Thursday, 6 February 2020

It's what Thursday nights are for

As ever, the Primevals gathered at 9pm in Berkeley. We probably have 8 rehearsals to get ready for France - gigs start in Paris on Friday April 3rd, with Lille, Rouen, Blois, Toulouse and Perigueux following on from there.

The core of the set is well-covered ground so tonight we ran through some older ones, some that we have not played for a while, and a new cover. We will probably need about 25 songs that we can do at the drop of a fedora to get through the tour - we find it best to have a core set of about 15 or so and then throw in 3 or 4 others from the long list depending on what we feel like on the night. It's never been our way to have THE SETLIST IN STONE for a tour. To get to that 25, though, we need to try 35 or 40, because sometimes that old one resonates nicely, or conversely that one we thought was a strong candidate doesn't seem to shine the way it should.

Tonight's candidates were Lowdown, See That Skin, Reframe It, Have Some Fun, Stream of Life, Don't Feel Free, and a cover whose name escapes me for now.

Time for a glass of Malbec and to check some notes on structures - there's a couple of slightly odd breaks in See That Skin, which made perfect sense when we played it in 1985, but we just need to feel our way back into that groove.

Friday, 5 July 2019


My friend Iain Shaw asked me about the recording process. I think this post may contain more detail than he was looking for, but it felt good to express it all. Thanks for asking, amigo!

Everything was recorded in Reaper - it is a really good value full function piece of recording software, even though I don't use it as much more than an 8 track. (REAPER)

Most of the guitars were recorded using Amp Simulators - previous experiments with miking live amps was not positive, partly because I don't know much about the technology of doing that so the results were variable, partly because it is not always conducive to family life, and also because doing it all in Reaper gave me a much wider range of sounds to play with. 

I used a lot of Amplitube 3 - their Marshalls and Fender Twins are very good, very straightforward. (and are included in the core product, which I think is free.) Yesterday I bought the Fender add-on pack which is marvellous for me - '59 Bassman, Champ, Vibro-King, more Twin Reverbs, etc. I will be using that for "Even More Guitars" if there is enough interest in this one.

I also used Bias FX - that is a bit of a timepit, because there is so much tweaking available with bi-amping and so on. I spent a few hours playing with that to set up a selection of AC30 type things and also to try their various tremolo setups - I could then pick those up when I needed them. The classic way to lose the vibe and feel of a guitar track is to stop playing for a bit to find out what that amp would sound like through a 4x10 instead, and then maybe in a bigger room with these Neumann mikes .... no, the Sennheisers .... a bit further away ....ah, no, wait, how about in an amp enclosure .... with a plate reverb ... ooh, that's interesting ..... and then by the time I have chased that sound rabbit down the sound hole I have forgotten what I was trying to play.

The bass parts pretty much all went through the Bass Professor software - wonderful free download which adds oomph.  ( PROFESSOR) I bought a Sire Marcus Miller Jazz bass last year and re-did most of the previously-recorded bass parts with that - lovely pre-amp, loads of signal and very adjustable and responsive

The core of the drums were from the Loop Loft - Joey Waronker, Simon Phillips, Matt Chamberlain, Omar Hakim, I also used some of Drums on Demand  (Volumes 1, 2 6 and 9)
There are one or two tracks where I programmed the drum tracks (at least in part) and I added some percussion on quite a few - an extra hi-hat, a tambourine, crash cymbals to accent. etc. 

I also added some keyboards - a great Fender Rhodes simulator (Waves Electric88) which was about £50  and a Hammond ( ) which was a similar price. I have a wee 2 octave Korg keyboard which is enough for me. They were recorded as MIDI tracks which I had to tweak a bit for individual note attack and timings - for MIDI editing, the Piano Roll in Reaper is often quicker than me learning to play the keyboard part right. 

I recorded the basic tracks nearly all built round a guitar idea - usually with a particular sound set up (e.g. driven Fender Twin with a slow shimmer). The idea and the sound are closely related, because the genesis of a lot of the tracks was me playing around with a guitar sound and seeing where that went. 

