking, more packing, cables, guitars, strings, luggage allowance, pants, socks, pedals, pedals in socks, batteries, instruments, instruments within instruments within instruments.......

We left at about 1am, in the Cloth Cat van (Bless its cotton tyres) for the 4 hr slog down to Heathrow, and once we got there we had a leisurely and bleary eyed couple of hours waiting to check in. Dick Van Dyke got upset because we used his porter trolley, and I'm not proud of it, but we quarelled - he came back half an hour later and we got past it, he was the bigger man, he made the first move, and I'm proud to say that we put our differences behind us with barely a word and got straight onto the business of cementing our solidarity by collectively mocking the sorts of passengers who complain when their airline WON'T take them up into a potentially lethal cloud of engine jamming volcano ash....

And then off, to make our contributions to the C02 in the air and the sound in folk's ears, Vessels album no. 2 - Texas baby.....

 

I'm a lumberjack and I'm Ok....


 

Saturday May 15th 2010

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The Abbey Lodge launch party - Lee's big other quest before we head off to Dallas - somehow the man has, built a recording studio, arranged this party and had enough time to keep working on the new album as promised in the last month - he looks exhausted, but I'm suitably impressed

The party was a messy affair - There was a barbeque, loads of DJs, beer, sunshine; of the bands Vessels played first (by first I mean at about 11.30, then Middleman, then finally Two minute Noodles (pictured - although that's not from the party, its at the Brud and I didn't take it) and they were the highlight of my night - Moz (left) drums like a man posessed, and everyone who ever gets the chance should see it...

We loaded back to the studio at 5.30am, which is the last time we'll have to do that before Dallas - yes yes yes yes yes yes

 


 

Friday May 14th 2010

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The Pattern Theory at the Packhorse, on their triumphant return from Berlin. Jimmy Theory (pictured) has appeared on my blog a few times, as a solo artist, or in a fotoautomat in Berlin at six in the morning, but at the exact moment captured in this image, he was blowing my mind with the reincarnation of his beautiful band...... immense

 


 

Wednesday May 12th 2010 

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The Books at Manchester Deaf Institute. Pete + forgotten camera = snap rinsed from the net, although if you combine the previous snap of the Deaf Insitute with this snap of the pair performing it's pretty much what it looked like. None of which however will give you any clue what they sound like - and I'm not even going to attempt to explain, save to say that its always interesting and often times truly beautiful......

 


 

Tuesday May 11th 2010 

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Another thing under represented by my blog of the past year is Pete on drums.... yip yip yip. For the past six weeks or so I've been heading to Neil's recording studio in Headingley to play drums 9-11. He gives me a really good deal because he's rarely there before noon, and so I plug a set of headphones in to my laptop and plug away at these babies as my morning workout. Give me another 6-9 months and I'll have it I reckon......

 


 

Saturday May 8th 2010

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Vessels at the Vine in Sowerby Bridge - The Entire toilets were done out in pages from old Punch magazines. I took this picture in the gents just before we left and one of the locals, who had wandered in for obvious reasons made an endearing but nonetheless tepid attempt to communicate with me by simply grunting the word 'picture' and nodding drunkenly.... I couldn't very well deny it now could I.....

 


 

Friday May 14th 2010

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Vessels at Band on the Wall in Manchester - this venue has had something like £4 million of lottery funding pumped into its recent refurb - and it shows..... 

 


 

Monday May 3rd 2010 

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I've included this snap bacause my blog from the last year does not represent the amount of time that we have spent down in this basement working on our new album - but then too many shots of the same five skinny pale unkempt folk in the same small room would remind me of Prisoner Cell block H - So suffice to say its a lot..... a whole lot....

  


 

Saturday May 1st 2010 

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Today was a Vessels double gigger - Cockpit at 3 in the afternoon to some 400 people as part of Live at Leeds (I blagged this snap from an online zine, but I can't remember who to credit)....... 

 

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.....and then on to pick up Jeff (Juffage) and across to Bolton to hook up with Ivan and play at the Dog and Partridge with Juffage as support. I've seen Jeff play five or six times now over the past few months and he has to be one of my favourite artists in the city - maybe its just beard envy......




Friday 30th April 2010

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Woolford - who over the years has popped up from time to time on these pages has just turned thirty and he and Sarah set up a casino in their kitchen to celebrate the fact - awesome night that resulted in wooziness the next day....

