Oxjam - a great event, not a euphemism for Bovril.

October 2nd, 2014

Remember the heady days of August, when you couldn’t wait to whip out those mighty charity cojones by bravely emptying a small tub of icy water over yourself to support, er… (Was it ALS? Hang on, weren’t they the boy band with the guy that did back flips? I think they’ve got Ebola or something.)

As we head into autumn and the evenings turn dark and cool, suddenly the icy water seems less invitingly refreshing - you’d still like to feel that you were doing your bit but perhaps with your nipples less prominent?

Good news, good people, you can discharge your charitable duties and still have a great time in October by just rounding up some friends and getting out into Cheltenham later this month. Reasons to be cheering - 1,2,3…

One, you’ll be supporting Oxfam, fighting worldwide poverty from emergency response to campaigning to improve the lives of the poorest people on Earth, working towards sustainable change. You can read about it from the Oxjam perspective here, or in a bit more detail on the Oxfam website.

Two, you’ll be supporting local musicians. You may be under the impression that the bands that you love are simply created by media impresarios or, in the case of Justin Bieber, extruded by a giant, cybernetic sphincter but no, those bands that have changed the face of music all started out slogging around the live circuit. The one thing that live music needs to flourish is an appreciative audience. There will be hundreds of musicians, sound engineers, managers and volunteers giving up their time on the 18th for a great cause. Show them some love.

Three, and least self-sacrificingly, it’s going to be a fantastic day of live music. There are some brilliant acts (and The Layers) playing from three in the afternoon until closing time. It’s not like a TV talent show. There’s no autotune, just people who can really sing. There’s no manufactured, faux-tragic back-story, just musicians giving up paid gigs to raise money for people who are truly suffering. There’s no telephone vote, instead, if you like an artist, you can go up and actually talk to them.

So what do you say? It’s not like going out selfishly - you’re doing your bit for charity. Get a baby sitter, put on your dancing trousers and get out there. Obviously, we’d love you to make a beeline for the Frog and Fiddle to see The Layers (10pm!) but there are great acts on in all the venues. The important thing is that we get as many people out there as possible so please, share this with your friends, round up your posse, homies or massive; be prepared to grease up your intimate circle (by which we mean bribe your friends if they don’t want to come out. Minds out of the gutters, people), and grab a fistful of tickets (http://www.wegottickets.com/oxjam/event/281545).

You know it makes sense. See you there.

Unlimited love from The Layers. x

Two Layers beneath the surface of the Earth…

August 10th, 2014

Being a Layer is a tricky and demanding business, and not just for Caleb’s sandwich wrangler. A rigorous training programme is in place to cover every eventuality and, in preparation for our shady sponsors demanding that we obtain a long-hidden relic from an abandoned tomb (you’d be amazed how often this happens. Damn sponsors…) Paul and Neil spent a cheerful Saturday exploring the limestone mines that honeycomb the area below Wiltshire’s picturesque Box.

We quickly attached cheap head torches to builders’ hard hats and then, preparations about as half-arsed as was possible, we met up with a few of the local underground community.

Box Freestone Mines  was a source of limestone from Roman times until the 1970s, when mining finally ceased for good. Freely accessible until recently, the entrances have been gated off for safety and preservation of what is now designated a site of Special Scientific Interest.

A brief stroll through sunny woods brought us to a barred entrance in a hollow; even yards from the entrance, the change in the air temperature was palpable, bringing a chill to the summer morning.

Ducking down to scramble through the entrance we were confronted with a small chamber full of tumbled rocks, with litter and graffiti evidencing the incursions of local youths. The graffiti is a shame, as in places in the mines it obscures the writings of miners from hundreds of years ago - some official mine business, some in the same vein of its modern counterparts and some hauntingly poetic.

The survey maps of the mines, laminated A3 sheets, show the incredible extent of the tunnels. The maps have almost biological look, dendriform, resembling old biology textbook drawings, dead ends and short passages branching off longer passages that join sections of the mine. Once inside it is tremendously difficult to match the map to what you see - below ground your sense of direction is thrown off; one part of the mine looks much like another and falls have changed the layout over the years.

