Despite best intentions, I’ve remained far too net-shy so it’s been a while since my last update. It’s difficult enough to sum up a week, so to sum up the last half a year is quite a task, but here’s some highlights:
In January, I was very lucky to be asked to do a couple of weeks of recording for an album project in my new favourite studio, Shangri La Studios in Malibu. It’s a legendary place for fans of The Band, and has not changed much since the footage there in The Last Waltz. I’ve really found Levon Helm to be a big influence on my playing recently, so I was saddened to hear of his recent passing.
Apparently Bob Dylan lived in the garden for a while; his tour bus is still there (we recorded in there too!). The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Adele have been more recent visitors to the studio, due to its new owner; super-producer, Rick Rubin.
It was one of the best recording experiences ever – it’s residential so we fell out of bed every morning and lumbered straight into the studio to record each day. Using the inevitable jetlag to my advantage, I went for a jog on the beach each morning and to watch the dolphins and the occasional seal before day’s work began. We’d go on until the early hours, pausing for a ‘family’ meal late every afternoon around the large dining table in the kitchen. Needless to say, most recording situations are not like this, so to have the luxury of time in addition to the beautiful vibe of the place, lovely people, equipment, and engineers was a massive treat. More on that project soon. Whilst there, we managed to do some recording for Leona Lewis’ next album. Sounded huge!
After a week or two back home, we then found ourselves with the option of either finishing the next One eskimO album in a studio on the rainy South coast of Britain, OR… going back to Malibu. Malibu won (duh!) and we found ourselves on a plane back to LA feeling pretty blessed. We then spent another two weeks recording finishing touches to the album, getting very good at Archery on the Wii, and looking smug. I didn’t want to leave.
Since then, I’ve been recording drum tracks for various people in my (equally glamorous?) studio in South West London http://wandsworthstudios.com/ and writing with various people. I had fellow drummer Paul Garred (ex-The Kooks) in to record some bits for his next project, and had a visit from legendary mix engineer Phill Brown (who’s cv includes Bob Marley, Led Zeppelin, and Jimi Hendrix), who very kindly offered to lend his expertise for an afternoon helping me on my recording setup. He literally moved one of my bass drum mics four inches to the left and made the world of difference to the sound! Very cool. He has a book out filled with great stories from his career that I fully intend to read soon: http://www.phillbrown.net/
In other studios, I spent a couple of great days recording on Phildel’s debut album, which is due out soon. I predict she’ll be big news later this year. I hired in a Japanese Taiko drum and an old 40” orchestral bass drum, which sounded as massive as it looked.
I also recorded with new Pete Tong signing, Paper Crows (seriously hooky choruses!), and on extremely talented Frenchman, Barth’s next album, who wins my favourite vibe brief of the year when I asked what he wanted drum-wise for the last track and he replied with soothing, Zen-like tones, “Just make ze sounds in ze woods”. Beautiful! It really stuck with me and I resolved to make more sounds in the woods more often.
I’ve also recorded on several great drum sample programs (more of which soon), and played gigs with Louise and the Pins featuring the inimitable Ed Harcourt and Jamie N Commons and also some gigs with Gareth Gates which are always brilliant fun. Did some writing with http://www.tresb.co.uk/ where we all squeezed into the studio and recorded ourselves just jamming – why does this not happen more often?!
Recently, I’ve been increasingly asked to record with people using electronic drums and triggering samples. I have taken a step further in this direction by acquiring the amazing new Roland TD30K electronic drum kit. It’s incredible. I’ve now bought Superior Drummer and the whole 14-disc EZdrummer sample catalogue!