Snow Gets In Your Eyes

31 December 2009

We had a nice afternoon. Anton in Berlin. It snowed. We balled. I got a direct hit.

In other news. Jet lag still has a grip of me. Fell asleep at 10 pm. Awoke at 4am. Almost there.


First Session 12th -19th September 2009

29 December 2009

Emery arrived on Sunday 12th September at 10:10 am from Milan. Clay and I picked him up at Tegel Airport.

We had a week to start the record. This was the hardest part of the session because there were many technical hurdles to overcome before we could track smoothly. We began with As It Comes and chipped away until it felt good. The original demo of this I sung in a London accent. There’s a kitchen sink feel to it, like the musings of a guy who was in his 30’s in the 60’s and who is now in his late 70’s.  I got very attatched to the accent. I modeled it on Nigel Godrich and Ian Dury. Emery was adamant it should be sung with my voice. This was hard but ultimately a good call on Emery’s part.

We moved onto another song and finished this with half a day to go. We started recording a third song but abandoned it as it needed a middle 8. There is a cool photobooth near where I live. We took this picture to commemorate our first week.


You say Sodder I say Solder…

29 December 2009

I noticed there was a very bad buzz on the Sony C37a when I first used it. It seemed to get worse when I wobbled the connector at the end so I called Vintage King Audio, where i bought the mic, and the tech guy there gave me some instructions. “Can you sodder?” he said “Wha??” “Can you sodder?”  he repeated “Sodder!?? What is sodder?? Solder?” “Yes” he said “Sodder”. I made this video to document my first “Sodder”


Wreckorder Session Equipment

29 December 2009

Emery and I had fun recording Wreckorder. This is the desk I used.

It’s called a Neve BCM 10. What makes this desk so good is the EQ section. They are called 1073’s and are the holy grail of  EQ’s. Of course there are some great EQ’s out there that aren’t 1073’s but these have a character all of their own. You can record with the shittiest mic and put it through this and it sound like Trevor Horn. These little desks were designed by Rupert Neve to be used in broadcast studios. There are 10 channels and each channel has two inputs, meaning that 2 microphones can be inserted into each. This was for the broadcast world when they would have the length of a song to set up for there next session. What made this special was that they would be able to have 2 rooms micd up at the same time, one waiting for the other to finish. All the engineer would have to do is flick each channel to the second mic and that would be that. For me it meant I could put 10 mic inputs upstairs and keep 10 downstairs. I had the help of a lovely man called Blake, to make a patch bay and install the desk… It took 5 men to carry just the empty body down to the basement… the thing weighs a ton.

I also used some amazing microphones.

The Neumann U67. This is probably my favourite. It’s the first proper mic I bought. We an A-B test with a £12000 mic and this one sounded better. We used this on electric guitar and vocals and drums and shaker and piano and and…

The Sony C37a was used for vocals.

This is called the RFT “Pop Flascher” because it looks like a soft drink bottle. Used on Vocals, Acoustic guitar and Kick Drum.

This is a copy of the classic Neumann M49 microphone. Used on vocals and acoustic guitar and piano

Here is a Neumann UM57. Used on drums…

This is an AKG c28c We used this mic to record Toms violin and acoustic guitar.

A pair of AKG c12a’s were used early on for drums but I had to send them away to get repaired.

They are still being repaired…


Brown Teddy

27 December 2009

This is Brown Teddy. He is 3 3/4 years old. Our friend Anton met him in Green Forest and brought him to our home in London. He immediately latched onto our son Clay and has been with us ever since. Recently his cousin, Brown Eddy visited us from Green Forest. Brown Eddy is a little bit younger than Brown Teddy, he’s just getting to grips with life in the big city.



27 December 2009

This is probably where the album began. The song being about wanting to have a holiday, in my case having a holiday from Travis, although I don’t think I realised this at the time. At this point there was no thought of a solo record.  It was December 28th 2008. I had just called Ian our manager to cancel the US tour we had scheduled for March and April 2009. I’d done 12 months solid work and got shingles at the tail end of the year which was agony, followed by the worst toothache ever over December and January 08-09. I was done. So I called our manager and said I was out and that was that.

Well, I thought that was that. 2 days later Andy Dunlop called. He was pissed off. Andy has never been pissed off at me ever but here he was, totally giving me the dress down about cancelling the shows. I said I didn’t care anymore. I was done. I hadn’t seen Clay for months and now I was back, I was rubbish because I was ill and grumpy and f**k it all… Andy kept on me for the whole call until I said ok ok lets do the tour…you win…we win… just get off the phone DUnloppp… He’s a dark horse is our Andy. So quiet and then BAMMMMM! Half nelson, face in a puddle begging for submission.

