I know you’re all pretty jealous of the crazy rock and roll lifestyle that persistently unsuccesful original bands lead, and of course you’re right to be – there is nothing more exciting than spending all the money you earn from your day job to fund the job you really love ;-).
Anyway, I was organising a few pictures the other day and came across a few that we took on arrival at the Craufurd for the Ramonas gig a few months ago. I think they do a pretty good job of showing just how remarkably dull/exciting/lonely/together (delete as applicable) the behind the scenes stuff can be.
There’s a joke in there somewhere about lights, but I’ll leave you to work one out for yourselves…
One of the strangest gig titles I think we’ve ever had the opportunity to write about, but Community Fridge Opening it was, so play it we did, although it was in cut-down form as Stu couldn’t make it. Part of a series of events taking place in Wolverton to commemorate something or other, we were situated in the Old Bath House, which contained a number of artworks that were part of an art trail.
I’m not sure we’ve ever played a non-festival gig on a Saturday afternoon and with people regularly walking in, viewing the artwork, dancing sideways at us for a little bit and then moving off to the next stop on the trail, it was certainly one of the strangest. Having said that, it was surprisingly good fun – sets from The Outside This, Mark Owen (not that one) and Mick and Steve made a strange afternoon fly by.
When you reach the end of a tour, there are always mixed feelings. On the one hand, you’re exhausted, and you’re looking forward to a rest from the pressures of touring. On the other hand, you know you’re going to miss the stage, even if it won’t be long before you’re back up there again.
Well this was our last night of our tour of Milton Keynes, and it was a fantastic evening. We were truly humbled to have such great things said about us, and the number of people who took the time to come up and chat afterwards, buy a cd or two and let us know they enjoy what we do was genuinely unexpected. Thank you.
MK11 has a great stage, a great sound guy and great sound. From a band perspective that’s pretty much all the boxes ticked, so it’s great to be able to just get up there and enjoy ourselves. As is usual in such situations, the headliners had taken more time than planned to soundcheck, so it was just as well we’re very simple to set up. Make sure we can hear everything, then let us play a song and that’ll pretty much do us.
First band on were Balloona Bay and I loved them. Very indie-dreamy-rocky sort of thing – great growling bass sound – gorgeous lead guitar sound – great vocals. They were really young, so of course I despise them for that, but they really sounded great – when they release something I’ll be buying it.
Second band on were The Box Ticked! They’re rather good I’ve heard. Similar set to recent gigs – again, when I can find the setlist I’ll put a picture up, but from memory it was Sack, Plugging Away, Musical Differences, Corbijyn, New Song, Eyeliner, Every Seven Seconds and Dear Colleague. Steve will correct me if I’m making it up. There’s something hugely satisfying about seeing people ‘getting’ what you do musically, and I was chuffed to bits to see that while we were playing. There was a huge cheer at one point, which I’m happy to accept was a direct response to the chorus of Musical Differences, but may have been something to do with the rugby.
I had two people come up and say ‘fishcakes’ to me after the gig! You can’t begin to understand how much I loved that, and I now have a new life-goal. I will not be able to die a happy man until I’ve had a venue full of people shouting out ‘fishcakes’ at me. It will happen 🙂
To the people who said nice things to us after our set, you seriously don’t know how much it means. We love what we do, and we’re very proud of what we do, and to have people say that they really loved it is really brilliant.
The Lambrettas were headlining, and they’re a good, tight band – we’d been chatting to them backstage and they seemed like really nice guys too, even if they didn’t share the beer backstage. Or the water. Or the food. 😉 I was a mod in the early eighties, and Poison Ivy was always on my record player, and I loved hearing it tonight, so cheers fellas.
Anyway, in case I haven’t made the point above, we had a great gig, and can’t wait to play there again. Great night. Cheers all.
It’s true! Over the next 8 days, we appear to be travelling the length and breadth of Milton Keynes, playing a grand total of three (yes three!) gigs in the process.
The tour starts on Saturday 31st January at The Craufurd Arms in Wolverton, where having wowed the crowd supporting The Smyths just before Christmas, we’ve been invited back to play a night on the bar stage. We’ll be doing two sets, and I guess we’ll kick off about 8:45 ish or thereabouts. Entrance is free.
Next stop is The Fox and Hounds in Stony Stratford where were headlining the first in a new series of Sunday Scribal Gatherings. Scribal always provides a great mix of open-mic music and poetry, and we’re chuffed to be involved at the beginning of the new night. The evening starts at 8:00 and we’ll be on about 10:00. Entrance is free.
We then do what all proper bands do during the week and take a break from music to go to work.
The last stop on the tour is on Friday night, where we’re supporting 70/80s mod revivalists The Lambrettas (Poison Ivy!) at MK11 – Kiln Farm. Not sure on times, but I’d guess we’ll be on from about 7:45-8:00. Entrance is £8.
Anyway, that gives you loads of opportunities to get out and see us, so perhaps that’s what you should do.
The Box Ticked are standing in for Status Quo and opening the Alternative Fringe at Stony Live today at 1pm.
If you’re in the Stony Stratford area, then get yourself down to the back of the Bull, and come and shake your booty with us. Or you could just dance I suppose. Or clap your hands. Or shuffle uncomfortably from foot to foot. I’m sure we’ve got a song about that somewhere.
