I have plans. BIG plans…..

….they materialised from somewhere deep in that nebulous no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

It’s over two years since I experienced that curious mix of planning, luck, creativity and unbearable stress  a.k.a  Recording An Album at Home, and I’m about to do it again.

Time was, I’d go in a “real” studio with loads of gear and a massive clock on the wall, hoping we wouldn’t run into extra time. In a way, that got results. With a low budget indie label, there was a vanishingly small chance of redoing anything that wasn’t up to scratch, plus there’s nothing like a deadline to focus your performance.

Olstyn 2004 - Recording Ready for Anything

Recording “Ready for Anything” by Kathy X (Studio X Olstyn, Poland 2004) – had to concentrate VERY hard!

the desk was THIS big...

the desk was THIS big… according to our top-notch engineer Martin K

The 13-track Kathy X album took 5 days to record AND produce, and it still sounds good. Fast forward to now. I’m fortunate enough to be LIVING in a well-equipped home studio with my favourite bassist Mr Rob Raw – who also does audio-engineering. Yet it’ll be May earliest before the New Album – with a similar number of tracks –  is born. Why the time difference? The songs are no more complex.  Five chords will still be the height of sophistication.  It’s something like this:

A band is more than its members.     As a band, the members of Kathy X squabbled and argued and rarely rehearsed longer than 60 minutes a month,  but we pulled the rabbit out of the hat when it came to doing shows and putting down tracks. They all had that “band stamp”.  As a solo artist, recording with guest musicians who’ve rarely if ever played those songs live with me, it’s a different deal. Less arguing ….. less chemistry.  The onus is more on ME to work the magic, which takes time.  Without going into technical details… it’s akin to putting on make-up for hours to finally achieve the natural look.

Logistics.    I have up to three projects on the go at any given time, and so does Mr Rob Raw. It takes about two hours for me to get in the right headspace to record a single track, him up to two hours to get the sounds perfect before recording it, and between ten minutes and three hours to actually record it. Multiply that by all the tracks on all the songs, add production and mastering time, divide that by the amount of time we are both at home at the same time,  subtract a few hours for not having to travel, add them back on for answering the phone and emptying the washing machine….and you’ll be confused.

Anyway it’s more than five days.

 Decisions….    About artwork. About promotion. About pressing of physical copies. About all kinds of stuff that used to be decided by someone else or communally is now up to me, which is both liberating and a pain in the arse.

But it’ll all be worth it…so watch this space!

Studio 88 Special Effects Area

Studio 88 Special Effects Department

Kathy Freeman Songs: BANDCAMP

More about Kathy Freeman at KATHY-FREEMAN.DE

Advertisements

Making the scene

For updates on shows and projects: join the mailing list at my website

I never made permanent membership status for any subculture (“broke musician” doesn’t count ) but not for lack of trying. I’d always so wanted to belong to one scene only, with whatever  exclusive music, cars, clothes, hairstyles and unwritten social codes went with it.

It started when my big brother was hanging around with exciting people who smoked, listened to jazz music and only wore black. I dreaded them  spotting me in my school blazer (navy blue.)  Brother’s beatnik pals  hit the road and drifted out of my life, and the  logical next stop was hippie-town. Maybe I’d have lived my whole life out as a late-blooming flower child but  history intervened.

Heading West

Heading West

I was  living in a quasi-commune and even baking wholemeal bread for a while, when  along came punk and blew a big hole in all that Earth Mother rubbish.  I never wore flares again, and  only just missed hacking off my waist length hair and spiking it. I settled for bleaching my  fringe to  near-extinction My  former hippy pals blanked me in the street. So much for love and peace, man.

 

accs live 2

 

I  truly BELONGED  to punk for a while, but the intensity of that  flame dwindled as the eighties arrived along with a sea of synths and whining vocals.  The spirit remained, but my focus had to change.

For a moment  I was into motorbikes.  I earned a few  stripes by riding pillion on a Triumph from London to Liverpool and back. In the snow.  I’d  get a brief acknowledging nod from the bros in the biker pub with my honorary status as “righteous chick”. But that’s as far as it went.  The Biker Chick’s lot was not for me. Deep down I knew I’d always favour a shedload of musical paraphernalia blocking my hallway over a shedload of oily engine parts. And more importantly I couldn’t face a lifetime of never being able to have big hair because of the helmets.

Then there was Psychobilly, which could have been my default landing after Punk’s demise, but wasn’t.  I saw the seminal  Meteors in the Ace, Brixton in 1983, but the penny didn’t drop.  Several years passed before my next encounter,  when Joyryde supported Demented are Go at the Dublin Castle in Camden.  The sight of twenty sweating  fans with full body tattoos and Mohawks  (that was the men) wrecking on the dancefloor wasn’t my lightbulb moment though I liked what I was hearing. More years passed, before a chance meeting led to  playing guitar for the Death Valley Surfers. Once more I had that magic list of who to  hang out with, what to wear and what bands to listen to.

Death Valley Surfers

A cool ride while it lasted, but belonging to  the one tribe was  eventually thwarted; partly  due to  wrong hair (again)  and no tattoos, and largely  by the obstinate part of me that insisted on writing  and performing off-genre songs. My own psychobilly band got stick for not being “pure psychobilly” and I realised yet again, I couldn’t rest in anyones else’s comforting but temporary subcultural space.

