September 2010. Having traversed an action packed year in which we’d recorded an album ourselves and completed lots of preliminary mixes, I’d become a proud father and Rob had left the band momentarily to rip it up around the country with ‘Here Comes The Landed Gentry’, Ciaran and I found ourselves wandering round Oxford looking for somewhere to eat. We’d been summoned there by one Sam Williams who had agreed to mix the album for us. Sam’s an award winning producer who worked on Supergrass’ first two albums as well as producing material for Plan B, The GO Team, Tricky and countless others. I’d worked with Sam in a past life during the sessions for my RnB/Polka collection of murder ballads and field hollers entitled ‘Celebrity Love Abattoir’. Though largely ignored by the English/Irish music press cognoscenti, the album did very well in Chad. The trip to Oxford was my first flying experience since the Amsterdam debacle of 2008 and all had gone smoothly. Ciaran and I settled on one of Jamie Oliver’s Italian joints where I inhaled a bowl of Penne Arabiatta at a formidable rate of knots. Sam’s home (and recording studio) was some sort of converted chapel and Ciaran and I taxied our way there cheerfully to begin mixing and some recording on the album. It was fun to amble through leafy suburban Oxford, fed and watered like two ruddy cheeked so and so’s from an Enid Blyton book. We were getting put up for 3 days in the home of Mr Mark Gardiner, formerly of 90’s indie band Ride – a band whose work, to my shame, I was unfamiliar with. Ciaran on the other hand, was mad into them and got a bit starstruck standing in Mark’s kitchen as he told us how to work the oil heating. I remember he had unusual jam in his kitchen. Quince jam? Right then. My room was Mark’s guitar room containing all manner of 12 and 6 string wonders and gold records. Observe the delicious black and white 12 string Rickenbacker. We would use it on ‘When I First Lay Dreaming’.
Back at Sam’s, we did a lock of mixing, some shite talking, recorded his lovely piano and drank green tea. Things sounded great. On the third day he made us a delicious meal and we talked about the music industry and how it all went tits up. The trip had gone swimmingly but something weighed on my mind. The damn flight back. Would it be another Mr T esque fiasco like that flight to Holland? I wondered over the dregs of a cup of green tea. Work done, we bade our farewells to Sam, Oxford and Mr Gardiner’s nice house and made for our flight home. Which went grand, thank fuck. It would be another two months before we’d get the final mixes back from Sam and they would sound terrific. Coolios.