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?