Folk de Future - The Artists Perspective
This being the 3rd album by Celtic Cross I personally felt that it was really time to start to express myself in the creativity department and also to utilise the technological advances we have made since the days of Far Canal Fire and bang it all down in one hit (nowt wrong with that !) (course not but weve done that and there will always be people who like your first album best but I`m moving on all the time but I aint leaving nothing behind, Y`Kna what I mean like) From the outset of this album I wanted to be flying off to the far reaches of imagination with everything I could do with the computer while at the same time bringing it all down to earth with some "Hey Man I`m just sitting down with my Guitar" Folky Soul kinda `ting. It was also important to us (again) to try and cover as many styles as we enjoy and in this respect make the overall flow of the album an ever changing melee (and for those narrow types who don`t like all kinda `ting fast forwarding 1 track will bring a different result). We have a very wide and varied audience, at gigs you can change to suit the varying percentages but when you make a record you need to cover that cross section in one job. Sure there will be people gonna say "Why are you including boring old Black velvet band ?" same as there are those gonna say "Ooh that wild Punk rock Psychadelic stuff`s a bit too wacky for me B`ys" but you`re both missing the point. This album is about embracing the science whilst welcoming back the magic, all we could do as human beings with the gift of technology and creativity. It`s taken us a long time (some might say a very long time others a very very long time others a very very veryOK get the point !) and it`s been loads and loads of work and hassle with more than it`s fair share of trials and tribulations but we worked hard to get the stuff so we could do it at home so lets take the time (a million hours per bar) and come up with the finished product we want. In fact I`m so pleased as I sit here listening to the completed tracks I couldn`t give a shit what anyone else thinks, we might not have the production sophistication of a major studio but with our humble tackle we`ve done an excellent job to build a very varied and complex album, parts of which I believe you may not hear for some years to come.
01 Folk de Future.
I`ve never made an album with a title track before but this album was based around the theme of this hmm..... Can`t really call it a song . How long does an Overture have to be ? I started work on this first and we finished it last. What can I say ? Well I think it`s a work of art and I spent hours over finite details so that you`ll still here something you`ve never heard before after years of listening (unless you`re one of those really paying attention. Thanks) Put your headphones on to really get it inside your head. Musically it`s a totally extreme blending of Celtic Rock, Thrash Metal and Dub Reggae in a manic journey through the evolution of mankind into space faring race and the plight of geomancy in the plastic age. (Oh glad you told me that) . The voiceover is extracts from a book called Geomancy by some chap who`s name I can`t remember (now what kind of fantastic credit is that) and just in case anybody decides to winge about using voice samples here is a list of stuff I taped to use in backings:-
Most of the kind of subliminal voice stuff came from Computer Music CDs (therefore via samplenet probably) I just collected up tons so nothing got too repetetive also in there you will also find some Ricky Tomlinson, Kurt Cobain, Joe Strummer, Henry Rawlins, Kenneth Williams, Thunderbirds, the loveable Radiskull and Devil Doll (joesparks.shockwave.com) and of course a couple from Dark Star by John Carpenter. The centre piece is punctuated by snatches of Raelien philosophy to get your mind ticking throughout the sonic bombardment. Raeliens believe that Human life on earth was engineered by an external lifeforce and that in time Humans will become a space faring race and seed other planets with life. Sound thinking but I feel the human race needs a little more work. All the dubwaves we made our selves but tell me Who is Rasta 4 eyes and where can I get some Irish sunglasses.
02 Tell Me Ma
After listening to the first track you`ll probably feel like you`ve just listened to a full album already (and that was just the intro) so we bounce in nice and breezy with this jolly little ditty about summat and nowt. Not a lot to say about this one really as we kept it pretty much to the live version with a few silly echoes here and there and we`ve kept in the "Just a little bit Faster" bit which we nicked from our good friends Tower Struck Down from Crewe.
03 Excursion Wild
This is a song which was first done by Ian in Trapper Zat but never recorded, we later did a version of it with Devil`s Chocolate Toothpaste and ages back I made this ace new backing for us to do it live. However I saved something stupidly over the top of the backing so was only left with a minidisc recording of it which we could never make work on the times we tried it live, so we thought that we would do it on the album so we could familiarise ourselves with it more for live or at least get something out of the backing. Anyway after a really sketchy start we`ve done a really good job with this a contrasting version to the DCT one which allows both versions to be excellent in their own ways.
04 Wild Rover
As I said the aim was to be embracing the Future and upholding tradition so this one cements in the foundation stone. Probably the most well known song of all time even people who think they don`t like it sing-a-long to this one. Most people think you should have this on your 1st LP if you`re a so called Irish band but I`m glad we didn`t so we can put it on this one. Drums on this song are played by the very same drummer who played on the Trumpton band concert, and the Chigley dance (after the 5 O`clock whistle).
I love making music with computer because I can do any kind that I like so I just made up this tune out of bits that I got from computer music mag then I wrote a rap for it and recorded a load of backup vocals and stuff onto the computer . We then stuck loads of guitars on and the main vocals and I was thinking about a banjo bit but we`d run out of tracks (Tuts.... Guitar divas ?) Apologies to Sir Freddie Mercury for nicking his Bike but we needed to use it metaphorically to symbolise the freedom to be what you want to to be without infringing the rights of others or having your rights infringed I`m sure he`d understand.Thats basically what it`s about flicking back disapprovingly through the history pages of human beings getting along with each other and hoping for peace for all people (yeah dream on.....but like it says "When there`s nobody left to sing the songs of Peace/Freedom there`ll be no Peace/Freedom no more !") and a big wish for Peace between England and Ireland. After all we`re all just little provinces of little europe in the pocket of Uncle Sam at the end of the day the future`s not worth killing for anymore. Most of our domestic tensions arise out of minorities, not ethnic minorities but minorities within all classes, races and sects which wish to intimidate the others, surprisingly convenietntly increases the NF activity where ethnic tensions run highest, divide and conquer, while the poor fight over the smouldering remains of their housing estates they`re too busy to think about our lovely rulers scams while the arse falls out of the country. Sorry am I ranting, you need to be in a mood to write a song like this and what started it was this mad Irish bitch having a go at us for playing Irish when we were English I couldn`t get her to understand like that it was because we enjoyed it . Silly cow had been dancin all through the 2nd set until she found out we was English, I found that racially offensive. The original song I wrote on this subject remains unpublishable.
