Firstly I should start with an apology for being late with my Blog, it is now May and I’ve only just had the chance to update it. Although I am disappointed in myself for not keeping up, I am also happy to say that my musical life has been the culprit by keeping me busy.
So, let us go back as far as March. The month started with the usual performances with Wild, but other things such as recording our new EP was equally exciting as any show. Little did we know, we were about to embark on very busy month of recording; but more on that later. The original idea was to disappear into a London studio for a week or so and record an album full of punk covers. Although the three of us are into 50s music we all had different inspirations growing up. If you have heard us live, you will hear all our individual styles in our playing. This is what makes Wild the band it is today, not quite all Rock & Roll, but not quite Rock either. Our interest in Punk is evident in our live playing; it has been know for us to play the odd punk song as an encore.
As with any band, things change slightly. It seems to be a trend these days to release an EP rather than an album and I can see the reasons why. The first being that we get to hear more recordings from our favourite acts more often. We chose to do the same and started to record four of our favourite Punk tracks for release on 30th April at the Clarendon Bar in Derry.
To run a band successfully these days, especially when you are earning your living from it, you need to look at the business side and be very careful of spending too much money. Paul has always shown fantastic talent in recording acts. Going back some ten years ago, he was the sound engineer for many Rock & Roll acts in London Clubs. Because of this, we chose to record the EP ourselves and not book the time in a studio. It would have proven to be very expensive, but was it possible for us to create a good recording this way? We soon found out.
The songs chosen for the EP were King Rocker, Milk & Alcohol, Sheena is a Punk Rocker and of course because of the Derry connection, Teenage Kicks. Paul spent a few weeks recording a guide for each track, which enabled me to play along to. For those of you who are not familiar with the recording process, you have two options. Record all as one and edit it later with over dubs etc, or record it one instrument at a time. The first option is usually my preferred, but working with Artists such as Mario Bradley, I have learnt how to be able to play a full song with just a guitar as a guide. Where were we to record this record? Paul has a home studio, but it is not always possible through work commitments for us to get together. I decided that we should record the drums in my home studio.
I think it is well documented through my Twitter updates that I am a great fan of Yamaha drums. My home studio is equipped with a Yamaha Dtxpress IV. This is where the secret is revealed; I recorded the new EP on an electric drum kit.
It all started on a Friday morning with a few cups of coffee and armed with a very reliable backing track from Paul. First track- Teenage Kicks. As I have mentioned before, the relationship we have with the Derry Jazz festival goes back a few years and having met Jon O’Neil many times, we saw it as fitting tribute to the great friends we have made during our time at the festival. This track has been in our set for some years, so it did not take long to get it down. I used the birch setting on my kit, which gave me a terrific original sound. It is my favourite track on the EP and I am very pleased with the result.
We all have our different ideas what is good music and no more so than the three members of Wild. For sure we all have different tastes in music, but we seemed to find common ground with the punk songs. The Ramones were a major force during the punk period and one of my favourite tracks is Sheena is a Punk Rocker. Making a cover version different is always a challenge, but we decided to give it a swing feel. Luckily for me the Jazz kit on the Yamaha did the trick perfectly, again I am very pleased with the result.
In 1979 I remember picking up a copy of Milk & Alcohol by Dr Feelgood. The driving snare at the beginning was enough to get my twelve-year-old drumming mind very excited. Even then I was quite the enthusiast when it came to a great rocking snare. I was ecstatic when we first had the idea of playing this. It was always going to be a different version considering our instrumentation. I don’t think that Dr Feelgood ever thought that a double bass was going to drive one of their songs.
Picking the tracks for any recording is one of the hardest things you can do as a band, but to be honest it was easy for us. Paul and Hugh had always talked about playing King Rocker from Generation X. In an early incarnation of Wild it was attempted, but it was dropped after a while. Since I joined in 2000 they have both mentioned this song on a regular basis, so I thought it was time we recorded it. The track starts with a driving Tom groove, great to play and really powers the song along. The Tom sound from the Electric drum kit was brilliant. The Middle section really moves well with a very successfully executed Rap from Paul.
Working with Paul Gallacher and Hugh Robertson-Payne was a complete pleasure. I think that this EP is great to listen to; it really shows what a great band can do. We could have just recorded what we do every gig. But I am glad we did not. There is more to Wild than meets the eye (or ear) and I certainly believe that after all these years there is still plenty more to come. If you fancy purchasing King Rockers EP please follow the link to iTunes. If you would like a hard copy, please email me and I will gladly send you one.
Until next time, thank you for reading.