This is the second December we have spent outside the UK and are totally in love with Valencia and it's people. It's been a month of playing, songwriting, erecting Christmas trees and setting up our vintage residential recording studio.
We arranged a couple of rehearsals and I duly arrived at the first armed with my trusty Gretsch Electromatic Lap Steel, National Resorocket and Ampeg Reverberocket (lots of rockets here).
It's a fantastic experience playing with musicians of a totally different culture and language. It was an honour to play with the guys on the night and the picture shows Angel Vela and I giving it some serious boogie :) Thanks to Sofía for the use of the photograph.
No gig here is complete without the band dinner, this night at Peter Rock; I naturally had the 'Red Hot Chili Peppers' Burger...
During a long and tortuous music career I have spent months in various studios all over the world. My last record, The Knife, was recorded between my very basic home studio in the Isle of Man, Keith Angel's lovely Wavelength Studio, Andy Cutting's shed and the excellent Chairworks in Castleford.
Recording is an expensive business in the UK and as we plan on releasing a lot more music we have decided that having our own facility is the way to go. For thirteen weeks of the year however we will be running as a commercial residential studio.
Our new home has a totally amazing 5m high live space but needs some acoustic treatment, so we have employed local joinery firm Fusteria Correcher to construct some mobile acoustic panels for us. They are of BBC design and clamp to the metal beams in the roof; this is the prototype!
I started to play sessions in the late 70's around Manchester. Hanging around in fantastic studios really taught me how to record stuff as the engineers and owners all learned their craft in the 60's and early 70's.
We want to recreate that vibe at Supertone with musicians hanging out and recording all together. Nowadays, ten takes of a song is not a big deal as we don't have the tape to worry about :)
One common theme of all great studios is the mixing console and to that end we have been looking out for something special. Dave Grohl went to a lot of effort to secure the Neve from Sound City and below is a trailer for the film; well worth watching the full version!
We learned from our great friend, David Garzinsky of the mighty Limbotheque there was a 70's CADAC G series console for sale in Betelu, at the heart of the Basque Country mountains near San Sebastian. Just before Christmas we drove up there to meet the very cool Jonan Ordorika to take a look...
CADAC is not a brand people know an awful lot about but our broker friend Don Larking sold his last one to Radiohead and Pete Townshend recently said to Don:
I notice you are pressing CADACs. Very good move. I worked with Bill Price on the Cadacs at Wessex. I thought back then the magic was all Bill (he is a genius), but I've heard lately that these consoles beat Neve in some ways (especially price).
The building where the studio resides is being sold and although Jonan didn't want to lose this piece of audio history, he has nowhere else suitable to put it - hence it has to go. Jonan really gave us a taste of Basque hospitality treating us to a fantastic dinner and let us stay overnight with the girls at the studio.
The older desks need constant care and attention and this one was built for a Quadraphonic revolution which never happened. It is a thing of sheer beauty and it sounded amazing but we decided that it is not quite what we are looking for.
The search continues...
Christmas is never the same once the kids have left home, but starting out again with my wonderful new wife, the experience has been rekindled.
Not being a God fearing man, the concept of Christmas is based around the holiday and indeed an opportunity to celebrate with the Western World 'Goodwill To All Men'.
Gone this year is the fairy and replaced by the custodian of everything good and great in the Universe...
Love from Suzy, Hummock and Bobby; please have a safe, peaceful and creative 2015.
See you next month.
Blues at the Bay, 718 Yarm Road, Eaglescliffe TS16 0JE Stockton-on-tees, UK
Saltburn Blues Club, Markse Mill Lane, Saltburn-by-the-Sea, TS12 1QA, UK