The debut album from Ben Lawrence
telling his story of finding hope after losing his brother to cancer.
'I have first hand experience of how music can change your life, those songs that speak into your soul and transport you to a place of hope.'
About the album.
O Wide World is an album of songs written over the course of five years since the death of my twin brother, Dan, to cancer aged 25. This album is my story of living with grief, struggling with my mental health and finding hope in the hardest situations.With this project I want to go big - to produce something that will stand the test of time and connect with countless others who need to hear these songs and find some solace in hearing about my journey.I'm going to be working with a fantastic producer to push these songs as far as they can go and create something truly outstanding. Alongside the music, we're also going to produce a series of films that will explore the story further.With that in mind - I need to raise quite a lot of cash to make it happen! And that's where I need you! You can help me make this album by supporting my crowdfunding campaign or by coming along to a gig!Every bit of your cash will go towards making something that I hope will be extremely special to you, to me and to everyone who hears it. Thanks!~ Ben
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Keep up to date with the album journey and all my new content.
Listen to a full demo version of my song 'Moving' below.
As you might have guessed, the album isn't made yet - but - I have
been working on some demo versions of the songs. Here's your
sneak peak into the sound and songs of 'O Wide World'.Click on a video below to hear a sample of what I've been working
on (and then imagine the final version being even better!).
Pt. 1 ~ Monkey Bars.
What’s your first memory? Mine’s falling face first off a set of monkey bars, inadvertently piercing a tooth shaped hole in my lip. I was four, and at the time it was the most painful experience I’d ever had.I was born two minutes after my twin brother Dan. Two minutes isn’t a lot of time over the course of a whole life, most of us spend longer than that brushing our teeth (or should do). I’ve always wondered what it must have been like for him to spend one hundred percent of those first few minutes without me. I mean, realistically, he was probably crying and weeing and screaming, but having been with me for almost nine months prior to that moment, he must have felt a disconnection, a longing to be next to me again.Anything before the age of about ten feels like a weird hazy dream from some 90’s b-movie to me. I remember that period fondly but with little clarity and definition. It was only around the age of eleven that I remember feeling more self aware, conscious of who I was in this big world. The 9/11 attacks happened days after my tenth birthday and there dawned a period of time where my juvenile naivety was slowly eroded. Growing up is a disappointment.High school sucked! Okay well, a lot of high school sucked. It’s not hard to stand out when you’re a twin, especially when you like spending time together and doing similar things. Truth is Dan and I were complete opposites in a lot of ways. No literally, we’re mirror twins, which happens when the original embryo splits perfectly down the middle like a book. I’m left handed, he was right handed. He was left footed, I’m right footed. The crown of our hair even goes the opposite way. Similar but different, and isn’t that true of so many of us, that we can enjoy the same things but view them in completely different ways. It was certainly true for us as we navigated those turbulent teenage years. Growing up is confusing.At some point in our teens we delved into music. Without realising it at that age, music had a pull on me in a way that nothing else did. I would listen to everything from Eva Cassidy to Phil Collins, classical to rock and find a tangible connection with it, something that has never left me.I wanted to be a drummer, but both our cousin and best mate had just started learning those, so guitar was the next option. I remember staring at our Church Ministers son as he wielded his bright red stratocaster and thinking, ‘I want to do that.’ Dan picked up the bass and we formed a band with the two drummers (yep - two!). Honestly, we made some pretty awful music, but during that time I started to develop an ear for melody and a slightly coarse approach to lyric writing. We played gigs anywhere we were allowed to and began recording DIY demos. It led us to some really interesting places and people, eventually recording a few E.P’s in our late teens and playing some pretty cool shows. Growing up is an adventure.It was around this time too that I met my future wife, Mel and Dan and I started to dabble in other creative outlets. It was the beginning of an era I remember warmly, we were finding our stride and the big wide world was there, ready for us to explore.Keep on moving.
Pt. 2 ~ Can You Read Each Other's Minds?