06 The Merry Blacksmith and the Maid behind the bar
This is a great little medley of 2 traditional tunes which we`ve given the Celtic Cross treatment and is pretty much similar to the live version except this is a bit longer (I cut down the live one cos it took forever to reach the end) but we`ve kept in the Bankrobber bit because it just didn`t sound right without it, I don`t know why that happened live it just did. The Whadda ball ache at the end is because we go out 3or 4 times a week and I play banjo on this tune jumping up and down, standing on one leg and screaming and shouting but sit down in the studio with a mike and nothing else in the world to think about and could I play the bloody thing ? my utmost respect goes out to Nigel`s patience during the recording of this one.
When I was starting to learn the banjo I made up this little loop for practising along to `cos it just goes round and round, so after a bit I got some really good vocal ideas for it and these lovely words about the golden goddess and comparing that to your true love, Aaaaah..... It`s one of those pick me up when I`m down songs and you just gotta love it (You Have ! I said so). It`s as bouncy as buggery so if you wanted a dance then now`s your chance.
And now for something completely different........ This song was an idea for so long I can`t remember which band we started it in, but as soon as I got even the outline of the backing down I knew we could make something special out of it. I started of with some simple midi then made up the guitar parts on one of those rare occasions when I practice and then went back to the backing and fixed it up and added all the samples. (For samplehounds the space stuff comes from (you guessed it) Dark Star, (I`m sure JC would approve if I only had some way of telling him) again the Royle family are chiming in their ten pen`th and the rest are from CM or home made. It`s a really trancy number and excellent for lighting up a couple of jostix/reefers and chanting Aumm along to, it`s brilliant in headphones and recommended by mediums as the preferred listening material of spirits from the other side. When he first heard it Sean reckoned I shouldn`t put this straight after Sunny but I think slap bang in the middle of the album is the Ideal time for a chill out. Listen if you`re havin` a party and you`re dancin` to Sunny then Yantra comes on and you still wanna dance then just skip forward one and you`re dancing to Morrisons Jig then you can save this to listen to later when you`re knackered. OK
Here`s another live favourite we`ve included and it`s pretty much like the live version really. We`ve got a better sound of the acoustics and banjo and the distorted banjo isn`t howling wildly out of control like the live version I`m just a bit disappointed we don`t have Chris on the fiddle for this but you can`t have everything.
10 Free in Summertime
Here`s the first of the acoustic numbers which we constructed in a rather unusual manner, w all got our instruments out and played with them together in the back room (Ooh - err). Here we introduce Maelor and Dave Hughes as a bit of heavy ammunition in our camp as we enter the latter part of the album. Although Maelor now thinks he`s the guitarist on this song he actually plays Bodhran on this version and his Dad (yep that`s right I`m NOT Maelor`s Dad) plays Double bass and a Mandolin overdub. We overdubbed a couple of tracks but we`ve still kept that loose skiffly sort of feel of people sitting round playing music for fun, which is nice.
11 Black Velvet Band
Hmmmm..... If I was picking songs that I personally really wanted on this album I probably wouldn`t have included this, it`s not really my favourite Irish song but we didn`t get where we are today by ignoring the requests of our listeners and again it`s an anchor in the more rootsy side of folk. I would again of liked a bit of Chris lilting along on the Violin on this one so all curse Ultraframe now for overworking him so. I really enjoyed playing banjo and not singing this, its much better now with Ian.
I`m so, so pleased with loads of this album but none more so than this, the way that everything finally goes together on this is exactly how I was hearing it in my head. It`s a long rant about Designer Labels and the deeper implications which they have on our society but the way all the guitars work together and the machine`s going completely mental and its going up and down and this way and that and pumpy pumpy pumpy all the time Get this one in your headphones too.
13 Dublin in the rare auld times
This is an absulotely lovely contrast to the mayhem of Label. We recorded several other tracks to this but during mixing we were listening to just the 2 picking guitars and Ian`s vocal and that was just it. We just kept it pure and simple 3 tracks sacked the rest and it`sreet as it is.
14 Settle Daan
I`m not sure if this is the real title to this song. It used to belong to a band called the Howlin Sleepers who I used to see all the time up and down festivals here and there but unfortunately when we were in DCT someone stole the tape player from our van and my only remaining tape of the sleepers went with it. Come the turn of the millennium and this is the only song I can remember in its entirity so I thinks Shit! I`ve got to record this in case I`m the only one. If however I`m not (and I hope not) and anyone reading this remembers the Howlin Sleepers or better still has any music left or even better knows where any of the bleeders are hiding please don`t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We`ve done a nice back room skiffly style again with this one with Dave on bass with banjo OD and Maelor Bodhran with a spoons OD. It`s nice havin Dave do some lead on a couple of tracks so we get some melodies that come from neither of us 2.
It`s not a Celtic Cross album without a silly ditto, (or so Nyge Hell would have us believe) so we snatched this little moment of mayhem while the harmoniser was left on. I`m already in trouble for having Hannah saying "shit" so don`t worry about it. We`ll put an explicit lyrics sticker on it .