Anyway, it’s Stony Live, there’s loads of stuff going on all over the place. The line up of the alternative fringe is damn fine in itself too.
It’s finally here! The new CD by The Box Ticked – Did You Hear The One About…? is available now, today, no delay it’s really here. As you can see, it’s gone down well with Beyonce so far, and we think it’ll go down well with you too – all you’ve got to do to place your order is click here. We’re selling it online for just £6.99 which includes UK postage and packaging and we reckon that’s pretty great value for 12 tracks of the most Quirkessential Power Pop you’re ever likely to hear.
And it doesn’t end there (see previous post for context)
We’ve also been recording in a rather exciting new studio courtesy of Pokey Sticks in Milton Keynes – run by our very own Stuey Box. Having access to Pokey Sticks gives us the ability to record tracks when the mood takes us, rather than having to plan a couple of days in the countryside and it’s given us a great new string to our bow as it were.
Stuey has done some amazing things in the recording world already, and he’s getting better and better each time we record with him. This time round we’ve recorded two tracks – Plugging Away – a Steve and Mick composition and Muse Killer – a Steve song. We’ve had a few attempts at recording Muse Killer previously, none of which have felt right, so we’re particularly pleased to get that one sorted out.
We’ve taken a similar approach to the one we take at Angus’s, where we put down the basic track and then build around that – the big test for us was whether we’d ‘feel’ the same and whether the creativity that allows us to turn the songs into more than just a recreation of the live experience would ‘work’. And we think it did. There are added benefits too – the pressure doesn’t feel quite so intense at times, and it’s generally a more relaxing experience.
An update on recent recordings that we’ve been doing. Back in November, we went into Far Heath Studios to record five tracks that we’d been playing live for some time but hadn’t actually got the definitive version down properly.
Anyone who’s spent time in a recording studio will know that it’s a bit of a slog at times. Gone are the days when you could turn up at a studio, play your album through a couple of times and be out in time for lunch. I’m not sure why you can’t do that anymore, though I think it’s something to do with the fact that that approach only got us the first four or five Beatles albums and not the later ones.
Anyway, the standard rules for a well-prepared and rehearsed band is that you should probably allow a full day to record and mix a single track. That’s always seemed to be way too structured (not to say expensive) for us, so our standard approach is to push through five tracks in two days. That was the challenge we presented to Angus at Far Heath and with a raised eyebrow and a grimace, he agreed.
There are a weird mix of feelings involved in studio recording. It’s scary, because there’s absolutely nowhere to hide. Every secret doubt and fear you have about your songwriting and musical abilities will be laid bare and played back to you and the rest of the band, over and over again. It’s exhilarating too – when you have that little something that sounded great in your head and it turns out that it sounds even better when it’s out in the real world – there’s really nothing like that feeling. The biggest feeling I always get from studio work is that of being absolutely shattered. I know it’s not proper work, but it’s a very draining experience, though hopefully a rewarding one in the end.
We recorded those five tracks, and we’re pretty pleased with them to be honest. The tracks were Musical Differences – a song that Steve and I wrote together, Girl In which is one of mine and Daydream, New Song and Corbijn that are Steves. They’re an interesting mix of songs, and there’s some nice bits of light and shade, some piano, some daft noises and I think they’re really representative of The Box Ticked sound.
We have a standard approach to recording with Angus. We arrive early on Day 1, get set up, get warmed up and then attempt to record a tight ‘live’ version of each track. Steve and I are in the main studio area, with Stuart locked away in a drum room and the idea is to get the core music tracks down. We’re singing too, but those are just guide vocals that we’ll replace later in the day.
Once we’ve got the five basic tracks recorded, we’ll start to add in the proper vocal recordings. That’s a part of the process that I love, because it’s when you get to forget about the instruments and just focus on your voice, and getting the sound out of your head and into the PC. We tend to have a pretty good idea of how the vocal needs to sound anyway, as it won’t be a million miles away from the live sound, but we can afford to be more creative with it. Once the main vocal is down, we’ll start to add in backing vocals, which quite often involves Steve and I taking turns to add in small bits until we’re happy.
From there we’ll start to re-record guitar and bass bits where necessary, and add in additional guitar parts where the basic tracks needs building up a bit. That’ll probably take us up towards the end of the first day, and Angus will spend a short while at the end of the session putting together rough mixes for each of the tracks so we can listen to them overnight and work out what needs to happen next.
We tend to arrive bright and early the next day buzzing with ideas. Having listened to the tracks over and over throughout the evening, we’ve generally got some good ideas of what else they need, and that’s the focus of the first half of day two. I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s where we add in all the fun stuff. It’s where the keyboards, clarinets, violins, bells, whistles, sound affects and everything else that we think will fill a hole get brought out. It’s the most exhilarating bit because it’s the part where we’re able to add in all the stuff that with just three of us we’re not able to do live.
It’s usually a race against time, because Angus needs a good few hours at the end of the day to mix five tracks, during which we tend to split our time between offering advice and guidance and getting out of the way and leaving Angus to it.
Anyway, at the end of the day, we leave the studio with five tracks that tend to be better than they sounded in our heads when we went in and tracks that allow us to share what we’ve been up to with the world.