‘Can you read each other’s minds?’. You'd be surprised how many times you get asked that as a twin. It's greeted with a wry smile and a nonchalant shake of the head. Truth is, yes actually, to a certain extent.It’s hard to explain what it’s like being a twin if you haven’t been one. You know how your phone seems to know everything about you and how those ‘cookies’ can predict what you’ll click on today, well it’s like that, but in real life (and way better). It’s the type of connection that I think rarely exists outside the relationship between twins.Having someone who knows you so intrinsically well comes with its downfalls too. Consider this; there’s another human being who knows everything that will tick you off. They know what to say or do or even what type of music will push you over the edge. They can predict, with a certain degree of accuracy, how far is far enough to turn you into the skinny scrawny version of The Hulk in a matter of seconds and then walk off, none the wiser, when a parent comes to inspect the situation. They have all the ammo from every mistake you’ve ever made to twist and twist and twist. Cool, right? Uhuh.So yeah, we fought sometimes - we’re brothers. I’ve always been interested in how we sometimes over glorify people we’ve lost, hail them as a saint and put a big portrait of them up in the hallway. Dan was an incredible, gifted, gentle, kind and humble man, but he came with his flaws, like we all do.Can I be blunt here for a second? Being a twin doesn’t make you half a human. It felt a little like that when we were younger and more similar. People would call us ‘boys’ or ‘twinnies’ or some other name that assumes you are a part of the whole rather than the sum of it. I imagine it’s because most people felt embarrassed that they couldn’t tell us apart, fair enough, I’m not holding any grudges. But in some ways it has shaped who I am today.For a lot of my teenage years I played catch up to Dan. He was much better academically than me, he was a much finer musician than I am and his ability to brush off the hurt is something I still envy today. I would lean over his shoulder in maths and science because I knew he’d been listening when I was off over thinking something menial or getting distracted by some creative idea.Two minutes isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of a whole life, but it sure did feel like it for me, always pacing myself after him, trying to keep up. Don’t get me wrong, I never hated him for it, I adored him even more because of it. He inspired me to be a better person each day, and in turn, I hope that I passed on some of my qualities to him too.So here I am, nearly five years on from his death and now I’m the older one. I’m sat in the Costa coffee branch near to where my wife works and where I sit most Tuesday mornings between dropping her off and going to my team meeting. It was here on the first anniversary of Dan dieing that I sat and wrote the lyrics to a song called ‘One’. It’s a song I didn’t share with anyone until recently.‘One year on,
One more gone.
I’m one year older,
You’re one more young.’Am I less of a man now that Dan is gone? No. Am I a different man now that he’s gone? Yes. Will it shape the rest of my life? Probably. I still carry him with me every day; the similarities, the differences, the things he taught me and is still teaching me. He was an older brother in the truest sense of the word. And now I live, not in his shadow, but with the memory and security of having sat under his shelter for a lot of my life.As we would regularly say to each other when dreaming up new ideas, ‘Where next?’. That is still true today.Keep on moving.
Pt. 3 ~ November.
I don't think I really appreciated the seasons when I was younger, they just happened to me. Autumn is my favourite season, but it's soft beauty now has this overhanging sense of hollowness to it.Do you ever get to this time of year and you're sort of surprised about the change in the weather? It doesn’t matter how old I get or how much I anticipate it, the change is always a bit of a shock. Change can be like that, for some they embrace it and for others it’s difficult to deal with.I’m a bit of a ‘grass is greener’ type guy. Not, I would say, in a necessarily negative way, but in a ‘could be better’ or a ‘now, here’s an idea!’ kind of way. I think it’s quite easy to be a dreamer when you’re a twin. Dan and I had a ‘one up’ mentality of pushing each other to conjure up the next best creative idea. It was actually quite hard to put all of those ideas off (especially when you don’t have the resources to make a full feature length film about driving cars, aged 14.) But the thing is, none of that really mattered back then. Just knowing we could dream big dreams and even try to make them happen is what adventure is all about. Having a running mate who keeps pushing you further and further means the adventure never ends.That is, until you don’t.Let’s