Sunday, 21 August 2011

Journey's end

as twitted awhile ago:

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The Anatomy ramshakled boat has finally found a small port to lay anchor.
People could not, if they tried, imagine some of the ridiculous crazeshit we had to overcome to get here. Last year alone would have made a wonderfully long glossary of disasters, worthy of a surreal fly-on-the-wall rockumentary, but that, I fear, will have to wait for some future obscure book-writing date.
For now, we're just overwhelmingly happy that, somehow, we managed to overcome the difficulties, big and small, and released some music we're quietly proud of and believe in wholeheartedly.
I will now leave this blog, a mummified record of our small, intense, but totally worthwhile adventure.
My work here is done.
For news and updates on everything that happens from this day forward, pls go to the main blog.
ps - a few FACTOIDS about the record:

* anatomy was mixed in the cave, using superbasic freebie program: audacity. (except 'Standing Still+'Aquamarine' mixed at small ldn studio)
* clarinet on 'Sweet Chili Girl': bumped into a guy at kitchen mini-studio, asked 'wot do u play?' he said 'clarinet' - 'cool, wot r u doing in the next 10 minutes?' I just forgot to ask his name! have no idea who he is.
* having heard the initial 'mastering tapes', I went to the Mastering Studio with a list written ALL IN CAPITAL BOLD: NO EXTRA EFFECTS/ NO COMPRESSION/ NO EQ CHANGE/ NO CLEANING UP VOCALS OR GLITCHES/NO MESSING W/SOUND/ DONT TOUCH ANYTHING. engineer followed instructions to the letter.
* The last sample of old music at the end of 'Clouds' is from a 78 vinyl, over 75 years old, recorded in 1886, and it's called 'In the Gloaming' and it became one of the most popular romantic ballads published as sheet music.
* 'Sinner's Descent' was originally penciled-in as a 'possible b-side'.
* 'Anatomy', the 1st track I wrote, prior to move to Kew, and in the midst of legal troubles, was excluded from the record - as we ran out of studio-time, and it felt just right to leave it out, as it belongs to a slightly different pre-cave era.
(the original porta-demo was included in the Itunes package).

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Anatomy album + single - * pre-order *
The time has come for all our drugstore lovers to put their hands where their broken hearts are get hold of the ANATOMY album.
It's available to pre-order on pretty much all formats, excluding singing it live in your bedroom wearing only fave kimono (although, I'm sure that could easily be arranged too).
Instead of having a 'big naff comeback single release', we've decided to do a limited edition CD single with a couple of album tracks, as a taster.
You can pre-order both the single and the album online or get it direct from the Rocket Girl website. It's also gonna be available on most independent record stores, after the official release date.
As you know, Anatomy is a simple, homemade record, no big production or frills, and I hope it captures some of the moods and stories of life in the cave, the dark places my heart got to, in an unpretentious, occasionally drunken, but totally dead-real way.
I don't expect whole world to love everything about it, but kinda hope someone, somewhere's gonna find a track or two to treasure.
love to the world, all the boys and girls, love to the fishies in the deep blue sea.
love to you and me. x


Tuesday, 31 May 2011

* ALBUM Launch GIG - ST Giles Church thu 18th Aug *
tix from: wegottickets
sorry, gig now SOLD-OUT.

full info on the main blog.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

*.....MEGA UPDATE... * ... ALBUM PREVIEW...*
Anatomy of an album - musical dissection
Semi-meaningful blurb on trying to understand the entrails of this record and how it was put together.

Anatomy album traks - mini-preview

30/40secs blasts of lo-fi MP3s of some album traks.

Anatomy of an album - artwork dissection
by sister monteiro
Some over-emotional, inarticulate, OTT blurb on trying to decode the artwork and find meaning in a poncho.



