Wilderness Of Eden Out Now!
In a reversal of our usual practice, Paul then recorded 4-part backing vocals to tape, which we then sub-mixed to stereo, freeing up the original tracks for the guitar & lead vocal parts. Paul put acoustic guitars on many of the songs, as well as the usual electrics. Then it was the turn of our special guests...
Well, it took a while, but the new World Turtle CD is now finished & should be available by the time you read this! We will be launching the CD at the Whitchurch Prog Rock festival on Friday 29th August, with more dates to follow. More details later.
A long time coming...
We had planned to start recording the new CD as long ago as Christmas '95, but then along came the 'C'est La Vie/The Ember' reissue, which we ended up mixing instead. In fact we did record a version of 'One Day' in early '96, which we made a video for but never released. Then over summer '96 we put rough guide tracks down to tape before starting to rehearse the C'est La Vie material for the autumn tour to promote its reissue. So it was Christmas '96 before I started recording the keyboards parts into the computer (we already had workable drum & bass parts from the live versions of the songs).
Since leaving the band in '92, Sam Carr has offered to help out with session work, so we finally took him up on it. We assembled a Heath Robinson contraption of a drum kit, comprising Simmonds pads, Sam's practice kit with bugs attached, and his knackered old hi-hats. Sam got a headphone mix of the tracks to play to, and we recorded his hi-hats to tape and the rest of the kit straight into the computer. This had the advantage that we could do an unlimited number of takes, and then pick the best bits from each one (or 'painting by numbers' as Sam calls it!). Also if a take was good apart from one bad cymbal hit, it was easy to 'tweak' it into place ('outrageous!' - Sam). Sam's family, work and multiple other bands commitments, meant that sessions were restricted to the odd evening here & there between February & May, but we eventually got 5 tracks completed with that all important feel/human error, so hard to coax out of a mere machine. The experience also helped us to make the programmed drums much more human in feel, as we learnt just how much or little variation in tempo & volume was necessary to give the impression of a 'real' drummer. Gordon 'The Doc' Walker
For a year or two I'd been promising to invite Gordon over to the studio to play some wild & crazy hippy music for my now almost indefinitely postponed solo album. Instead, he ended up doing something rather more melodious, playing violin on Stalemate, Wave, Human & Heroes. He's since joined us on stage at 'Timstock' & will probably be playing on some of the autumn dates too. We first bumped into Gordon in Cardiff, where he was a student & where we used to play the not very salubrious heavy metal joint 'Bogey's' (or 'Bogies' as I used to put on the posters!). However the family connection goes back a bit further than that as I played drums in a school punk band called The Dreggs, which featured Gordon's sister Ruth on sax. All that jazz
Another long time friend of ours is Derek Nash, who was at Salford University with me. He now works for the BBC & fronts the jazz group Sax Appeal, as well as playing sessions for countless other bands. Derek has recently guested at shows at the Gun Tavern (Croydon), the Royal Standard (Walthamstow), & the Hallamshire (Sheffield), as well as appearing on vintage Haze releases 'The Cellar Tapes', and 'Cellar Replay'. He was in Sheffield for one day doing a gig at Hallam University, so we recorded 8 tracks (Heroes, More, Kickback, Vertigo, Human, Rip Van Winkle & two versions of One Day) of sax & flute in one afternoon. Derek's workload precludes regular live appearances, but we'll get him to as many shows as possible. Keep it in the family
Making her first foray into the wacky world of rock & roll is our cousin Linda Wilson, who, between keeping Philip Laura & Andrew under control, plays viola in the Hull Youth Symphony Orchestra. We recorded her playing the viola parts on Human & Heroes four times, then mixed the results together, along with Gordon's violin, to give a mini string section. Hopefully Linda will be appearing with us at the Sheffield Green Fair show on 06/09/97. League of acoustic guitarists
