The #SADLP listening party was a great success, thank you to everyone who joined in. = I was surprised at how well the format worked when we did one for Josienne’s LP and this was no different. It’s kind of quickfire. I had prepared some text and folks asked questions along the way. I don’t know that I always gave good answers, but I tried and it was a really gratifying community experience. What I’ll try to do here is copy & paste the whole thing into a post, because a few folks missed it at the time and they can read it through, relive it at their leisure! Maybe will work? So I’ll put it in order, JC tweets signed JC, mine unsigned. If I miss anything or anyone, sorry, this is a copy & paste nightmare and I’m already confused, but I’ll do my best 🙂
Hello & welcome to the beginning. I’ll hit play at 20:00. That fat baby is me & that’s my grandad, a flower grower & driver in WWII, who the record is dedicated to. I remember his quiet strength. He played church organ & helped me understand music.
He used to help put on organ concerts in village halls & I used to play. My favourite was always getting to do chariots of fire on the weird string machine. Felt like the future, then & it still does now.
Then ‘Alex Bowman’ had this hairy rockathon phase, but at least my charity work made the local news. It’s all vain narcissists like me need, eh?
Here’s an early iteration of the album cover, made especially for twitter when the title wasn’t quite fully formed. Yes, I am wearing a charcoal facemask. No, I do not know why.
For the album cover, Josienne, @TrevorHphoto & I went to Chatsworth House for the day because I wanted a soft, sunny image of me immersed in flowers. I was quite prescriptive & Trevor nailed it. Here’s the shots we didn’t use…
And there’s the cover. I’m glad so many of you like the image. It seems to have gone down really well. So now, let’s hit play – go!
I wrote ‘Physics & Form’ on a hundred flights, thousands of feet up in the air. That was my happy place, for a while. I had a strange relationship with arrivals & departures. Nobody to say hello or goodbye to at the gate.
‘Physics & Form’ always started with something other than the guitar & Josienne’s half-a-pitch sharp harmonium part was just right. Wheezing, barely able to make a note at all, in tune with nothing but itself. It was always how the record would start.
It’s a pretty shocking start but the title says ‘he used to be sad’, and he really did, really sad, right through to his bones. (JC)
I finished writing ‘Physics & Form’ in a frozen rented shipping container in some godforsaken backwater shithole in London, feeling like a part-time pretender with nothing to say. The last line took a long time to get right.
Rarely has a song about wishing for a plane crash been so moving and so scientific, so scientifically moving! The Harmonium is a bit wonky and stuttering and a bit infirm like his resolve. (JC)
‘A Ditch Worth Dying For’ is one of my favourite lyrics. That first verse. It rhymes so oddly. I hope it’s clear what I mean. The Gm chord, I didn’t know, I discovered it in my living room & found this song there waiting for me.
It’s a quiet, bitter lyric, but I can’t claim it’s honest music if I don’t try to articulate my experience. Can you hear the subtle saxophone drone in the verse? Understated, subtle, powerful production from JC.
That last track now seems light in comparison doesn’t it! I knew this song had to be dirge-y and dirty sounding. So I came up with saxophone drones fairly early on it makes a nice shitty spittle-y bed for the rest of the song to sit in. (JC)
The sax drone sits round his voice like he’s singing in three part harmony accompanied by two wheezing bags, the world’s grimiest barbershop trio. (JC)
The electric breaks it up now with some mid-range pitch, with a delay that rings round your head like an alarm. The bowed cymbal literally cuts through setting ya teeth on edge (JC)
I had the title ‘Safe Mode’ long before I had the song. It took an age to work it into words I could live with. I managed it, I think. A testament to effort. It wasn’t easy. But I didn’t fail. Proud of this one.
We used a bow on electric bass to make the low booming creek that starts us off, I wanted everything other than Alec’s voice and guitar to sound far away and muffled. (JC)
The piano was recorded and treated to have all the attack taken out and just leave the reverb tail. The distant vocal tones is me screaming into a piano and then drowning it in reverb. (JC)
‘Leaves’ used to have a chorus but I let it go. Josienne’s performance & production on this is a highlight of the album. All the reviews love it. I’d like to explore it more with her in the future recordings. Go further down that road.
You know how you know when you need to leave the party but other people need you to not do? How do you know what to do? Whose need is more important? Is it ok to ever ask someone to not leave? And then be angry when they do? I’ve no idea.
This was one of my favourite ones to do! Recording all the different woodwind instruments, they sound uncharacteristically chirpy perhaps, but to me they are the euphoric sound of fucking off when all you want to do is fuck off. (JC)
“but what else can I do? I’m not leaving AT you” is one of my favourite lines, for you owe no proximity!! May you merrily fuck off to the sound of a million recorders…(JC)
‘Long Goodbyes’ came to life in a fancy London rehearsal room. My friends in a proper band were playing in one room, and Suede were rehearsing next door. Strange pressures. Paul Mosley played the piano, he gave it such life. I just play it on guitar.
there’s me in that fancy room. well, it’s not so much fancy as expensive & full of proper musicians, all side-eyeing each other to check nobodys more proper than they are
I guess I’m questioning the value of communication in ‘Long Goodbyes’. Sometimes, you just can’t get your message to land, however hard you try, so you can stop. It offers no excuses. It’s a bit of a tirade. Frustration to the fore.
