11. I think your album is great, I especially like the first epic track..I hear a blend of Gentle Giant / Tull among others, I that a fair assessment?
(Robert) Thank you very much. “Ode” is an interesting song. It started its life in about 1998 when as a fledgling pro-musician with time on my hands, I used to walk my little dog in the big park in Slough, West of London. Anyone who knows the region knows it’s a bit grey there, so that’s where I coined the phrase “Ode to Grey Mornings”. I noticed the magpies and decided to explore the theme of sorrow which surrounds the superstition of seeing a solitary magpie. It wasn’t until a couple of years later, well into 2002 really, that Steve Carney took this subliminal essence and wove a story set in pre-first world war rural England about two young lovers’ experiencing a loss of innocence, dealing with and overcoming their personal demons. Phew! And there is some music in the song as well! Well, just a bit! Tull, Giant, fair assessment. I wanted to explore something that could go down as a “Thick as a Brick Part II, Gerald Bostock grows up and meets girls”! I’m joking of course.
(Steve) Rob’s said it all! “Ode” is something I am really proud of and has so many references. It pays homage to the great moments of prog, but has a quality of its own. Gentle Giant? why not!!"
12. Overall, the album brims with excellent guitar, keyboards & vocals! But also fine drums and bass play.
The production comes across crystal clear, which in my book is superb! Please tell, how do you guys work in the studio? And do you all have a say in the final mix?
(Robert) Following on from what we said about songwriting, after our writing sessions, it was my self appointed job to bring some sense to this as Executive Producer. Back in about 2005 I set up my own studio. I actually created demos of every single song, played all the parts down to the last semi-quaver, programmed the drums and sang. In this respect this is common with what Pete Townshend used to do for the Who. Gradually, the band would then come and go and replace my demo parts with their proper parts. The last piece was hiring the string section to play most prominently on the song “Aquaplanage” and also “Sands of Time” and a few other bits.
So I produced the entire album and only gave it away to the master Rob Aubrey for the final mastering. Jon the bass player did his parts at home & mailed me the CD. Max Hunt who guests keyboards (well, plays the fiddly bits that I didn’t play) did the session in his studio & emailed me the midi files which I rendered up on my synths. So, the traditional thing of going in the studio and blasting it out in two takes was totally out of the window. True to the spirit of good prog, I think it was necessary to build the album over time, knit all the little fiddly bits in and weave it together. I will confess that the whole band was never together in its entirety at any time. That said, I think there is a good live feel because everything is played live, with the exception of a few choice samples here and there. Going out as Fragile meant we had already acquired the chemistry of a good tight live band.
Artistically, people went pretty much according to my first demos and there was never any squabbling about ideas. Sure, parts were embellished, additional vocal harmonies were thrown in, an already heavy kitchen sink was made even more dangerous.
I think this represents the magic about the Aquaplanage working unit. We can come up with song ideas, sit on them for a couple of years, not even talk to each other for a few months (as we do live quite far away from each other), I will make a demo, additional ideas will spontaneously arise and just naturally fit in and an album evolves.