talk about essence. What makes a human uniquely who they are? Is it genetics or environment or experiences? Probably a bit of each of those things, but for me there’s something more, the thing that separates us from bees and bears and buzzards. It’s our essence, this part inside of all of us that screams to be alive, to have an original voice, to have a reason to exist. To be loved, to be heard, to be known.I think it’s his essence that I miss the most. If I’m being honest, spending that much time with someone, you get so used to their mannerisms and facial expressions, that when they’re gone it’s quite hard to specifically define that part of them. It all blurs into a singular memory. Their essence though, is what you feel, what remains a part of you. It’s a bit like when you go to someone’s house for tea and they cook pancakes and you wake up the next morning and your clothes still smell of them. Their essence makes a mark on your essence.So, November. November hurts. November pulls no punches. November has this lingering darkness to it, one that I have had to become accustomed to. November is a manifesto of heartbreak and hope, the kind that forces you to reconsider everything.After a two year battle with cancer, Dan passed away in late November 2016. I remember what those hours spent next to his bed felt like. I remember the tension of loving someone so much that you want them to stay, but knowing that they want to go. I remember holding his hand in mine and thinking how this moment was never meant to happen.I remember the day after, we all went to the local park and laughed about whatever we could. I remember the feeling of relief we had, knowing that his pain was over. I remember the countless messages of support and condolence from people I hadn’t seen in a long time. I remember his essence, and the lack of it.Every year on that date and at the time he passed away, I try to mark it with something. Nothing spectacular or dramatic. Just something. Sometimes I just sit in my car and hold my breath for a few seconds and then let it all out again.I used to struggle with change, and in some ways I still do. But now I see the value in change that forces us to grow, to develop, to see life for it’s true beauty. A beauty heaped in hurt and disappointment. Can you have good without bad? Can the mountain of joy even be considered without comparing it to the valley of despair?November reminds me that life is worth the journey. It’s worth the moments of elation and the moments of deep sadness. Every season has a purpose and every experience is valuable, however hard it might be. Life itself is enough of a reason to keep on moving.Keep on moving.
Pt. 4 ~ My Blue Kangoo.
In our early twenties, Dan and I both found jobs as youth workers and purchased two vehicles. Our first joint vehicular purchase was a navy blue 2001 Renault Kangoo 4x4 (yes I said 4x4). If you’ve never heard of the legendary Kangoo 4x4, what you need to know is it’s a small van, with extra seats - on stilts. The Kangoo lent itself to quite a few adventures over it’s time with us. It was also classed as a high-sided vehicle, meaning you should be careful not to drive it over windy bridges.A term that shaped much of that early twenties period of my life is ‘self reflection’. I have anxiety, or at least, I have anxious reactions to things. Let’s not define it too much. It creeped up on me in high school and it’s something I battle with daily. To say it’s always a bad thing is perhaps a little naive though. I’ll explain.Prior to understanding ‘myself’ a little better, anxiety was an enemy. Causing me to cave in, make rash decisions, fight, shout, hide and runaway. Anxiety can do that, because anxiety likes to be in control. And when it wants to be in control, it usually gets to be.Self reflection was the tipping point. It takes all of the anxious thoughts and looks at them objectively. It zooms out and thinks bigger picture. It makes things that feel like a big deal, less of a big deal. It doesn’t ignore them or brush them aside, it just puts them into perspective.Here’s the two sides of anxiety control/connection. If you’re an anxious person, you’ll probably understand what I mean when I say anxiety makes you more observant. It connects you to your thoughts in a way that, perhaps, others can’t. Take, for example, social situations. Out of a need to ‘self-defend’, anxiety teaches you to be more discerning, self aware and empathetic. It means you see things that ‘normal’ people might not. It’s a classic anti-hero super-power. The Han Solo of mental health struggles.Learning to harness the good side of anxiety, has allowed me to become the songwriter and creative I am today. I’m connected to what I’m experiencing and it makes me need to express it in a positive form. Why do you think so many of the great artists and songwriters have struggled with their mental health? Probably because they know the only way to survive