Thursday, 5 May 2011

Band Fan Video Meeting 1
Loads of emails crowding up inbox, everyone wanting to know if we have set a release date yet and what's been happening.
C'mon in amigos vaqueros, musical rancheros, welcome to this one-eyed jack mistress, single sided band-fan meeting, for the latest from the Drugstore camp:


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

V is for Verdana
Today managed to finish and upload all artwork files.
They say time flies when you're having fun - I say it rushes by when you've got a bloody deadline round your neck.
I love doing artwork, and although I'm a trained graphic designer, so have basic grasp - know my way 'round a sans serif, in the past things were a little easier, as I'd just sketch/paint/scribble something, and send it off to Simon at RyanArt, who would then do the hard graft of placing text, barcodes - putting the format together;
This time I'm doing everything myself, so if anything looks shite, dodgy spelling or barcode belongs to another band another planet - ain't got no one else to blame.
Can't imagine being happier than locked in the cave, disconnected from the world, doing this stuff for pure pleasure. It's a joy and a privilege.
As with everything else we've ever released, I wanted the artwork to reflect where we're at - so gone are the fuzzy-pop pinks, in with the slate greys and dead blues.
It's amazing how much unconscious foretelling an album or single cover can reveal.
I can trace drugstore's emotional rollercoaster just by reading the silent subtext in the artworks - there was always some extra meaning, some other layer.
A while ago I received a long enraged email from a fan who was outraged at the prospect of Drugstore releasing music digitally - as he worried about us losing our religion:
baby - you have nada to fear: the album is super-lo-fi and the artwork, although I do a lot of stuff on the computer, has all sorts of homemade elements - for some of the tools I use have changed, the work I do is still delivered the very same way: bloodshot in your face.
1st single - thump on the ground.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Mad album cover night-shoot in the cold, cold rain.

Once I get an idea stuck inside my head, it's pretty hard to get rid of it, as it just keeps beeping, till it gets done.
Wanted a photo for the album cover, grey skies, open sea, just before the sun breaks through, and everything becomes clear.
Photographer Michela Volpe and mate Jody volunteered for the unbelievably tough assignment.
Found perfect bay. Rang the Kent authority, managed to speak to tourism big-shot and we got a beach hut available to us in the middle of the night.
It was freezing - really freezing, rain pouring and a biting wind blowing.
We all ended up soaking wet, desperately trying to keep the expensive camera dry.
It was a crazy thing to do, but we've got some great shots.
Front cover done.
Have 3 days to put all artwork together - bloody deadlines - you're always 1 day behind, no matter how many days you're given. always.



Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Album master, me slave
On my way to the mastering studio, where final EQ touches, volume and song order is put into place.
It's the last stage of the whole craze process, before going into production.
Last nite did something pretty ridiculous, I need to share:
Had superbusy day organising the songs and preparing everything, and by 2am all files were compiled together on 3 precious folders on my desktop.
Turned pc/Ibook off and went to sleep.
Woke up at 4am with terrible fear that files might have disappeared from the desktop, some fluke virus or extreme bad luck.
Got up, switched everything back on, and ... thankjesusfuck:
all 3 pretty folders sitting quietly on the desktop, just as I had left them.
No - they can't stop me now.

dramatic post-mastering script:
Massive delays on the district line, and me getting v.anxious about turning up late.
Broke urban taboo, and spoke to stranger sitting next to me: ' er.. do these people realise I have an album to master?! arrrgh'.
Got to Turnpike Lane 1/2 hour late, confused about address and stressed blind, crossed the street to try to hail a black cab and fell over right in the middle of busy multi-traffic junction - cars stopped - driver shouted at me - another pedestrian came over to help and took me to a minicab office.
Whoever you are: thank you.
Session went super fine - guy at the studio was great.
It's gonna be a pretty album.
Vinita turned up, had chips, we hugged and I felt quite emotional.
sense of achievement.
Moral of the story: we always get there in the end.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Gracias Vaqueros
One day to go.
All album traks done - tomorrow: a few b-sides, eq on original demos and a much needed and bloody earned very tall glass of champagne.
Time to honour our beloved fans and friends, and our brave and much talented drugstore vaqueritos.
ps- and no, there were no craze arguments or mad parties this time, I didn't sleep with any of them. (but I did think about it, of course!)
Gracias Vaqueros!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Bad Monteiro?
Day 2 of mixing: started off good, with generosity of next door biz neighbour, who runs nice family crabmeat business, ended up even better with 3 lovely mixes of some of the mellower/quieter album tracks - Clouds, La Brume and Can't Stop me Now.
Had superlative crabmeat brunch; My dad used to say that crab was the food of angels - I think, in this instance, I may have to agree.
As for being a really, really bad person, although sometimes line of good and bad drawn with invisible ink, today, managed to overcome temptation, and happily shared crab-loot with everyone else.
you never doubted I would, did you?! scoundrels!
ps- very pop-postscript: the crabmeat biz is housed in what used to be another little recording studio, where, hard to believe but true, the SpiceGirls recorded their 1st album. historic.


