Proud to prop up the bar
4th March, 2016
The first Idlewild live album is out now - we’re all really happy with it. Live albums are a notoriously tricky equation. The balance between capturing the raw energy of the concert without sacrificing a performance that will lend itself to repeated listens - it’s is a hard one. We have done live releases of sorts in the past - the live DVD in 2007 and also live downloads available for the pre order of ‘Post electric blues’ (recorded at the king tuts residency in 2008) - and ‘Live at Duart Castle’ - the acoustic download that came with pre-orders of ‘Everything ever written’. This time though I guess it was more considered - we recorded quite a few nights so we could pick the best performances (although the majority chosen were from the Barrowlands in Glasgow and London KoKo). It was all mixed by Kris Pohl and there was a lot of thought that went into the songs picked, the mix, the presentation - everything basically. A labour of love i suppose since we have always been a good live band and we wanted the album to reflect that, and the diversity in our back catalogue. It’s become maybe my favourite idlewild record - maybe it’s because it’s the first time i’ve got to be in the crowd so to speak. The old songs, re-arranged and played in a way that befits them now have so much vibrancy to them and the songs from ‘Everything ever written’ benefit considerably. That album, although one of the most creative and satisfying to make, was still made in quite a dysfunctional way - Rod and I starting it and over 18 month period the others joining in. We weren’t really a proper band until three quarters the way through. So on the live album the songs from that record get the chance to sound like proper band songs on disc - ‘Use it (if you can use it), ‘left like roses’ and ‘Utopia’ have never sounded better. The album (which is released on our own Empty words label) will not have general release as such, but will be available to purchase shortly from the idlewild web store, and also at future concerts. In due course it will also appear on Spotify and itunes. Go seek it out if you haven’t already…..
I’ve been enjoying spending a bit more time in Dundee. We’ve been working on the new idlewild album in Andrews rehearsal space he keep in the city (which he also lives in). Some will know of course that I spend a good portion of my growing up living in Carnoustie, just outside Dundee and come from a family of Dundonians. Although I associate the city with my childhood, my grandparents and the broons and oor wullie (ask a Scottish friend) - it is fairly changing as a place and seems on the cusp of some sort of cosmopolitan makeover. When i was a teenager we fantasied about Glasgow and Edinburgh, thinking nothing interesting ever happened or came to Dundee. But with the building of the new V&A museum and the general facelift the whole waterfront has had - also the cheap spaces available to artists and the always reliably good Art school - all adds up to a positivity and creativity that i never noticed before. Still, there will always be a pint of tartan special at Speedwell tavern - our favourite post songwriting watering hole, and an old school Dundee institution if ever there was one. The kind of place Paw Broon would have been proud to prop up the bar.
we begin recording our album in Los Angeles straight after our Californian shows in May. I am excited about this. I took a real liking for LA when we recorded ‘Warnings/promises’ there in 2004 -
of course back then, on the major label pay roll, we had a hired house in the Hollywood hills with a swimming pool, and were recording for two months at Sunset sound studios and were by all intents and purposes living out a laurel canyon 70’s fantasy. This time the studio is a lot more modest (although no less funky) - it’s where my new Jazz hero Kamasi Washington (‘The Epic’ - my album of 2015) made his record, so hopefully some of his space age jazz fusion vibes will rub off on us. We’re air B&Bing it in a 50’s bungalow in Echo Park close to the studio. it’ll be interesting to drive around and see whats changed in the decade I’ve been away from the city. It’ll be sunny & warm, great mexican food, Ameboa records, a paddle in the Pacific. Good times.