The ceilings are pitted with pick marks, corners indented with grooves cut by the ropes that hauled stone. There are pockets in the walls where scaffold planks were inserted and others, soot-stained, that held lamps and candles. The hardship of working down here must have been incredible.

Making your way about the passages is a demanding business - even the uncollapsed passages are uneven and damp underfoot and, in a helmet and head torch, just strolling these easy corridors needs concentration. Some parts of the mine are flanked with piles of stone too small or uneven to be worth removal, representing a hazard as they are prone to easy collapse.

Navigating the falls gives an insight into the dangers that must have accompanied the mine workers. Huge stones have fallen from the ceiling, leaving gaps to be traversed with great care. Some rock with weight on them and the noise they make brings a thrill of primal fear - an almost subsonic, percussive grinding as much felt as heard  - it is easy to imagine that sound and cracks opening in the ceiling, the panic of men trying to clear the area.

Scrambling, climbing and sliding, we travelled through the mines, stopping off to see stations where stone saws were sharpened, crane points and wells. Again, we marvelled at the physical demands placed upon the miners. After photographing some of the better-preserved mine workings, the party split, some of the more experienced cavers taking the youngsters in the group out while a small group of us tried to find the way towards a section of the tunnels pressed into military use.

At once, the incredible difficulty of navigating was apparent. There are few unambiguous reference points and it is difficult to whether the marking on the map is the tunnel in front of you without making a brief exploration. This makes progress incredibly slow.

On your own, the little cone of light in front of you is all you can see. The absolute dark is always in the periphery of your vision, as you move, it seems to follow you, as if chasing you along. It’s really quite disconcerting.

Finally, after one wrong turn too many, we abandoned the attempt to see the military tunnels for another time. After a brief stop off at The Cathedral, a huge cavern where daylight streams in through a hole in the roof, we made our way to the Back Door, crawling on our bellies to a tiny grate that released us into another little wooded dip.

As an introduction to caving, we couldn’t have been better looked after. Our guides were confident, friendly and incredibly knowledgeable. We were a little disappointed by the absence of Doug Maclure, rubber monsters and Morlocks but I assume that our guides were saving those for a subsequent expedition.

Our attempts at taking pictures were disappointing but others have made far less of a hash of it, so in lieu of our blurry efforts, take a look at http://www.mineexplorer.org.uk/boxmine.htm

The extent of the mines beneath the hill at Box is astonishing. They are a wealth of historic and scientific interest and if you’re offered the chance to visit, we would highly recommend it. If we get a chance to shoot a video down there and you fancy starring as a cannibalistic troglodyte, drop us a line…

Layers out (safe and sound!)

If you build it, they will come…apparently.(1)

August 7th, 2014

Yes, who knew that Wayne’s world would have such an insight into the growing world of construction site fetishists?* That isn’t, however, the kind of erection that we’re here to discuss.

If you’re wondering why Layers gigs have been coming along with the regularity of solar eclipses, planetary alignments and mountain-biking messiahs, one reason** is that our attention has been somewhat diverted by the gradual construction of a physical base. The old Layers HQ had two main problems: one being that the rent and upkeep on a labyrinthine, subterranean complex accessible only by means of an extinct volcano is enormous and the other being that it was entirely imaginary. This latter issue, in particular, made it difficult to practise in.

Realising after only seven short years that something had to be done, The Layers held a series of high-level meetings and soon drawings were being shown to an illustrious assortment of investors. In retrospect, the meetings probably should have been held without the presence of alcohol and the drawings not produced by four idiots with chubby wax crayons.  It seemed clear from the contemptuous laughter and restraining orders that investment was not going to be easily secured and so plan B was put into action.

The first element of this plan was horticultural reserve translocation, which was a bit of a mouthful and so was shortened to HRT on the briefing sheet. This lead to a bit of a misunderstanding but Roo’s feeling much better now and his voice is almost back to normal. Then, having forced Neil to simplify the briefing sheet, the band set about moving the shed, wisely waiting until near the end of the wettest period in history since the great flood. Slipping scaffolding poles beneath the structure, the boys bent their backs, lifted with all their might and, with grace and power, sank themselves knee deep into the mud. Oh well, if at first you don’t succeed, stop for a sandwich. At least that was Caleb’s suggestion. Thus refreshed, with no more effort that would be required to raise the Titanic and language befitting Malcolm Tucker getting his scrotum trapped in a mangle, the shed was moved a breathtaking fifteen feet from one side of Roo’s garden to the other.

