Hey guys! With a couple of shows coming up next month, it’s tee shirt time. I’m putting this new design up for pre-order for a couple of weeks, although if we can reach the target sooner then they’ll be ordered and shipped that little bit earlier. Head over to the Store page, share it around and as ever, thanks for your support. Be sure to catch us at Progfest 2 in Wales on the 21st of March, and in Manchester on the 22nd (more details to come!).
In my last post I made reference to a track, a deadline, threats of physical harm; it was all very stressful. Anyway, the track in question was a pre-production demo called “Aurora” and you can find it exclusively on the cover CD of this month’s Metal Hammer!
Nothing about this track is final and I would’ve liked to tidy a few things up. But overall I’m happy with it given the time constraint. Still not sure where it fits in with the other tracks but it’s feeling like a good intro/opener track.
Anyway, go grab a copy and let me know what you think!
So over the last couple of days, a song kind of happened. By that I mean it moved from a riff to something resembling a full track, albeit under threat of decapitation by my wonderful press lady if I missed the deadline. Of course there’s a lot of work still to be done and it’s most definitely a demo but it’s been an important exercise in a couple of ways.
Firstly working to a real/meaningful deadline isn’t something I have to do very often, but I’m aware that it’s something I’ll have to contend with if I get the kind of work I’d like to. While it was an intense two days, in hindsight it was no more so than a busy couple of days at work for most people. It’s kind of put into perspective what could (should?) be achieved in a week, a month, a year. It’s encouraging…and alarming. But mainly that first thing.
Secondly moving past the ‘just a riff” stage has been almost impossible over the last few months. I was having a conversation not too long ago about trying to find the confidence to move forward in big, bold moves and learn to draw a line under a section and move on. In art class, I was always the kid with the mostly empty sheet of paper with an absurd amount of detail in one corner, and fuzzy over-drawn lines. I guess sometimes I approach my songs in the same way.
To that end I’ve been trying to make some changes to the way I write. For ATDE and ARLH I did a lot of the mixing while I wrote and tracked. So for each section I’d double or triple track, record the leads twice (or more specifically, many many times until the first track is tight and then many many times again until the second track is tight, all the while refusing to use drop ins for no good reason), then fiddle with the tone and start automating stuff and…well you get the picture. It wasn’t actually very conducive to writing. Perhaps it sounds obvious but when you’ve got all the tools you need to make 8 or 16 bars of music sound great, it’s hard to resist the temptation and all too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Maybe this isn’t an issue when bands write together as the only thing they’re focused on is the music, knowing full well that recording and mixing will happen later on.
Of course there’s something to be said for working with sounds that inspire you, but in any case this time I’ve tried to limit myself to one track of everything. One rhythm, lead, backing/ambient guitar, clean and bass plus whatever synths I need as and when (although I did much of the writing using a stock piano sound). And for the most part it’s worked. That’s not to say I didn’t get stuck in a few places but it’s the closest I’ve come to a complete Chimp song in perhaps a year, and it all happened in the space of about three days.
So I think there are two things that I can take from this; the first is the importance of time management. I wouldn’t go so far as to set myself artificial deadlines but certainly it wouldn’t hurt to set aside two days of each week for nothing but Chimp writing.
The second is streamlining the writing process and learning to paint with bigger/bolder strokes, as it were. The music I enjoy the most is music that’s confident, and happy to be what it is. I often sit back and listen with a mild sense of envy that a simple riff can work so well for so long (and probably didn’t take as long to write as something more complicated and over-written).
Hopefully I can keep hold of this good energy, and take my own advice. I think just the act of starting and finishing something has given me a a little more hope than I had previously, and I can’t wait for you guys to hear it. More on that soon…
As you guys know I’m currently working on the next full length album, but I’ve had a few questions lately regarding when the next tour will be, or what’s happened to Chimp Spanner…
It’s been a quiet year or so on the live front, and for a few reasons. First and foremost I want to make sure that the next time I hit the stage it is with new material, as well as old. While I know there are still a lot of people who haven’t heard At the Dream’s Edge or All Roads Lead Here, they’ve still been doing the rounds for a fair while and I’ve been playing some of this material for the best part of five years now. Plus, in hindsight, releasing an EP probably wasn’t the best move in terms of getting more gigs. Without the up-scaled publicity surrounding a full length release it felt a little harder to get shows off the back of it. A lesson learned, although I’m still ultimately happy that you all got to hear new music without having to wait even longer.
Secondly, as is the case for most artists and bands out there, there’s a lot of work to be done outside of Chimp Spanner. One of my major long term goals is to get my music paired up with adverts, trailers, games and so on, and to that end I’ve had to spend a lot of time working on more musically diverse material before I can even consider putting myself out there. The plus side of course is that I’m learning some cool new stuff that will prove useful for Chimp Spanner. If you’ve been keeping up to date with my Soundcloud you’ll have an idea as to what that might entail.
It’s no secret that touring is expensive, so it’s vitally important that when it’s done, it’s for the right reasons and with all the supporting material to make it viable (a new album, brand new merchandise, etc.).
It’s also no secret that this is about the albums first. Touring is something that will naturally happen under the right circumstances, and with the right bands.
So in short, Chimp Spanner hasn’t “gone” anywhere, although a break this long in a genre evolving so rapidly would probably suggest otherwise. But for everyone who has supported me so far and seen the handful of shows and tours we have done, there will be more. It all hinges on the next album.
As to when that will be done, there’s no easy answer to that. Those of you who write & record will appreciate how quickly inspiration/motivation can strike…or evaporate. What I can tell you is that channeling my energies into other genres and projects has been a huge help. I’m spending enough time on non-Chimp material now that when I do come back to it, it’s fresh and it’s exciting. And ultimately that’s the best place to be in if the album is to be a worthy successor to my last two releases.
So again, thanks for supporting me and for being patient.
Well this post was going to be about re-amping, but my camera situation isn’t ideal at the moment and I thought synths would be way more fun. Last night I picked up Z3TA 2 (on Steam of all places) and it’s absolutely perfect for Chimp Spanner stuff. I’m a big fan of that stacked/unison sound, and previously I could only get that from Reason. But the whole ReWire thing is a little troublesome sometimes and I’d much rather have everything self-contained within the one file. I’ll go over some of the sounds in a little detail in a future post but for now here’s a little work in progress I put together with it this afternoon.
For the curious, drums are Groove Agent ONE, and I used Toontrack’s EZMix 2 on the master out!
A lot of you who follow me are creative souls yourselves. So if you’re looking for some new material to sample and chop up, you can check out my range of royalty-free sample products over at Producer Loops. There are 4 volumes in total for you to dissect and re-arrange. And no…that’s not me standing in a wheat field holding a guitar.