A few notes on the EP ‘If You Want Love (Have Mine)’, now available on Bandcamp:
I tried to get a few record companies to release the Bahaudin album (made between 1999 and 2001) on the basis that it was produced by Nigel Stonier, featured Rod Clements and to a lesser extent Thea Gilmore, all of whom had solo albums out on independent labels.
There were other recording projects which followed, but the main lesson I took from the experience of self-funding an album, and then trying to tout it around, was that it would have been better to do three songs. Then, if there was no interest, I wouldn’t have spent so much money and made so much effort in a lost cause.
Most of the time, I suppose, rank and file musicians are doing their thing with friends or on their own behind closed doors, and that’s what I went back to doing after producing the Bahaudin CD. To be more specific, I was adding words and melodies to some grooves that a friend from Middlesex University, Mike Pierce-Goulding, had come up with.
Having jacked in my office job, which I only got really to fund the recording of the CD, I started making contact with other songwriters and I received some lyrics from a woman in London. I put two of her lyrics to music and recorded them as part of the sessions at my friend Mike’s place in Tottenham. The results were quite well-received, and the lady sent me another two lyrics, requesting a fuller arrangement, i.e. more instruments on the demo.
Meanwhile, I was getting to know one or two people in the music community in Bradford, where I lived, and one of these was Robb Heaton, ex-drummer and songwriter with the band New Model Army, who lived about ten minutes walk away. Robb had a basic studio set-up in the attic of the terraced, former mill worker’s cottage he lived in, similar to my place. We made an arrangement to record some demos of four lyrics by the woman from London with music by me, but when I asked her for a contribution to the recording cost she had a hissy fit and put the phone down. This experience was a great argument against collaborating with people whom you’ve never met. All that work down the drain…
By the time 2004 rolled around it seemed appropriate to make one last effort at getting somewhere in the music industry. That meant interesting a publisher in the material, a record company, a music library, in short any method of getting a foot in the door. The sessions with Mike PG had finished (although they would be added to and released in 2019) and it was not going to be a case of hiring illustrious session musicians from far-flung parts of the country in order to record the songs.
A brilliant drummer from Leeds, Roy Whyke, whom I had heard play in Bradford with people I admired like Jon Strong and Ray Lyon, was asked to contribute. Nick Aynsley, with whom I had played at Hadleigh High School, crafted some melodic basslines. Later my old producer and arranger from the nineties Dan Simmons did some brass arrangements, with Bradford’s John Gray adding tenor sax.
The lead song was called ‘If You Want Love (Have Mine)’. I felt that it had a sixties feel to it and could be used and reshaped to suit other purposes. To that end, I recorded an alternate version, made at a drop-in centre in Bradford called The Ripple Project, where I was sent on a two-day-a-week training course (to learn sound recording) by the DHSS (Department of Health and Social Security), as it was then called. There was a recording studio in the place but no instruments, other than a small keyboard. I think I played the bassline with a Moog sound in homage to mid-seventies Beach Boys.
On the other two days of the week I was required to be at The Cathedral Centre, an adult learning facility near Bradford Cathedral. Here I received tuition in Photoshop and learned a few basic skills which have enabled me to design the covers of my music releases from this time on, for which I’m grateful.
As on previous occasions though, the ‘demos’ turned into a ‘product’, with no means of advertising or promotion and no plan. That’s not to say a salutary experience wasn’t had.
One person read a review on the Sound-on-Sound website, actually bought the EP and especially liked the brass. Turned out he was a fellow songwriter and lived in Ipswich. We got together a few times.
One industry recipient only liked the electro, amateurish throwaway version of If You Want Love done in the drop-in centre, which I found bizarre.
I remember calling another record company and the conversation going like this:
“Are you accepting demos?”
“How old are you?”
“Not from you, mate.”
The engineer and producer of the three main songs on the EP was Robb Heaton, best-known as being a long-time member of New Model Army. I remember getting the CDs made in the autumn of 2004, doing the covers etc and looking forward to getting a copy to him when I heard from my neighbour that he almost literally dropped dead from pancreatic cancer aged 43. Robb had actually encountered success in this cruel industry but I never found him aloof or boastful. He was an enthusiastic enabler of grassroots artists and this little recording is a testament to that.
2 comments on “Background to an EP”
Hi Ben, I’m an old friend of Mike P.G’s and I think I might have met you once, a long time ago now. My name is John Kaethner. Mike arranged for me to buy a CD copy of your wonderful album ‘Kill or Cure’ Dated 2008. being retired now; last year, I treated my self to some new audio gear. I just heard kill or cure on it and I was blown away not only by the the recording and mastering but the song writing and playing. It’s a great album right down my street when it comes to taste in music. Sorry I haven’t contacted you earlier life has been a bit hectic and I’ve been too taken up with stuff.
It’s a great shame that artists like you simply get overlooked by the music industry.
This CD ranks high on my playlist!
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