Thursday, 17 February 2011

I have no clean clothes left: none.
Recording time is over; Time to mix the album.
Mixing is a weird little beast, can bring the fussiest out of the laid-back, and turn deaf mice into audio-experts.
I'm gonna try really hard not to get over picky, and get trapped into the compression/delay chamber. Just want the songs to be heard, nice, unaffected and clear.
So far everything sounding top class, not a single brown smartie in the bag.
Now, can I have just a tad more reverb, please? and that 2nd snare beat on the chorus is too loud, also the b-vox needs panning, and the bass needs tweaking, and that guitar whatever...Pete's rotary organ...and the slides... (ad infinitum)

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Yesterday our cute string quartet crossed the bridge into Drugstore island.
By no means over-producing our little beast, just adding touches on a couple of songs.
They were very young and lovely, hit our bar straight away and were happy being fed on burnt microwave popcorn.
Reason why I love young people, everything is worth it, coz the heart is still roughly in the right place, not yet completely tamed or jaded.

Cloud 9

Recording vocals on Clouds, our last album track.
Beyond the dirt that grinds
and turns everyman into ghosts
At the cave in comfort uplifted.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Calm Ascending

Today, for the first time, had a chance to listen to everything we've done so far.
Respiratory and slowly.
I usually take a cheapo pair of headphones with me, the ones you'd get on Ebay for about, say, £30, not the worst, but just below average, and plug them straight into the desk. It's a great way to have an overall impression of what the record is roughly going to sound like.
Felt overwhelmed and happy with what I've heard, and for the first time, a gentle wave of calmness rose from within, something I haven't felt in years.
Terrible, isn't it?, but I fear that other dreaded word 'maturity' might have finally sipped into our music, but not in a serious or too grown-up way - not like that, but more like when you're about to arrive at someplace strange and new and feeling quietly comfortable with yourself.
star spangled pretty.
El Pedro, in a sea of tinkles.


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Cowboy Lover

Fell in love with the wrong cowboy, not for the first or last time, I fear...
In the meantime, at the Drugstore Island, clock doing that Einstein thing I never quite understood, y' know, the bleeding two twins, one is travelling at the speed of light, the other stuck on earth, or whatever? as studio time slipping away faster than predicted by my mathematical planner. weird.
Still, despite recording studio own bizarre laws of non-logical physics, think we gonna make it and arrive safely at harbour in 10 days time.
all in good spirits.


Saturday, 5 February 2011

Strike a pretty chord
Underneath the rubble, the crass jokes, the ill-thought out pseudo-amusing twits, the grammatical mistakes, the rude bossy demands, the craze drive, the blind determination, the rock'n'roll sub-diva, the drunken bitch, this harsh shell that I carry, lies something quite small, barely there, in perfectly opposing symmetry, and sometimes it surfaces and strikes a pretty chord.
recording Sinner's Descent, in a pool of red. later, we added some incredibly beautiful sounds, as described by Mr.Y, as such: a single bird, soaring high above a placid lake, which led me to think that there might be something extra going down w/ his morning yakult.
this was the last song I wrote just before going into the studio.