 



Sunday 25th April 2010

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Bear in Heaven at the Brudenell - of course I forgot to take my camera - so here's a snap from online, although there were only three of them when I saw them????? and for at least half an hour it was captivating, but then I got tired and went home..... their drummer is awesome.....

  



Thursday 22nd April 2010

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We have had Stu (Jacob's Stories) with us for three days recording vocals for a track on our upcoming album. It sounds beautiful. We can't take him with us to Texas, so we borrowed another awesome valve mic and pre-amp from Bruce and laid down all of his parts in our lovely little rehearsal space - Vessels album 2, recorded in Dallas Texas and underneath a chip shop in Leeds.....

 



Monday 19th April 2010

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Tonight we went to see Cariou perform his new album Swim at the Deaf Institute - it was amazing. This photo that I found online is not it. But it is of the Deaf Institute, and since its taken from so far back it could be anyone on stage really.....

 



Friday 16th  - Sun 18th April 2010

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After returning from our three day tour of Chippenham, Luxembourg and London I developed a horribly bad back - This picture, taken on the ferry during me sleeping in roughly the same position I slept in for the entire weekend (I had a floor to lie on for approximately four hours in Luxembourg) may begin to explain why.....

 

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  Vessels on tour - Chippenham - Lee tried to get to bed, but he just didn't make it.....

 



Thursday 8th April 2010 

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Here is Ellie from Glissando recording on the Steinway grand at the Howard Assembly Rooms - I was there in my role as expensive microphone from Bruce blaggerer, but I learned a thing or two about stereo recording - note the mics in the bottom left and top right of the snap - this is gonna sound sweet.....

   


 

Tuesday 23rd March 2010

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J is in Scilliy, and so I took the opportunity to set up four full hi-fi systems and listen to Zaireeka by the Flaming Lips - an album of music mixed in Octophonic (eight channels) rather than stereo sound. It comes on four CDs, which need to be put into four CD players, and then all played at exactly the same time. Not only is it really interesting, but its an awesome album as well - my favourite Flaming Lips album by a mile..... Must have had about 20 people round over the two days I left it set up, and I must have listened to it five or six times, but I won't be doing it again any time soon, as I had to borrow a couple of full stereos from my neighbours and it completely took over my living room.....




Sunday 7th March 2010

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This is Tom, playing at the Brainwash Haiti fundraiser, as part of Lee's live electronica act...I played a solo acoustic set, using delay and loops and banter. Sz filmed it, maybe one day I'll actually get round to watching it....




Saturday 6th March 2010 

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This is Murg's 30th birthday party at Akbar's.... Everyone ever was there....   

 



Monday 22nd February 2010 

 

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David Thomas Broughton at the Brud, I have heard so much about this chap that it was ace to finally see him live. It wasn't what I was expecting, and it's not to diminish the brilliance of his voice or lyrics or melodies that the best bit of the show was when he wandered off into the crowd and set off two rape alarms....

 

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After Lone Wolf and DTB played, Shearwater headlined, which I would tell you about, except I missed most of the set because I was outside with Martin trying to figure out how to get his car off of the tree-stump that he parked it on.... in the end it took a tow rope and a four wheel drive.... hard things to come by at 11pm on a week night.....

 



Friday 19th February 2010 

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 J was away for a few days, so I watched seasons four and five of the wire back to back. Everyone should do this. It should be on the school curriculum.... 




Wednesday 17th February 2010 

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Fionn Regan at the Brud - Fionn's gone electric, and it repeatedly missses the mark..... 

  



Saturday 13th February 2010 

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Kong at the Cockpit - picture by Bart. Like Zed from Police Academy let loose on a stage....




Saturday 6th February 2010 

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Hard to believe I used to be in this band - here are White Boys for Last ever gigs in Leeds playing at the Packhorse. An epic show but it made my ears hurt....

 



Friday 5th February 2010 

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Vessels and Oceansize pictured outside Nottingham Rock CIty after a successful show and a successful tour..... Gambler is about to summon brimstone from the sky......

 



Thursday 4th February 2010 

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Brontide joined us in Cardiff, to play the final two shows of the tour, although they were so late they didn't get to sound check, ran over their start time and only played three songs.....

 




Wednesday 3rd February 2010 

 

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Vessels and So I watch you from Afar, backstage in London after another sweet gig and a sweet mini-tour....