I would hunt through the drum tracks to find something helpful to the recording - sometimes just the simplest beat, other times I found exactly the right thing on first dig. 

Then I would record the main guitar for several goes round - sometimes the first was a keeper, sometimes I would listen back and realise I needed to adjust it. I didn't do much  tweaking of the guitar parts in Reaper - it is much quicker for me to take a breath and play the guitar part right than it is for me to guddle notes around in Reaper. Once I had enough to construct the main track around, I would save that, listen back to it, check the construction overall - then build up what other sounds would go with that - a contrasting guitar ? a descending bassline ? a big clanging souped up Marshall ?? 

In the main I worked on one track at a time, but there are some that I came back to and re-worked, generally if I only had time to record the main part to lay that down for later investigation

I re-mixed everything for the CD - my initial mixes are for me to have a record of the idea, in the moment, rather than for wider consumption. So the guitars are often too loud, there are holes in the mix and there are sometimes wee clunky bits that I don't mind at that stage but need to be tidied up for regular listening. Also, I find that my ears can get tired out if I am listening too closely for too long, so it is better for me to do an initial rough mix as part of the recording stage and then go back round it in a day or two so I can hear it with fresh ears 

I had a long list of at least 40 that I gathered and listened to to sift out which ones were the keepers. There are at least another 20 that I recorded as sketches or bits which ended up as useful things for me to do (sometimes I learned things, sometimes I just expressed whatever I needed to express at the time and that was plenty). 

Once I had those 40 ish I went through them, and I guess about half of them made it to the re-mix/re-master stage as I polished them (as little as possible). There was one track which got cut from the final running order - although I was fond of it, and liked the vibe, it didn't add anything more than the other similar tracks that were already there. 

Lastly - if anyone reading this has questions about the recording process, I'd be delighted to share my (limited) knowledge - ask away!

It's been a while

Hello, for anyone still out there. I kind of lost touch with the need for this blog - I've been back in the Primevals for years now, and wasn't sure if there was anything else I had left to say about it.

Yet here I am.

As well as Primeval-ing, I have still been rocking along with the Beat Poets, and, as ever, home recording. This has led to a CD !! (Yes, an actual physical CD). It is also available electronically for those who prefer their music that way.

Available on Bandcamp - BANDCAMP LINK and also if you would like a CD, available in Glasgow at Love Music and at Monorail, or by post for anyone from further away SALES EMAIL LINK for £6 plus postage

Some kind words from Joe Whyte here JOE WHYTE DTK and from Paul Kerr here BLABBER AND SMOKE

keep on rocking in the free world!


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Back, back BACK ON The ROAD

Suitcases full of merch and polka dot shirts, we are ready to head back to France. The plan for today is to drive to Edinburgh, fly to Paris, get collected by Bernard then go to check out the gear for the tour. Probably restring the guitars.

And then dinner with our friends and off to see The Fleshtones at Le Petit Bain.

It's a wonderful life!!

Monday, 6 November 2017

Madrid! Primevals!!! NOMADS!!!!

Our dear friend Lindsay Hutton, OG punk rocker, founder of Next Big Thing and The Legion Of The Cramped, and all round darlin' man held a fantastic party this weekend in Madrid for his birthday.

Michael and I got the chance to jump up with the Nomads, OG Garage Rockers and lovely blokes. 

Saturday, 14 October 2017


We have a few more gigs coming up - London Hope & Anchor (with our friends the DeRellas) on Friday 27th October 

and we are going back to France!

Rennes Friday 1st Dec, Lorient Saturday 2nd Dec and Paris Sunday 3rd Dec!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Dislocation - Album Launch - Hug & Pint Glasgow Friday 28th July

We are playing at the Hug & Pint to launch the LP.

Doors open 8pm - Friday 28th July

We are also playing in Perth (Scotland) as part of the Southern Fried Festival on Sunday 30th July on the Open Air Stage at Perth Concert Hall - onstage at 5pm.