The Balloon, The Bubble, and The Box
The titles may seem strange at first, and more than 1 close friend did turn around and say â€œDanâ€¦are you sure?â€ but they are all types of hideawayâ€¦and a not too close inspection of the lyrics will quickly reveal I am a person obsessed with getting away from it all, running for the hills and other great escape routes.
Recorded and mixed by Ryan Pinson in my hometown of Wolverhampton, sessions began in February 2008 and thanks to a combination of his consistent effort, skill and patience 21 songs were completed by November 2009.
I was lucky enough to collaborate with a large group of truly inspirational and (importantly for me) some of the most sensitive musicians I have had the pleasure of meeting.
Each song tells a different story and has itâ€™s own time line of growth over the last 10 years, but they all started with me bashing something out on my acoustic guitar into a portable recording device. My gear has (slightly) improved over the years. I remember spending Â£300 on a cassette 8 track and thinking it was the bees knees, and further back recording on a HITACHI ghetto blaster with built in speaker and tape 2 tape. After tapes I got really into mini discs for a while, and then once mobile phones got so good I just got lazy and used that.
I like simple stuff. When I have an idea I donâ€™t want anything to get in the way of me getting it out. I dream of a recording booth with one big huge red button, a padded cell that I can bounce around in and let it all out.
As a result of these haphazard recording methods the musicians had to work with some pretty dire audio in the beginning, and they proved to be very patient individuals!
We rehearsed, arranged and recorded the structure of the songs on at rehearsal studios in Birmingham (Hockley St was a good place) and these evenings were sparky, electric sort of events for me, it was so exciting to hear and see the flesh on the bones.
The production in the studio was a real collaborative effort; and I owe a depth of gratitude to the players that came to form my ‘core band’ during the sessions: John Large drums, Steve Clarke bass, June Mori Piano and Tom Bounford on Violin.
Lead guitar was one area where there was a consistent whole to fillâ€¦Although I played a little (Lost The Fight/Right Here) there were 5 other guest guitarists including the legend BJ Cole on pedal steel (Where Is The Love? /This Is The End), Andy Bole of Gong cooked up a vast array of ambient/industrial/noise wizardry on several tracks (Lost The Fight/I Wanted/Holding My Head/Right Here) David Wright of Rogue States provided some heart aching melody (If I Grow Old), Andy Pell provided some well placed arpeggios (Lost The Fight/Gravity Hold) and my personal all time guitar hero (FACT!) Tariq Quadri is playing the lead guitar on Somewhere I Donâ€™t Want To Go and Raw State.
There are two songs that I co-wrote, Raw State with Greg Lake of my former band â€˜Sonaraâ€™ and Where Is The Love? with my friend Eric Barlow. Itâ€™s kinda more his than mine (he started it! kids voice), I merely wrote the 2nd verse and changed up the rhythm a little. Thanks must go to Carina Round (Puscifier/ Early Winters) whose beautiful voice you can hear makes it a duet.
In addition to Tom Bounford, violin was played by Salene, Helen Lancaster (Viola) and Emma Capp (Cello) who all adapted well to my strange directing techniques (singing string lines intensely in their faces)
Inspiration to write comes from a lot of different places, and part of what attracted me to the idea of working as a solo artist was the ability to treat each song as an island. Often a band can unknowingly form a template of sound, a sort of filter that you put songs through. There are numerous examples in pop history where this has been a great thing, but after my own experiences in groups I didnâ€™t fancy doing it that way again.
I have a motto I wrote in 2003 when I finished uni and embarked upon life as a songwriter for proper: Success does all apply in the song. It is the good energy you put into it others pick up on (they love it!) Do what you want to do. Do what makes you happy. The other things are harder to get and less satisfying.
Several years on, I do my best to stick to that optimism.
Dan Whitehouse. April 8 2010
Recorded and mixed by Ryan Pinson
Artwork by Beth Whitehouse