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The Overspill Story

Overspill – living in the Overspill

On the edge of dominant economies

Suburb evacuees

Pass right under the……….

Overspill…………..a labour of love, sweat and ears. Ears frazzled in front of speakers, angled towards virtual mixing desks and bent over real amps and guitar strings. It’s an album I’m very proud of and is a significant milestone for me. The journey from concept to finished article has been a learning experience to say the least, fraught with many obstacles and frustrations, but ultimately rewarding and gratifying.

I had an ADAT 8-track tape recorder that I’d made “Sweetener” on. When it came to preparing the ground for “Overspill”, I figured that the production should be a little more ambitious than the one given to “Sweetener” and this could only be realised with a new, fully featured, “digital” studio. I set about assembling this new recording hub around a purpose-built PC, new software and the retention of one or two bits of “historic” equipment. A room in my house was given over to the project, to the extent that a couple of adjacent walls soon had acoustic panelling on them, subduing those horrid bass frequencies, everyone! Slowly but surely, I had an area I could get to work in. Then the fun started.

I had to figure out, pretty quickly, how to use my new software, which on first examination appeared as complex and sophisticated as Noel Coward. Plug-ins, audio connections, routing, inserts, transport, on-screen editing – all this for a few minutes of a bloody pop song. Well, thankfully, I’ve had a serious interest in the mechanics of music production for almost as long as I’ve been writing songs and, with my newly acquired system, I was free to delve into a Pandora’s box full of sonic tricks, unthinkable in home recording until only a few years ago. I can’t recall the number of hours I spent scratching my head over something, wondering why this didn’t work or why that wasn’t producing the sound I wanted…….but after much anger and teeth gnashing, it began to come together. I’d already done some rough demos on a little hand-held 4-track recorder and been able to dump the results into my new PC, to use as the basis for my master recordings. I soon started tracking some guitars and vocals and, would you believe it, we suddenly had some listenable foundations. Because of the immense multi-track capabilities of the digital workstation, I had the chance to be more adventurous especially when it came to recording vocals; I could have massed choirs if I wanted! However, I realised it was important not to go overboard on certain aspects of the production, as ultimately I had to do what I considered best and most appropriate for each song. Sometimes, you have to rein yourself in…………

Leaping forward some months, I reached the mixing and mastering stage with nervous system still intact. It was at this point I managed to hire a legendary figure in the world of music and music production. Jon Astley was producer of The Who’s album “Who Are You?” in the late 70’s, a huge pop star in the US in the mid 80’s and is now renowned in the rarefied arena of audio mastering having worked on projects for George Harrison, The Who, Abba, Tori Amos and many more. He took on my album and gave it the most delicate polish, removing all the clicks, pops and grit that I’d missed. He’s undoubtedly a wizard and, as a welcome bonus, a nice person!

My paying gigs kept coming in, so I could reinvest promptly in those less glamourous areas of the project such as manufacturing and web development – vital in themselves, though, and crucial to where I am now. Getting to various landmarks, such as taking delivery of my finished CDs, launching a revamped James Henry website, playing first gigs with my new band, this all gave me such an immense sense of achievement – all with the help, along the way, of the small band of people who’ve supported and followed me right from the word “Go”! I’ve now got an official release date for the “Overspill” limited edition CD of Thursday 16th June 2011. It will be for those “uber-fan” stalwarts as much as it is for myself – and if anyone takes the trouble to buy it, they can read who some of them are in the credits……………..!

PS – in case anyone is wondering, the picture attached to this post is of some office polystyrene tiles that have been leaked on by some rogue plumbing…..

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