For the recording of 'Wave' we assembled a motley crew of acoustic guitarists together in the garden at Fir St. on a remarkably warm March day. Appearing were Warren Jacques on acoustic 12 string, Nick Robinson on acoustic guitar, Fredrik Satsuma on his prized blue Kramer Ferrington semi acoustic, me on acoustic & Paul on acoustic (capoed at the 5th fret, just to make it difficult!) We sat in a semi circle by the pond, with a stereo pair of mics between us and a multicore cable running down to the cellar where Sharon was engineering. Sarah & Nick jnr helped keep Ben as quiet as an excited dog gets. We did three takes: a long version with violin solo, which appears on the CD, and two shorter versions, one of which appears on the outtakes cassette. Gordon played mandolin on the outtakes version while Paul played it on the CD version. I then overdubbed bass, and the backing vocals are me & Paul in (near) unison! After the session I brewed a killer curry for all involved. Jon 'Chicken Ass' Grainger had been invited to the session, but just made it in time for the curry instead! Warren, Nick & Satsuma also contributed elsewhere on the album. Warren played gliss guitar on the ending of 'Rip Van Winkle', Nick contributed a whole piece 'The Long Sleep', which comprised six tracks of weird & wonderful guitar effects, and Satsuma sang all the backing vocals with Paul on 'More', which, much to our disappointment, had to be missed off the CD as we'd exceeded the 74 min playing limit. Trouble with Dogs & Dats
One other regular visitor to the studio was our dog Ben, until the day he wrapped his tail around the multitrack tape while it was playing, damaging it during the instrumental section of 'Vertigo'. We had to stripe a fresh piece of tape with the correct time code & splice it into the damaged section, then sample the sax riffs from elsewhere in the song and re-record the guitar parts. Needless to say, he is now 'Canis non grata' in the studio! Then, just as we were in the thick of mixing, the DAT player decided it had had enough, despite only being repaired 3 months earlier. Fortunately, Andy Bassett (of Cincinatti/Big Chill/Chicken Ass fame) was behind schedule & not yet ready to mix his latest CD, and so kindly lent us his DAT player for the duration. Artists & Photographers
CD artwork is once again by Jilaen Sherwood, who has contributed not one, but two excellent pieces of artwork to the CD: the 'Wilderness Of Eden' picture on the front cover, not at all done justice to by the black & white photocopy on the enclosed flier, and a rather malevolent looking turtle fleeing an overheated planet Earth on the back. Also on the back cover is a photo by legendary rock photographer Gered Mankowitz. Gered was official photographer for the Rolling Stones & Jimi Hendrix, but what impressed me most was that he did the cover photos on all my Slade albums!
In a reversal of our usual practice, Paul then recorded 4-part backing vocals to tape, which we then sub-mixed to stereo, freeing up the original tracks for the guitar & lead vocal parts. Paul put acoustic guitars on many of the songs, as well as the usual electrics. Then it was the turn of our special guests...A 'real' drummer
So what's on this CD then?
Our approach to this project was different from previous CD recordings. We still use the 8 track 1/4" tape machine, with the 8th track carrying a time code which drives the keyboards, drums & bass programmes via Cubase software, and also operates limited automation features on the new Allen & Heath mixing desk. This leaves seven tracks for guitars, voices, bass & guest instrumentalists. Electric guitars went straight into the desk, via an amp simulator. They were then fed through the miked up Fender Twin Reverb at the mixdown stage. Acoustic instruments and voices were recorded using a couple of borrowed condenser mics (thanks Derek!), which definitely improved the fidelity of the recordings.
The chorus was written in '94 & the verse structure developed from the riff. The song was virtually finished when I had the idea to run the riff into a brick wall of keyboards & bass pedals, after which the song took on a much darker character. We didn't write a definite ending as this gives us plenty of freedom to run the song into almost any other song in a concert situation.
In keeping with our green ethic, we often recycle bits & pieces of music which have become obsolete. The chorus of this song was part of an ancient song called Turnaround, which featured on the Cellar Tapes & has not been played since about '84. Lyrically the song is about the sad fact that people can be led to do almost anything, but seem incapable of doing or thinking anything for themselves (Chris told me to say that!) The string section adds a nice extra dimension in the middle.
Wilderness Of Eden
This was written in '93 (in fact, an early rehearsal demo was on the free cassette with the Haze/World Turtle CD) The guitar intro, conceived under the influence of Nick Robinson, was something that we occasionally did live, using a 11/2 second echo.