is to get it out somehow. If you can’t talk about it - sing about it, paint about it, dance about it. Whatever works for you.I find that when I have a real reason to do something, a real meaning behind my actions, then my anxiety fades into the residual background. I use the excitement of conquering something awesome to overcome the usual things that stand in my way. It’s these times, when I feel I’m doing what I was made to do, that anxiety can’t get a foothold - it’s bigger picture thinking. I call this ‘Courage Mode’. They say excitement and nervousness are the same sensation processed differently by your brain. So if your brain is the battleground, do whatever you can to take charge of it.Unfortunately, sometimes anxiety has the ability to launch a full scale siege of your mind. It’s need to control and know everything, means it won’t let things go until they’re sorted or fixed. It will attempt to corner situations that scare it and run from situations it can’t. It will tell you lies about yourself, so you work and work, until you think you’ve silenced it, only to find it was hiding in plain sight all along.One time, our band was booked to play a little gig in the middle of Norfolk. So we loaded up the Kangoo, our little Renault Clio runaround and our drummer Dicky’s Fiesta. Our soundy Fred tagged along for the ride too. The gig was fun and I remember thinking this is what it’s all about, making music for audiences of all sizes.It was dark by the time we were finished. We loaded back up and hit the road. I drove the Kangoo with Fred in the passenger seat and Dan led the way in the Clio. We all headed back towards Norwich and Dicky split off from us to go back to his house. About a mile later we turned onto a b-road and were getting up to speed, when I remember seeing shards of blue scattering themselves across the road, illuminated by the Kangoo’s headlights. I turned to Fred and exclaimed; ‘What’s that?’.He looked back at me and said; ‘I think Dan’s hit something.’Dan slammed his brakes on and I swerved around the Clio, narrowly missing him. I pulled in about 30 yards ahead of where Dan’s clio was and jumped out of the Kangoo in a hurry. All I could see through the mist-filled darkness was the glaring headlights of the Clio.Like something out of an action movie, I yelled through the dark; ‘Dan!’. Moments later, Dan called back, quite calmly and without too much fuss; ‘I’m alright.’ I ran over to find the front passenger side of the Clio smashed in, the headlamp was shattered and the blue shards we’d seen earlier were from the plastic bumper, now in pieces. Dan had hit a deer, or perhaps more correctly, unfortunately a deer had hit him.We spent the next hour or so huddled in the cab of the Kangoo, trying to stay warm, while we waited for a tow truck. And you know what, I wasn’t anxious. In fact, in the moment I was courageous and strong. I embraced the challenge. That was, until we got home and the reality of the situation hit me. Then the anxiety manifested itself, and I spent the next few hours quietly trying to remedy myself.The Clio was a right-off. The Kangoo gained another story and I was beginning to realise how easily anxiety could gain a hold on my mind.So, Dan died in November 2016. From the moment he was diagnosed, I had partitioned off this part of my brain to be strong for him - Courage Mode on. To say I didn’t have anxious moments in that time is a lie, I had lots, but my brain was determined to be brave. It didn’t have space to leave the door open to full blown anxiety. But after Dan died, Courage Mode switched off.Less than a year later, I experienced what I can only describe as a breakdown. Panic attacks, sleepless nights, moments of complete delusion and confusion. I stopped making music, stopped being courageous. I didn’t really feel like doing anything at all. During that time, my wife carried me. She is a spectacularly strong, kind and beautiful woman, with a lot of patience for me.I had spent the nine months prior, running at full speed towards anything that would take my mind off the grief. Piling myself into work, projects and moving house. I didn’t deal with what I needed to. I put it to one side. I used Courage Mode all wrong and forgot that sometimes self reflection means sitting in the pain of loss, learning to engage with the things that scare you.The breakdown taught me how easily good mental health intentions can get clouded by a lack of self awareness. How attempting to put on a brave face, can actually just harm you more. It’s not okay that we allow ourselves to be so convinced we need to carry on, that we forget we’re still back there, back in the grief. It’s okay to sit in sadness sometimes, as long as we know how to get ourselves back out again.So, I’m still an anxious person. But I’m sure that this flaw is part of me for a reason, and perhaps with the right outlook, it can have good repercussions.Keep on moving.
Pt. 5 ~ O Wide World.
