SENIORS BAND Recording Session Interview : This month I have been working on a couple of singles with The Seniors along with a trip to Glastonbury to play in front of all the festivals stage managers, bookers and of course Mr Micheal Eavis. He’s a funny old chap! It’s the third time working with The Seniors, i thought it was about time i asked them a few questions about the music we create and how they feel about it.
How do you feel when you come to Toast to start on a production? What do you take out of the session once it’s all over?
Tom – When gearing up to come into the studio we always try and be ,what we think, is as prepared as possible. The case seems to be that we are never quite prepared enough. Can you ever be prepared enough for what comes in the studio? We go to toast because we know our songs will be given nothing but the finest attention but it is a little unsettling not knowing if the bit you love will stay in! Coming out of the studio our songs have been given space and fine tuned and a sound that we can only describe as ‘us’!As a band we are playing much tighter (coz of the amount of takes) but feel we know are songs , we understand the parts and the journey they go on!
Mike – As I’m sure every band feels in any studio, there is a natural cause to be a little nervous as we all have that sense of when you know you’re being recorded, mistakes seem to be easily expose, and you start questioning yourself as a good musician (at least I do). In toast recordings however, there is a real relaxed feel about it due to the location, Chris being great to work with and up for a great laugh even during recording in-between takes etc. It’s not like one of these cold places where you feel really under pressure to get everything right first time in fear of being moaned at from lack of patience. In terms of what we take out with us from recording there, for one, a lot of new musican skills, because once we start, quite a few planned parts can change, usually for the better, and to make a really solid contribution to the final product. Take me for example (Mike the cellist), in one of the songs we recorded, my original parts were seriously drone based, and repetitive, to act really as a bed for the track to sit on, however thank you to Chris at toast recordings, he pointed out that the cello should be singing all the way through, so we played and came up with new parts until it clicked, yes THAT’S what we’re recording. And it was relaxed, not stressful. As a whole, the over all sound for the songs definitely gained a real theme/mood/feeling in comparison to before entering the studio. And it’s satisfying listening to everything knowing that’s how you played it (we do takes until it’s right, rather than leave it as ok and let auto tune do the job like many studios seem to do). So what we come out with, is a seriously high quality product that sounds as good as it will ever possibly be, as well as coming out as a better, and more experienced musician.
Paul – Excitable, nervous anticipation! Having worked with Chris for a couple of years now, we know what he can do, but we also know he’s gonna work you hard and get the best out of you. What do we take away.. Extreme satisfaction.. We turn up with our babies ( our songs in various stages of development) and we leave like proud parents!! Finished records which are brilliant expressions of our art .
Session’s are notoriously hard work and has it’s ups and downs. I like to thing i push my sessions in a creative way to get the best ideas and the best out of you as musicians. How do you feel about that?
Tom – 3rd time I feel is was nearly all creative. The process we went on was very creative allowing everyone out what hey wanted in the table to be used. THere wasn’t as much struggle as the previous times and this is due to understanding how each other work and being tighter as a band. Not been fixed to a time limit e.g in at 10am out at 5pm really helps. Toast doesn’t do time , or food , or anything a majority needs to survive!
Mike – As mentioned above, when you go to Toast recordings, obviously you have your songs ready, Chris will throw in so many ideas from the perspective of a new pair of ears (which is definitely what every artist/band needs) and those ideas can then be tried and tested with each and everyone and see if it suits the original idea of the track, 9 out of 10 times it absolutely does improve on what we already have, and makes for a much more exciting and building piece of music. I don’t think there are any downs in particular. There may be a time, where you start recording one of your planned parts where it’s the part you feel you’re in the spotlight, and Chris tell you to simplify it. Now while this may at the time seem a little frustrating (as it’s you’re shining solo part), upon trying the simplified version on top of the rest of the track and listening to how it fits after recording, it’s one of those moments you realise less is more, and you start feeling like you wish you had realised before hand!
Paul – It works.. Sometimes we hate you! Most times we love you !! But getting the best out of ourselves as musicians and writers, is what matters the most.. It’s a learning curve being ‘studio fit’ but you don’t get anywhere doing what you’ve always done, we want to get better at our craft, so this is what it’s about.
The Seniors sound has been evolving for a couple of years now and I have loved being part of it. Your willingness to not be afraid of trying new ideas and stepping out of the comfort zone in a studio is admirable. Is this something you talk about pre studio or is just the nature of The Seniors?
Tom – our sound and songs are developing naturally. We’ve tried to find ‘who we are’ ,’our sound’ but now we are not trying and letting it come organically. If we like it we do it. We don’t quite know what we are or what we sound like but we are cool with that! Sure we have influences and get taken in a direction by various people but as long as they understand our stuff we’re happy for their input. Has to be said Toast has played a big part in creating the sound that’s come about!
Mike – I would personally say that toast recordings has had a strong influence on how we go about making a song. Once upon a time, it may have been a bit of a free for all where all of us would be playing at once, wanting to all be heard and be under the spot light, with no breathing space. But once you’ve been to Toast, heard everything leveled, mixed, structured in a way which gives the song a natural build, it changes how you go about things outside of the studio. I now think about where I’m NOT going to play just as much as where I am. This gives so much space, and also makes for when you DO have a moment to play, you won’t go unnoticed, as apposed to before when you may well be drowned out from over playing and playing over other instruments that could be having their moment which could mean the difference between a great song, or a complete mess. To conclude, we come to Toast recordings as a band with good ideas (if I may say so), but we come out with those ideas enhanced thanks to all the input and help from Chris, and the original songs have been given a theme, a mood, a natural build, and now tell a story.
Paul – We talk about it quite s but I think in a roundabout way.. Basically anyone who gets on board with our project is valued for their artistic creativity and is part this mad wild wizard movement! What’s important to us is the meaning and the emotional intent behind the songs, if the studio development compliments and enhances that, then is is what makes the sessions outstanding.