From: John Waring
To: Thom, Sharon, Martin, Kerry
Date: 31st May 2006 14.37
The singles are here…
was met with frantic emails from Sharon, Martin and I alternately hyperventilating over their early arrival (we'd been told they'd be shipped on the 31st, not delivered, but had been fobbed off by GZ with dates before), and ensuring they looked okay. Mercifully, Waz assured us they looked great, and, even better, we would be rehearsing that night. Come half six, Andrew, Kerry and I were sat in Running Frog studio in Windsor, impatiently awaiting the London contingent's arrival with a box of freshly minted singles. Trepidation filled the air. They looked okay, but how did they sound? When John, Sharon and Martin rolled up, we marched over to Phil the proprietor's office, set the 7inch in the deck, turned it on, put the needle on and held our breath…
Our mouths fell open when we realised they were running too slow. Oh no!! Mercifully, Andrew noticed the pitch control wasn't set properly, so we adjusted it to the right speed, and we had a note perfect, loud, rocking Shiftwork. The collective grin that overwhelmed us was almost too much as we stood there listening to something we'd made, on our own, pressed 500 times onto beautiful blue vinyl. I'd advise anyone who's thinking of joining a band or making a record or starting a record label or doing something musical to do it simply for a moment like that.
So the initial hyperventilation-inducing shock of receiving our own record has subsided, and we're done checking every milimetre of the sleeve, playing it twice both sides to ensure it's not been pressed backwards, admiring the deep-blue of the vinyl, and giggling childishly at the etched text we've put on the run-out grooves (if you care to hazard a guess at their meaning, feel free…), and now it's time to get on with being a Proper Band. After all, we have a record to sell. We were hoping to have the single ready for our gigs at the Windmill for Fortuna Pop! or our last minute fill-in at King's Cross Water Rats (with Michelmas who also have their own single out about now), but it wasn't to be. We also played up in Nottingham the weekend before the the singles arrived; truly one of our best gigs with the superb stylings of Lardpony, The Scarlet Tuesday (on their farewell tour) and Pete Green.
Fortunately, fate seems to be doing us some favours at the moment. Lizzie, who helps organise the Conceited nights at The Pleasure Unit (which we played in January) ran into some trouble that meant her proposed headliners The Loves had to pull out. Fortunately, being the wonderful person she is, she asked us, and of course we were only too happy to oblige. So, Saturday June 10th saw the first public sale of Shiftwork, and our first ever headline set. We got to play with Pete Green again, as well as the impressive Josh Weller & The Availables, and Strange Idols, who're probably our new favourite band. Despite the prestige, our performance veered from inspired to daft as we ran through every song we curently have in our current catalogue (and I'm afraid to report Plastic Bag may not be making a re-appearance). It was so hot up there! Even in my best Hawaiian shirt, I was still sweating like a beast, and rambled a bit during Cat Hits Car. The synth decided that it would make a bid for sentient life and made decisions when to hold down notes by itself- mostly contrary to what notes were required. Waz told a funny story about his couch being set on fire, and blaming Hale & Pace. You know, the usual stuff. The sound out front hampered the vocals a bit, but the general impression from those watching was a good show, and a big increase in confidence. That makes me happy.
We even sold about twenty copies of the single, and some of Andrew's spiffy badges. Mostly this was due to Sharon's irresistable grin charming the punters who were clearly under the influece. Well, I hope they like it. If you want one, keep checking the page entitled 'Music'. They'll be ready soon.
Now, after the false start of a cancelled gig with Bricolage on Sunday (alas), we've got possibly the biggest gig of our career to look forward to. US Merge/ Elephant 6 legends Great Lakes and Ladybug Transistor are playing their sole UK date at Water Rats on July 13th, and we're opening the show. Sharon- who's a big fan of a lot of Merge stuff (and who isn't?)- is especially exuberant. So even if you're not familiar with our stuff and came here by accident, hopefully you'll come along and see this great double header and dig our set. You can buy tickets here.
Did I mention the recordings we did at Soup Studios? No? Well they're ace. Detailing the recording process has been done before on here, and it's uninteresting to the outsider, but we put down our two set closers (Factory Records Museum and Pretty But Not Beautiful), and they're amongst our best recordings. I got to drum on the former, while Andrew played bass, and we swapped over on the latter. Kerry, against all odds with a car leaking petrol, managed to make it down and spend enough time in the studio to put down the best glockenspiel part I've ever heard anyone play. Sharon sequenced her MicroKorg to make Pretty… sound like it's been recorded while we're sitting on a beach with the waves lapping around us. We've put the former up on myspace, so let us know what you think. We're going back in August to put another four tracks down, which will pretty much give us a complete album (though we've got a few more tricks up our sleeves yet…)
Onwards and upwards, we have four songs on the go right now, only one of which has a definite title of 'Red Nose Day'. It's a gentle little thing and sounds more twee than anything we've done yet. On the contrary, the new one we tried last night has the potenntial to be the noisiest, squelchiest thing in the world- like Oasis humping Goldfrapp. You have been warned.