Immediate goggle leak! That’s goggle, not Google! Did you really think that Olivia would let such a typo escape her? I got in the pool, started swimming and water, chlorinated water, was pouring into my right eye. I had to stop several times to try and fix it but to no avail. I eventually got out and went back to my locker to get my spare pair (yes, I had a spare pair). Back in the water, I had to adjust them to fit and consequently, 15 minutes in, I had only done 13 lengths. I swam like a madman and managed to get the mile in with a little help from the staff giving me a couple of extra minutes. It was quite a workout but what I was thinking was how inconvenient these breakdowns are and when they happen.
Monday, no problem, today, a problem from the start. It’s like you get in the car, it doesn’t start, it did yesterday. You put the kettle on, it doesn’t work, an hour ago it did, you switch the light on, the bulb’s blown and tonight that very thing happened in the studio hallway between dinner and me writing this. Things have to break like people have to die but it’s the timing that’s hard to deal with. Things breaking randomly or at inconvenient times is a real hassle, especially if the plane breaks whilst you are sitting in it, 30,000 feet up. But sometimes you just finish something in time and then it breaks like in those films when the bridge is collapsing and the last person just gets across as the whole structure falls into the crevasse below. It’s such a random universe.
Robert Wyatt’s Greatest Misses (double vinyl) arrived in the post today, very nicely packed by The Domino Recording Company. It’s one of those records that would never have come out if there hadn’t been this resurgence in vinyl in the wake of CDs’ demise. It seems we are the generation of solid objects. My parents had a house full of ornaments, my Dad used to say, “every time I see one of these things it reminds me of a special moment in my life”. So in the digital world, you can listen to music, entertain yourself with games, watch films and TV series and ultimately it’s what goes into your eyes and ears that’s the point. But for those of us that like the album covers (and a proper stereo) we feel like we are enhancing the experience by incorporating the physical into the experience. Plus there’s an emotional connection to a physical object as much as there is, in the case of music, to what’s going into your ears.
Take museums, why do we need museums when we can have interactive trips through a program on the internet? Can the physical experience of standing in front of Picasso’s Guernica be equalled by a virtual version or a photograph? Does the experience of seeing a real Egyptian mummy, the casket, the faded colours, the actual being in the presence of such a thing become inconsequential? Does seeing a film about Paris or an interactive walk through the Paris streets equal the real trip to that incredible city? So what is all this ‘I don’t need a physical copy’? Perhaps you don’t need a real partner either, or a real pet, or a heart?
Dare came into the studio today to load Sydney sessioneer Tony’s tracks onto the computer and on Saturday we will be in the studio listening to them and seeing what needs to be done, seeing how we can contribute. The tracks have bass, drums, guitars, guide vocals, and a little keyboard. We will be working on this (it’s just 4 tracks) as well as all that needs to be done on Ahad’s record. We will be working on these projects until Olivia and I leave for Portugal. It’s hard to know exactly when we will be back, the future is so uncertain.
In February/March Olivia and I have shows booked in mainland Europe and we’ve been looking at the UK in April/May but if things don’t change in virus land we will possibly be forced to stay put in Porto like we have been forced to stay put here. Of course, the nice thing about being forced to stay here is that we have the sea, the studio, the archive and Dare and I can work on projects (and there’s the pasties too). In Porto, we will have a new country, a new language, a new culture and that will be exciting (also the sea and pasteis de nata). The Songwriting & Guitar Guidance sessions I can continue online, I can still write and study French (and Portuguese) and create. It might be the perfect time to learn the Logic music program on my computer and then possibly I can contribute to projects and work with people remotely, at least in exchanging ideas on songs. I won’t have my guitars or my amps or Dare’s technical skills so playing on someone else’s records from Porto might be tricky. If that needs to happen I’ll come back here to do it. But there’s also the continuation of the next Noctorum album to consider, I have to be here to do that.
And then there’s Brexit, the new visa rules and the restricted travel. There’s the registering in Portugal for us, finding a flat, opening a bank account, finding out where the grocery store is and what the Portuguese word for broccoli is (it’s broccoli). We also have to see if we like it there. We hear good things from everybody about Portugal so we are optimistic. Will the Anekdoten live shows happen next year? Will I be able to travel to Sweden to rehearse? We just don’t know, we live in a world of impossible planning.
Music today is the other two Van Halen records which for some reason I didn’t play in chronological order – Women And Children First (1980) and 1984 (1984). These are the last two albums before the Sammy Hagar era and it only took Why Can’t This Be Love to lose them for me from here on. I guess their audience didn’t lose them though and although the brilliance of David Lee Roth’s showmanship was there for all to see and although he seemed irreplaceable, it was Eddie Van Halen’s spectacular guitar playing that was the crucial element in the band and they could have got Daffy Duck as the lead singer and the fans would have been there to hear Eddie play that magical guitar.