- Fri, 2012-11-09 13:23
After a couple of years of pretty solid gigging and writing, we went through a long process of chatting to producers and visiting producers and sending producers tracks. Jon Brookes of The Charlatans recommended us to four of their favourite producers, all of whom came back with glowing praise for the tracks and wanted in on the project... It was a close run thing but we opted for Jim Spencer (www.jimspenceruk.com). Jim has worked with some of our favourite artists (Oasis, New Order, Paul Weller, The Vaccines and of course The Charlatans), and works directly out of The Charlatans’ Big Mushroom studios. The band are heroes of ours and because we knew we would be documenting the whole thing, it all fitted for us.
We were like excited
schoolgirls boys when we arrived, hurtling around all of the corridors and coming across all sorts of Charlatans paraphernalia, equipment, merchandise and personal bits n bobs. There are five bedrooms here (obviously), so we thought that would be perfect...until Jim told us that Tim Burgess’ room remains locked at all times as he has so many records in there and loves them more than people. Fair play.
We had a chat with the landlord about the place as part of our diary video updates for Pledge, and he told us it was an old frustian mill where they made corduroy, it really is an impressive place, although a bit spooky and Amityville looking from the outside – more of that later!
On the subject of Pledge, after having been through the mill with our ex-label, we decided to do something different for the debut album and release it through Pledge Music. Pledge allows fans and friends to help the band fund the album by pledging or buying various items. These range from pre-ordering the album, signed merchandise, exclusive experiences such as hanging out in the studio, singing backing vocals on a track, or the biggie...a chance to rename the band. We feel that with a new lead guitarist, new songs, a fresh twist on our sound thanks to Jim and lots of momentum happening, we need to move into this new chapter with a new name and we are offering pledgers the chance to suggest ideas. Exciting eh?! The only thing is if we don’t hit our target we have to give everyone their money back and no-one gets a thing. CAN’T HAPPEN!
We are doing a couple of video updates every week from the studio and some of them are particularly amusing if not a little weird!! Anyone who pledges can watch these updates. Go see www.pledgemusic.com/marnerbrown
So back to the studio diary. The first day was pretty much setting up the equipment and getting ready to get stuck in the next day. John is in charge of cooking and gets well into it, he sorted us out with straight up sausages n mash this evening. See you tomorrow!
We awoke on day two full of beans (and sausages) and seriously up for it.
We started with a track that hadn’t necessarily been earmarked for the album although our Manager had kept on at us to feature it in pre-production so that Jim could hear it. It’s predominantly an instrumental track that is powerful and bass driven, with the odd yell thrown in here. The closest references I can give it are the start of ‘Crawl’ by Kings of Leon with a splash of Primal Scream’s ‘Evil Heat’ and a sprinkling of The Charlatans' Sugar on top. Get in there!
We started jamming it as a warm up and it sounded so fat that it’s now the album opener. We can’t tell you the working title that Jacob our bassist came up with as it would mean that this blog would need a ‘Parental Advisory’ stamp on it, but the final name will probably be ‘Res Ipsa Loquitur’. Look it up! We can however let you have a sneaky peek here:
We also started a live broadcast today, via ustream.tv. We thought it would be cool to give our fans a live broadcast from the studio doing various inane things! The first one was Cozy, our drummer, talking about the music and films that he plans to keep him going in his downtime.
So far on the Cozy film front has been ‘Kingpin’ with Bill Murray. What a belter! Vanessa Angel as well? Christ on a bike! Along with some fundamental Monty Python. We all sat down to eat and stuck that on and it had everyone in bits. The albums he's been spinning so far are ‘Marquee Moon’ by Television, the 10 year Libertines celebratory album with various bands playing a track on there, Everything Everything, Band of Skulls, Black Keys, Macabees, Deep Dish Penetrate Deeper and also a bit of Eric B & Rakim.
Jim’s assistant is “absolutely mint” to coin his phrase, what a top lad, actually, change that to possibly the nicest lad we’ve ever met! His name is Max Lees and he’s in a band called Where’s Strutter? (his brother was in Twisted Wheel). It became apparent last night that Max has a burning passion for northern soul so he dug deep into his ipod and hit us up with a few faves. Good vibes and shapes being thrown all round.
The lounge area in the studio is a really cool huge space, with loads of sofas and a pool table, decks and hundreds of Tim Burgess’s records about, it’s a great place to hang out. The walls are red and at each end the walls are covered with wallpaper that’s a forest at one end and an alpine scene at the other. This came in handy when we did the video diary episode which was a description of how to pledge. They’re informative, interesting with some weird and funny stuff that’s been captured on camera thrown in too.
