Sunday Driver at the Tusk and Garter club, Brighton

We had a great time last week playing down at the Tusk and Garter club in Brighton (despite the dressing room being up three flights of stairs and having no lights…)

Tusk and Garter flyer

The Tusk & Garter club - a top night all round

The Proud Brighton Ballroom was a fantastic venue that fitted the vibe perfectly, and was packed out with a spectacularly stylish crowd dressed up to the nines in full Steampunk regalia.

Professor Elemental played host:

Professor Elemental

He's less blurry than this in real life

Joel and Amit from Sunday Driver did a little bit of sitar and tabla for the diners before the main event:

Joel and Amit

Nice to see they dressed up for the occasion...

Chandy and I also did some harp and vocal stuff, but obviously I have no photos of that…

Also on the bill was the lovely Marianna Harlotta, diva extraordinaire. I loved her set, particularly the operatic renditions of Ace of Spades and Psycho Killer:

Marianna Harlotta

The diva shows us how it's done

And as a special treat, burlesque from the beautiful  Billie Rae:

Billie Rae

Billie Rae, with most of her clothes still on I'm afraid

Our gig was just brilliant – thanks to everyone who came to see us and danced through the whole set. We had a great time on stage, and it was fun to road-test our new songs in front of such a fantastic crowd. Did anyone take any photos of us?

Sadly I had to leave to make a 3 hour drive home before I could watch much of Mr B, the Gentleman Rhymer. I was gutted to miss his ‘beef’ with professor Elemental, which is shaping up to be the biggest bustup in hip-hop since Biggie and Tupac.  Here’s Elemental’s new video, Fighting Trousers, by way of explanation:

A top night all round – thanks to Tarik for inviting us down, and to all the other acts.

Posted in Gigs, Photos | 1 Comment

Live at the Forge and in the studio

A couple of videos today from my band Sunday Driver. First up, some live gig footage of tabla player Amit, drummer Scott and sitarist Joel jamming at the beginning of our recent gig at the Forge in Camden:

And next, a sneak peek behind the scenes of our writing process. Here we’re in the studio working on a song for our upcoming album – notice the difficulty in communicating with Amit once he’s got his tabla in his hands…

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And now for the good stuff

Recording in the toilet

OK, so this wasn't one of the good bits...

Joel’s already written about some of the things he’s found challenging since we started the process of writing and recording our new album (to be fair we could probably all write a book about that, starting with a long list of why I’m quite such a bitch in rehearsals…) but I thought I’d counter that with some of the things I enjoy about it.

It’s all about the music, maaaan. The past year has been intense. Not only has it been the most creative period we’ve ever had as a band, it’s also been the most hard work. At the same time as coming out with what are some of the best songs we’ve ever written, there have also been moments when I’ve been ready to kill the other guys in the band – and I’m sure they could say exactly the same thing about me.

But when I listen to the new tracks we’ve written and see how well they go down at gigs with our fans, I forget the long hours in the studio, the carping about timekeeping (and timing), the frustration and the farting. Well, maybe not the farting…

When the plan comes together. I love the moment when we sit down and listen to a rough mix of a track and it works. Everyone’s parts fit together, the vocal sounds great (and I suddenly figure out what Chandy’s actually singing about), it’s got a groove, and we sounds like a proper band.

In the same way that you can never hear exactly what your own voice sounds like, it’s really hard to actually tell what your own band sounds like until you hear it recorded (and no, crappy gig footage doesn’t count). At practices or gigs, there’s always something to distract me from actually listening properly, whether it’s concentrating on playing my parts, a dodgy monitor mix, or being stuck right next to Scott’s crash cymbal.

So it’s fun to suddenly be able to hear all the little embellishments – a cheeky little guitar riff from Chemise, a slick tabla fill from Amit, a snare roll from Scott, the intricacies of Mel’s basslines, a neat sitar twiddle from Joel or a clever turn of phrase in Chandy’s lyrics – that normally pass me by.

The rogue snippets. The way we record in the studio, we tend to lay down guide tracks with most of the band, then record our individual parts again over the top. This leads to some interesting rogue snippets of speech sneaking their way into the recordings.

While I was trying to record a clarinet part last week I could hear Joel shouting “F***ing stupid c***!” over the intro to the track. Turns out he was shouting “F***ing stupid count!”, complaining about the way Scott was counting us in.  Luckily – or perhaps unfortunately, depending on your viewpoint- this kind of thing usually gets cut out in the final mix. In one of our very early recordings you can distinctly hear Chandy counting during an instrumental break – I leave it as an exercise for our more dedicated fans to track down which track.