Soon after Dan’s death, my wife and I sold our house and moved into my parents, while we renovated our next one. It was a massive time of transition and change. I’d taken the remainder of the year off work to process and spent a lot of my time walking.I like walking for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s good exercise for someone who abhorred P.E at high-school. Secondly, it’s another form of adventure - albeit not a particularly adventurous one. I like to explore, not like an adrenaline junky or potholer. More like one of those people who drew the first maps, methodically seeking out new places in the hope that today you might stumble upon something spectacular. Adventure doesn’t have to be dramatic, in fact, adventure is sometimes just stepping out of the door.Over the past five years, I’ve had this battle with adventure. There’s a side to me that, due to anxiety and a lack of self-confidence in the wake of the grief, meant that I hid. I pulled the covers over my head and buried myself in the bed sheets of mundanity. I caved in to the voice in the back of my head that said ‘you can’t do it, give up now’. And the thing is, I was oddly content with the ‘in-door’ life I’d created for myself. Shut away, safe from all my fears.But something was missing.One time, just after our band mate Dicky had bought his first car, we took a drive to the coast. The car was a 1999 Ford Fiesta in what I would describe as dirty gold and the soundsystem had been upgraded with a CD player, which was a big deal at the time.Dicky picked us up and I brought along a very cheap nylon strung acoustic that we’d inherited from my Dad’s Auntie and Uncle. I remember mum hesitantly waving us off, in the way only mother’s can do.On the drive, going about 50mph, we spotted a road sign for a bridge. Dicky, had assumed it was a bridge we might go under. That was not the case. We shot over this bridge at speed and for a split second the wheels of the car left the ground. We were flying, momentarily. It was awesome.We landed and looked at each other in an array of disbelief and laughter. What had just happened? That moment is one we talked about so often, not because it was anything particularly amazing, but because it was a shared experience. That short moment of hang-time became a small story of adventure.In the weariness of a post sibling world, I had convinced myself that I could live without adventure. A quiet, easy, boring, selfish life. I forgot the call to adventure that I had sensed so many years before. I lost my spark.Some people are content with the life in front of them. It’s something I envy, but it’s not for me. I need to chase a dream, seek out a story and devise a mission each day of my life. I am not content with sitting still and watching the world go by. I’m afraid of inaction as much as I’m scared of the very thing I’m pursuing. It’s this tension that I can only equate to this human condition we’re all in. We want to live and live big, but so often, we sacrifice living in fear of death.After quite a few years of wondering and worrying, I started to reemerge. And in the middle of all that confusion, pain and doubt, I found adventure again. It was nothing groundbreaking, but it was progress and progress enough. I started to learn new things, write, sing, film and record. I experimented in new thoughts and let my mind process all of the grief in positive ways. I delved into the murky bucket of life and pulled out diamonds.And this is where it led me to.I was sat in a team meeting the other day and my boss asked me about how my album project was coming along and I said something profoundly dumb:
‘I feel like my whole life has led me to this point, all the experiences and skills I’ve picked up along the way. But actually the same could be true of anything because that’s how lives work, they are linear’.I don’t know if I would be here without those experiences or not, I haven’t lived another life. I can’t rewrite my history or pretend like the good doesn’t come without the bad. All I can do is be the adventure I am in. That’s the only story I can tell.I’m making this album because I need to, not because I really had a choice about it. It’s a project that oozes out of me like syrup from a maple tree. It’s the adventure I have lived and am living now, even if I didn’t ask for it.So, o wide world, where did you come from? Where do you run? What do you ask of me? These are questions I battle with everyday. But the battle is the journey, the adventure. I am a man of faith, it’s something that drives me to see the world for what it is and hope for the future. In today’s society, that is perhaps a menial idea, wishful thinking. But honestly, I don’t care and neither should you. If faith gives me perspective to keep on moving, then I think I’ll take it. If faith is part of my story, then I’ll live it. I don’t need an excuse to be the authentic outworking of my experiences.Whatever life has thrown at you, don’t let it devoid you of the adventure. Have the courage to keep living even when it seems like there’s nothing left to live for and slowly and surely you will find your spark again. You are your story, so live it.Keep on moving.
Join my friends and I for a night of uplifting music.
October 9thth 2021. 7pm.
Sanctuary Coffee Stop, Norwich
October 30th 2021. 7pm.
Sprowston Methodist, Norwich
February 6th 2022. 6.30pm.
A Very Nostalgic Christmas.
December 16th 2022. 7pm.
The Mitre, Norwich
Hot Air Balloon ~ Live.
Moving ~ Train Bridge Acoustic.
Nostalgia ~ Bedroom Acoustic.
#1 ~ Demos.
It’s early January 2022 and I’ve just sent off the majority of completed demos to my producer Iain. It’s a breathe out moment. Some of these songs have taken me years to write and experiment with. I’ve been chasing a sound for what feels like half a lifetime and it’s almost as though I’ve finally cracked it. The true test will be whether these songs stand up to the production process and the rigours of putting them through their paces in the studio. I’m nervous and excited to see them flourish under Iain’s guidance and skill.Though I’ve technically not got much to show you, this is a big milestone. I’ve poured myself over these songs in my home studio, going back and forth between sounds and structures, agonizingly pulling out each moment of gold. Sometimes I’ve got off to a good start only to come back the next day and scrap everything. The creative process can be a fulfilling but mentally exhausting exercise of experimentation, disappointment and elation. I love it.I’m coming at the idea of making this album from the perspective of a through and through music lover. Constantly admonishing someone else’s songs over mine and wondering whether what I create can live up to those I aspire to sound like. It’s easy to trip yourself up in comparison, but I’m learning to take that inspiration and apply it lightly to how I would intuitively create. It’s been a fantastic journey of creative discovery for me.In early February Iain will fly down from Glasgow for two days of pre-production with me and my band here in Norwich. It’ll be the first time we’ve actually met in person after months of discussions and chatting online. I’m excited to get this project properly underway.Keep on moving.
