The Making of Dandelion
Where do you start with an album? You start by writing the songs and
hopefully when you have at least ten you get a shed load
of money together and you book a studio for a few weeks then rehearse everything until you know exactly what you’re doing.
Or.......you write about
six songs then pester your producer/partner to start recording you.
didn’t have a studio but we had asmall sun room at the back of the
flat with a table in it. That would do probably.
Dave can make stuff sound great anywhere, except for ambulances and police sirens. Oh and blooming trucks and motorbikes
revving up, and the pizza takeaway a few doors down. All can actually be heard on the album if you listen very hard with
headphones on. That was all the fun of it though. Stopping and starting every time something loud happened or the doorbell
Four months it took us to get the bare bones of the tracks and I managed to end up with ten songs in the process, vocal and guitar.
We were very pleased with it, Dave and I. He proved me wrong, I proved him right. He was probably a bit smug.
Next we needed musicians to colour
everything in. My best mate Lucy’s father in law, the great Frank Mizen
for a start.
I’ve heard him breathe magic in to so many bands before and
many of the songs were written with his banjo playing in mind.
And his lap steel and bouzouki. And pedal steel. We recorded him in Active Audio, Dan Mizen's studio.
My other best mate Nessy, who I met at
junior school had bagged herself a multi talented and very posh bit of
totty by the
name of Mark Dean. Or in fact, he had bagged himself a
multi talented and very beautiful bit of totty by the name of Nessy.
Either way, I knew the clever git would be able to understand the vague
descriptions of what I had in my head and he did.
He played recorders,
whistle and accordion and it all sounded exactly as I’d described
“spooky like a sad circus and a bit
"Withnail and I”.
My lovely friend Ashley Hutchings was always on the list to play bass on the album. When I was seventeen some biker friends
down the road (Kev and
Trish) made me a tape. On one side it had Derek and Clive and on the
other side it had
Fairport Conventions ‘Liege and Lief’. That tape was
my most treasured possession. It went everywhere with me and was
into so many car stereos that sadly one day it proved to be just too
tasty and was eaten in a Ford Sierra that I’d
managed to hitch a lift
with. Anyway, how was I to know that the man behind that amazing life
changing music was
one day going to become a good friend and also play
on my album. Mind blowing. We went over to Ashley's house near
Chesterfield and recorded him there.
One day my best friend Lucy
had a dinner party and members of her husband’s band were invited, and
me. That’s where
I met Jason Odle, drummer extraordinaire and tickler of
ivories. I sent him a text message because I’m a massive coward.
predictive text turned Jase in to Lard and I was very lucky that he had
a sense of humour and Lard agreed to play
on the album.
same dinner party I briefly met singer Biz Denton who’s vocals I had
admired for some time. It was only later when
we needed a very certain
kind of voice on two of the songs that I plucked up courage to ask Biz
if he’d do it. I was so
chuffed when he said he would. I think he did it in the kitchen.
Some of the album was recorded in various rooms
of the flat but for drums and string players and convenience, a fair
was recorded in Lucy's husband Dan's studio. (people always think
I’m saying Lucy's husbands dance studio and that makes
me chortle to think of Dan in a leotard, high kicking in front of a mirror)
Dan Mizen's studio, Active Audio, is in Harrogate and is fantastic. Dan
let us borrow it when ever he didn’t have
anyone in which is virtually
unheard of for him these days because he’s so bloody good. We recorded
our string players there
too, Angeline Bjerregaard played violin but
also brought along her viola which she hadn’t played since school and
fantastic job she made of it. Laurence Hughes played Cello and
was fantastic. Dave (Creff) wrote the score for the strings
and it was a
really magic moment to hear it all come together. Ashley Johnston
played double bass on four of the songs,
we recorded him and his massive
double bass in Active Audio too. His bass would never have got up the
tiny stair well to
When it came to recording the brass band, there just wasn’t any free time at Dan’s studio because everybody wanted to be in
there. We decided to record at Dave's old haunt at
Beaumont street in Huddersfield, the place where “Pretty Young Things”
was written about. My mate Dave Dunbirch plays tuba and I knew he’d be able to gather up a brass ensemble to play on
“Family”. I’ve known Dave
(Dunbirch) since he was seventeen and he lived directly opposite mine
and Lucy's flat. Lucy
and I were eighteen and didn’t have much head for
cleaning. This flat was a nightmare. You’ve seen Withnail and I? well
this was Lucy and I and ten times worse. We had a laugh though, we made a
telephone between houses with two tin cans
and a ball of garden string. Them was the days!
Anyway, Dave came up with some amazing players
and that was a great nights recording. We’d waited and waited for that
moment because Frank Mizen (Banjo, Bouzouki) wrote the brass part for us
but he was mega busy so we must have waited
about 2 months or more.
People ask why it took so long to record this album. It took so long
because good things come to
those who wait, that's why! We knew Frank
would write a brilliant brass part so we had to wait. Nothing else would
had to wait till Mark Dean could come down from Surrey with
Nessy and their babies because only Mark would do.
We had to wait for
studio time because that was the best place to work. We had to wait for
trains and for my car to be mended.
At one point we had to wait for Dave
and I to be speaking to each other again. These things take time when
you’re doing it
on a budget. It kind of makes it all the sweeter when you’ve finally got it finished.
All my friends are on this album,
either singing lalala on the end of “Monkey” or playing blinding music,
or singing harmonies.
My cousin Josie took a train from York to my flat
in Knaresborough every Wednesday till her parts were done (hehe)
wonderful that we got to see each other so much just before she moved to
Australia. My lovely Lucy wailing on the
end of “The North Wind Will” is a magic thing for me too.
bit I love is Dan Mizen playing drums on Monkey. It was so hard to get
the sound right. They ended up putting the mic
in a different room to the kit and recorded it like that. I love that.
Jason Odle went so
above and beyond, he recorded everywhere. I think we even recorded him
playing the fire alarm with
drum sticks in Beaumont street.
album was made with so much care and fun and stress and shouting and
laughter but I really hope that what you hear is
just a really nice bunch of music. And some sirens and mopeds.