This small endeavour having almost finished off the men known to music fans as the “fat four”, the prospect of digging out a foundation seemed on a par with starting one end of a transatlantic tunnel however, it turned out that Paul “Golden Bollard” Deacon was more than a little accomplished on the mini JCB that Roo had hired to play on while the hard work was being done. Before you could say “trench foot” the requisite patch was as flat and level as an oversized billiard table. Made from Mud. With no pockets. Look, Paul did a better job of the foundation that I did of that simile, OK?

This being an express project, a contractor was immediately taken on to lay a slab and construct a geometrically perfect frame and, in a matter of mere months, said contractor was making excuses as to why he hadn’t turned up and started the job. A few arguments later and the job was done. Well, half-done. And thoroughly cocked up.

Plan C therefore swung into action and a competent joiner was engaged to correct the creaking, timber folly. Now all that remained was external cladding, insulation, internal walls, insulating the floor and ceiling, waterproofing the roof, wiring, soundproofing, plastering, flooring, lighting, doors, windows and decoration. All simple enough jobs for appropriately qualified professionals. Unfortunately, Bodie and Doyle being unavailable, it was down to Neil and Roo - two men so ham fisted that they’ve been banned from Jewish boxing clubs***.

How would the dyspraxic duo cope with this challenge to their ingenuity? Assuming you’ve made it this far without jamming a spoon into your own eye, you’ll have to wait for part two of this blog to find out. As an added incentive, we’ll include some pictures.

Layers out (on their feet…)


* If you’ve gone off Googling this and are about to complain that there’s no such thing, then shame on you! Anyway, there probably is, you just don’t know the word for it…

**The other reasons, predictably enough, are the usual ones: laziness, incompetence, lack of ambition…

*** If you would like to complain about this or any of the jokes in Layers blogs, we wouldn’t be remotely surprised. Please address all grievances to Mr J Tarbuck c/o Chat Show, Early Eighties, Dreadful, Wilts.

This blog entry sponsored by Ex-Lax.

July 11th, 2014

One of the best things about The Layers fan club - not as, you might surmise, a combined personal ventilation and cudgelling apparatus* but a largely fictitious group of people based loosely on the real-life people that appreciate the band’s ham-fisted attempts to work their way from the anus to the annals of rock history - is that they’re a forgiving bunch when it comes to blog frequency. Let’s hope so, anyway, as recent entries appear to have been scheduled along the lines of a West country bus timetable.

Anyway, if your last copy of our newsletter has been traded for snout long ago and you’ve managed to avoid being shanked in the showers, here’s a quick update. In line with Mr Cameron’s new surveillance laws, we’d like to remind our deeply religious fans that today’s encryption scheme is #julyjihad and the supplies are in a gravel bin outside Oswestry.

In last month’s**  instalment we alluded to the gradual de-abstraction of Layers HQ and regular readers will be pleased to hear that there’s now a genuine physical structure somewhere in a top-secret location that will soon become the hub of our dread machinations. In line with our ‘no drummer, no drama’ policy, the construction of said retreat has proved no less stressful that the construction of the Bridge over the River Kwai but, following the ritual execution of the odd inadequate contractor, plans are back on track.

Infrastructural difficulties haven’t been enough to keep us from our core mission, however and there’s good news for those of you who’ve been waiting for new material as we debut two new offerings at this year’s boutique festival of choice for the discerning musical connoisseur, the Tetbury Fiesta: ‘Spin the B’ and ‘Dumb, Dumb Revolution’ will be revealed to the world with all the subtlety and poise of a meth-crazed stripper at Charlie Sheen’s ‘out of rehab’ party, along with the entirely re-worked version of ‘Is that Wrong?’. There’s more new material in development too so watch this space. Hopefully, not for another six months (ahem).

