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Great new rock book - going behind the scenes of some of the greatest records ever made by some of music's most legenday bands at Rockfield studios. ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD features Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Queen, Robert Plant, Rush, etc

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Mission impossible for Iron Maiden tickets + Tokyo Dragons and Kasabian at Rockfield





10am Monday December 4th.
Today's task is to make a start on my final chapter (that is the last one in the book as I've still another two to piece together before the whole book is finished). I start sorting through my interviews and research when an email drops into my inbox. It's seems the ticket I've been sent for the Iron Maiden concert at the Cardiff International Arena a week today has been sent to the wrong address. EMI Records PR people have sent it to my old employers BBC Wales, who I left three months ago to go freelance.
Damn! This is going to call for some Mission: Impossible style planning to retrieve that. I shall have to hire a helicopter and get one of my friends to learn how to fly it. Then I can be lowered by cable from the helicopter at midnight wearing nightvision googles (I can probably get an ex-Navy Seals pair on Ebay dirt cheap!!) - I can cut my way through the BBC Post Room roof using special hi-tech laser cutters (Also available on Ebay). Once in, I can get the helicopter to move closer to the building and ......Hold on! This is a bit too complex. I'll have to turn to PLAN B. Call the BBC Post room and get them to hold onto the letter, while I pop down at lunchtime and pick it up. Problem solved. And by midday I have one Iron maiden ticket in my hands.

12pm
It's back down to work on the final chapter - the one documenting this decade. Kasabian, Tokyo Dragons, KT Tunstall, UFO's Pete Way, and The Darkness are among the bands to feature (plus a very funny tale about Coldplay nearly bottling their first album).
The Tokyo Dragons themselves have been extremely helpful. I first bumped into the band in October 2005 when I reviewed their School Of Rock Tour at Cardiff for Classic Rock Magazine. They were playing along with the Answer and a band called Sound Explosion. The triple bill involved rotating the three acts as headliners. A bad move on the part of the promoters. If they'd set out to confuse the fans of each of the three bands, they couldn't have done it better. That night in Cardiff The Dragons were headlining and were the last act on. The Answer were first up and, long after they'd been on, I bumped into a group of guys from Northern Ireland, who'd travelled over specially to see the Answer. "We can't wait to see them. They're great live", one of the gang informed me proudly. "But surely you seen them?"' I asked. "They've already been on". I don't like being the bearer of bad news - particularly when it leads to grown men crying. Cue outbreak of emotion (fuelled by much alcohol). This group of Answer fans had turned up late because their tickets had "The Answer" printed in capitals at the top of the ticket with the other two groups in lower case below. Oops!!! The group of angry irishmen troop off to find any luckless person related to the Promoters, who they can take their anger and disappointment out on.

When I arrived during the soundcheck earlier that evening, The Answer - and in particular their lead singer Cormack Neeson - were incredibly helpful and really great people.
The Dragons were likewise fantastic guys. They invited me backstage for some beers prior to their slot and we drank and chatted about music in general - including bands that have influenced us like AC/DC, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, The Allman Brothers and Grand Funk Railroad (despite the crap name a bloody rocking band). The band are hugely pleasurable company. They eventually took the the stage (See the top two photos) - with the chanting of DRAGONS, DRAGONS, DRAGONS becoming deafening. The band played material from their debut album Gimme The Fear (A Must Buy for any rock fan!!!) and were outstanding.
Gimme the Fear had been recorded at Rockfield and produced by Pedro Ferreira - who produced The Darkness' debut album.
Here's an extract of the interview I did with them about working at Rockfield.

STEVE LOMAX - Lead Singer - I thought of all the famous records made there: Budgie, Sabbath, Motorhead and thought “Let’s get it on.....One night I saw Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on the TV. And I thought ‘Fucking hell, that was recorded here.’ Out of the window of my room, I could see the studio where it was recorded and I thought ‘ Yeah I recognise that sound.’

Kasabian also recorded at Rockfield during the 2000's (or the naughties - depending how you like to describe it.)
The band spent three months at Rockfield - recording music, enjoying lock-ins at the local pub and sampling the local fish and chips.

Producer Jim Abbiss - who also produced the Artic Monkeys debut Cd - was at the helm for Kasabian's number 1 LP Empire.
Here's an extract from my interview with Jim.

Q: Why Rockfield?
A: The guys used to live on a farm in Leicestershire and they used to do all their recording in a disused dairy shed. They basically spent a couple of years making their first album, being able to work in their own time and completely free to be able to jam stuff and record whenever without disturbing anyone.
After that, they’d been on tour for two years pretty much non-stop and hadn’t been able to do an awful lot for the next record. So I thought it was pretty important to take them somewhere with a lot of different recording spaces and try to recreate some of the elements they'd had on the farm that they used to rent out and record at. So Rockfield was a home from home and the beauty was that we took out the coach house - which is the smaller studio - but gave us the bigger accomodation house. So we used one of the spare bedrooms as a demo studio, which allowed us to work on something in the main studio, while also doing stuff in the demo studio. It meant the writing process could be ongoing and within two days on being down there, the band said they felt completely comfortable and it reminded them of how they made their first record.
Having been away from home on tour for two years it was kind of important to do that.
Q:NOT ALL THE MATERIAL WAS WRITTEN BEFORE ROCKFIELD, IS THAT RIGHT?
A:The guitarist Serge is the main writer and he had enough ideas to do an album. But they weren’t all completed and worked out. What we did was to start recording on the five tunes that were completly worked out. Apart from some arrangements and what sound we wanted, they were as good as worked out. So it was a case of getting a good performance out of the band. And while that was going on, they were carrying on in the demo studio to take the other stuff to the next stage.
Over the course of our time at Rockfield there were a couple of pieces that were just little ideas. We didn’t even know if they were going to make it, but they came off amazingly and the guys jammed them and they became more complete ideas -- so it was a completely fluid process.
Q:HAVE YOU ANY EXAMPLES OF IDEAS THAT TURNED INTO SONGS?
A: The Doberman, the last song on the album, started out as a very simple idea of Serge's on acoustic guitar but the guys jammed it and made it into a full-blown, long, complex arrangement. There’s also a track called Seek and destroy, which again was a little two bar synth loop, with an idea for a melody -- but we didn't know whether it would turn into anything and that came together in the space of a day. We recorded it very quickly and all just instantly fell in love with it.
At the start of the record we didn’t think we’d have those two songs. Yet they’re almost two of my favourite tunes."

Jim was very helpful and gave me a big insight into how the band recorded Empire at ROCKFIELD.

At last the final chapter is taking shape. Hopefully it'll be drafted into an 'Almost complete' version by the middle of next week.



ROCK LEGENDS AT ROCKFIELD by Jeff Collins will be published in spring/summer 2007 by University of Wales Press in the UK and Europe (and University of Chicago Press in the States).

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