Monday, February 18, 2008

Muppet NewsFlash

Morning campers,

It seems very strange to be putting calloused fingertips to muck-encrusted keys once again, and I'm sure it will take a few entries before I regain my full ability to waffle like a starving Belgian, but breaches must be leapt into, as my, admittedly deranged, tailor is fond of remarking.

It's been, what, three months? Jesus. And what a three months it has been. I spent some of it mad, so I can't say it was amongst my favourite quarter-years, but it's led nicely into the final stretches of the album, so I won't complain.

A note on Toothpick Bridge. I know, for those of you who have followed our fortunes for any length of time - all seventeen of you - it must seem as though we have been working on King Martha's follow-up for longer than most bands' entire careers. Although, these days, that's not saying much.

All I can say is, I hope it's worth the wait. It has been for us. We started recording back in February 2007 and we will be finishing the final overdubs over the next few weeks, but in that time we've had the opportunity to work with some amazing people - and we hope to announce a couple of very special guests very soon. In fact, it's killing me not being able to tell you yet, but I refuse to jinx a dream come true.

When and where the album will be released is, too, still in discussions, but I am pleased to report that reaction to the finished tracks from folks that certainly wouldn't have even been taking our phone calls this time last year has been extremely positive. (Maybe I shouldn't have always called collect.) More on that as it develops.

Big thank yous go out to a number of people:

The actual musicians in the band: i.e. John, Brett and Flash for making this such an enjoyable and truly collaborative experience, on all counts. There has been work above and beyond both in and out of the studio. We've been locked in a series of small rooms together for a year, and yet I'm actually looking forward to getting back on the road with these people. But then, we've promised Flash won't ever have to drive again, so he'll be in a much better mood.

Interactive Bit 1: As we plan to get off our collective cheeks and tour these new songs, we need to know if there's anywhere we haven't thought of that you want us to be. We'd like to tour in a very different way to previously, so all suggestions welcome.

Our producer:

I've delighted in the talents of Jay Burnett in this blog before. He's been there, done that, as I'm sure you know, yet every day felt like an adventure. He has brought a whole new outlook to the band, which has often included the phrase: "Naah! Do it again!". Whatever you think of us, this record sounds great and that's all down to our man Burzootie, ably aided and abetted by Luke Buttery at The Way Studios, and Marco Perry at The Premises, Studio B - gentlemen and scholars both.

Our tremendous guest musicians:

1) We finally got to reunite the whole Swinging Laurels brass section for this album, Gaz Birtles, John Barrow and Dean Sargent and just watching them play was a joy. With the addition of the masterful Jay Lyndsay on trombone, we've been able to use our beloved brass in a completely different, and utterly more soulful way this time round. They are just insanely talented folks, they don't eat much and considering one of them spent 19 years in The Beautiful South, the rounds aren't too dear either. Long may they Laurel.

2) Melvin Duffy. Melvin is such a humble and lovely man, who came in to play a little pedal steel for us, on the recommendation of Mr. Birtles. We almost refused to let him leave, and he ended up on far more tracks than we'd originally intended. And not a one sounds the same as another. Not only did he blow our minds with his playing ability - and there simply aren't enough words to describe said cranial explosion - but he has also been responsible for introducing us to some other equally incredible people, who for reasons of not jinxing matters, I shan't mention quite yet - but let me put it this way - I'm am over the moon at even the possibility of them appearing on this record, and you will be too.

3) Paul Swannell. I always said one day I'd poach Paul for ist, and one day we'll manage it. Just need to pry him out of t'North. Remind me to tell you sometime how we recorded Paul's marvellous contributions to this album, cause you'd never be able to figure it out from listening to the final results. He's that good, and again lovelier than a very lovely thing being scratched behind the ear in that way it likes. How do we attract such nice people? We're bastards. I fail to understand it.

4) John Budding. Also guesting on keys, and a newcomer to our little enclave of nutters with instruments. I was just listening to some of Mr. Budding marvellous playing in the studio the other day, and, to be sure, he's got the touch. Do check out his own stuff when you've the time.

Oh, and there are more names to be thrust in here very shortly. And I am very excited. (You might have guessed). Watch this space.

So, yes... we're nearly at the end of the road for the making of this record, and we hope to be able to share some of the results - and the process - with you shortly.

Interactive bit No. 2: We're in the opening stages of revamping our official site (, which has been sorely in need of update while we've been away recording, to offer you a lot more content, and some fun things with which to mess about while you wait so patiently for the new material. So, again, suggestions welcome. What would you like to see?

So, yes, exciting things afoot. People to see, palms to grease, records to fracking finish (sorry, halfway through a Battlestar Galactica marathon).

I hope now that the strike is over, I can get back to posting here most days to talk absolute rot, tell peculiarly long and involved stories, spin terrible puns, employ tortured similes and metaphors and generally confuse the hell out of myself and others.

See you soon.



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