Anyway, should you decide to sing along to the new material, here’s one set of lyrics by way of sneak preview. Hope to see you all on Sunday.

Dumb, dumb revolution.

Seeking out some grand conspiracy of the information age

Illuminiati, Masons, lizard people: targets for your rage

Confounded in profundity, mocked by the empty page

Gold of your false economy just a gilded cage

Well I don’t like what they feed me

Want me to believe

Selling off our freedom

Wring us while we bleed

Pretty things on television screens, watch them bump and grind

If it’s not your flesh and blood, no pause to rewind

Labour in banality, fumbling of the blind

Captive of your fallacies, resigning of the times

Don’t like what they feed me…

Papers’ vapid Austentation, all porn and prejudice

The golden age you represent; remiss and reminisce…

Sense declining reputation: failed to learn your history

Now facing stern examination, how did it come to this?

I don’t like what they feed me…

__

*On the other hand, if you’d like such a device, embossed with our Lego likenesses, we’re quite happy to go into the commemorative instruments of mayhem market if there’s a couple of bob to be made…

**On the assumption that most of our fans have been in a medically induced torpor since January

New Year, new gigs, same crap old jokes. You love it.

January 15th, 2014

If you’re a fan of The Layers (and on behalf of the band, I’d just like to extend our sympathy. It can’t be easy) then this is probably that time of the year when, your New Year’s resolutions having been consigned to the waste receptacle of futile ambitions (collected by your local council the third Wednesday after Michaelmas and fortnightly thereafter) you take advantage of the brief festive disruption to your medication regime and resume plans to slip your restraints, concoct a disguise from janitorial supplies and make a break for freedom. If that is your intent, we’ll do our best not to tip off the orderlies and hope to see you at the Queen’s Head in Box on 31st January where we’ll ignore the fact that you’re wearing a mop-head wig and earrings made from urinal cakes. It being Wiltshire, there’s the small comfort that you shouldn’t stand out from the crowd too badly.

Yes, we’ve been invited to play Schtumm, the Queens’ Head’s flagship for original music in Box, previously graced by Ron Sexsmith, the Dub Souls and other luminaries. It’s a welcome invitation, as we’re aware that our profile has been a little low of late. Between hectic work schedules, various house moves and the usual distractions of midwinter, it may seem that the Layers have been just about keeping pace with the pitch drop experiment but fear not, gentle fans; new songs are being wrought from the raw firmament of creativity, hammered into shape, heated, cooled, given a once over with wet and dry and lavishly coated with dark chocolate. No, we don’t understand the process fully either. In addition, Layers HQ is gradually starting to metamorphose from metaphor to more physical as the boys start to tremble in dread anticipation of actually having to pick up a shovel and do something useful. Caleb’s sandwich chef has been in training for what promises to be a particularly demanding time.

So, come sing along on Friday 31st January and if you happen to have a couple of tonnes of ready-mix concrete kicking about, for a change, consider not hiding a body in it and drop us an e-mail. Alternatively, if you don’t have concrete but do need a body disposing of, also drop us an e-mail, our rates are very reasonable.

Happy New Year

Layers out.

He who lives by the rubber sword…

September 5th, 2013

“Oh  no, he’s like so sad…he, like, goes to the woods an’ dresses up like a wizard or something, with a load of other losers at the weekend…”

Thus quoth the Bristolian Sasquatch walking in front of me with her friend who was like a mermaid. And by mermaid, I mean one of the manatees that sailors deprived of female company for three years would mistake for such.

For a second, I will confess, I pictured a minibus full of social rejects in dressing gowns and Hobbit slippers feeling queasy en route to the Forest of Dean and had to suppress a little smirk of assumed superiority. Then a treacherous part of my brain asked me what’s the difference between running around the woods dressed as a wizard and pretending to be a rock star? Especially if it’s Roy Wood and Wizard.

Because let’s face it, je ne suis pas un rock star.

Even touring Europe, we weren’t rock stars, we were just pretending. We may have got a rock star reception here and there but we weren’t rock stars.

