In the second half of 2010, we released and toured an album called The Quiet Lamb. Although the album was well received and did well for us in someways, we still experienced the crushing lows of tour life and the spiralling debt that can come with an improperly managed band. Travelling for hours to acity in eastern Europe somewhere, only to find the promoter who had booked three shows had gone bust and done a runner; vans exploding in Leipzig leaving us stranded on a national German holiday; drunk or stoned engineers who fell asleep at the desk whilst monitors screamed feedback louder than the PA duringgentle violin solos; arriving at a venue pumped and ready to rock only to findthat less than quarter of it was full and our website was full of messages frompeople saying they were too tired to make it but would catch us next time. We set ourselves into a mindset that there wouldn’t be a next time and that for all the effort that we thought we were putting in; it really wasn’t worth it.
And so we returned home, defeated. Sophie had already left tour early on after her Mother suffered a near fatal series of heart attacks. She flew home to be with her family. My marriage collapsed and I found myself homeless for a stretch of time; a year of solid drinking began whilst I dossed on couches andlived out of a bag with no desire to write, let alone the instruments at hand to produce anything. Adam came home to a shitty redundancy, and perhaps likewise rats (though not comparing them to rats of course, they’re good guys) fleeing a sinking ship, Mike and Thom decided it was time to bow out and focus on their careers and relationships. A wise move.
And so we entered a kind of limbo.
Adam, Sophie and I met regularly to hang out though we were now spread between York, Manchester and Leicester. It became harder and harder to meet up though, as best friends do, we always found a way. Perhaps it was our love of Maryland chicken that brought us together from time to time in Leicester. I nowhad my own flat and some work that I had to cling onto to pay rent. Adam was doing the same whilst Sophie was busy looking after her Mum, who thankfully had recovered well. They started their own eBay shop and spent a lot of time building it into a nice family business. Adam and I retreated to Steam and spent a lot of time killing zombies and talking about what we’d do better if ever we could revisit many of the past few years’ challenges.
I began to write a few songs here and there and put out a few solo EP’s. The reason for this came very quickly and very clearly. After several wasted years of drinking, medicating and rubbish therapy I found a new way to clear the grey, as I call it. Sitting and writing a song was my therapy. It should have become clearer earlier on, but the truth is I never really wrote that much. Pretty much everything I’d ever written in my adult life up until that point had come out on a HNIC record. So I started a practice of setting time aside each day to write a song, a piece of music, anything. It worked so well. Interestingly,a couple of years later, I.E a few months ago; I played a solo show with RM Hubbert. Hubbie spoke about how he’d suffered from deep depression over his life and how he used writing and performing as his own personal therapy. It was amazing for me to hear that someone like him, who I respected so much as a writer, used writing in the same way that I now did. It was incredible that it hadn’t clicked much earlier onwhen I was busy sabotaging my life and the life of the guys in the band some years before.
So, rather than pulling out the guitar from its case once in a blue moon to strum a few chords and see if anything took; I was playing every day. I started teaching guitar too so was playing even more. A few hours of teaching, then home to play more guitar. I set my piano up and a little studio too. All of a sudden I was sitting on dozens and dozens of songs and began putting out little EP’s and albums.
Adam started doing the same too; putting the extraordinary amount of time he now had on his hands to good use. I even returned to some of the ideas for HNIC songs that had been floating around for a while. Adam and I began to have requests for the band to tour and to release new songs. Frankly, we were amazed that people were even interested let alone remembered. After the positive steps that we’d made in our lives, it seemed now was a good time to work our way back to being a band again. However battered and bruised we felt after our last experiences with releasing records and touring, we still felt there was something else left for us to do, something more we were supposed to create.
Nicole had been playing cello for the band before on a part time basis but now became a full time member scoring some arrangements for us and moved onto keys and vocals too. John Helps from Maybeshewill stepped in to fill the spot on bass for a few shows and just never left. At the handful of shows we played here and there, we were amazed by how organised he made us.
It was time to put ourselves back in Kenny Loggins dangerzone again.Everything felt right, the planets were in alignment, we had whittled the debt of our last record away, everyone was happy with their lives. So happy we felt the need to write some depressing songs about it all.
It had taken some while for us to get back to this point. In a way, the album title wrote itself. It couldn’t have been anything else.