"I'm just double-tracking the maracas"

Hello again!

I’m working on the premise that more news is good news and should at least keep you interested, dear reader. If I’m writing too much, let me know.

There’s not a lot going on visibly, but behind the scenes, things are going into overdrive. Firstly, we’re waiting for confirmation of our next gig, which will mark the stage debut of The Gresham Flyers Mk. II. I’ll know more by the end of the week, so keep checking back. We’ve settled on a setlist now which is a mix of the ‘classics’ and newer stuff and is apparently ‘very pop’ according to Andrew.

Also of interest is news that the most recent recordings are finished. Due to horrendous traffic and studio nerves, we ran over time on Thursday so were left with very thin-sounding unmixed versions of Blackpool and Plastic Bag (we didn't have time for Theme... and since Kerry couldn't make it to the studio, there seemed little point in doing it). Sharon, Martin, John and I went back to the studio last night to polish the tunes up and add sundry percussion parts- handclaps, tambourines, double tracked maracas all went on and spiced the track up no end. Sharon doubled her vocals, and John added a few harmonies. The largest offender was my own backing vocal on Blackpool, which was hurriedly added at the end of the initial session. I could ascribe the horrendous results to nerves at being in front of a vocal microphone for the first time, and under considerable pressure, but even so it’s taught me to damn well practice singing before doing something like that. In the event, part of it was useable enough to paste over the woeful parts and it sounds okay now. But listening to the original in isolation and on the rough mix is akin to walking naked into a room full of strangers. Ouch. However, the experience hasn’t dissuaded us from doing it all again, so the next studio session is booked for late April.

A late arrival for today's news is our radio debut! We received an email from The Unofficial Student Internet Radio for Greenwich, who apparently downloaded Falling Down from our Myspace page and played it on the 51ยบ North show last Sunday. You can download the show from the site above- just choose show #9 from the 12th March. We're played third apparently. Anyone who heard it- your views are most welcome!

On the social side, last weekend was significant for two ex-Gresham Flyers. Our former keyboard/ sax/ bass player (and now chief Flyerette) Jess Shaw got married in a lovely ceremony in Shifnal (which I’m told is near Telford), and is now Mrs. Andrew Rowson. Sharon, Andrew and myself represented the Flyers, and Sharon has posted a detailed account of the day on her blog, and hopefully will put some more nice pictures of the day on her Flickr account. Congrats to Jess and Andrew! In other news, Dan made the brave first step of his travels on Sunday, and has a fantastic, insightful blog which everyone should watch for updates.

Lastly, the single is being pressed for sure. We apparently have artwork issues to sort out, but I assume that means that everything else is going smoothly. I’m counting the days!

More news as it comes in, but for now that’s yer lot.




So it seems that the book of Flyers has been left to gather dust on the proverbial shelf for the last two months or so; a round up of our previous gigs that now seem like a lifetime ago. We’ve been making moves that will turn us into a Proper Band, with songs out and stuff like that, but until it all slots into place, there’s nothing that I or anyone can add that’ll make it seem exciting. However, since you’re taking the time to come and see us, and read all about our mythical lives (lucky for you, we leave out the bits that don’t involve music; no one needs an insight into where we have our ‘proper’ jobs or how often we shave or whatnot), it’s only fair that we should impart something of substance into this electronic diary. So, off we go:

The past:
Dan has left. We’re all very sad, and we mean that. As I’ve said before, Dan is the musician that I’ve worked with longest in all the time I’ve been a musician, and we were a formidable rhythm section for half a decade on and off. Peach, Crack Mansion, Dr. Yes, Cartell and finally The Gresham Flyers were all built on our simpatico power and ability. Or so I like to think. But he’s off traveling for a year, and good luck to him. Had I not already been on a global jaunt, I’d be tempted to join him.

We had a good send off though; our friend Lizzie put on a fabulous gig with Syrus, us and The Michelles at the Pleasure Unit at the end of January. Lots of people were there, including my parents and brothers, but mostly people we didn’t know, and weren’t brought along by Syrus’ coach party. But they stayed and packed the place out. And liked us. Without wishing to sound big-headed, we were really, really good. No huge glaring mistakes, a load of enthusiasm and three cheers for Dan meant we came off stage feeling like it was the best gig we’d played. However, some people thought that about our Beat Hotel gig in December, but I’m not so sure there. What made it even better was that the soundcheck was atrocious beyond description. Maybe it was nerves, and not having played together live for over a month, and under the scrutiny of a potential drummer (who subsequently said he didn’t want to join), but I came off stage in a foul mood that lasted until the gig. Then I felt better. For an interview with us and Lizzie, see here

The present:
Kerry has joined! We had about five serious applicants for the drummer role, and Kerry was the only one we all agreed on unanimously. We met up, she liked the songs, we liked her, it all falls into place, especially as she’s an amazing drummer. She’s also a good multi-instrumentalist, which fits the bill nicely, and we’ll get her profile up soon, and some pictures if she lets us. We’re currently rehearsing up the old songs, and writing new ones. More on them later.