Or were we? What’s the difference? Money? We’ve been paid. Popularity? We have fans. Drugs? I just took a couple of ibuprofen. Is it a sliding scale?

I strongly suspect that any reasonably grounded person that walks out onto the stage in front of fifty thousand people for the first time probably feels like they’re pretending to be a rock star. I bet they know someone who should be there instead of them. The illusion is only complete when those fifty thousand people go along with the joke.

Of course, if you’re not reasonably grounded, then you can start to believe it and before you know it you’re booking into the Betty Ford and everyone thinks you’re a dick. You get about the same respect as the bloke in the rubber ears hiding in a bush outside Ross-on-Wye.

So I guess we’re lucky. Thanks to everyone who’s colluded with us for just long enough that we could feel like rock stars and then let us gently back down to Earth before one of us changed our name to a Sanskrit graffito and bought a trilby made from crocodile scrota.

So whether your hobby is pretending to be a wizard, a rock star, a footballer or someone whose opinions are worth more than fuck all on the Internet, enjoy it and don’t give funny looks to people whose hobby is a bit different. As I said to Eric Pickles after his pole dancing class.

They’re back…

July 31st, 2013

‘Tempus fugit’, as the phrase goes - if nothing else, a fine advert for the relevance of Latin, as a simple misunderstanding recently led to The Layers mistaking ‘time flies*’ as an instruction and chasing drosophila around with stopwatches. Well, it’s as good an excuse as any for not keeping the blog up to date although the genuine reason is more prosaically (or non-prosaically, given the dearth of such in recent times) related to lazy-arsehood.

In truth, given the work that’s gone into the completion and launching of our bouncing baby album, ‘Skinful of inc.’, we’ve had little to write about other than ‘Rehearsed. Sweaty. Tired’. Not the most inspiring stuff.

Yesterday, however, we finally swung our metaphorical legs back over the creative saddle and, although last night’s canter was definitely down memory lane it looks as if the perspective of fleeing time has shed a very new light on an old song**. It’s been a while since we’ve had the buzz that creating some music brings and it was a welcome return. Along with a new slant on an old favourite there were some new riffs to work on, renewed interest in a more disciplined approach to our craft and Neil’s been scratching away with his horse-feather quill in pursuit of a fresh batch of incomprehensible, angry lyrics… incomprehensibile, if you will.

Post album launch has been a period of reflection for us all and amidst the nob-gags, casual insults and outright bollocks that passes for conversation most of the time there has been some uncharacteristically deep soul-searching amongst the movers and shakers at Layers High Command. How do four busy professionals (inverted commas implied) balance work, family, friends, substance abuse and increasing decrepitude with the physically and emotionally demanding business of making original music? Especially in a world where it seems that music is less valued than ever before?

The answer was evident last night: it’s about passion for the music that we love, that shaped us and influenced us; it’s about a friendship that has grown over the last seven years and, perhaps most crucially, it’s about the lack of anything worth watching on telly on a Tuesday evening.

So it’s heads down for a new collection of songs, eyes up as we look to build on Roo’s burgeoning new career as a photographer and film maker by having a go at a few videos*** and hands out as we think about finding a manager, perhaps a video director and possibly even a fifth Layer. And if you know anyone who might like a role at Layers HQ, please drop us a line. Our HR team are ready for your call. Well, between making sandwiches for Caleb, naturally.

Layers out.


* For the pedants and hair-splitters amongst you°,  this is of course, a mistranslation, ‘time flees’ (fugit is the root of fugitive) is more correct and would have worked just as well in the contrived gag but for the spelling (see nested pedantry references)

ºActually, what’s the difference between pedantry and hair splittingºº?

ººIs this meta-pedantry or tautology?