The Last Unicorn
Sometime last year, myself & Lisa sneaked into the cellar while Chris was on holiday & filled a couple of bits of spare tape with bits of instrumental doodling. My tune was originally a solo acoustic piece, but we filled the tape up with a couple of electric guitar parts, a harmony acoustic guitar & me playing keyboards.
This song was written in '95 and has had three chorus transplants since then. Warren always kept on about liking the verse & middle eight but hating the chorus, so we altered it radically a couple of times. Sure enough, Warren still prefers the verse!
(by Chris) A solo piano piece I have had kicking around for ages, it was a contender for my fictitious solo album, or the next Von Daniken album, but Warren's already written that! The key was dropped from Ebm to Dm to lead perfectly into...
Somewhere we have a tape labelled 'Chris - ideas '92', which has about 5 minutes of mellow piano & bass. A couple of years later I rediscovered the tape & set about putting a tune over it. The recorded version is brought to life by the violin part and multiple vocal harmonies.
This was a real Frankenstein's monster of a song. The whole 9 minute epic grew from a nucleus which was basically a 3 minute pop song called Don't Look Down. We wanted to open the song with a short instrumental passage, but this grew longer in length & darker in character every time we played it, until it eventually swamped the original song & made the chorus much too light & insubstantial. The rewritten chorus is much more in keeping with the monster we'd inadvertently created.
The Long Sleep
Nick Robinson filled about 4 minutes of tape with ambient guitar, including hippo & bat noises, which Chris mixed down to a couple of minutes. The way the music fades in directly onto the end of Vertigo was not originally intended, but the two blend so well together that we cross-faded them together.
Rip Van Winkle
Probably the oldest song on the CD, this was written in '91 and has been recorded before on the Peterhouse Trust CD. For this recording we revamped sections of the song, including Sam Carr's drum track, & grafted the instrumental on at the end, which gave a chance for Derek's sax playing to shine. The final few seconds is one of Chris's rhythmic samples of animal noises.
I wasn't sure at first if we could get away with a song as heavy as this, but after a few gigs, people seemed to think it was one of the best new songs. The lyrics were written en route to a gig (in Leicester). Once again, Sam's drumming was an essential part of the song.
We have always got several bits & pieces of music lying about the place & this was one which had probably been knocking about for years as one of those things that you strum when you pick up an acoustic guitar. The vital spark that turns it into a song is when you start hearing some words in your head which bring it all to life. The lead vocal is one of those rare beasts, as it was done in one continuous take (I'm not saying it was the first take, but it was all done in one!)
I've never been much good at writing love songs. It may be because of my logical nature or it may be because I'm a miserable bugger, but I often cringe at the standard cliches. This song is about as close as I can get to a real love song, even though it is as much a song about mortality as anything else. The original live version was just piano & voice, so for the CD , Chris went over the top with orchestral instruments, many of which were played by our multi talented guests and mixed in with the computer generated instruments.
This one allows space for many of our guests to do their bit. Derek takes the solo on sax, Sam is drumming throughout, and we put together a choir of around 15 people for the chorus (although by the time we had multitracked the voices, there were around 60 voices in all).
As if 72 minutes of music for £10 wasn't good enough value, there's also a free outtakes cassette available with the first 100 orders. This comprises:-
1/ 'More' which was missed off the CD due to time constraints (the pressing plants are no longer willing to guarantee quality on CDs over 74 minutes long).
2/ A shorter version of 'Wave', without violin solo but with drums, & with Gordon on mandolin.
3/ A solo version of 'Human' by Paul with multitracked E-bow solo.
4/ The long version of 'One Day', without Sam & the choir, but with the sax solo at the end, rather than in the middle!
5/ Some other stuff yet to be decided! I was planning a 'Chris's raving mad house mix' of samples & outtakes from various tracks - if I get time to do it in the next couple of days! Otherwise, we've got some early demos of the new stuff - before the choruses were rewritten- and some interesting live stuff, the 'C'est la vie' show at Herringthorpe last year probably being a contender. You'll find out when you get it!
