A while ago I posted a note on the myspace page about the amusingly inefficient means that we use to develop and learn new songs [I’ve pasted it below, if you’re interested].

It occurred to me that it might be interesting to chart that process in real time, with a thread on the blog. It’ll be like ‘The Wire,’ only with less drugs, less sex, and a more complicated plot.

So here’s where we are so far:

1. In the spring, Tom, Huw and I met a couple of times after work, at some horrible electrical danger area of a rehearsal space, situated in a cowshed somewhere in the nexus of Too Many Roads between the West Midlands and Lichfield. We played around with a few ideas, and made a couple of two track stereo recordings on my laptop. Two of these ideas (This is how I cut my own throat; Piss and vinegar) have survived or developed since.

2. In the autumn, John came to see me in Birmingham, and one evening while Mrs L Clamp tried to put Little L Clamp to bed, John and I sat up in my loft and I played him about a dozen ideas for new songs, on a lightly amplified guitar. I sang them (fairly unconvincingly), where I had words, and he recorded them on a hand-held recorder.

2. John sent me a CD of those songs shortly afterwards (minus one which has gone missing somewhere). I made changes to a couple of them, wrote some more words, dropped a couple of bits. I recorded the changed ones, and a couple more new ones, and sent these to him, via FTP. He started working out bass parts.

3. Just before Christmas, I played a couple of these songs(Kick over the traces; Not sleeping; Membrane)to George and Huw, for possible use in the Philanthropists.

4. Today I burned the whole lot to CDs for Tom, Huw and Andrew. I also sent the possible Philanthropists’ ones to George. I guess the status of those might change if George doesn’t like them, or if L Clamp do, but its a start.

5. At this stage, I think these songs will turn into a recording called ‘How I quit being a service provider and became a service user.’ But that’s almost certain to change.

Now all we need is McNulty, and a subplot about the money.

—-

Here’s the original myspace bit:

> typically …
>
> i write new song[s].
> at some point i play new song with huw.
> time passes: huw forgets new song.
> i do a bit more work on the song.
> on another occasion i play same new song to everyone.
> huw claims never to have heard it before.
> everyone works out some new parts for the new song.
> it sounds promising.
> time passes: everyone forgets new song.
> on a later occasion, john records me playing the song [you can start here in the process i think, if you are in a rush].
> john burns everyone a cd of the new song[s].
> everyone claims never to have heard it/them before.
> john works out a part for the song [s].
> i do a bit more work on the song [s].
> on another occasion, we play the song, and this time john has all his parts written down, though tom has completely forgotten his part, and huw and andrew claim never to have heard it before.
> i piss john off, because what i am now playing is not the same as what i played on the recording. everyone else says, ‘what recording?’ and john, who burns about 2000 lclamp cds a year in this process, weeps a little bit.
> we persist. john makes andrew write his part down, and then we make a recording of the whole band playing the song so that tom and huw can remember their bits. usually we find that we do not have a decent recording device between us at this point, and resort to tom’s dictaphone.
> time passes: everyone except john forgets the song.
> we plan a gig or some recording. we meet to play the song. ‘what song?’ everyone says to me and john. we play the recording on tom’s dictaphone. its not a bit muffled, its a lot muffled. no one can tell how it goes or what they are playing. i weep a little bit.
> we reconstruct our parts from what we have written down and remembered, and make a better recording. andrew looks confused and sort of half-mimes through the song as we record it.
> john burns it to cd again, sends to everyone. huw listens to it in the car, and from here on in largely remembers it, though he does tend to combust a bit, if subsequently asked to do anything very different to what he has now done on this recording. john calls andrew every night for a week to make him listen to the cd and work out what he is doing. we all hear tom’s bit for the first time, and tell him it is too wishy-washy.
> at the next rehearsal andrew and tom are both poked with sticks until they come up with bits that actually work. we record it again, john burns another cd, writes ‘this one you idiots’ on the box, and sends it to us.
> we have learned the song.
> it has taken 12 months.
> i do a bit more work on the song …

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