** As you can see, the creativity has extended to our knack for ghastly mixed metaphors.

*** All in the best possible taste…

Gig karma

February 17th, 2013

In the words of the great Kinky Friedman, tonight was ‘another show in my hip pocket’. Or our collective hip pocket, in this case, which suggests that we’re sharing one giant, vaguely octopoid pair of trousers - if you count Roo’s cycling shorts, the second most disturbing trousers of the evening. (Out of sheer curiosity, that phrase garners no exact Google matches)

Like any gig, though, dig a little below the surface and there’s more to be had. Tonight was probably our least-rehearsed gig ever. Whilst we’ve been scrutinising the songs that we’ve been writing down to a level of detail that would embarrass the writers of ‘CSI’*, crucially, what we haven’t been doing is practising them for the last six months. It was great to perform again, great to banter with the crowd and great to discover that we can pull a worthwhile performance out of the bag and still be relaxed enough to enjoy the experience; for while the technical execution might not have been there this evening, we were still able to communicate what the songs were about, still able to get a crowd interested in songs they’d not heard before and we were still relaxed enough on stage to enjoy the experience and laugh at the mistakes.

The compliments that we received this evening were doubly flattering because we know that we were rusty - so the kind words were not for the performance but for the songs that we’ve written; laboured over and loved. That’s brilliant to hear. The thing to hang on to, then, is how lucky we are. We’re lucky to have met and clicked at the right time in our musical careers, lucky to have been inspired as we have, lucky to have supportive loved ones and fans who have kept us going, lucky to have a home venue like The Vaults.

When you hear strangers tell you how great you think the songs are, it’s easy to get cocky. It’s easy to start thinking that somehow you deserve success and global recognition, money and legions of fans, world tours and a golden trilby. The thing is, the instant you start thinking you deserve success, whether you have it or not, then you have to face the probability that you don’t. That you’re just fucking lucky. That there’s probably a guy sitting in his living room a hundred yards from where you’re playing that’s considerably better than you. Or would have been a hundred times better but never took it up.

On the other hand, if you’re too humble, you just wouldn’t play. You’d simply make way for the next guy, the better musician, the better looking singer, the younger, more charismatic band who might just make it. A certain amount of faith in your own songs is needed.

So we’re doubly lucky: not only for the reasons listed above but also to be in the sweet spot of getting just enough kind words about the songs to keep us believing that we’re doing something musically worthwhile but being able to remember just how lucky we are. Some kids grow up and never see a guitar. Some bands form and never get the breaks. Some bands get the early break and can’t resist the temptation to feel entitled and become insufferable pricks.

Some bands get the privilege of having time and resources to write songs, to play them in friendly venues to lovely people and to receive praise and encouragement at every step. If we ever get complacent or ungrateful about that, then feel free to put us in our places. Tonight may have been a low-key support slot but it was also a powerful reminder of just how good life can be. Thanks to everyone who made it possible. Unlimited love.

Layers out.

*Coming soon: CSI Tetbury: “Someone’s stolen this antique fountain pen.” - “Let’s get fingerprints, hair samples, DNA.” - “No need. It was bound to be Dave. He was in earlier and he’s always a bit light fingered when he’s back on the skag…”

New Year’s unresolved issues…

January 17th, 2013

As two-faced Janus watches Father Time cut the Gordian knot and let slip the dogs of war, I reflect that my New Year’s resolution to use less pretentious metaphors may have gone out of the window already. Even now it feels like 2013 has been with us forever and whatever belly full of Olympic sunshine (see what I did there?) 2012 brought has been norovirus-propelled onto the frozen January pavements to crystallise like the crushed baubles of a discarded Christmas tree.

It’s in such times of austerity, hardship and general bleakitude that people turn to a higher power (or at least to a more expensive energy tariff if EDF have anything to do with it) when religions, myths and superheroes are born from whispers, hope and rumour*. Legend tells of a place of power, a mystic gateway hidden in the dark valleys of Stroud, where a sorcerer toils, night and day. He curses passing Minstrels (regrettably, he’s diabetic) but welcomes troubadours, balladeers and jongleurs and helps them to weave elemental magic into their songs, creating spellbinding sagas that can bind generations together in wonder and bring a tear to any mortal eye. The mighty wizard has finally found the chosen bards of destiny and is, even now, aiding them in creating a collection of songs that will bring balance to the universe, warmth to the winter and hope to the human race.