Timstock 97 Haze reunion
14th June saw the second World Turtle gig of the year, at Tim Stenton's mini-festival/garden party in Hulland Ward, nr Ashbourne. The line-up was continually changing, right up to the last minute, but ended up as Paul Chisnell & Chris Jellas playing their folk set, followed by Paul Chisnell's band 3 Legged Cat, playing a set of old rock & blues covers. Then Blue Vein played a heavily 'weed' influenced set of reggae & jazz and Nick 'Winston N' Gobola' Robinson did his ambient thang. Izon Paradise failed to appear as guitarist Gavin cut his hand earlier in the week, and Von Daniken had to drop out as Warren was at a wedding in Doncaster (congratulations Bodge!), and didn't arrive until 8pm, after getting a train & then walking for 11/2 hours! However at 8.30pm, in light rain & heavily stuffed with barbecued veggieburger, World Turtle took the stage & played a 60 minute set, including 3 songs with violinist Gordon Walker (Stalemate, Wave & Comfortably Numb) and one with Nick on acoustic guitar (Wave, allowing Paul's mandolin to make its stage debut!). Then came the moment that everyone (well, Tim at least) had been waiting for... Paul Chisnell joined us for the first time in 9 years & 16 days to play thoroughly unrehearsed versions of The Ember, Fallen Leaves, Brown Sugar, Gimme All Your Lovin'/Sharp Dressed Man & Brain Damage/Eclipse. The rest of 3 Legged Cat then joined in for Thank You & Boney Maroney, then Nick, Gordon & the Blue Vein singer hit the stage for a final cacophonous rendition of Hey Joe. By this time we felt that the neighbours had suffered quite enough, so retired to make inroads into Tim's Eurostyle food mountain. If anyone can think of a use for several buckets full of potato salad, or a few hundred bread cakes, give Tim a call! Hopefully it will happen again next year, it was good fun all round, and has paved the way for a full 20th anniversary Haze reunion next year. Watch this space! Thieving Gits 2 & 3
No sooner had we replaced the office PC (see News April 97 or the website) than it was nicked again! This time they left the tower, but took everything out of it, down to the power supply & even the floppy drive (I can't imagine they're worth much down the pub!). Anyway, thanks to Nick's help we got back up & running, only for it to be nicked again! I've now got a pentium with Windows 95 for my sins, but the whole sorry affair means that the web site hasn't been updated since April! Competition Time!!!
If £10 is just too much to stretch to, try your luck at winning a copy of the new CD by answering these simple questions:-
1/ On Wilderness Of Eden Chris plays 'real' bass on 4 tracks, Let Go, Rip Van Winkle (instrumental ending only), Wolf & Wave. On the World Turtle Haze CD there is 'real' bass on only three songs- name them.
2/ Derek Nash plays sax & flute on the new World Turtle CD. Name three Haze releases he has played on.
3/ Sam Carr has played drums with World Turtle, but no recording of him with the band has ever been released before. Name the drummer on the first World Turtle cassette release.
4/ I would like to win a World Turtle CD because...
We'll announce the winner at the 06/09/97 gig. If you're ordering the CD as well, please let us know if you'd like a 2nd copy if you win, your money back, or some other release.
29th Whitchurch Prog Fest, Whitchurch Centre, Micheldever Rd. With Damian Wilson, Arena, Regenesis et al. £7/day £12/w'end (inc camping) 01256 895758
5th Nottingham, Filly & Firkin, Mansfield Rd. 8-11pm. Adm £2.00 0115 9472739
6th Sheffield, Green Fair, Merlin Theatre, Tintagel House, 2 Meadow Bank Rd. Open air 12-5pm. Adm 40p 0114 2332247
26th Rotherham, The Florence, Moorgate Rd. 8-11pm. Adm Free 01709 360 606
27th Wakefield, Henry Booths 8-11pm. Adm £1.50 01924 378 126
2nd Northampton, Fitchett & Firkin, Commercial St. 8-11pm. Adm free. 01604 21307
17th Doncaster, Leopard, West St (+ local support) 8-11pm. Adm £2 01302 363054
18th Crewe, Limelight, Hightown (supporting Jean Genie). 8.30-late. Adm - check with venue. 01270 251929
26th Leeds, CJ's, Kirkstall Lites, Kirkstall Road. 8.30-late. Adm £3
31st Banbury, The Mill, Spice Ball Park. 8-11pm. Adm £2.00 01295 252050
Please check with us or the venue before travelling. More dates to be added.
See you soon!
Chris & Paul