Friday, 4 February 2011

Day whatever - Message from your leader - 1
Into week 2 of the sessions.
Had another great fan-visit day, Jason from Canada - recorded mad sounds, laughed, did photoshoot, signed mini-cowboy boots, ate chips, drank litres of baileys for the laydies, slept happy.
photo by andy willsher

Yesterday, as the 1st of the winter sun came out, planner was abandoned in favour of walk in the woods.
All in good spirits.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Day 13/day off - Death of a Spacegirl
I don't think there is a rulebook that can really tell you what you should or shouldn't do in life.
If Debbie Harry wants to get up there singing Denis Denis in her 60's and people are happy to pay for that, why shouldn't she?
You do it, Debster, carry on enjoying your life.
But, personally, I never wanted to do that, just regurgitate the past, as I always thought Drugstore's music implicitly reflected what's been happening in our fucked-up minds, like a snapshot of emotions trapped in a moment in time.
I only stepped out of the cave, because a bunch of new songs and stories got string-up in a new braid.
If people are expecting a grand return of the Spacegirl, in a fuzz of fender-twin-feedback, as she 1st appeared on our debut album, they're bound to be a little disappointed.
I will always love that Spacegirl, but she now lives in a wooden crate filled with other great memories, alongside the MadMariachi of the 2nd album and the neo-Romantic Cello of the 3rd.
All perfectly fitting with their time, each a record of our story as a band, as people, as artists.
But, also, I never wanted to comeback like anything else but Drugstore, with a new weird sound, a black-beat box of fakery, that would have not made any sense at all, any sense at all.
Althought the way in which I write songs has remained the same, sporadically and unannounced, I wanted the sound to change a bit, to reflect where I've been and where we're at.
So, with Anatomy, although a 'quiet' album, we're still gonna have a few chili-pepper bites, but keeping enough empty spaces for silences to be felt and words to be heard.
Getting new people in the ranch, although at first a transatlantic necessity, turned out to be a pretty cool move, as it added enough new shades to make this a distinctive new chapter, without messing up the essential meccano structure of the Drugstore Universe too much. perfecto.
There is this lovely portuguese word - singelo - that doesn't quite have a perfect translation, like saudade.
It poorly translates as something simple and innocent, but it has a hint of unpretentiousness and a certain unaffected beauty.
That's the word: we're making an album singelo.
ps - today back in the craze real world, but taking pleasure in washing undies/face-scrubin/and catching-up w/ ever-growing email mountain/things to do list etc. nice to be back in the cave, but cant wait to be back in the studio.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Day 8 - A drugstore love affair
Today, a welcome shot of extra affection, and a bonus evening off. wahey!
Two fans who bidded together on our Pledge Project, came to visit us at the studio in Hampton. Lex, all the way from belle France, and Gary, from Brumingham.
Quite fitting that one of the traks we were working on - 'Standing Still', had the broken chorus; 'everything will be forgotten and all the love be dead and gone' - we know that, but ' the meantime' - yep, in the meantime I just feel profoundly grateful that for a moment, we have people who think the music we're making is worth the journey in the cold wintry rain.
It's a beautiful thing, our love affair with this drugstore.
ps1- spotted opportunity for some free backing-vox, got them to work straight away and extracted some pretty decent 'doo doo doos' out of their virgin throats -
fun had by all, filmed by Steve and subsequently deleted by mistake by clumsy fingers monteiro.
evening ended at the local posh pub, doing what all bands do for most of the time: slaggin off other bands, discussing at lenght which is their favourite drugstore album, and secretly thinking:
yep, we're making something special here, something really special...


Sunday, 23 January 2011

Day 5 - Blind Faith
It is a challenge, and it takes a brave man to be led blind by Mad-captain-Monteiro, for no amount of rehearsals, long blog entries or conversations can quite translate or explain the full Anatomy landscape I have in my head.
Each one of them holding particular pieces of a musical puzzle that's being sewn up together, and often asked to deliver right on the edge of the unknown seas.
I have days on my own, days with some of the guys, and occasionally all of us together.
We're moving fast, ahead of my planner, which is good, for I'm certain there will be a few light storms, or as the engineer pointed out:
'shit will happen'.
So far, sailing sharply forward, on good winds, with Anatomy bronkenheartedness gently slidin' into place.
You just gotta have a little faith.

ps- spot el thick wooly poncho indoors - no 5 star facilities, but atmosphere perfecto/beautiful mournful slides by Mr.Yuuki