Songs about not fitting in: HERE

Loner

 

My Black Box

For regular updates and free downloads from Kathy Freeman join my mailing list

The mid nineties. My former band Joyryde had a high-profile, well-paid, socialist festival gig coming up – supporting Tom Robinson and various other worthy acts on Clapham Common in London (being fronted by  women, Joyryde occasionally netted politically correct shows by default)

Joyryde Mayday 1996 - Between Songs

Joyryde Mayday 1996 – Between Songs

We’d recently taken on a singer, recruited via Melody Maker classified ads. Can’t say I was happy about that, but it did relieve me of vocal duties and let me focus 100% on my guitar while she did her leaping-about front-woman thing, shaking her dodgy perm as she went. However Madam not only chose to quit two days before our big show, but also  had her muso boyfriend ring up the organisers saying he’d “heard we had no singer – could his band step in?”  NO WAY!

I had 48 hours to relearn playing-and-singing-at-the-same-time on 15 songs. We  hadn’t rehearsed for over a month and my head was totally in the wrong place. I HATED that woman so-o-o-o  much. I tugged my black box of effects pedals and cables out from under the stairs, and opened it, releasing the beer, tobacco, and who-knows-what-else odours of the last show. Then came another, less-expected stink… a momentary but massive whiff of all the painful experiences, all the rejection letters, all the unreturned calls, all the humping-someone-else’s-gear-upstairs at five am, all that shitty underside of “being in a band”

My box, my box, my precious box – tell me what I did – Why my hands are soaked in blood each time I lift the lid

A defining moment in my love-hate relationship with rock’n’roll, and if nothing else came out of it, I got the germ of “Black Box” which I eventually recorded with Kathy X   Anyway I didn’t close the stinky old box. We went on to do a killer show and I was on a high for days.

You’re everything I wanted, everything I know – Wish I’d never seen you but I’ll never let you go

2014  The “black box” – though now containing substantially fewer pedals –  has somehow outlasted all the people who tried to come between us

My Blog and Chocolate Santas

image

While wondering what to do with those leftover chocolate Santas, a memory came to me – how I made lists of what I’d do better or differently  in the new year. If I’d only listened to that former, more optimistic self I’d probably have a team of interns taking care of this blog….but what the hell.  I’ve kept it going for a year so far and it keeps me out of trouble, so here’s to the next!

This month’s theme: Ready For Anything. Which is the title song of a CD which my psychobilly band Kathy X made in 2004. After all the curves life’s thrown me in the 10 years that followed “Be ready” is one resolution I WILL try to follow

 Have a good year!

?

Ready For Anything – Behind the Lines

I was well and truly out of love with love. The deeper you go the longer it takes to get out when the walls cave in.  I wrote Ready for Anything in 2001 when I first moved to Berlin, damaged but ready to rock…..

image

Deep and meaningless – Baby be mine – Let’s take it easy – Let’s waste some time

Not an invitation to walk up the aisle…. except for whatever kind of aisle you  might find in a  darkened room where nobody gives a damn and the alcohol has already started to  blunt your judgement

Let’s taste the bitter end  before we even start – C’mon baby break my spine – you can’t break my heart

I dont need to be a fortune teller to know that this sordid little encounter is going precisely nowhere

I’m ready for anything that you’re thinking of – I’m ready for anything – Don’t call it love

because that’s the one place I do not want to go to in a hurry

 No coming back for more – No second time – I’m gonna rip out all the wires that go from your world into mine – Been stabbed in the back so many times you can see right through to my bones Don’t expect no sympathy – no happy home

i already gave my happy home to someone who trashed it

One of 13 songs from the album (also titled “Ready for Anything”) – which my band Kathy X recorded back in 2004 – it took us 4 days, in the depths of winter in Northern Poland. Yeah, typical of our rockstar lifestyle. For monthly updates on my recordings, shows, and tiny adventures join my MAILING LIST

?

Przepraszam

Warsaw 2004.   My band, “Kathy X ” is due onstage. The venue has a few alcoves which provide a cosy hangout if you aren’t watching the stage.  In one such alcove a group of local women have been aiming their attention with  military precision at Bassist Rob and Drummer Dave. who appear to be unaware of their status as Visiting-Musician-Gods (or enjoying it while it lasts.)

As I approach the giggling, hair-swishing little ensemble, one of them is sitting directly between me and Rob. Who also happens to be my boy.  She’s intelligent enough to realise she’s very attractive. But too stupid to do much beyond displaying her assets to guys in bands.  She  doesn’t know I’m IN this particular band – the line-up and music being of secondary importance here.  What she does know is that I want to get past her. But she stares blankly past my enquiring expression and doesn’t move an inch.

This is unbelievable. She thinks I’m competition. That I just wandered in off the street to try my luck as a groupie….

 I summon up one of the few Polish words I remember. 

She-PRASH-AMM! “  I say, icily.

The official translation :”Excuse me”. But that’s not what’s going on my head at the time.

More like:  “Get out of my way before I kill you

And that’s probably what she hears. She very grudgingly makes way and I get to tell Rob we’re on in five. There’s a big video screen showing the bands as they play, which is visible from the alcove.  It’s sweet revenge to think of her seeing me up there. And sweeter still that I was inspired to write “Party Pooper”

(?)

Kathy X was formed in Berlin in 2002 by Kathy Freeman, survivor of the UK punk scene. The trio has played on the European psychobilly circuit and also more mainstream events over the last decade, sharing bills with Dick Dale, The Meteors The Long Tall Texans  and    Horrorpops  amongst others. The album ALL THE WAY equals punk/rockabilly roots with a few wild detours……celebrating over a decade of cool shows and hot songs – featuring both current material and buried treasures. Check it out here  

(?