#2 ~ Pre-production.
After a year of thinking about making an album and over five years of living with some of these songs, we officially pressed go on this project last Thursday. Iain caught an early morning flight and train from Glasgow to Norwich for two days of pre-production. It’s the first time we’ve met in person, but it felt like catching up with an old friend. Iain is an extremely humble and professional guy with excellent musical insight and a knack for attuning his ears to the sound I’m trying to make.After a whistle stop tour around the city to scout potential string recording venues we landed at my home studio, squeezing ourselves into the packed creative space. We spent time carefully listening through demos and bouncing ideas around about each song. My extensive list of reference and inspiration tracks was added to by Iain’s catalogue and we spent time appreciating the sounds of bands like Lord Huron, Athlete, Family of the Year and The War on Drugs. I call this taste bud alignment, as we seek to find an original sound within the sphere of our collective interests and musical experiences.It was an incredibly valuable time to get to know each other as well. On the Thursday evening we joined with the band for chilli and a run through. Iain met Sarah, my longtime friend and collaborator, her son Jack, who’ll be playing drums and Joe, our groove master on the bass. Iain was able to get a feel for our live sound and how that might impact the way we lay down drums in the studio. We experimented with new ideas and had fun trying to remember all of the different parts.Friday started with a breakfast meeting, planning for our first trip to Glasgow next week and then we headed back to my studio to continue working through the demos. I can’t thank Iain enough for his encouragement and input into this project. He’s jumped right in and I am certain that this record will sound fantastic with him at the helm.Onwards to Glasgow.Keep on moving.
#3 ~ Drum Tracking.
Last Monday we left at the crack of dawn and drove seven hours north. Our destination, Glasgow. Luckily the roads were clear and the journey seemed to fly by. We arrived at GloWorm Studios, in the heart of Glasgow, at about three in the afternoon and unloaded our gear for a busy week of drum tracking ahead.Over the next four days we spent a surreal amount of time in a room on the other side of the country as Jack pounded away in the room next door. We were privileged to have access to some fantastic equipment at the studio including a vintage Ludwig drum kit and all manner of microphones and outboard gear. The sound that Iain achieved was truly outstanding and his attention to detail is incredible.We tailored our snare drum and cymbal choices per song, honing in the sound by tuning and retuning, dampening and repositioning mics. Each song was able to have it’s own flavour and I’m excited about the results. The songs are really starting to come to life.Jack put in a shift each day doing take after take until we were pleased we’d got all we needed and Sarah kept us fed and watered. Ben Lambert took some incredible photos and footage for our documentary, it was a real team effort. We were also introduced by Iain to some fantastic coffee and food outlets near to the studio.The final day was spent working on the title track, a song that I’ve struggled to nail down drum parts for. Under Iain’s guidance, the song really started to fall into place and the time felt extremely productive. We ended our time in the studio by laying down some 80’s roto tom sounds. I even got to play some!Next up, Bass.Keep on moving.
#4 ~ Bass.
Over the latter part of last week, our bassist Joe, Sarah and I gathered in my little home studio and started to lay down some low end. I was really glad to be able to use Dan’s old Ampeg SVT bass amp as the basis for the tones we recorded, running a DI input and a mic’d cabinet. My wife Mel and I had spent a little while prior ‘redecorating’ our third bedroom to become a makeshift live room for the cabinet, using old duvets, pillows and blankets to control the sound as much as possible. Unless I hear otherwise I think we managed to avoid disturbing our neighbour too!A lot of people overlook how important a solid bass line to a song can be. The truth is that a well crafted bass part can be the groundwork to making your track awesome. Think of your favourite song and you probably can’t place what the bassline is doing, but go and take another listen and I bet you’ll be surprised. Alternatively, turn all the bass down on your car stereo the next time you’re in it and I bet that some of what makes the song so great to you will be missing.I can’t thank Joe enough for the effort he’s put into this project. Everyone who is playing on this record is doing it for free, payment wise at least, but the value they are pouring in is immeasurable. We made a fantastic start and I’m looking forward to hearing how these bass tones create the bedrock of what we create in the studio.In less than a fortnight's time I head back up to Glasgow for a two week stint in the studio. This will be the main session for recording guitars, synths, vocals, keys and percussion. It’s make or break time for this record, so thanks for all of your support and encouragement.Keep on moving.