The biscuits. Sunday Driver are probably the most rock and roll band ever, existing on a diet of tea, biscuits, Pot Noodles (dirty!) and reheated curry. Everybody knows that biscuits in recording studios have had all the calories blasted out of them by the ear-searing blasts of accidental feedback.

Quality knitting time. Being in a recording studio involves an awful lot of sitting around doing nothing. Sure I have to go and record a track every so often, but mostly it’s just hanging about. I managed to knit the best part of a pair of socks in just a couple of days of recording last week. I’m hoping to achieve a whole sweater when we finally get in the studio for a whole fortnight in April.

Posted in Confessions, In the studio | Leave a comment

Pics from our gig at the Forge

We had a great gig at the Forge in Camden on Friday, playing a set of mostly new songs to a packed house. Thanks to everyone who came down to see us – hope you enjoyed the music (and the cakes…)

Here are a few pics from the night – videos to follow.

Sunday driver at the forge - dinner

We love the Forge - they gave us dinner!

Sunday Driver Forge set list

The set list - in the end we switched Rats for Dreadful Night. Memo to self - must work on handwriting

Sunday Driver at the Forge - cakes

There were cakes - vanilla cupcakes filled with toffee fudge or chocolate sauce. Did you get one?

Sunday Driver at the Forge - Chandy

Insert your own caption here

Sunday Driver at the Forge - Joel

Joel invokes the spirit of Crocodile Dundee through his choice of headgear

Sunday Driver at the Forge - band

Clearly drummer Scott's the most important person in the band, judging by where the spotlight ended up

Sunday Driver at the Forge - waving

"What do you think of my new deodorant?"

If you were there and took any better pics  – which wouldn’t be hard, to be honest – please share ’em…

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The agony of the morning

I discovered a new spin on the commute to ‘work’ last week.

Crawling off a couch / matress with a throat like a chimney sweeps, hungry, late , with your own songs buzzing around your head in an insanely annoying way.

Example: 11am car journeys to the studio.

Driver: Joel
Shotgun: Mel
Backseat: Chandy or Scott

I’m still very bleary eyed, I’ve left my glasses at the studio so I’m not seeing as well as I ought to.

I want the nice man on Radio 4 to make it all go away, to tell me about Gaddafi’s overdue demise, a rallying call for Latin to be be taught in primary schools…. The Archers! I’ll even listen to the Archers , anything but talk to these people – my oldest freinds and fellow creators: The Band. Please, just don’t talk to me about the F&*&* band. Not yet, we haven’t even had a bacon sandwich yet!

But every morning –  before I get in the car or in the car or once I get out of the car! We start talking about the songs, the next gig… I find these conversations at this particular point in the day knit a knot in my tummy and make my shoulders so taught the bones start to creak… my knuckles tighten and whiten. I bite my lip and growl quietly.

Luckily when get out the car, I see Joe

:

 

Posted in Frustrations, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The worst best situation.

I’ve just got back from the studio. I’ve spent five of the last six days inside the demo for Sunday Driver’s new album. A bubble that sucks you in holds you, takes your responsibilities and forces you to leave them at the door. A wonderful, satisfying, exhausting warp where your fantasy and life collide.

Rainbow Joe has been working 16 hour days since Saturday, only stopping to eat or drink what we place in front of him… our brains, lungs, ears and eyes are spent and it’s sounds good, very good. Far better than we expected it to sound at this point. In fact it’s all gone so well that we’ve ended up in the worst best situation:

We have more good songs than we can fit on the album!

So what will follow?

Six weeks on a see-saw, hovering the axe over our little darlings. Some songs are equally dear to the whole band, some though sit more precious in one of our hearts than the others… these ‘darlings’ are the ones that shall find the axe falling towards them soon, we’ll promise to resurrect them next time… maybe an EP will follow? Maybe the album will be longer (NO! says Mel) …It’s going to be emotional!

I have loads of stupid video from the last couple of days to edit together… once the tiredness passes I’ll get on to that…. and explain why the camera has already been banned from the control room during the Jigsaw sessions to come!

Sleep now, somehow this picture sums up the last few days quite well:

Posted in In the studio, Inspiration, Music, Video | 2 Comments

BBC Session

Kat, Chemise, Chandy and I did a intimate radio session on BBC Cambs last week. We were tired, grouchy and the slightly hyper… however one of the new songs came out really well… and here it is, The Music Box

It’ll only be available for a couple of weeks… please don’t rip it, but do enjoy.

 

Posted in Inspiration, Music | 1 Comment