We’re going into the studio next Thursday. We were supposed to go in a month ago, but events have been tumultuous recently and things out of our control needed to dealt with. But this session will be special as it’ll potentially be a historic recording of a seven piece Flyers lineup as Dan will be in attendance, as will Kerry. We’re going in to record Dan’s contribution ‘Plastic Bag’, and Waz’s ‘Blackpool’, which would make a great future single. If there’s time, we’ll try for ‘Theme From The Gresham Flyers’, which is the instrumental song we open our shows with. Interestingly each song will feature a different drummer (Dan, Andrew, Kerry respectively), and hopefully we can get all seven of us on one track and have our very own ‘Set The Controls For The Heart of The Sun’ (look it up).

Speaking of singles, the delay behind getting Shiftwork out has all the hallmarks of our perfectionist nature; the artwork needed to be a certain format, the colours needed to be exact, yaddah yaddah yaddah. The upshot is, we’ve paid for it, the factory has the masters, they’re printing it up. It’ll be with us soon. And you’ll be the first to know.

The prospect of holding a seven inch single that we helped create, and has OUR SOUND in its’ grooves is still too impossible to believe and I have nightmares it’s going to sound awful. Even so, we’re selling it cheap and giving away a digital download to everyone who buys it so you can put it on your computer and MP3 player.

The future:
We’re aiming to get back out on ‘the circuit’ in late April/early May. We’ve vague plans to return to Scotland due to overwhelming demand (i.e. a few lovely girls have asked us back, which is good enough for me) and do a few dates in the north, including the Deeply Vale Festival if we can get on the bill. I’m itching to do more gigs, really to get back out there and do it over all of you, and spread the love.

We’ve been offered TWO compilation appearances for some people whose ideas and tastes we firmly support, so we’ll be recording a few more songs over the year; we’ll let you know as and when as we can’t say too much right now. But it’s a great honour to be asked on both counts.

Importantly, we’re all upgrading our equipment. For the technically minded, here’s what we’ve recently purchased or will soon get:
Kerry and Andrew have both bought new drumkits.
Andrew’s also got a laptop to aid with the synth and sampler.
Sharon’s bought a Microkorg to replace her clapped out Casio.
Waz has upgraded to a Fender Telecaster (the classic yellow with black scratchplate)
Martin has threatened to get a Tele too (though I’m of the opinion his SG is the daddy).
I’m splashing out (hopefully at the end of the month) on a Rickenbacker 4003 bass- but should I go with black or sunburst red?

The songs. The most important bit! We’ve got songs coming out of our ears. Martin has popped his songwriting cherry with a fantastic power-pop song called ‘Everyone Has To Meet Somewhere’. John has provided two more enduring anthems that are ready to go. ‘Foolscap’ was initially titled “The Visage one” and has a much more icy, synth-y sound thanks to me and Andrew playing dual keyboards and Sharon’s vocal. It’s brilliant. His other contribution ‘Factory Records Museum’ was something that was supposed to be throwaway, but has ended up as the song we all end up with going round our heads after practice is over. It also gives me my drumming debut, which is, of course, fun for me but hell on everyone else no doubt.

For my part, I’ve got four new songs on offer, including one that we’ve been playing since before our first gig but hasn’t been finished, and Kicking Down The Door, which hopefully will do what it says on the tin. My listening tastes have been informing my writing, and my current kicks of The Zombies, Ooberman, Sparks The Cars and 60s British psych have also provided the template to a further two songs on top of these…hold me back!

Sharon and Andrew have both threatened to provide new songs, and Sharon’s obsession with Canadian quintet The Organ seems to be spurring her on to complete her song, which can’t come quick enough. I want to hear it!

Anyway, I hope this missive makes up for the spectacular lack of correspondence over the last couple of months. I thought it’d be brief but I still haven’t covered everything. I’m tempted to suggest Andrew puts a Q&A section on the board, but we’re not that big yet.

Love to all,


P.S. It’s John’s birthday on Saturday and Sharon’s on Wednesday. Happy birthday to them both!