 

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The view of the stage in Heaven, fitting in as many of the 700 or so faces that were staring back at us as possible....

 

 

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This snap was taken in 'Heaven' in London, by Mike Copus. This gig was a beast. One reviewer said, in reference to my chat, that I was like 'a chronically unfunny Clement Freud'....

  



Tuesday 2nd February 2010 

 

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This is the view from the stage at the Manchester Academy 3 as we onceagain opened up for Oceansize. Prior to the show we were filmed in the toilets for Rocksound......

  



Sunday 31st January 2010

 

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  I took this snap on the way to our Glasgow show, where we played at King Tut's and my mid set chat was well received....

  



Saturday 30th January 2010

 

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Aberdeen - the Tunnels - Photo courtesy of Adrien Reid. Oceansize were awesome at this show..... and again monstrously heavy....

 

  



Friday 29th January 2010

 

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Vessels in Dundee - After a cosy night's sleep at Chris Esperi's yard we wandered round Dundee in the morning, in the chilly Scottish air. I bought a guitar in a charity shop for ten pounds, and Chris' girlfriend took photos of us on the swings and at the beach.....

  

 


 

 

Thursday 28th January 2010

 

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 Oceansize in Liverpool at the Masque - the first date of our tour, in an awesome venue and with awesome sound. Oceansize previewed some new material, which seemed to be monstrously heavy......

 

  



Wednesday 27th January 2010

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We played this gig at the Library with Juffage and Quack Quack as a precursor to the Oceansize support tour that we were about to embark upon. Tim, Lee, Moz and Turpin (the two drummers from QQ) had a four way drumathon inbetween the Vessels and Quack Quack sets, which I titled 'Unwieldy din for a quadrangle of mammalian beater scoops'

  

 


 

 

Thursday 7th January 2010

 

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 I took this shot and a hundred like it after the heavy snowfall that obsessed the British media during the first weeks of January

  



Friday 1st January 2010

 

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And..... the megascran.... 24 sorely hung over souls fed by J and myself in the cottage of justice - note how it looks almost identical to last year's......

 

 



Thursday 31st December 2009

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NYE 2009 - The Rage band reunited to perform to a sold out Brud just before midnight - this was one mega party - Nath is a gem.... next year Jonnh Cash methinks....

 

 



Wednesday 23rd December 2009

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This shot, taken on the 23rd of Dec is taken on day 4 of a four day marathon of 20 hour days trying to rush finish the music to the Astronomer's Sun because the animators only just gave me the final cut.... In all honesty, I'm pleased with my composition but not with the recording of it, because I was so pressed for time - and the adventurous folks at C4 insisted on turning the music down and down and down until it is present but has all the impact of a slap in the face by a foetus.......

It's over now though, I can spend some time with my family at Christmas instead of neglecting them yet again for a project....

 

 

 


 

 

Sunday 20th December 2009

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Party party party..........

 

 



Saturday 19th December 2009

 

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J wanted a 'slightly' bigger tree this year, I left her to it......

 

 


  

Friday 18th December 2009

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Music workshop in Bradford for some cause or another that I have yet to determine, was really good fun but was made much better when Lee turned up - I bailed shortly after that to get to Manchester to meet Dave and watch the Doves.... Taking this snap of Manc Santa after the show as we wandered round town trying to find a bar that wasn't vile....

  

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Monday 14th December 2009

 

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For the second year in a row I went with my brother and some friends to see the Pogues Christmas show at the Leeds academy - however we didn't sit till the early hours getting drunk with Shane MacGowan this time - although we did with Marky B, who is in many ways even more of a legend.....

   



Thursday 10th December 2009

 

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Production still from 'The Astronomer's Sun'

   


 

Friday 27th November 2009

 

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Samay at achurch in York - I bootlegged this entire gig - I'll put a track up on the front page at some point....

  

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Tom has cracked the screen on his mac book, and the offical repair quotes are enormous, so as a surprise for his birthday we bought him a screen off ebay, pinched his macbook, and then with the help of Clem, I endeavoured to fit it DIY style.

Never do this - just pay the money....

On the plus side, we did eventually succeed..... 

   


 

Thursday 26th November 2009

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 Three Trapped Tigers at the Brud - Their drummer is a behemoth of sound....

  


 

Wednesday 25th November 2009

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Jimmy, Wally, Ad and Saren did a one off Faith no More tribute band at the University - the band was brilliant, but the attendance was poor - An awesome idea (and a ton of prep) squandered on a poorly marketed concept.....

