ALCHEMY TRACK BY TRACK
This was one of the last songs we wrote for "Alchemy", even though it started life back in February 2016. That goes to show what a long process this has been - from finishing the demoing stage to mastering in September 2018. The structure for Tripwires was worked out very early on, but the song was originally made almost entirely of electronic sounds. I remember playing around with lots of synths for the end section, building it up with electronic drums and processed guitars before replacing almost everything with the strings, harp and clarinet that you can hear now.
We finished the recording sessions for Alchemy with the harp, played by Bethan Griffiths, which sets the scene for the song. We couldn't get the harp up the stairs into our studio, so we had cables running through the house into the dinning room, which we had to completely clear. The room has a hard wooden floor, so there was a beautiful, intimate sound right away. It was a brilliant experience recording such a beautiful instrument, and it was so good to finally hear the opening bars on a real harp, rather than the MIDI sounds we'd been going off for so long!
This song has some of our most open and direct lyrics to date. It's about the journey and courage of someone who spent years of their life working towards a particular goal, only to realise it wasn't to be. "I must confess my own shortcomings, hand on my heart, I'm not built for this." It's a strong message, and we chose it to open Alchemy as a real message of intent.
The verse chord sequence for Hold True was originally written on Squier VI - a short-scale six-string bass that's like a hybrid between a guitar and a bass. I was experimenting with slightly different (for us, at least!) counting, so the time signature changes from 4/4 to 3/4. then 3/4 to 4/4. It gives a slightly off-kilter feel and allowed for a stilted melody.
The part was eventually transferred to a standard bass, with the string players following the pattern and the harp and guitar adding colour.
If you listen closely you can also hear Jack playing on of our favourite percussion instruments: the udu drum. It's a beautiful African instrument with a brilliant bass sound - we had a great time recording it.
The main lyrical theme is exploring the internal conflicts we all have when getting out of our comfort zone and trying something we're afraid of.
This was one of our favourites right from the early demo stage, so it was a natural choice for us to put it out as our first single.
Finery was one of the few tracks that seemed to come together really quickly in the writing process. The main repeating motif started life on the guitar, and provided a basis for all of the instruments to come in and out around it. We had great fun recording this one, especially working on the breakdown at the 1.55 mark, which we wanted to pan across the speakers. One of our personal highlights from the album is the song's outro, starting at 3.00, with the bass clarinet and bass guitar taking the centre stage as the song builds to its crescendo. You can hear a very early version of this on this Instagram post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BW5M2QPgahP/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link We also had a wonderful time making the video for Finery, which we shot in an old mill in Hawarden in north Wales, just before they put a big fence around it to prevent people gaining access. It was a pleasure to work with Kapow and George Ellis, who did a truly stunning job: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJYxGqoNvRY