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07-13-16

Fifteen years ago, a band called Jesse James went into Black Wing studios and recorded an EP. Black Wing was a studio in a converted church in Borough, near London Bridge. Its credits include the first Depeche Mode album and half of the last Pixies album, Trompe Le Monde, so basically, it was a big deal. Us and various Wildhearts related bands were some of the last bands to record there before it closed. We recorded to 2″ tape with a guy called Roger Tebbit, and it was mixed by Harvey Birrell at Southern. The reel then sat in my parents house for about ten years, until I tried to digitize it. I drove it back over to Southern one evening, but Harvey couldn’t get his Studer to work. Last year, while I was still recording out of the ill-fated Wall to Wall studios, I got Paul to transfer it for me and another year later, I got round to remixing it.
My favourite thing about that studio was the drum room, set behind a sliding glass door at the back of the main live room, the walls were covered in what looked like crazy paving. It sounded cavernous, but it was big enough that the close mics weren’t drowned in reflections. On remixing it, I championed the room mics (no artificial reverb needed) so it’s a bit heavy on the cymbals. I also ditched the double (sometimes triple) tracked vocals in favour of a mildly melodyned single track. The horns were recorded with all of us around one mic (a 414 I think), and double tracked. I remember being amazed that Roger didn’t use any compression on the drums on the way in, as my only other recording mentor, Tom Savage at Jigsaw, tended to slam everything. Other than that I don’t remember much about the session, and I don’t think I realised how lucky we were to record there, with a record label footing the bill.
I think we sold more of that EP than any of our subsequent releases, a silly song about fashion and the male gaze, written with place holder lyrics that ended up sticking.

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