  


 

 

Monday 23rd November 2009

 

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 J has organised this month long display of facts about and portraits of refugees on display boards in the Light shopping centre, helping to dispell one or two popular myths about immigration in this country in a location where the folk who see it might not know this stuff already.....

  


 

Sunday 22nd November 2009

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Szymon playing in Polish legends Stracony at 120 rats - the man is a monster on the bass.....

  


 

 

Saturday 21st November 2009

 

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Music workshop at the Leeds Summat - me Lee and Tom setup Ableton, a mic and a teble full of instruments in Leeds Uni and many of the summit attendees popped by and contributed a sound or a riff to a collective track that was mixed mastered and being distributed on CD-R before the day was done..... Listen out for it on this year's Christmas CD..... 

 

   


 

Thursday 19th November 2009

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The Antler's in Cockpit 3 (I didn't take this picture) - I did however nearly cry during their heartfelt and epic performance.... 

   


 

Tuesday 17th November 2009 

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Chick Corea and Stanley Clark and Bela Fleck and Victor Wooten at an afternoon show in London - all none jazz nerds look away now.....

 


 

Friday 13th November 2009

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The Paper Chase at the Brudenell - One of my favourite bands ever at one of my favourite venues ever. With Vessels as support and a live exorcism, of me, by Congleton (pictured) midway through the show - Anyone remember this chap from producing our album, he's a different beast once you put him on a stage..... 



 

Saturday 7th November 2009

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Martin's 30th birthday at Milo - Lee pictured Djing techno - I got out whilst the going was good.....

  


 

Sunday 1st November 2009

 

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 Vessels at Brainwash 09 - before Oceansize and Efterklang - picture courtesy Bart Pettman.... 

   


 

Friday 23rd October 2009

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The delivery of our new fridge and the removal of our old one led to the discovery of the 'wet rot' underneath our kitchen. This picture shows the 'before' stage of treating it.....

  

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And this one shows the after.. - Although there is an 'after after' shot, but it looks identical to the 'before' thanks to the impeccable workmanship of Dylan and his dad....

As I remember it, most of this occurred whilst we went away for the weekend to Mordue's to work on writing our new album, which I have not a single photo of...... meaning that mainly J and again (as with the fleas) not I were inconvenienced by our household woes.... Woman has the patience of a saint....

  


 

Tuesday 20th October 2009

 

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Vessels - somewhere - 20th October 2010 

 

   


 

Saturday 17th October 2009

 

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This tour, must be when I started failing to take snaps of everything - because this snap taken by Martin in Ediburgh is one of the only pictures I can find of an entire tour that we did in Ocober that I can barely remember (or should that be 'distinguish' as we've toured these same venues so many times it seems) - anecdotes on a postcard...

 

   


 

Friday 16th October 2009

 

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Vessels in Glasgow - didn't get cut off this time - score....

 

 


 

Friday 2nd October 2009

 

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Vessels - Cissy - Humanfly - Bellini and another band at a gig that I remember was ace, but I can't remember, if that makes any sense....

   


 

Friday 25th September 2009

 

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25th Sept 09 - This is Andy 'Madness Baldwin', pictured in a snap that I can't put a date or a source to that I found online. I didn't know him well, but I had known him as well as I didn't for a long time. He died a few weeks ago and tonight Red Stars Parade reunited at the Brudenell in remembrance of him. We did a mass group cossack in his honour, and it was a fitting tribute to a man obsessed with Red Stars and by all accounts at the centre of their world.....

 

   


 

Wednesday 23rd September 2009

 

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On the set - trying not to be a nuisance..... 

 

   


 

Saturday 19th September 2009

 

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J's birthday - ordinary digital photo transformed into pseudo polaroid for added nostalgia - quality party - exceptional woman.....

  


 

Wednesday 9th September 2009

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This production still hopefully captures the scale of the ambition of Simon and Jess and whatthey are trying to achieve in Simon's shed.....

  


 

Friday 4th September 2009

 

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Vessels on a log stage somewhere in the Lake District at this year's Fell Foot Sound. Picture courtesy of Bart Pettman - Not a great show from our side, but this view was contradicted by many who were present....

   


 

Tuesday 25th August 2009

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 In Ilkley recording music for film with new laptop - Sense of professionalism starting to germinate within....  