It was a late-at-night-idea to make this with different clips of the band in various daft outfits including shower caps, fake moustaches and other bits n bobs. Having consumed a lot of alcohol that evening it descended into slight anarchy but the outcome is something you’ve definitely gotta watch!
In the making of this we did a good deed. The high timber ceiling has lovely beams running across it with loads of multicoloured light bulbs hanging from leads, although none of them were working as The Charlatans hadn’t replaced them for years. We spoke to Jim about this and he said they used to love them. We did a bit of research and headed to a market which was selling the right bulbs. Fiac and John came back with the bulbs along with eight grease lighters, loads of cheese, a gold $ medallion and four 9 volt batteries none of which worked. Bargain! John set about putting them all up immediately. Very precariously though as he was drunk and balancing on chairs trying to do it so he had to get Fiachra in to sit on his shoulders. Could have ended in tears but it didn’t... never mind. The place now looks like a rock n roll grotto and the posters of Charlatans’ heroes adorning the walls now lit up in all their glory. We’re now seeing Jimi, George, John n Bob in a different light! See what we did there? No? OK. We sent a picture to Jon Brookes from The Charlatans and he was over the moon with it.
We finished the night with a recommended trip to the local Mexican Chimichangas, which was a massive disappointment. Shan’t be going back there. Or would we?...Back into the live room now to work through one of the classics that is on the album. Looking forward to it. Jim reckons he’s got a whole new vision for ‘Witch Hunt’. ‘Witch Hunt’ is a hard hitting tune that Fiachra wrote the lyrics for having watched a documentary about women and children in Africa being burnt having been accused of witch craft. Proper moving lyrics and a live fan favourite due to the beer in the air chorus. “Woh oh oh oh oh oh oh ohhh oh oh oh oh!”.
What Jim did last night with ‘Witch Hunt’ is incredible. It’s now so much more melodic and he’s added a certain beauty to the brawn. It’s going to sound great on the album.
We’ve started to hear strange noises around the place at night and things are going missing. For example, Coz had a little rock of hash which we left on the pool table, there were only three of us up that late last night and we were all together until we went to bed. The next day it was gone and Coz found it inside a pair of rolled up socks that were at the bottom of his bag which he hadn’t been near. Weird. People have heard voices at night and what sounds like someone walking and running around behind the walls! There was a big lump of chalk in the control room in its usual place, someone reached to get it and it wasn’t there so we turned the place upside down looking for it as we needed to put the tracks on the board to keep on top of all the parts. When we’d finished looking it was sitting exactly where it should have been but wasn’t since we first started looking for it. It freaked everyone out cos it WASN’T THERE!!
This morning Coz heard someone knocking on the door to the lounge which is by his room, he got up and opened the door to see who it was and there was no one in there and he literally ran back into his room! There have been some strange noises this afternoon coming from Tim’s room, and we’re starting to wonder if he’s actually been in there the whole time. We’re all getting a bit freaked out as we all have our own instances of weird stuff happening. Hmm.
HAHAHA! Our Manager David just put selotape across the door to Chris’s room, at head height and as we’re writing this he woke up, went to leave his room and walked straight into the tape which wrapped around his face! Bingo! Brilliant; and obviously very mature.
We had a surprise visit today from The Charlatans’ bassist Martin Blunt. What a gentlemen. Luckily David hoovered this morning and tidied up with the help of Fiachra so the place was in good nick. He was so polite, even asking if it was OK to make himself a coffee. What a geezer. He also signed a poster for David’s brother for his 40th. We played him the album opener mentioned earlier in the week and he stood and listened intently as he smoked his cigarette, then as it finished he turned round and said “that, is fucking awesome” to much grinning and then turned to Jim and said “why can’t you do that for us Jim?!”. Classic. A true gent indeed, he collected his double bass and he was off on his way.
We’re awaiting the arrival of Stefan Duerr today. Stefan is an amazing photographer who has done photography, artwork and design for some great artists including a lot of material for Paul Weller and Ocean Colour Scene. He’s a really lovely German chap and is coming over to take the first batch of shots for the album artwork tomorrow. Check his site out www.stefanduerr.com Here’s one of his previous live shots of us... Amazeballs.
We’re having spuds and tuna tonight. Although David, Coz n Chris went to the supermarket to buy the goods, stood chatting about which tuna to get for so long before leaving without any! IDIOTS! Beans it is then. We’re re-working another fan favourite tonight; ‘Do It Again’. Jim reckons he’s got some tricks up his sleeve to make it an absolute stormer...
What can we say, Jim put this huge prolonged boom effect on ‘Do It Again’ and it just knocks you off your feet. It’s one of his own samples apparently. BOOOOOOOOOOM! Rockin’ it. Heavy shit.
