Back in June we were lucky enough to be invited into the studio by South Wales band The Missive while they recorded their new EP. They were in the famous Longwave Studios in Cardiff with Romesh Dodangoda, the place where many of ours and The Missive’s favourite albums and bands have recorded, so this was a pretty big deal. The band seemed really at home and relaxed in the studio, just finishing up some guitar parts under the watchful eye and expert ear of Romesh and engineer Rob Thomas.
We was lucky enough to hear some sneak peaks from the EP. One track in particular, Sleeping with the Bad Guys, we heard quite a lot from, including a spot-on first take vocal by singer Emma Gillespie, which impressed us all. Let me tell you, the songs sound huge and so, so good. The band worked really hard in pre-production, and this really shows.
We managed to grab Emma, Guitarist Mitch Ponting and bassist Chris Bell (the band are completed by Guitarist Tom Brookes and Drummer Jeff Wasley) to have a chat about the EP and the recording.
So guys, day 4 in Longwave, how’s it going?
Chris – Yeah, it’s going fucking brilliant so far to be fair.
Emma – We’re doing really well, Romesh says we are on track, on the last part of the guitars now, starting vocals by the end of the day hopefully, then another full day of vocals and Romesh will mix it all and send back to us. Thats the plan
How did you prepare for coming into the studio?
Chris – We spent months and months doing pre-production work, making sure everything sounded ok.
Emma – We booked the studio in January, started pre-pro in December, we’ve got loads on the go too, we’ve booked our video shoot, we’ve got our EP launch, all the artwork’s being done, and new T shirts, so we’ve got lots and lots going on.
Whats it like recording here at Longwave with Romesh?
Chris – Amazing, it’s pretty strange when you are recording in the same studio where some of your favourite bands have recorded.
Mitch – It’s quite overwhelming and intimidating at the same time.
Emma – We’d spent months recording one track at home doing our pre-production and we come here and just did a guide of everything and they sound amazing, even without proper recording and that’s in a couple of hours.
Chris – The unmixed versions that we’ve got so far sound absolutely phenomenal.
Whats the best and worst thing about recording?
Mitch – The pressure
Chris – Mitch trying to keep in time when he plays!
Mitch – I wasn’t that bad today, it’s just this one song And I couldn’t nail it, the other 3 tracks are fine, I flew through them, but I’ll never live down that one song that I couldn’t play in time!
Emma – The pressure, and the timescale as well.
Mitch – We’ve got a day and half left and we are still recording guitars and you worry about time, we are on time, but I think it’s just a psychological thing more than anything
Emma – Romesh is pretty good, he’s keeping us all in time, he’s know what he’s doing.
Mitch – The best thing has to be finally getting the songs done.
Emma – Theres no particular way, sometimes I’ll sit down at the piano and write some vocals and chords and then other times Tom (Brookes, Guitar), he’s got this recording program on his computer and will record all the parts and we’ll all learn them, other times it’s just in prac and we’ll all write together.
Chris – It can either be a very very long drawn-out process or really quick, we’ve written a song in a few hours and we’ve wrote a song thats taken several months to finish.
Mitch – All the best songs, like the ones that are on this EP we literally wrote in a couple of hours, and it’s our best stuff. You know when you are onto something because I could work on something, bring it to prac, it’ll change a bit, but the essence of the song is still there and you know you’re onto a winner when everyone picks up on it.
Do you know when you’ve written a good song?
Chris – Yeah, it’s weird cos when you actually hear the song’s back, it’s sometimes like ‘Shit! we actually wrote that!’
Mitch – It’s more like knowing you’ve written the best song you’ve written so far, rather than it’s a good song. I wanna be the kind of band that I would listen to.
Emma – We’ve only got 4 songs on this EP, we’ve probably written about 20 and we’ve just scrapped the ones we don’t want.
Is it hard to scrap songs?
Emma – No, not if you don’t like them.
Mitch – There’s parts of the song you get attached to, but then it’s like it’s only a song at the end of the day.
Chris – Last time we went to record we were supposed to do a 5 track EP, but when we listened to one of the track’s back we realised there were loads of sections of the song that didn’t work so ended scrapping the song completely and haven’t played it since.
What about the lyrics, who takes care of those?
Chris – Emma, mainly
Emma – Mitch is really good, he’ll help me with the lyrics
Chris – Them two tend to sit down together and write them, me, Tom and Jeff don’t get that much input unless we ask, they always ask if we like them, but Emma’s pretty shit hot at writing them, we don’t have any issues with that we just let her get on with it.
