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Blog: The Ghost Of John Bonham

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I was back in Derby on Monday afternoon to start recordings of the second half of the next Validators' album. I rolled up in town at about 4.30pm with plenty of time to spare so popped round the corner for a cheeky half before arriving at the studio to find that I'd STILL got there before Mr R Collins and Mr T Pattison had even BEGUN the drum soundchecking. Rookie error!

Mr FA Machine showed much more experience and skill by arriving JUST after Tim and Rich had finished setting things up, and by just after 6pm the three of us were ready to WORK. Around this time I received a text from Mr T "The Tiger" McClure to say he was just heading off from Leicester. I PANICKED in case we got everything DONE before he arrived (because that was ENTIRELY likely to happen) so asked which songs he didn't know so well, so we could prioritise THOSE. It's this kind of efficient production management that has made us the well-oiled ROCK machine that we are today!

OBVIOUSLY I needn't have worried, as we spent about half an hour getting levels right and then reacquainting ourselves with History's Re-Written. Tim complained that he'd only played some of these songs three times which is a) not entirely true (we'd done practices so it would be at LEAST three before we'd even arrived - what's he on about?) but anyway b) a lot more times than we ever played some of the songs on Say It With Words and This Is Not A Library, and they turned out PERFECT, right?

As we worked through the song we put a STOPPING section into the third verse - we've been quite good at NOT putting stops into ALL of the songs this time around, as we do usually have a tendency so to do, but hey! that just makes it part of our Trademark Sound, right? It sounded pretty good anyway, and we got the basic track recorded just as Tom arrived. He came in with a bag of CHIPS which smelled DELICIOUS, so the rest of us popped to the shops to get OUR tea while he ate his and got the violin set up.

I gave up on the 5:2 diet after approx 10 weeks due to it making me MISERABLE, but Tim is still at it so while Frankie and i bought BEER and QUICHE Tim had to settle for Low Calorie Soup. As you can imagine, no further mention of this would be made during the session, at all.

Once we were back we got down to WORK and did Can We Be Friends, In The North Stand and Get Over It. As usual we worked through several versions of each song until we'd got a good one, and were joined throughout by a MYSTERIOUS PRESENCE. Whenever Tim would do the CLICKS for the intro we'd hear a ghostly SNARE DRUM. Rich insisted this was because Tim was leaning too close to a microphone that had been set up to trigger samples, but the more obvious reason is that THE GHOST OF JOHN BONHAM was joining in with us!

The songs went pretty well, even Get Over It which Certain Members Of The Band are less keen on than others. "More showbiz!" I called through from the control room (where I was singing and playing my bits), and by the end we had a PRETTY DARN SHOWBIZ version done. It's ALL stops and fills and things going crash bang wallop - goodness only knows how we're going to get the vocal overdubs done in time with everything else. Maybe that'll make it even MORE showbiz if we don't?

The above Certain Member was flagging a bit so while he went and heated up his SOUP The Tiger took the opportunity to nip in and do some FIXES on his parts for Get Over It and In The North Stand. The plan this time is to do a LOT less overdubbing - not only no orchestras, dinosaurs, choirs of children or EXPLOSIONS, but also not much in the way of extra instruments either. There'll be a couple of bits and pieces but nothing like on previous albums, which meant that, for instance, once Tom had fixed his violin part he was DONE! I know this isn't exactly unusual for bands, but for us it is a bit of a SHOCK after the previous two album's application of the kitchen sink, kitchen fifteen guitars and kitchen EUPHONIUM onto everything. I've already done all my guitar and vocals for the first half of the songs, so all that's left is for Emma to finish of a couple and they too are DONE. It's so simple, it feels like cheating!

Anyway, there was one song left to do - The Future Is Amazing - which we rattled off in a few takes, and that was us finished. There had been talk of re-recording I Want To Find Out How It Ends to make it sound similar to the rest of the tracks - we haven't got the original files anymore and thought the finished version might be a bit "shiny" and overdubbed", but I had a listen on the way up and it was FINE, so we didn't bother.

All that was left was to hug our goodbyes, and then for me, Tim and Frankie to nip to the pub (Tom was driving to TAUNTON next morning, so thought he'd best not stay out late). We went to Frankie's local, where they brought us out some COMPLIMENTARY SAMOSAS. They were proper crunchy East Midlands samosas too, like what you don't get in That London, and they were DELICIOUS - Tim took a spare one home with him to have when his fasting day was over!

Another pint, MORE free samosas, and soon I was heading back to my bed at Machine Mansions. As I say, it felt WEIRD to have come so far so quickly with recording the album - another three or so sessions for overdubs and we're DONE - but it's sounding DEAD good. I confidently predict we'll have it finished by the end of this year, which means it'll probably be out in 2018!

posted 29/4/2015 by MJ Hibbett

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