The place is looking a bit messy again which has brought with it the arrival of Gary. Gary’s the mouse that’s knocking around in the kitchen! Jim cornered it with a broom but didn't have the heart to kill it. Much to our relief.
The pledge campaign is looking good, we’re looking like we might hit 50% of our target in the first week! We reckon it’ll plateau a bit after that so that’s where you can help us! Get over there! www.pledgemusic.com/marnerbrown We’ve done another update video looking at the workings and process of ‘Too Young To Die’ and then some silly clips thrown in. It’s great stuff. Well we think it’s funny.
We’ve come up with an idea to spur people on to pledge. We’re going to come up with a target and if we hit it by a certain date Coz will go shopping in the village Tesco’s (think ‘Deliverance’ but with less teeth) in a hot dog outfit, don’t ask, and Fiachra will go with him in a dress and we’ll film it. So keep your eye on our facebook page: (www.facebook.com/marnerbrown)
There’s a bit of friction going down in the house! As John’s doing all the cooking and it seems Fiachra and David are doing pretty much all the cleaning! Trouble brewing. No wonder Gary’s knocking around in the kitchen with all that stuff laying about. Cheeseus Christ. Mouse heaven innit. On the plus side, Gary’s one of us now and to boost morale has started morning yoga classes and thai cheese. Jacob however isn’t interested at all. He doesn’t give an edam and it’s really starting to grate on us... John’s in there preparing a sausage casserole and tonight’s live broadcast is going to be ‘cooking with John Wildgoose’! He’s bound to be pissed by the time the food’s sliced up so it should be nice n random.
Fiachra’s working on plans for tomorrow’s broadcast which is ‘domestic tips with Fiachra Kerrigan’. Don’t ask. Jacob has literally not moved from the sofa since 10am this morning and it’s now 7.45pm. He’s a serious gamer and is playing ‘Minecraft’ in a hardcore stylee. David, our manager, just filmed the live ustream broadcast until a viewer messaged in and said it had been filmed upside down! Oh dear.
Stefan’s arrived!! Woohoo! We’ll be back later as it’s time to get Stef hammered! (Don’t like it up em these Germans).
Woh woh woh, 5am finish this morning and up at 10am to get snapping.
We had a great night with lots of jamming, enough booze to knock out a Roman army and nuff Hitler gags. Max the engineer and Fiachra had an impromptu jam and off the cuff came up with an absolutely beautiful song called ‘A Month Of Sundays’. We filmed it so we’ll post a bit up as part of another pledge update video.
Photo time. There’s a lovely picturesque canal behind the studio so we’re heading down there for some shots. Although we’re worried it might be a little too nice for what we require. First of all it’s brekky, loads of greasy stodge obviously while we watch the remainder of ‘Escape to Victory’ which we made Stefan watch last night straight faced all trying not to giggle!
Fiachra and David are working out dance moves to Paul Simon ‘Graceland’. I think we’ll whack some into one of the pledge update videos. Hilarious. What a couple of twats. Coz has spent the morning doing a load of drum overdubs in the big cold loft room. We’ve used some of The Charlatans’ kit and now have over 40 different drum parts to lay on one track! Gonna sound booming! Fiachra’s been doing vocal takes on some of the new tracks including a track called ‘Tell It Like It Is’, which is a very Noel-esque anthemic singalong. It’s up there with the best tracks he’s ever written for sure and it’s gonna be a stalwart classic we reckon.
OK we’re off to get the photos done. Laters.
Right we’re back from the photoshoot. Stefan got us to climb up on a huge canal boat roof and took some shots of that. We also got inside the church and took some top shots in there. The best of which were four of the band kneeling at the altar with Jacob – who already looks more like Jesus than Jesus – standing up there arms aloft. Sooo good! We filmed it too and it’s going into one of the pledge update videos. Sorry religious types! Unlucky.
Tim Burgess and Mark Collins are coming down later! Immense. Tidy up time.
The live broadcast later on is going to be us sozzled and playing the cornflake box game whereby you put an empty cornflake box on the floor and take turns picking it up with your mouth and only your feet allowed to touch the floor. Once everyone has done it you cut it down an inch and so on. It usually ends with someone making a desperate lunge and face ploughing into the floor or against the wall. We’ll definitely film some for you! Off to the local Mexican Chimichangas again to give them the chance to redeem themselves! Better know.
The Mexican was f**kin awful again!! Oh my days! Gutted. Fiachra’s ill today and it must be that cos he’s got the constitution of an ox, a drunk-a-lot ox.
Tim and Mark came along with a couple of mates and were lovely, as to be expected. Tim thought someone had been using his razors but no one here shaves? Probably that ghost again. Or Gary (the mouse) trimming his whiskers. They both signed the poster for David’s brother as well, top lads. Tim’s new album was given a run out and it’s fantastic. Really moving and his voice is so different to anything he’s done before.