Saturday, 22 January 2011

Day 4 - Revenge of the Tremolo
Studios are weird and wonderful places, where you quickly disconnect from the rest of the known world; It has its own set of special little rules, a shared secret agreement built over decades between craze bands and engineers, and sealed over a dirty wine-spilled, coffee drenched, once pale grey carpet.
Strange, amusing conversations and rock'n'roll tales are shared, and other bands' gossip dished-out freely.
I try to keep at the helm, in the control room for pretty much most of the time - call me power-freak, obsessive, don't care - every note matters to me.
But yesterday, decided to give'em a break, and went for a wander around the island, coffee, poncho, ciggie in hand.
I returned, half-an-hour later, expecting much progress on the trak, and what do I find?
Engineer's laptop Firefox page on (couldn't help but notice...):
'Science Weekly -'Is there life in outer space?', and both men engaged in great debate about life beyond Earth, God, deep-space shit, big bang theory, alien life-forms etc...
'So, guys... guitar trak finished, is it?' - 'Erm..., no, erm..., we were kinda waiting for you to come back...' Yeah, right. bloody space-geeks.
And no, they were not recording 'Blackholes&BrokenHearts' - which would have kinda made sense, right?
But, that's the beauty of 'studio space confinement' - it does weird things to your mind, it bends, and an assortment of crazeshit comes out.
And yep, we did spend the following 1/2 hour trying to convince the guitarist that there's nothing beyond this mortal coil.
Guitar: 'Fuck, man, that's just too dark...'
Miss M: 'Yeah, man, wake-up and smell the darkness, baby, it's coming to getch'ya.'
engineer: 'Right, better put the next guitar-trak down, then, before the darkness comes and takes him away.'


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Day 1 - Cold Moon Risin'
First day at any recording session always feels like when you arrive at a new holiday hotel and you're desperately trying to work our what the local currency is, where you gonna put your bags, how does the heating work, and generally spending a good deal of time wondering 'round the place, looking dazed, trying to remember where the hell you left your mobile phone - swear it was on that table an hour ago...
Having set our improvised campsite and having spent a good chunk of the carefully planned-out budget on impulsive emergency supplies, we set out to lay some drum-tracks.
Phil did a fantastic job: Day 1 - all drumtrax beautifully done.
Yuuki played acoustic, I sang(coughed/spat/coughed more), all the guide tracks.
Session went smoothly.
Only complaint: it was fxking freezing - I somehow managed to remember to take extra nail-files (?) but forgot to bring my COAT! - Band ended up hitting the brandy a little sooner than prescribed in the 'daily planner'...
Have a masterplan of sorts for the whole album, and it kinda works like this:
3 - levels (layers/whatever you wanna call it, too tired to drum-up any half decent pseudo-psychobabble explanation...).
I guess it's a bit of a 'journey' (dreaded word) in reverse. Christ knows, I never meant it to be a bloody 'journey' - why can't we just get from A - to - B, without having to spill blood, climb mole-hills? arrrgh, as brazilians so concisely put it: que saco.
But, I now see that 7 years ago I probably wouldn't have written some of the slower, sore tracks of this album, already the ones I favour and like more.
So a journey it became, this minuscule scramble from one point in time to another.
And I'm thinking the album should kick off with the outcome: a positive invitation to music, to hear some drugstore stories, to turn our radio on.
From that point onwards, we'll make our descent, slowing down at each stop, and having a more detailed examination as the tracks progress, or digress as it's probably the correct nomenclature, or whatever - fuckme if I care at this hour - (sorry, just tired, cold, hungry, exhilarated, brimming).
Level Uno: Attitude songs - these are full-on band tracks, drums, whole shebang, and flavoured by mean tremolo guitar (Aquamarine/Dont Throw Me in etc).
You got to have some attitude in order to get through things, and these songs have a slightly faster pace, and interact with the outside world.
First few glasses, a sense of confidence.
Gun points ahead defiantly.
Level Deux: Reflective songs - a little mellower pace, lighter drums, no need to be mean, piano/slides/organ/tinkles instead of killer tremolo guitars. (Standing Still/Lights Out etc).
Mid-bottle: some truths begin to emerge, and listener becomes, for a moment, best bar mate/confidant.
Wondering which way to point the gun.

