I got an email earlier in the month from Rob Aubrey at Aubitt Studios to say that legendary prog drummer Nick D’Virgilio of Spock’s Beard and Big Big Train fame was available on the 30th if I wanted him. YES!! but I’m not ready!!. At the time I had 1 track nearing completion and the rough ideas for two more, so needless to say it was a bit of a battle to get enough material together make the session worthwhile. One of the tracks wasn’t quite ‘drummer ready’ and Rob in his usual inimitable style told me the ‘timing sucked’. Thankfully Rob always offers a solution with the ‘tell it how it is’ criticism and he’d retimed most of the bass track before I’d cursed myself for getting carried away adding bass and guitar parts against my chronologically challenged guide drum track, instead of the click. Schoolboy error! “Nick needs the bass spot on to get the feel of the track”, said Rob. OK. Thankfully timing on the other tracks didn’t ‘suck’ quite so badly so we were in business.
Then it goes something like this, Rob plays the track to Nick, who sits there silently, while I suffer and squirm in the studio chair dying of embarrassment at my V-Drum track. The track ends. “Cool” he says and heads off to the drum room. The first take goes off and I’m grinning like an idiot. Now I’ve studied a lot of drummers; as wannabee rock stars in our teens Steve Dunn (Also Eden) and myself used to Air Drum to the finest, but you can’t predict Nick. He never performs the same fill twice, and when you think you have a clue where he is going he pulls of the most audacious fill or venture into a groove which leaves you with jaw firmly open. He’s an amazing talent and throughout my session and the one that followed, I witnessed the most diverse and enthralling ‘set of chops’ I’ve seen from any drummer. He’s also a jolly nice bloke too and it was a thrill just to talk to the guy let alone work with him on my music.
In 4 hours we managed to get 3 tracks completed which will be coming to a Cosmograf album near you soon. Just got to surmount the more than trifling task of writing the rest of it….
In other news, Graeme ‘Twig’ Bell has once again agreed to reprise his role in ‘artwork de cosmograf extraordinaire’ and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in with him throwing concepts around. He’s also threatening to write an album himself which with his muso contacts should be pretty amazing.
Just like last time I will need the help of the prog community (and maybe musically further afield too) to help deliver the next album. As usual I’m reaching the end of my own talent and inspiration reserves in some areas so will be looking to delegate roles to more talented folk soon. I have however learned to play a stylophone and will be delighting you all with the results on the next record.
As a post script I’ve developed the smallest Pro Tools mixing suite in the world. It’s incorporated into the arm of my sofa, and means I can generally twiddle and experiment with the more obscure editing features in between long sessions at the more amply proportioned, but bloody cold facility at the end of my garden.