This time five years ago I was about to start recording the Imperfectionist album in a tiny room in a tiny flat on the Holloway Road. My band The Medicine Show had split up suddenly on the Wednesday and we were informed we had to vacate our little studio in Limehouse by the Saturday. My old desktop Mac was there containing all the demos I'd made previously, so on the Thursday evening after busking I headed down there and mic'ed up Barney's drums. I picked nine songs and drummed along, every song was done in one take as time was of the essence.
I then packed up all my gear, called a taxi back to north London and began to set up the room. I put the mattress against the window and turned the two halves of the bed into a makeshift desk, soon I had a workable studio space and was good to go. I stripped the demos down to more or less the new drum tracks and started recording. Dragging the Years Behind You, The Sea & The Sky, Paris and Quiet Time are taken from those sessions. The tracking and mixing process took a couple of months until I finally had an album of my own songs.
Lady luck shone down on me a couple of months later when I met the author Robin Sharma while busking on the South Bank. I was invited to play in Toronto and, after considering it for half a second, graciously accepted. Things started to move quite quickly and after returning to London was soon invited to the next annual event which was to be held in Zurich. I started trying to write a follow up album but just couldn't get in the right headspace, so I made a quick decision to up sticks and move to Berlin.
After finding a place in the Pankstrasse district and setting up another wee studio I started to write, The Curve of the Ocean being one of the first songs to appear. While I was finishing up in London my friend Comis (Charlie Chaplin on the South Bank) had been urging me to read a poem called Ithaka by C.P. Cavathy, it contributed a lot to the vibe of that song. After a few months of sketching out ideas I had to move apartments and ended up in Habersaathstrasse, just around the corner from the Naturkundemuseum.
Again I set up my wee studio and started recording in earnest, after a few months the album Natural History was the result. Hellfire, I'm Not Dancing Anymore, Mr Sunshine and Slow Motion are taken from those sessions. Right up until the end The Curve of the Ocean was going to be the album opener but I just couldn't get it to sound how it did in my head. There's only so long you can bang said head against the wall and I just got so fed up with it that I binned it completely. Now it can have it's day in the sun.
After Zurich I headed back to London and spent a few months on the couch at my friend Suzi's place in Kentish Town. While I was there and getting back into London life I was invited to do a wee tour in Austria and Italy by my teacher friends Birgit and Katja. On one of the days there I visited Birgit's classroom to sing the kids a few songs. They had all drawn Mr Sunshine pictures and I was treated like rock royalty. They wanted to ask some questions, one of which was “Where did you find the music?” From the family of course. The head of the school didn't think it was fair that only one class was involved so a few months later I went back and did a gig in the village. The kids had even written me a song and sung it before I went on. It was great. A month or so later a handmade book arrived in the post with drawings and messages from the kids which instantly became one of my most prized possessions. Mr Sunshine is on here for you guys.
I was invited back to Toronto for the next event and started writing what would become the Lion Taming album at my new place in Stoke Newington. The flat had a small attic room and again I set up my wee studio. Luckily around this time I found myself regularly playing on cruise ferry boats which was a big relief, busking's not an easy game. I spent a lot of time looking out over the east London skyline as I listened to mixes. One Trick Pony, Pink Roses and Fifty Year Moment are taken from those sessions.
Which brings us up to date. I moved south of the river to sunny Ladywell a few months back and figured now would be a good time to pick a bunch of the tracks, remix and remaster them and have them together on a compilation. The version of Fifty Year Moment that appears on Lion Taming is just me and the guitar, I thought it deserved a bigger production so I went a wee bit Abbey Road with it for the version on here. Apologies if I missed anything you particularly liked, there was a lot of head-scratching and reorganisation while picking the songs. All three of the albums (four including the BurnsE.P.) will be getting the treatment however so watch this space over the next few months, once they're in the bag I'll get back to writing and recording some new stuff and the rollercoaster will rumble back into gear.
Thanks for listening!
Scott McMahon 2/6/2020