Level Tres: The core, nothing left to hide songs - super-sparse, no drums, few dubs - nada. (Clouds/Sinner's Descent etc).
We've reached the end of the bottle, and the indivisible is revealed.
We're at that point in time when the gun could have gone in a different direction.
or as probably best described on twtr:
'anatomy': just a little nite music from your favourite drugstore sinner'.
that aint no ciggie smoke, but my frozen breath...
the island is great, perfect place. tomoro will take coat/gloves/cardi/blanket - fuck being cool, no longer care, (dont think I ever did, really...) I am taking my thermos.

Day 1 - Anatomy Infographics - fig 1


Thursday, 13 January 2011

Who's in da house?
Christ. Finding the right people was a fucking nightmare, the hardest thing.
Yep, I am fussy, and as Hermann, the great character who runs our reh studio said: 'Got to give u respect, man, respect. To sack a good drummer coz he was reading The Sun newspaper is like... er... respect man, got to respect that.'
But it wasn't like he was reading it, just picked up a freebie on the tube, he was actually bloody buying the stinker on a daily basis.
It was not gonna work.
Others, again, great players, got a little frisky and started telling me what to do, instead of making suggestions. Please. Do me a favour - straight out of the, what was it? The Coach'n'Horses?, telling miss m how to run the Drugstore show?! Sorry, baby, had to dispatch you back to the Hare'n'Wounds.
We used to joke about the 'cemetery'.
Yep, another cowboy hits the ground.
Having now done the nasty, but honest comms, I want to add that we are sincerely grateful to anyone who tried and failed, rehearsed, played with us, and spent any time on anything connected to our band.
No point in mentioning everyone, as list is too bloody long.

Happiness to all of them, we can do that.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Anatomy of an album
This is how some of the Anatomy ideas got patched-up in my head, this shape, this thing, this album.
Had this picture in my mind: that desolated beach scene, where someone's about to make a life-changing decision, and we don't know exactly which direction that gun's gonna go, and what the outcome of the story will be.
And yet, the more I thought about it, the clearer it became that the outcome was damn right obvious:
the Anatomy album itself IS the outcome of that decision, and the result of this 8 year long process.
Anatomy is an observation, a muted close-up, an inspection of sorts, this cutting up into smaller pieces, to see the core of this weird little fucked-up beast, heart still moving.
That grey beach was the starting point. Facing the fog and the abyss beyond the horizon where the lives of all man, great and small, fall into nothingness. And the turning point was the sharp moment when a decision was taken, and the gun, that could have easily gone straight into the head, was instead pointed forward into the unknown. defiantly.
Songs were written without thinking, and each one a new addition to a bigger patchwork, a shape you're creating, but you're oblivious to.
At some point, as the process unraveled, I guess you became part of it too, your very own analysis, your anatomical inspection of this Drugstore chapter, as we rowed our way forward, and with that, the realisation that we were not alone.
But what is the moral of the story?
This is how I read it:
Although no question Anatomy is probably going to be Drugstore's most personal album, filled with some sadness, some despair, and a good dose of miss m attitude, I think, ultimately, it is about how music can hold you together when you're in pieces.
How you need to be a little craze and irrational, and have the guts to demand some happiness and fulfillment, to barge your way through anything.
How pursuing that which you love profoundly and freely is still the only meaningful way to live your life, for without it, life is but a grim shadow of 'could have beens' and 'wish I hads' - constantly reminding you of the infinite possibilities you had before you, but made very little use of, and that is sinful.
For no matter how beat and down, or overwhelmed by troubles and disappointment, not miss m, but us, you and I and everyone, we have the ability to rise; That is something very powerful within us all, we have the means to translate the abstract into concrete, to create things, change our lives and how we spend our brief time 'stuck in space and time'.
The back cover will show a crucial element of how I got from A to Z, from standing on that grim beach, thinking it's all over, to hearing a melody in my head, and saying:
Fuck it - I'm gonna get through this, no matter how hard the waves hit, because there is something that still keeps my heart beating and feeling everything so deeply, something so much bigger than my own little self, and I'm so in love with it, because even on a bad day, it makes me glad to still be alive:
next: album songs outlines/history of drugstore sound. dissection. who's in da house.
ps- cover sketch 1: I'll prob end up sketching 1/2 dozen different ideas, before 'send to print' day, we might end up w/ a pic of a mad dog laughing?