A Message From Jon
Hello everyone, welcome back to this months newsletter / rant / blab. I hope you’re doing good and enjoying the changing season. Early this morning I was out walking along the river Thames with the first of the crisp autumn air and a bright blue sky - so beautiful! Definitely got that feeling of the beginning of a new chapter in the year, even if it was accompanied by a slight looming feeling that it’s running out..
So a few weeks back my dear colleague, Dr Franc, clubbed together with some other close mates to buy me a very generous and bizarre gift… an EWI. If any of you actually know what that is then you either have a slightly dodgy taste in music (like me), or you are a total music geek (like me). I heard of an Electronic Wind Instrument years back when there was one floating about a studio I was working in. Sadly it was broken so we didn’t get a chance to explore much.. but my limited research back then led me to a very basic understanding and generalisation, that as popular music got more electronic and synthesised in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the EWI was designed to allow wind instrument players a vessel to delve into synthesis, whilst able to utilise the playing skills they were already fluid at. I think a lot of jazz saxophonists took it up at the time to join in the booming synthesis evolution, but wow listening back now my god did a lot of it sound pretty suspect! There’s potentially a very clear reason it never became popular..!
You’re getting the idea now? Kinda into that, can’t lie.
So getting this thing out the box I’m like where’s this going? But after a few hours figuring it out with what I know from playing the oboe, I could start to make a few noises on it. Step one was to learn the Antiques Roadshow theme tune, (a condition of Ned's on gifting - if you’re not from the UK and don’t know it, you need to look it up), followed by the natural progression into step two - making a jungle remix of the Antiques Roadshow. Definitely one for the DJ sets..
Anyway to get to the point, I reckon with some thought and a lot of practice we could give it a go putting it in the live set somewhere… it could be so mental. Yes, I know, the set has been calling out for an 80’s fusion section for ages now.. With this thing you can play notes low enough to communicate with whales off Vancouver Island, and notes so high that glass will smash in Tibet. With pretty much every possibility in-between! What I learnt from bringing the oboe into the live set way back when was that it’s about how you present it, and process the sound to make it blend to make it make sense with everything else that’s going on on stage. So with any luck, and a lot of practice, we could be looking at some serious EWI-ing next year.. get big in the EWI game. EWI ourselves into oblivion. A little something for the EWIkend. Or… it will be a bit whack like the turn of the 80’s and I can just play Ned the Antiques Roadshow every now and again to keep him happy. We’ll see!
A Message From Ned
Once again I’m writing this wedged in like a bipedal sardine on a transatlantic flight. This time we’re Las Vegas bound for a two week stint of festivals and recording sessions with the band. My knees are in better shape than they were last time due to the fact that in front of me is my esteemed colleague J Moody, who having endured me whining on for years about the selfishness of people who insist on fully reclining their seats has now been well and truly ‘guilt-tripped’ into not altering his upright position by so much as a degree. What a guy.
At the moment we’re in “album mode”, that is to say 90% of our studio time outside of live shows, remixes or work with other artists is solely focused on producing a follow up to last years “Into The Ether”. Up to this point we’ve been trying to establish a kind of sound pallet for where we want to go sonically with this next batch of songs. The two tracks we self released this year, “Move Me” and “All The Things We Say” felt a bit like a bridge between two worlds (the worlds being ‘Into The Ether’ and the album we’re currently writing), a kind of cleansing of the palate before we embark on this next chapter.
We’re steadily building up ideas; rhythms, vamps, riffs, lyric ideas and themes and gradually a shape and form is materialising. With every album we’re always looking to up the ante, to challenge ourselves to be more ambitious. We want the next record to be bigger and better than anything we’ve done to date. With that in mind we’ve always got one eye firmly fixed on the live set, it’s our way of promoting the record properly. The record needs to align with our live show and production as a whole, for there to be a uniform aesthetic and character to this ‘era’ of Franc Moody. It’s a really freeing process, we try not to set too many parameters, just let the ideas form of their own volition.
Inspiration for the record comes in various shapes and sizes, you become a bit like a sponge during the whole writing and production process. A particularly big moment for us recently was watching LCD Soundsystem play the Pasadena Bowl in LA but I’ve also been diving deep into the music of Junior Kimbrough, Alton Ellis and Thool and trying to harness a bit of magic dust from all of them. We’re aiming to have the album finished by Christmas and mixed and mastered soon after. After a few singles it’ll hopefully be out Autumn ’24. Fingers crossed it’s a banger.