Amy Blue: “Bassflakes”

Things have been very quiet on the Amy Blue front for the past few weeks. I’ve not seen Lex since the 3rd March show, and Simon and I recorded together 2 or 3 weeks ago (I forget). We got down the basslines, which while a little ropey, can probably be edited or manipulated to sound okay. Danny has not been seen since the March 3rd show either – though he was meant to record on at least three occasions since then, but has flaked out.

This has been an ongoing issue since last year when we started recording at Enterprise Studios near Charing Cross and Tinpan Alley, working out the kinks and getting rough versions down in a dry run before going into the studio proper where we are spending a lot of money for the privilege. The third studio date in December was for simon and I to finish any overdubs and Danny to record his parts in the afternoon. He didn’t turn up, so we’ve had to record the parts ourselves.

Neither of us are great at bass. People (the collective ‘people’, that being you, and anyone who has ever seen a bass guitar) make the assumption that bass playing is easier than plain old guitar, or just a generally easy instrument to learn, but I disagree. It puts enormous pressure on your wrist and fingers, and I was practically crippled after some long takes. Thick strings do not agree with my weedy wrists. Having a buggered wrist/arm which may be CTS doesn’t help either.

The most time consuming part of the process of putting the album together is the mixing. We have so many recorded parts for these songs, on 3 different computers of varying levels of capability, that it’s a nightmare of logistics right now. Songs like “Itch” and “Speak of the Devil” sound pretty much there; “The Yellow House”, the ‘pop hit’, sounds a mess. The guitar tones are just not doing it for me. We did another version which has a real groove to it, but the studio version sounds too clean. It’s a dark song, and somewhere along the line the grime has been washed off with Radox shower gel.

Simon is approaching songwriting from a different angle at the moment. I myself am getting bored with the guitar, but i’m not massively comfortable with my current surroundings. I like space to be able to play. Ideally i’d have all my gear set up at all times so i can just pick up the guitar and flick a switch. In an 8x8ft bedroom, next to a room where water and bird shit drips through the ceiling, you can’t do that. My songwriting output this year has been atrocious. I’m hoping that by the time we get back into a rehearsal room we will be playing all new songs and none of the ones we’ve thrashed out over the past year. To us they are old.

To you they are brand new.

Amy Blue: “The End?”

Last monday was the last Amy Blue show for a the foreseeable future. In short, we don’t know when we’ll be playing again or what the gameplan will be. We’ve only played two shows this year so far, and it’s March already, so in that respect we’ve been quite lazy. There was a third lined up for the end of March, but we cancelled that out of respect to the ever-growing Lex, who is now six months pregnant. She’s been struggling lately it seems; this is not a comment on her ability at all. In fact, I’m stunned she’s had the energy and commitment to blast through two shows and all the practices we’ve had in that shitty rehearsal room in Kingston since her announcement. Pregnancy brings with it lots of joyous bonus features that you don’t expect: sickness, shakiness, tiredness, and of course the inability to wear a nice pair of trousers when you hit the second trimester. So it’s entirely fair to allow Lex time to rest now and prepare for the wee child to arrive.

What about the rest of us, then?

Over the past five years, which is how long the band has been together, Simon and I have written hundreds of songs. Not all of them good, admittedly, but still… we are workhorses. Though in the past year, getting up to speed with Lex (who only joined in Febuary 2007) has required a lot of time to get used to, but it’s had a fantastic knock on effect that the basic ideas I’ve come up with now have more punch and vibrancy. That’s how we have a forty-five minute album in the can… pretty much.

The problem now is we started recording in October of last year, and we’re still without basslines. It’s the final piece of the puzzle, and right now the record only seems to make partial sense to my ears. We took six months to record the first EP several years ago. This should have been quicker, now we know what we’re doing. Right now we need vocal overdubs, some more guitar twiddly bits and all the bass on there. And it wouldn’t be an Amy Blue record without lots of weird glitchy shit that Simon is an expert at. After the final mix, we have to master it (which this time will be very straightforward) and then we need to work out how to get this thing out there.

It’s rubbish being your own worst critic.