   


 

Friday 21st August 2009

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21st August 08 - As a send off to Garside, who is London bound, Transpangaean played what could be our last ever gig, with Garside's drumming group joining us for the finale, then we reunited the Rage bandbut Garside had had such a busy week that he depped most of the guitar out to Nick Svarc (pictured) who did a bang up job on two day's notice..... Garside still joined us for the encore though..... sweet deal.....

 

   


 

Thursday 20th August 2009

 

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20th August 2009 - The fleas have been destroyed in a full on chemical attack - They will think twice about messing with this yard again......

 

 


 

Saturday 8th August 2009

 

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Moor Fest 2009 - Bilge Pump in a shed - I have awoken to the glory of the Bilge - We played on the second stage - We opened with a new tune that  we've all written together - working title July 1st.....

  


 

Saturday 1st August 2009

 

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Unity Day 2009 - Mostly cold and wet and Pete mostly tired - Fortunately I found this snap on someone else's blog that makes it look entirely the opposite...... 

 


 

Friday 31st July 2009

 

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 New laptop half paid for by the film I'm working on - Technological induced happiness maxed out....

  


 

Thursday 23rd - Monday 27th July 2009 - Secret garden party

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Rodrigo and Gabriella...... 

 

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Caribou (Martin took this snap - I was too busy gawping)

 

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Till next year boon flunkers........



 

Sunday 19th July 2009

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Picking some form of berry in the sun with Ben, Andy and Murphy the hound...... 



 

Saturday 18th July 2009

 

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Ashwood Stock 09 - Jacob's Stories performing in a gazebo - his voice is ridiculous - remind me to get him on the next Vessels album - I also performed, and bantered a lot, to the distant neighbours via Public Address if I remember correctly... 



 

Wednesday 15th July 2009

 

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Summer 09 - The summer that fleas terrorised my girlfriend (but not me for some mysterious reason) - If I'd known how bad it would get I would have just paid the money up front as soon as we saw even one to have the whole house fumigated....

 

It'll be fine........

 


 

Tuesday 30th June 2009

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Seb gave me new pickups for my birthday - my attempts to wire them in to my strat have thus far failed....

 


 

Friday 26th - Sunday 28th June 2009

 

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Pete's 27th birthday:

Friday night - A Hawk and a Hacksaw at the 1 in 12 in Bradford (mint.....)

Saturday night - Huge garden party at the cottage, shenanigans till dawn

Sunday morning - less than 3 hours sleep - Cleaning of garden followed by light hearted acoustic performance at a guitar shop...

 

 


 

Wednesday 17th June 2009

 

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Tom at a rehearsal - Momentum gathering in process of constructing new Vessels album..... 

 


 

Monday 15th June 2009

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the Thermals visit the Brudenell - poor quality snap taken on phone - tremendous show....

 


 

Tuesday 9th June 2009

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Waste of rations at 120 Rats - Szymon on bass - brutal...... 

 


 

Sunday 7th June 2009

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Cara's christening - Christenings I could live without, but this child is ace..... 

 


 

Wednesday 3rd June 2009

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Another production snap from the film that may never get finished but if it does expect music by me..... 

 


 

Tuesday 2nd June 2009

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2nd June - Sun was out - recorded my guitar in the back garden - no room sound - birds singing - destined for Christmas CD....

 

chirp chirp chirpatron...


 

Saturday 30th May 2009

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Erin's naming day - Like a christening but less boring...... 

 


 

Saturday 23rd May 2009

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Lee's 30th birthday - Transpangaean at Baraka - no photos or sound recording seem to exist of the best Transpangaean show ever....

 


 

Thursday 21st May 2009

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Vessels at Liverpool Sound City - Korova bar perhaps - phot from a press review - deafeningly loud..... 

 


 

Saturday 16th May 2009

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Stayed on in London for a Gaza solidarity demo - Big gaping open prison.....

 


 

Friday 15th May 2009

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 Vessels at Barden's Boudoir, London on May 15th - Failing to see why so many folk struggled to find the place.....

 


 

Wednesday 13th May 2009

 

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Quack Quack at Brud - Immense - This is a stock photo, but it had to be included because they were so mind alteringly good that night....

 

 


 

 

Monday 11th May 2009

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Video lesson with Gary Stewart - Will learn to drum......

 

You didn't really read this far did you - D-hude...