Sadly, the legend turns out to be a load of utter bollocks but fortunately, Stroud is home to DB studios, where a transformation no less magical has been taking place. Like a skilled makeover artist turning Cerberus into Atomic Kitten, Andy has been working tirelessly (except when the band are there, when ‘long-sufferingly’ would be a better term) to craft the disparate mix of cluelessness, ham-fistedness and balls-out plagiarism that is very much the Layers’ metier into something, mercifully, entirely unlike Atomic Kitten.

Here at Layers HQ, we’re familiar enough with the vicissitudes of capricious fate to know that one should never count one’s chickens whilst trying to conceal them in one’s trousers at Customs, so we’re loathe to announce a date for the announcement of the date for the release of the album. We can report, however, that several tracks are now in an advanced state of mixing and what little recording is left to do is the equivalent of a lick of paint and a few screws tightening rather than the fitting of a new damp course, head gasket and kidney. Which reminds me to question this bill from the garage if nothing else.

So we may not restore hope to mankind or balance to the universe but we are reasonably confident of brightening up an evening or two in the next couple of months as we get out gigging again and launch a new collection of songs. We’re pleased and proud of what we’ve achieved so far; we think there are some pleasant surprises in store for our loyal and long-suffering fans, too.

Watch this space!

Layers out.

*I think they’re Chris Martin’s kids.

Goats in the machine

November 20th, 2012

Star date 36-24-36, if I’m lucky. Chief Science officer’s log. Captain of the USS Layers – her five year mission to boldly explore new ways to cock up perfectly good songs – is absent from the bridge and not, for a change, because he’s nipped out for a piss.

In front of us is a baffling array of knobs. No, we’re not in the viewers gallery in Parliament, we’re back at DB studios and, instead of Checkov pushing buttons at the controls, our old friend and producer Andy is back at the helm.

It’s a chilly Saturday morning in Stroud and we’re a month into the slow process of recording a second studio album. DB is a cosy little studio, the wood paneling in the control room giving the vague impression that Caleb’s currently recording a rhythm part in a sauna. The naked Swedish man thrashing him with a birch twig is entirely incidental.

Allusions to Mr Spock’s scanner are entirely appropriate; I’d forgotten since the scene of our last crimes against music quite how forensic the degree of scrutiny to which the songs are subjected. It’s a painstaking progress, listening intently to parts in isolation, then against the drums, then in other combinations, ironing out errant beats and fluffed phrasings. I can see how recording a subsequent album can be the breaking point for a lot of bands; it takes a certain amount of patient camaraderie to survive the level of criticism vital to this process. Once the novelty of initial sessions has worn off, it must be easy to start falling out during these grueling iterations. Fortunately, it’s always been friendship before musicianship in The Layers and, as usual, it’s all smiles, laughter and joking.

Vocal recording is imminent and this is the part we look forward to and dread in equal measure.  The lyrics and music come alive when our ever-richer vocal harmonies work together but it’s an area that requires more discipline than most.

It’s been five years since our last album, the same amount of time it has taken us to get our music onto iTunes, Spotify and the other plethora of online music stores. Coincidentally it’s also the same amount of time it has taken for [insert funny thing about Rupert here*]…

We urge loyal fans and regular perusers of the blog (hello Dave!) to slip their restraints, cheek their medication and get online to serve us up some rave reviews – and we know that many of you are, if nothing else, raving. Fame, fortune and glory beckon.

The management consultants**have been busy producing Gant charts, Excel spreadsheets, key performance indicators and one pie chart, which Caleb ate. We have no idea what any of it means but we’re aiming to get a beautiful, vintage style CD mixed, mastered and ready for Christmas stockings with a simultaneous release (oo-er, missus) via the aforementioned colossi of e-commerce. Watch this space for news of a star-studded launch event.

For now, we should probably get our noses back to the grindstone.

Layers out


*Let’s have an online poll. Vote for: a) Roo to admit he wrote for Jim to Fix it for him; b) Roo to master the drum parts from ‘Belly full of Sunshine’; c) Random penis enlarger based joke; d) For us to get Roo to sleep through the night.

**We have no idea who they are; presumably, what with the state of the economy, there’s a surplus of useless middle management nob-heads looking for work…