by Chris Parkes (@rocknrollparksy)
Welcome to the Electone Records blog. For those who are new to the blog I have been asked by Electone to do a round up of exciting gigs, new releases and a look at new talent around Merseyside and beyond along with some label picks and features.
Kicking things off we have something different this time around as I sat down with Electone Records label dwellers, The Wicked Whispers and had a brief chat with frontman Mike Murphy about him producing the bands debut album which is promising to be one of the most exciting Liverpool debut albums in some time.
Word is the album is going to be a much more grandiose in sound, what can the fans and listeners expect?
“The sound of the LP is a lot grander in scale and sound, yes. It had to be. For those who have heard ‘The Dark Delights of The Wicked Whispers’ EP, it will sound like a much bigger, expanded vision but also brings some exciting new things to the table. Its nothing like the 2 limited edition early singles (Dandelion Eyes and Voodoo Moon) which do not feature on the album. There is a bit of everything on the album from our calling card psychedelic sound to folk like grass roots, jazz and even northern soul. The first single from the record in particular is something completely different than people have come to expect from us.”
Your live gigs are always a sight to behold, the last gig at the Camp and Furnace featuring a light show and additional strings and trumpet players joining you onstage. Will the gig goers be familiar with the album tracks or are there some tricks up your sleeves with previously unaired material?
“At the Camp and Furnace we played the album in its entirety, so those who where there got to hear it first. But yes, the album features some new songs that people won’t have heard and some may even surprise. Alongside, we have improved and re-recorded a couple of familiar tracks and some others have been longterm live favourites that have been waiting to be an album. It was recorded as one complete body of work over the last 12 months and as producer the sound of the album I wanted to achieve was a much bigger and accomplished sound. Those who have followed the band deserve a full on LP that hopefully will last the test of time whether it sells 10 or 10,000 copies.”
Did any past Liverpool albums have any influence on the making of this record? You’ve recorded your EP here and also a single in London’s Toe Rag Studios. Does working in Liverpool have an effect on the final product?
“I didn’t have any specific past Liverpool albums in mind regards being recorded here no. Basically I wanted to record the album in Liverpool where I felt at home and could stay close to my family. Another main reason for this was as producer I knew I wanted to spend a long time in isolation on it and it was going to be a huge project so there was no way I could go elsewhere. In track Studios I feel at home, it’s a short walk away and I wanted Steve Powell to engineer and assist me as we make a great team. We had some interesting offers but for me to be this hands on for a long period, I wanted to bring the project to Track Studios and to have Steve part of it as thats where this LP was made to be recorded for so many reasons. I also wanted to amalgamate our key retro influences but inject something very new into the album.”
Your recording the album at Track Studios with Steve Powell, was recording there the clear choice for the album or were the band mooting around different studios and producers?
“I was always going to produce the album, that was always the plan and we all wanted to do it in Track Studios with Steve Powell assisting as we have a lot of trust and respect for each other. Plus where else is better to record our debut LP than the very room the band formed over 3 years ago? Before it became Track Studios the building was our rehearsal studio and that’s where The Dark Delights EP was cut when Steve first set up shop.”
How has it differed in the studio working on a full length LP as opposed to cutting a single?
“There’s worlds of difference. We had a lot of fun recording the 2 limited edition singles in Toe Rag, London with Liam Watson. I was a huge fan of his and to go down to London to cut a couple of singles there was a dream come true. I was able to release two 45s that were recorded fully in analogue onto tape then sent right the mastering engineer to cut straight to vinyl. Just like the old days. However there’s are lots of restrictions and its seriously expensive. I knew I wanted the album to be a much bigger sounding vision and I also wanted to feature a lot of bells and whistles and even guest players, so I needed to be in more control of the process. In Track Studios, Liverpool, Steve Powell uses a mix of digital and analogue so it gave me the creative freedom to produce my more complex original vision. We experimented also with a lot of recording techniques and sounds which adds a fresh and exciting feeling to the record but has the intensity and warmth of the albums that have influenced me such as Strange Days, by The Doors and Forever Changes by Love. Its has taken a lot of preparation and planning regards the compositions and sounds on the record. For me its been a huge project and being a stubborn perfectionist I can also be my own worst enemy hence the length of time this has taken.”
Is the album sounding different to what you expected from pre-rehearsals or band demos?
“The album is almost perfectly how I envisioned it. My production style has been perfectionist and overthought working in extreme detail so leaving small inconsistencies to keep the real organic feel was vital. The main goal was to push the tracks towards what’s been playing in my head for the past 3 years and where its ended up is as close as humanly possible. There’s were moments of improvised ideas, improvements and alternatives which is all part of the recording and production process. Its been an emotional 12 months but Im really proud of how it sounds. I hope everyone will enjoy it as half as much as I’ve enjoyed making it. But it has to be said, I’m glad its done, w’eve been waiting to release an album for what feels a long time and its been a long project. Were already prepping the next step and the band are now a tighter working unit ready to explore new ideas. We wont make 2 albums like this…. “
Details on The Wicked Whispers forthcoming debut album are coming this April/May 2014!
Last week, Electone Records live base of The Baltic Social (In the first floor of Elevator Studios and Rehearsal Rooms) was the venue for the live return to Liverpool for Bandwagon veteran John Robinson of The Bandits, and later The Pedantics, before teaming up with Babyshambles bassist Drew McConnell to form Hey Tourists.
