There is a bar in Stockholm with one heck of a lot of beer. If anyone, anywhere makes a beer they’ll have it. You don’t believe me? Then have a look at this:
And it’s a great rock n roll venue. One of those gems run by great people doing a great job, making the world a happier place to live in because they love making people happy (they also know a heck of a lot about beer). So it was that on Sunday, May 20 2018 we came to play at Akkurat in Stockholm, Sweden. Organised by my friend, the widely travelled, bon vivant Janne Lagerstrom, we arrived to see a worried look on his face. Sweden were playing Switzerland in the final of the ice hockey World Championship that evening and, in a country very keen on the sport, there was every chance that tumbleweed would be blowing through where an audience should be. And, in fact, it did seem that way at one point. “Make a joke about how foreigners don’t know the difference between Sweden and Switzerland”, Janne said, “They’ll all find it really funny”. Here’s a tip: Swedes are very serious people. Don’t follow their advice about jokes (as you’ll hear on the record).
But we needn’t have worried. Stockholm never lets us down and a heaving crowd squeezed their way in to the main bar, ignoring their big, padded countrymens’ quest for glory. The dressing room was also mightily impressive being decorated mainly with the venue’s forte: beer. It made me think that if The Boys had tuned up in a room like this we’d never have made the stage. Very trusting of them:
The show was superb. We were great (of course) and so were the audience. Rounds of shots appeared regularly mid gig, a kind man tied my shoe laces when they came undone and Sophie snapped a G String. So I was really pleased when the sound engineer, Jonathan Sandberg, contacted me a few weeks later to say he’d made a multitrack recording off the desk and would I like the raw material. I said “Yes, of course”, received the tracks and promptly forgot they existed in the daily hub bub of writing, recording, touring, working, and living etc.
Until this strange year when we’ve all had more time on our hands and I’ve had the chance to trawl through my computer hard drive to see what forgotten gems are hidden there. “Mmm. I wonder what that sounds like” I thought, and so loaded up the multitrack on my home studio (bass drum, snare, overhead drum mike, Sophie’s guitar, Nick’s guitar, lead vocal etc all on seperate channels) to set up a rough balance.
And Bam! There we were: rough, far from perfect, but exciting, powerful and with more stage presence than Dolly Parton, Freddie Mercury and Tina Turner combined. Hell, you can even hear how good looking we are.
So I’ve put some time in with gadgets I barely know how to use. like compressors and gates, to separate out the instruments. The trick with recording is to have each instrument and voice distinct so that you can alter the EQ (bass, treble etc) of each individually, add effects to an instrument or voice (like reverb) without adding it to everything else, and to be able to turn, say, the lead vocal up without also turning up the guitars. A live engineer works to get an overall sound in a particular room and if you have a loud guitar amp next to a drum kit and in front of a vocal mike guess what: the guitar goes through all those mikes (if you are at a gig and can’t hear the singer then 99 times out of 100 it is not the sound engineer’s fault. You try to sing louder than a power mad guitarrist who thinks the most important aspect of a show is that he feels good because his guitar is nice and loud). A live sound engineer is balancing up instruments which inevitably spill through all the mikes with the sound coming off the amps on stage and bouncing off the walls. It’s a different game.
But between Jonathan Sandberg and my amateur record engineering work the results are pretty damn smashing. Here’s a little taster you may already have seen, where I’ve synced the Akkurat recording to some old clips:
And here’s one actually shot on the night:
If enough people think it’s worth it we may do a limited run of vinyls later on in the year but for now, in the interest of speed, simplicity and to give us all a cheap little ray of sunshine before the vaccines do their job to let us out to play again, you can hit the button below to visit the musicians friend, Bandcamp, listen to the album and, who knows, even spend some money to download it, burn it onto a CD, scribble your own cover and play it in the car.
Hope you enjoy it. If you do, please do us a favour and hit the buttons below to share this blog far and wide on Twitter, Facebook and all the other fine outlets the Russians, Chinese, Dominic Cummings and assorted politicians use to tell you the truth (there’s a song coming about that!)
In the meantime I’ve found another video on Youtube shot on the night by the lovely Tuija Hart which I’ve synced the album track to. Bloody hell we are good!