In April I announced that my plans for my next album are to record at the legendary Studio Two at Abbey Road Studios. This had been planned ever since I was in Nashville recording 'Tennessee and 48th' - when I got back I started to send e-mails and figure out what I wanted to do there and how much it would cost. As the campaign gets nearer to reaching £10,000 of the £50,000 goal I've set, I figured it's a good time to share what exactly it is I'm trying to do and why it's so expensive.
Firstly, thanks to all who have helped so far by either buying things, donating money or streaming my songs. I can't believe that I've managed to get to £10,000 with no gigs during this time of uncertainty. I appreciate it more than you know!
So the plan.
Here's the ridiculous thing... the full plan is actually two albums. That's right, you heard me me. Two albums made at once.
Well, I know it's ridiculous, but it's because of the way I planned it.
The studio is going to cost about £2,500 a day without even spending a penny on other musicians or engineers etc. For my last album we spent 9 days in the studio. So if we were to do the same again that's £22,500 spent without hiring a single extra musician. Now, in many ways we don't need that much time. We rehearsed in the studio for 'Tennessee and 48th', and that's something you just wouldn't do if you're paying that much. So with good preparation, planning and pre-production you can get the whole band stuff recorded within 3-5 days.
Now, being aware that I need to pay my musicians and I'd have to spend a fair amount of money on rehearsals etc. I came up with a bare bones plan, which addresses the question: what's the least amount I need to make an album at Abbey Road? My favourite band The Beatles recorded here and that's one of the main reasons I want to do it. Their first album 'Please, Please Me' was recorded in one 10-hour day straight to two-track tape. The band were that good that they just did it as if they were playing live, with just a couple of cuts in the tape from one take to the next to get the best performance. My plan would be to use some great local musicians for this. I've already asked Nick Kent to play bass and Sian Monaghan to play drums, you can hear their collaborative work together on the track 'Maggie Knows' and that was without a rehearsal! I've also asked Joe Harvey Whyte who played pedal steel on that song to be involved. I've also spoken to The Glock from the Candle Thieves to play piano/keys. I've got options with guitar players as well, and of course it will all depend on availability to rehearse nearer the time.
I could easily do everything I need to do for this album for less than £5,000 and that would one day at Studio Two, as well as pre- and post-production. So, the good news, is that I can do this now! It would be raw and rough around the edges, but I'd have made an album at Abbey Road.
However, the full Abbey Road recording experience lies in what the Beatles went on to do, with albums like 'Sgt Pepper', 'Revolver' and 'Abbey Road', where they pushed the boundaries of recording at the time and brought in bigger sound scapes and concepts. This is something I would love to do, and this is where it gets expensive. If I get the guitars, bass and drums done in a few days (taking a bit more time to get it perfect than with the first plan), I would love a couple of days to get a string section or a brass section or even a choir into that big room and make a more 'epic' sound. I've got so many different ideas for what I'd like to do. but essentially, I'd like at least a week in the studio to complete the recording of this. There would be a lot of musicians to pay and the band would still need to be rehearsed.
There's another aspect of doing this kind of album which might make it expensive. In an ideal world I would use the band that played on the last record and toured with me for the album launch. We had a magical experience in Nashville and those guys are one of the main reasons I thought of doing this. They're also absolute pros whom I trust to be good enough and not overawed by the pressure of what I'm trying to do. Adam Kury on bass, Kevin Haaland on guitar and Dave Krusen on drums, with Dean Dichoso producing and adding his magic. I've also asked Nigel Pulsford who produced my first album to be involved as a guitarist and arranger. His string parts and arrangements on 'Love, Life, Loss and Tea' are just ridiculously good and I want to have him involved so that I've got links to both my first and second albums. Now, this kind of album would cost about £40,000 including pre- and post-production. This sum is based on a number of calculations I've made based on musicians fees and engineer costs which I won't bore you with. I'd also love to record onto 2-inch tape which is a couple of hundred pounds per reel (you can get 2 to 3 songs on a reel if you have good musicians, I used 4 reels for the 10 songs i recorded in Nashville, although that studio provided tape as part of their hire cost). I can probably make this album for £25,000-30,000 but there would be limitations on what I'm doing. Some of the scope might be lost and I wouldn't be able to use tape, but I'm sure it would still sound amazing! Lock down has made Dean and I figure out a whole heap of ways of being able do work on audio projects together while being on different continents, so we can do loads of pre-production together without being in the same room, thereby also saving money. I'm also aware that if I really don't get anywhere near my target, I can use the local musicians and it will be a lot cheaper, but still fantastic. I can't reiterate enough how magical it was for me to work with those guys on the last album though. Sometimes a group of musicians coming together make every member so much better than they would be individually, and when you've found a group where that is the case, you just want to work with them all the time.
So why £50,000? Well because why not do both of those things? If this is the only time I'm ever going to get to make music in Abbey Road Studios, why not try and experience both kinds of recording there? And then why not have it all video-recorded to gather materiel for music videos and a documentary about my time in the studio. And hopefully have some money left over for a PR campaign of some sorts... This latter part I'm happy to lose, because for me, it's not about recording a hugely successful album (although of course that would be great), it's about having the experience of recording two completely different albums in the place where the greatest band of all time did the same thing. It's about trying to create some great music with great people in a dream of a location, and taking you along for the ride as well.
I'd like to think that what I achieved with the Nashville fundraising project and that turning into 'Tennessee and 48th' would give you confidence in my ability to turn the money into a product that everyone who has supported it can be proud of. The way I was able to go over to Nashville, work with amazing people and build relationships to make them want to come to the UK to tour that album and also want to be a part of my future will hopefully make you see that I'm Doing something right. I pride myself on trying to create working experiences for musicians which they want to be a part of and not just because I'm paying them, but because they want to work with me... which is something I took the most confidence from when making that album in Nashville.
I hope this clears up what I'm trying to do. I'm not expecting all the money to come directly from you. I will be applying to various funds for musicians that might contribute towards what I'm doing. I've not done this before, but I've been doing lots of research and I know what is available and I've been given some good advice about how to go about securing funding, so fingers crossed I can get something to help me reach the targets without me having to ask you all to spend loads of money on me!
With that said... I need to figure out how best to reconnect with everyone on my social media in hopes that they might want to help. I have 4,300 likes on Facebook, if all of them buy one T-shirt that's £64,500 - it doesn't seem an impossible task when you break it down like that... In fact, right now I only need 2,666 to buy a t-shirt to reach that goal.... So how do I reach those people and do they actually care enough about my music to be willing to by a CD, a T-shirt or maybe some tea? Probably not, but who knows!
Even if I can't get all of them to buy a T-shirt, can I get them to stream a song or two? Or my whole album? 10,000,000 streams on Spotify will be £50000.... Do you know any playlist owners? The latest single has over 10000 streams... We're nearly there :D
So thanks for your support, and thanks for coming on this journey with me.
Wish me luck!