Mitch – Emma’s very clever with words and stuff.
Emma – Whatever’s going on really, some of the tracks are about family and some just things that happen in my life.
Chris – Like ‘Shipwrecked’ is kinda about us
Mitch – Yeah, We kinda drifted apart last year, no-one could really be arsed…
Chris – There was a lot of arguing, we were on the verge of splitting up..
Mitch – Then Tom came in with this chainsaw-type riff and I clicked with it straight away and Emma got theses lyrics and it ended up being this really brutal song you wouldn’t imagine us to write and it’s about the band drifting apart and coming back together again. I’m glad we are back together again.
How will this differ from your last EP?
Chris – It’s probably gonna be significantly heavier.
Mitch – It’s gonna flow a lot better
Emma – It’s definitely a lot stronger, I look at the last EP and we’d never recorded properly before, we didn’t know where we going with it
Chris – We weren’t prepared, we recorded blind. I definitely say this EP will be stronger, more breakdowns and more guitar solo’s..
Mitch – I’m proud of this EP.
Emma – I look at the last EP as more of a demo.
Chris– Hence why we gave it out for free.
Whats the EP gonna be called?
Emma -It’s gonna be called ‘High, Wide and Handsome’, it’s a nautical term meaning clear sailing.
Does it have a nautical theme?
Emma – Some of the songs are quite nautical, ‘Shipwrecked’ is one of the songs and has quite a lot about the sea in it.
How and when will the EP be released? any big plans?
Emma – We’ve got HUGE plans! We’ve got an big EP launch, not till September, so far we’ve got King And Country and Tom from Straight Lines opening and we are hoping to get Colours Of One as well and it’s gonna in Clwb Ifor Bach.
Mitch – it’ll be Wednesday 12th September.
Will it be hard copy or just download?
Chris – Both, hopefully we’ll get it in iTunes and spotify.
Mitch – We wanna get it everywhere really
Chris – With the last EP we didn’t really push it but with this one and were hoping to get it reviewed as much as possible and get as much feedback as we can to help push it, we wanna get a lot of build up, get a lot of reviews so people know what to expect and to create a buzz around it.
Emma – The only thing we’ve really thought about is finding a few venues, and do a circuit, picking up as many fans as we can.
Chris – Every now and then doing the odd show up in manchester, have a band day out and play a gig somewhere.
Emma – The EP and release show is to really pick up the local fans and then we hope to build on that.
Chris – We are doing the music video in July (for ‘Sleeping With The Bad Guys’), we’ve got so many idea’s coming together for that and the story board and the location is awesome, and then we having new T shirt’s designed, new everything, we’ll be like a completely new band.
Emma – To be honest we’ve been around for a while and we haven’t really pushed anything and a lot of people don’t know who we are.
Chris – We are quite a quiet band to be fair.
Mitch – But we are really lucky to get on some good shows, we’ve supported Straight Lines, Glamour of the Kill, Yashin so that’s cool.
What do you think is the hardest thing about the business?
Mitch – With venues closing down and with prices quite expensive that’s made a massive dent in the scene, but it is starting to pick up again, we played a show with It Boys at the Moon club in Cardiff and the promoter text me to ask if we wanted to do a half price guestlist, so we got the names and put them on the door and we managed to get quite a few down that way .
Chris – for our EP launch, we wont make any money, we’ll try and keep tickets as cheap as possible and we can just break even for the night.
It is really tough at the moment for a band to make any money.
Mitch – I’m not in it for the money,
Chris – We never make money, we always lose money!
Mitch – At the end of the day you’ve got to spend your money on something.
Emma – This band is our hobby.
It’s a pretty cool hobby! What are you guys listening to at the moment?
Emma– blessthefall, Architects new album.
Chris – Paul Simon!
Mitch – I listen to a lot of Duran Duran
Emma – I’m loving a bit of dubstep at the moment
Chris – I’ve listened to a lot of really old stuff at the moment, Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam, Matchbox Twenty and Santana.
Mitch – When I’m looking to write something, a band I’ve been listening to lately are Burn The Fleet, we played with them and I like the vibe that they’ve got going.
So, make a note for your diaries for Wednesday September 12th and get down to Clwb Ifor Bach for the release of ‘High, Wide And Handsome’. The band have released the video for the awesome ‘Sleeping With The Bad Guys, which you can see below, and like I said before, the snippets I heard in the studio were outstanding, the songs sound huge and I cant wait to hear the whole thing and this is a gig you definitely wont want to miss it.
Massive thanks to the band and Romesh for letting us into the studio with them.