So i wrote this song at this point. Here is the demo >holidaydemo<

The vocals on the demo remind me of The Beta Band a bit. It’s not the best song on the record, but I love it because it was the seed from which everything else sprang. It was my subconcious telling me to change the backdrop for a minute. I asked Andy to guest on it. We played Holiday on our recent tour of America and he owned it. It’s the closest this record gets to sounding like Travis.



26 December 2009

We went out for dinner tonight in Berlin. Vegetarian. Beetroot Gnocchi. Miso soup. Salad. Champagne. It was really cool. Nana looked after Clay. We got the coolest taxi home. It was a 1964 Mercedes. The man was called Ralf. The dash was adorned with pine branches and protruding from the middle, a christmas candle. I have never seen a candle in a cab before. Throughout the journey he took a pinch of pine needles and set them alight with the candle. It smelled of christmas.


Das Boot

26 December 2009

Drove to the lake. Put the boat into the lake. Had to push it right out into the wavey water only to realise it wasn’t switched on. Had to take my shoes and socks off and get in there to retrieve it. The water was f*****g freezing. The boat was shite. Wouldn’t steer. I went out knee high 6 times… Nora and nana and Clay were in hysterics. My feet felt like they were being stabbed with icicles… I will review the video and decide whether it is for web broadcast… i am happy to be home now. Clay and nana are playing over there.

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25 December 2009

Did you know Germans have Christmas on Christmas eve? The kids go out of the room and then when they go back in, all the presents have magically appeared. We chose to do it the other way, waking up in the morning and running through to find your presents. Clay is asleep upstairs just now. I have jet lag so am awake. We played all evening. Nora made her first ever veggie lasagne. It was delish. The nanas are in the house. Oma (german) and Nana(Scottish). Updates to come.

Awoke at 9am… Clay had already gone downstairs… i crept down and found him sitting beside the christmas tree, oggling his present all wrapped in shiny metallic wrapping paper. We waited till the nanas came downstairs before giving him the green light… It’s his 3rd christmas… but kind of his second concious one. It’s quite moving, to watch these people reacting to cool stuff. Whether it’s jumping up and down on the bed, getting scared of thunder, laughing uncontrollably when their parents goof out on them.  We are SO alive when we are new.

In recent months I have become addicted to the It’s a website connected with the UK newspaper of the same name. Among the trashy stories, the current affairs news and Cheryl Cole reports there are are always terrible stories of folks losing their children to this that or the other… I’m drawn to these stories, drawn to the worst thing that could possibly happen… It is the worst thing in the world to lose a child. It’s polar opposites. Youth and death… ughhhh!  Must steer clear of this website in 2010.

At christmas dinner Clay had falafels and humous but the humous had gone furry although the date said it was good till February… We had to chuck it. This made him cry. Poor darling. He wanted to go to LPG (our local store) and get new stuff. “It’s closed darling…” “Wahhhhh!!!” Nora made some new humous though, and I cleaned out the plastic container where the furry stuff had been, then scooped in the new humous, clipped on the plastic top and slipped it into the cardboard sleeve which had been on it before we found the fur. He watched all of this through teary eyes. It actually tasted better than LPG humous.

I slept today for some hours. I am totally jetlagged. Now I am wide awake again. Hmmmph!

Clay got a red boat with a remote control for his christmas so tomorrow we’re going to one of the lakes that lie outside the city to give it a spin. Berlin is surrounded by these beautiful big lakes and lots of nature stuff. The last time we were at this particular one, he saw a little boy playing with a similar boat. He asked if he could get one. We said he could get it for Christmas. So here we are, 5 months later. ANyways… I gonna try and sleep… Goodnight!


Leaving New York

24 December 2009

Had a good lie in today. I called the Lodge to confirm delivery time and then dashed out to get a couple of things for Nora. She wanted Corn Tortillas and some Lime rind scraper things… The MOMA store on Spring and Broadway is a great place. The CD came at 2.30.

I left soon after and met my friend Josh down on the street. Josh directed 3 Times and You Lose for us. Dropped in on my managers and passed a CD to them. Then i jumped in a car to the airport. My driver was this neurotic indian man shouting and beeping his horn. I had to tell him to shut up or i’d call his boss. Alot of the car firms in new york have drivers who will suck the soul out of your nose. They drive their cars for years and day by day lose a little bit of their sanity. This one was far gone. I put my headphones on and listened to the record. Apart from a fade on one of the songs, it sounds strong.

ANyways I arrived at the airport walked in and realised I left my wallet at home. It mattered not though as I had my passport and keys and ticket. They upgraded my too which never happens so I had the best flight just then. I’m now sitting in the lounge at T5. I want to get home. Soon.

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