I have some news about Nick, my mastering engineer. He apparently has been really sick and has been so ill, he has not been able lie down to sleep, and so has had no respite from it at all. He has been in and out of hospital for tests. He has been prescribed tablets that bring no relief and so far, they have not pinned down what is ailing him. A pancreatic condition is suspected though.
This is distressing to me in more ways than one, the first, is to be with an old friend at the moment a serious condition took a grip on him is upsetting. He thought he was coming down with a cold or flu. The second, was that I have had three years of delays to his album and when he said, we’ll finish here for the moment as I'm not feeling too great, I’ll finish it off tomorrow, inside I went noooooooo! With what has happened to me so far, this sounded ominous, even though I had no idea of the seriousness of the malady that was to engulf him. I was a desperate artist who was running out of time for a Nov 1st release.
I try, to put things in perspective, I am not ill, this is only an album, poor Nick who is usually never sick, now is quite so. I should think myself lucky. But the problem is, I am too wrapped up in myself, too obsessed with finally getting my album out. I feel ashamed, but I can’t help it!
I rang the studio, and talked to Duncan, the other engineer in the company and asked him if he could finish off the tracks for me. His reply was ‘No chance’. He said he was going on holiday on Friday and he had a mountain of work to complete before he could go. In my mind I think ‘they are paying customers and I was getting the work done as a favour because Nick is a friend of mine, I am the lowest on the priority list.
I am fucked
But I do have all but one track, Nick gave them to me on a flash drive to listen to, they are mastered but they are just not in a format which says, this is track one, this is track two etc. and they don’t have the information that tells you the name of a track when the disc is in a player. Apart from one missing track (a ‘b’ side addition) it is just the metadata that is missing.
In desperation I turn to Mark Ashfield who was the studio engineer who did such a magnificent job the album. He picks up the phone after a couple of rings and after listening to my plight tells me, “I can do that here, yeah if you've got all the mastered songs I can prepare them for manufacturing, no problem". He also said we could also lift the live track that is missing and do a new mastering attempt on it, so that finally I would have everything I need.
I tell you, my grip on the English language is insufficiently mature enough to adequately describe the relief I was feeling when he said that. Really!
So we attempt to rescue the release later today. If nothing else happens!!!
Also, after tweeting my problem with the mastering, I was contacted by someone following my tweets, offering to do it for me, and his list of clients was formidable. It feels so good to have help offered through social media, that these connections can mean something more than idle chat.
I am also still not in possession of the final artwork for the album, it is done, but the delivery of it the other night via WeTransfer was a disappointment as the PDFs had not generated properly and a text layer was missing.
Will I make this release date, how much more stress can I take?
Wait a minute, there is something nagging me in the back of my mind, what is it? Oh yeah…
17 days, 23 hours and 53 minutes to go…
The Newtown Neurotics had been going through a lot of changes over the years these singles span, becoming a more mature band, becoming more of a rock band than a punk band maybe. The changes we had gone through made us such a different group to when we started out, that we thought it would be a good idea to express that with a slight name change.
Most fans referred to us as ‘The Neurotics’ anyway so with the release of the ‘Repercussions album’ in 1985 we shortened it to just that.
It didn't really do anything positive for us, but over the years even the most rabid fans, who would want to own everything we ever put out, were convinced we only made one album, the first one, Beggars Can Be Choosers. They failed to pick up on the name change and although connections are easier to make now with Google and the Internet, back in the day, we failed to take all our fans with us when we released subsequent albums under the new moniker.
Never thought is a pop song, a reggae infused pop song, but with everything I do, pop is only at its best when it is saying something, and with this release it was about a relationship I had with a girl, in the very heart of London. She lived next to the theatre that put on ‘Cats’ seemingly for a million years.
There was also, next door, a hostel for the homeless. In the depths of winter, when the hostel became full, the theatre would allow the foyer to be used as a place for sleep, for people with no-where to go.
The hostel was never enough in those so-compassionate Thatcher years (certain words there, are dripping with irony) so that I was forever stepping over these rejects of unfettered capitalism outside Holborn Station as I came and went from my then loved one’s flat.
Never thought was a song about my relationship with my girlfriend and with the homeless outside her home and which tried to bridge the huge gulf between our two worlds, all in a pop song. Don’t ever say I never take on a challenge in my music.
The other important thing was to make a thoughtful lyric that wasn’t depressing and could engage the listener in the story. The music was to be uplifting despite the subject matter. Try it, it aint easy.
The song was very catchy and hit the mark in many ways, perfect for the radio.
But could I get it played? No, no-one was interested, we didn’t have the contacts to get the single to the people ‘who count’.
Even local radio wouldn’t play it because local radio doesn’t play local music; it has a play list it works from that comprises of all the songs the other local and national radio stations are playing, dictated by the charts and the industry.
So when a benefit album came along that was raising money for Shelter, the homeless organisation, I was overjoyed to be asked to contribute a track, especially as Never Thought would be such a great fit.
I sent it to the compiler and he turned me down, saying it was too commercial, and that was it.
I left him to presumably fill his album full of tuneless anarcho syndicalist claptrap and no more was heard of it or him again.
Never Thought is below, play it, see what you think.