That title suggests a touching love song, but Alec would never call a love song something like that, no this is a ‘learn to shut your mouth’ song. I have my own history with those. (JC)
Here @paulmosley ‘s Rhodes is subtle and touching and perfect. This is the calm that comes after all the storms, let it go, don’t waste another breath on it. They’ll say whatever they say, but we carry our own truth with us. (JC)
INTERMISSION – The Old Rugged Cross. My Grandads favourite. I never really liked it but it has a special magic now. Paul Mosley played it beautifully, despite Josienne’s repeated requests to play it worse 🙂
We recorded incidental bits of us talking in the studio, doors slamming chairs scraping, the sounds of endeavour. @paulmosley had to be directed to play shitter than he normally would, still sounds lovely because he has a limit! (JC)
Half time break, starting again at 20:30!
‘Patience’ was a tough one to record. I nearly didn’t manage it. It’s the one that sounded like a defiant Frank Turner singalong chorus in my head when I wrote it, and then it sounds so tiny, barely there, broken on tape.
The microscope glare, laser-sight focus of the recording studio vocal booth does strange things to a person. You better really know yourself before you start or you’ll learn in the most brutal way. I wrote ‘Patience’ in that same frozen shipping container in London.
This is my favourite track, Alec almost couldn’t sing it, he was smaller & scared-er & more broken in this one than he perhaps realised. It’s a heartbreaking listen but that’s what’s good about it. It’s falling so far, hitting the floor & then getting up again. (JC)
“when you’re next to nothing with nothing to lose you get carried away patience, the truth” is my favourite line of the album I think. The truth always comes out in the end, you’ll get yours, they’ll get theirs, it’ll be alright someday. (JC)
‘Hand In Hand’ has been strangely popular, I wrote this in about 3 passes, the chords & lyrical idea all just appeared in my kitchen, real quick. Yes, that’s a reference to Scott Hutchison, RIP. The laughter is real, the sound of me wondering what on earth I am doing.
This song is both ridiculous and sweet, what kind of person sings a love song about all the ways they might die?… Alec is! We couldn’t even sing it without laughing. In terms of production it needed nothing but a jangly guitar and his wonky vocal. (JC)
This sigh, at the start of ‘Event Horizon of You’, is probably my favourite sigh on the whole album. You can’t have a great album without a cough or a sigh or something. This one, I meant it & I’m glad we left it in. @jonwilksmusic said it was ominous & he’s right.
Now that’s the kind of title Alec would give a love song, it’s a space love song. The sigh at the beginning always annoyed me and I’d never have let it stay but it’s not my album so… (JC)
‘Event Horizon of You’ is the first full song I had ready, but the middle verse took forever to get right. @paulKblabber described as ‘an odd combination of physics & Lewis Carroll’ which I love. I choke the metaphor a bit & I’m not certain of the science.
“shifted to blue and then brown” is the lyric – I imagined an approaching object moving toward our hero, reflected by the light in her eyes. I don’t care, really, if that’s how it works or not, I reckon it’s just right how it is. Physicists, holla!
i love yelling I’M A SNOWFLAKE at rooms
Alec and I both played an elec guitar part for this he did the arpeggio and I’m doing the strummed chords, which was lovely cooperation at the time but now we forget who did what and argue about who played electric on this track (it’s me at the end for deffers!) (JC)
‘My Kind Of Chaos’ started as a title & I knew exactly the kind of song that went with it. Nobody knows what the second verse means & I’m ok with that. I love Josienne’s recorder orchestra. We’ll do that again.
‘My Kind Of Chaos’ is one of those guitar parts I can barely play. challenging my own skills, being better at coming up with ideas than executing them, this is the way around I like it.
Another of my favourites, those are 4 recorder parts sounding like a weird steam engine there! Trying to sound as sweet as this little song, soft and gentle, like a dream. (JC)
Every great LP has a cough somewhere on it, right?
The cough he does before the vocal here is bang wrong in every rule book but he doesn’t care for rules so he kept it in! This is a lovely way to end the story and it isn’t ever the end of the world. Stay here and find out x (JC)
‘Never The End Of The World’ was the last thing I wrote. Capo on 7 like ‘Lua’ by Bright Eyes & the whole thing came in one go, crashed landed out of nowhere, a real surprise. I knew the sentiment, the ending, before I started, I wanted hope & hope appeared.
Not wishy washy platitudes, though. I wanted realism. Underneath everything, at the end of it all, does anything worth knowing remain? This was my attempt at drawing a conclusion, finding catharsis, best I could. It feels like I did it, to me. Good enough.
it clocks in under 29 minutes and that means the bastard beats me on brevity, my own accolade! I only realised the other day and I’m furious. (JC)
So, there, that’s it, it’s done. The dust settled, the words spoke, I put it best I could. Thanks for listening. I want to try & play them live, one day. Would you want to come see that? Ax
A load of people said because of course they did, it was a bit of a mean twatty ending on my behalf. But I do want to play live. Maybe I’ll feel differently when I am able to do it, hah.
Anyway, there it was! Thanks for reading!