Poor old Coz, usually immaculately self-styled with all mod cons, well, he wasn’t this day. Fiachra decided not to inform him of the visitors and as they walked into the lounge Cozi, fresh from his slumber was in a shitty old tracksuit, hood up stuffing pizza in his mouth. What a charmer! First impressions n’ all that.
Chris lost two games of w**ker.... again. This is a game we like to play where you keep hold of the plastic around a 4 pack of lager, four people put their hands through a ring each and then on three they pull away. Whoever’s left with it round their wrist has to keep it on until the next waking day. He’s lost every day so far. Top. While we’re on that note, our Manager would like to mention that he’s undefeated so far on the pool table and has beaten Coz about 10 times, almost 7 balling him twice. Just so you know, apparently.
Jacob’s been walking round doing his Arnie impression which we have to admit is brilliant. We’ve filmed it and that’s definitely going into one of the diary vids. “See you at ze party Victor”.
We’ve been unloading a huge lock up outside which was like a Charlatans grotto with all of their organs (surely half the organs ever to be in the UK are in that lock up!). We had to take everything out (which was an eight man job as they’re so heavy) so we could get to the Wurlitzer at the back. Once we’d done it we realised the one we wanted was at the front! DANG IT! It sounds incredible though, and an inspiring thought to know that it was used on such albums as ‘Us & Us Only’ and ‘Tellin’ Stories.’ Top.
We’re going to film Coz shopping in the hotdog suit in a bit! Just so that we have it when we hit that target!
Fiachra and David have gone to the canal to work on some lyrics. We’re a bit stuck with some lines for ‘What You Want’ which is surprising as it’s a fairly simple rock n roll number with short to the point lines but somehow, that has made each word and line more essential to get right and proved a real stumbling block. It’s a song about girls getting too keen and wanting something serious when all you wanna do is bang everything! The tricky bit is making it sound that way without sounding too obnoxious and misogynist. We’ll get there.
Latin American beef stew ce soir! Gwaan John.
So many weird noises last night and things going missing again. David’s lost his ever present St Pauli hat and the pad with all the lyrics has disappeared too. However we have since found out that Tim was using our pad and took it with him to a gig... in London. Jim called him and he said he’ll post it. Fingers crossed. It’s got all our lyrics and plans for world domination in there.
We noticed last night that there are about seven hairdressers within about a 400 yard stretch round here in Middlewich, yet as young Max pointed out, there are more bad haircuts about than you can shake a comb at! David and Fiachra cracked ‘What You Want’, which is now called ‘Sally Go Easy’ as that was an alternate line that Fiachra came up with. It now works perfectly and doesn’t come across as too blokey but makes its point and I think a lot of people will relate to it, from whichever side of the relationship fence they sit on!
Coz was pulling off some top moves to MIA’s Paper Planes, sooo good. We’re sticking it in the next diary video. Fiachra stayed up most of the night into the early hours trawling through documentaries on ancient aliens and crop circles. The boy’s obsessed. Nothing to do with his smoking habits. The next live broadcast will be about that we reckon!
The album is sounding so heavy and Jim has worked with some major artists but has said on a couple of occasions that he’s run the risk of having a rare “happy attack” on a few occasions in the studio; that can only be a good thing eh. There’s a massive gap in the market for the next great British rock n roll band and we think we’ve got the tools, songs, passion and live show to fill that gap. We’ve had great comments from the likes of Ronnie Wood, The Charlatans, Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller and are blowing everyone away who come to see us. We’ve playing the Red Lion in Leytonstone on the 22nd December. It’d be good to see you there so you can see what the fuss is all about...
We’ve also just confirmed a brilliant partnership with Alfa Romeo who are going to support us and try to help bring awareness to our rise. They are great people who invited us to play on their stage at the Goodwood Festival alongside OCS and The Charlatans. They loved the music so much they decided to get behind us. In fact we’re doing a photo shoot with them this Friday for part of the launch campaign for the new Alfa Romeo Mito. As mentioned we’re asking people to pledge and as part of that you have the chance to rename the band, the chosen one will win a half day’s racing at Goodwood with all sorts of cool experiences there. Get involved!
Feels a shame to be coming to the end of our week’s diary for I Like Music. We didn’t think we’d have anything to say but there’s so much we’ve left out so pledge and check out the videos. We hope you’ve enjoyed it.
Please do go to www.pledgemusic.com/marnerbrown and see what you fancy. Every bit helps and we’re standing for real music that counts.
Fiachra, Coz, Jacob, John and Chris. (and Gary the mouse).