Coming up for Air

Probe One Music POM-12, released November 2013

So this is our seventh album, and the best one yet by a mile. But I would say that. For the first time since 2006, we went and recorded in a top class studio – in this case, The Base in South Melbourne, and sonically it certainly shows. We did a few tracks in January ’13, and then the rest in June. Setting up as a live band (aside from the fiddle) we just played and let engineer Phil Threlfall do his thing. The fiddle, and a few other bits and pieces, were added at our own Green Man Studios.

It helped that I had such a great people to record with. Phil was a perfect engineer for us. CC Thornley got to really let loose in the studio for the first time with the electric banjo and it sounds awesome. Patrick Lyons has really added some depth and tastefulness to the bass department, and Bernie Dodd’s drums on this album are his best yet (although we have since parted company). Claire Johnstone’s fiddle playing give us a warmth and authenticity we’ve lacked with previous players, and her tune Patricia Anne’s Waltz is one of the album’s highlights for me. We also used the brilliant Peter O’Shea for fiddle on Bound for Sydney Town (Pete also appears on the Winter in the Blood album, 2012).

Green Man Studios is somewhat portable, and we added the fiddle and Claire’s vocals in the lounge at her parent’s house ‘cos of the lovely acoustics, and not just ‘cos it was nice and warm. The microphones so generously lent to me by Matthew McKenzie (Stomp Dog) were an essential part of this process too. Once I’d finished all the editing, I returned to South Melbourne and mixed it with Phil in July. Although he basically did the work while I ate crap food, drank lots of tea, smoked too much and had the occasional nap.

There’s some info on the songs and where they come from in the sleevenotes which I won’t repeat here. Many of the lyrics are traditional stories that I’ve adapted and then put to our own tune, a process that’s been very enjoyable. We’ve got piles of books of old folk songs now, and it’s nice to play a part in keeping these old stories alive. Most of them were written in a fairly short space of time between the end of the Winter in the Blood tour (May ’12) and the new year, but Song About You is actually a track I wrote back in 1999 when I was living in Auckland, NZ. Sometimes old forgotten songs return for no apparent reason. Perhaps the reason was to let CC do the fantastic Neil-Young-esque banjo solo on outro, another of the album’s highlights. Old Fid was written by a chap called Bill Lowndes as far as I can tell, but I can find no trace of a recording of it by him. Wonderful song though.

As ever, brilliant artwork by my long suffering wife Dolly Sampson. And another top job of mastering from Lighterthief Productions in the UK. Enjoy!