#5 ~ The Studio.
Just over two weeks ago, we left early in the morning to head to Glasgow for our second trip to the studio. We packed my Toyota full of guitars, amps, pedals and percussion and drove the seven hour trip up north. I’m getting used to the long journeys now, it seemed to fly by with good company from our filmmaker and photographer, Ben Lambert. We made great progress and even had spare time to take some mountain photos, before dropping the gear off at GloWorm studios.Early Monday morning we strolled the ten minute walk from our Airbnb apartment to the studio, a walk I would get very familiar with over the course of the next few weeks. We got into the studio and reconnected with our producer Iain Hutchison, before diving into guitars, trialling out various amp and mic combinations. Iain’s attention to detail is fantastic and we really dialled in some fantastic tones.The next two weeks were a blur of studio, sounds, ready meals and songs. We rattled through a range of parts and got to create some fantastic sounds with the great collection of instruments and synths at the studio. The album that was once just an idea started to realise its full potential. It was all a little surreal at times.We faced a few challenges, mostly in having enough time to complete the complex sounds and parts that I’d formed in my demos. At a few points I wasn’t sure if my fingers could play any more guitar, but we all worked as hard as we could to make sure our hard work sounded as good as it could.Listening to other people play parts on my songs was an elating experience. Sarah flew up on the final Tuesday and played some fantastic violin and piano parts, alongside adding her vocals to a few tracks. We also had a pedal steel player grace us with some quintessential country americana sounds, an experience I will never forget. Turns out Iain is a quality wurlitzer and hammond player too.To say I’m chuffed with what we’ve achieved so far is an understatement. I am so privileged to have had this experience, spending time in such a fantastic studio with a great producer in Iain and some fantastic musicians. I don’t think I’d ever expected to have this opportunity and so I’m more than grateful to everyone who has helped us get to this point.We’ll need to return to Glasgow for a few extra studio days to complete the title track ‘O Wide World’ and finish off my vocals. This unfortunately means pushing back our initial release schedule, but we are convinced that this album deserves every effort to be the best it possibly can be, and that will take some extra time.In two weeks time we record a string section here in Norwich, words I never thought I’d get to say! I can’t wait to hear these dreams become reality.Thank you to everyone who has supported me so far in this project, I’m looking forward to finally releasing these songs into the world.Keep on moving.
#6 ~ Strings.
It feels like only yesterday that we were at the studio in Glasgow and yet over the weekend Iain was here in Norwich to record our six piece string section. What an experience it was.Iain, Sarah and I began work on Friday, setting up St Thomas Church to resemble a full orchestral session. Throughout Friday evening and Saturday, we would record part by part alternating seating positions between our players to emulate a larger orchestral sound.I've been attached to classical music since I was quite young. The awe inspiring cinematic haven of swooping violins and coarse cellos is one that resounds deeply within me. When I came into this album process I hadn't even considered the opportunity to record a full string section, this weekend has been a privilege and I'm grateful to all of those who have given up their time to help make this record sonically massive.Thanks to Sarah for arranging my somewhat messy strings parts into the beautiful sounds we recorded. Thanks again to Iain for his consistent pursuit of excellence in making this record and a massive thanks to Andrew, Claire, Penny, Viv and Dave for making up our string section.I want to make a little passing thanks here to those who turned up to record some gang vox which, due to running low on time, unfortunately had to be postponed. We’ll rearrange, watch this space. Thanks also to my mum, dad, wife Mel and friends; Joe, Chris and Daisy for helping keep us fed and packing down.On a side note, whilst these past couple of weeks have been dreams on dreams come true, it's hit me hard how much I wish I was doing this with Dan. This process is a necessary important exciting privilege, but it's bittersweet and that's something I am coming to terms with slowly everyday. I’m convinced that this album will be incredible, not just because of all the talented people who have been involved, but for its story and its persistence to let hope prevail out of some pretty horrid circumstances. For the time being I’m going to retreat back to a little bit of normality before working towards completing the album in the latter half of the year.Thanks for all of your support.Keep on moving.