After the promise of an ‘all killer, no filler’ set from Robinson, gig goers were treated to songs from Robinson’s back catalogue of songs, as well as his collaboration with Peter Doherty with ‘I Am The Rain’, where Robinson had previously joined Doherty onstage at Glastonbury festival.
Robinson later treated the crowd to ‘Genevieve’ from his Hey Tourists collaboration and then another co-write with Babyshambles from their latest album, Sequel to the Prequel, ‘Fall From Grace’, pleasing fans both old and new. After a storming solo set, Robinson invited up former band mate Gary Murphy of The Bandits to perform a few selected Bandits hits from their debut and to date, only album. Former Pedantics bandmate Nick Miniski was then invited up on drumming duties for Bandits single, ‘2 Step Rock’ and bringing the night to a rousing rockin’ close.
The nights proceedings were kicked off with a blistering set from the new bolstered line up of local Liverpool favourites, The City Walls, ahead of their headline gig at The Kazimier on March 28th with an impressive line-up featuring The Springtime Anchorage, The Levons and She Drew The Gun, which will surely see the venue packed to it’s rafters.
Tickets available here: http://www.bandtrail.com/gig/614525-the-city-walls-at-the-kazimier-in-liverpool
Other gigs coming up on March 28th include Mighty Wah frontman Pete Wylie returning to The Zanzibar, with a set from Mersey Wylie as well as Tom Carroll. Tickets are available:
Another upcoming band on our radar the past few weeks is former Thespians guitarist, Jessie Robinson’s new solo project Scarlet. Having been working away on Scarlet as a side project and receiving local radio airplay, Robinson has now gone full time, recruited a band and uploaded a number of well received rocking demos. Scarlet make their live debut at Korova Club on 11th April supporting Get Cubs.
Electone Records favourites The Sundowners returned with a free download in the build up to the release of their debut EP, entitled Medicine. Head over to their Soundcloud page to grab the guitar laden track while you can with one of our favourite photographers Dave Walker providing the cover shot. Another favourite of ours, Edgar Summertyme has began running an acoustic night of his own, entitled Ma Edgar’s, bringing in the finest of Merseyside talent every Sunday to perform at the recently opened Frederiks. Keep your eyes open for that!
Speaking of Edgar, a former band of his, The Stairs will appear on the recently released Svengali. Starring Jonny Owen and Vicky McClure of This Is England fame as well as cameos from Martin Freeman of The Office as well as Creation Records and now 359 Music boss Alan McGee, the film follows an ambitious Welshman Dixie, in search of the next big guitar band, trawling through the internet he finds what he’s after and heads to the streets of London with his soulmate Michelle.
With a storming soundtrack featuring everything from Jake Bugg to The Libertines and The Stone Roses, with real life incidents to boot, it’s sure to be a cult hit amongst music lovers.
Alan McGee’s label protégé John Lennon McCullagh also releases his collaboration with Alabama 3, who provided us with the opening theme song to The Sopranos, entitled Towerland Lullaby, sees McCullagh bolstered by a full band sound, providing him with his best song yet from the emerging songwriter. McCullagh will make his live return to Liverpool on 10th May, supporting the homecoming show of The La’s/Cast frontman John Power featuring Jay Lewis (The La’s, Cracatilla, ark) at the legendary Eric’s Club on Mathew Street, alongside The Nigh Swans’ Chris Parkes. (Yours truly!)
With us here at the label being stern vinyl lovers, we’re of course looking forward to this years Record Store Day. This year sees the release of records from the likes of The Sex Pistols, Paul Weller, Damon Albarn, Jake Bugg, The Beach Boys, Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Joy Division, and even The Rolling Stones and David Bowie, who’s record will feature material from the final Ziggy Stardust concert. LCD Soundsystem will also release a 5 LP record of their farewell concert, The Long Goodbye.
Just in time for Record Store Day, the latest record shop on the block is Dig Vinyl at 80 Bold Street, hidden away in the basement of Soho’s, brings us the first record store back on Bold Street since the sad loss of The Music Emporium. Our picks are to delve around Dig Vinyl, as well as Probe Records, Cult Vinyl, Hairy Records and The Musical Box. If you fancy ordering from the comfort of your own home, The Wicked Whispers and Red Sands vinyl records are also available to order from our online store.
On another musical note, we’ve been keeping our eyes and more importantly our ears on the development of Neil Young’s Pono player. Earlier this month, the fundraising company via Kickstarter began taking advance orders on the player, in the region of $400 per player, the price was met with the statement of “Pono will provide the finest quality, highest-resolution digital music from both major labels and prominent independent labels”
Pono will be using the FLAC audio file format, as opposed to MP3, and will apparently revolutionise Digital music listening. As massive fans of Young at the label, we’ll be keeping an eye out for a re-issue of his 1978 folk country rock album, Comes A Time, after Young confirmed he bought in the region of 20,000 copies of the album to take them of the market, which he then went on to use as roof shingles on his house after being unhappy with the final sound quality of the album, apparently damaged in transit.
Finally, Electone will be announcing more shows over the next weeks around the UK and the label are also itching to unveil their next artists they will be working with. In the meantime, we are looking forward to the next instalment of the Electone Records Club night on Friday 28th April 2014 at their Baltic Social Residency with Joe Symes and the Loving Kind, The Levons and resident club DJ Mike Murphy (The Wicked Whispers).
See you next time!