What? It’s the debut album!
Are there physical copies?
There may very well be a limited run later. Hit follow on Facebook!
Where can I read all the credits, lyrics, and liner notes for this album?
Just read on! It’s a bit of a mouthful but here is everything you wanted and more!
All me. Andy. Writing? Me. Performing and recording: Me. What about producing? Me again. This album was recorded in:
1) a tent in Greymouth,
2) a lounge in Wesport waiting for a Star Wars film to start,
3) a cold North Dunedin flat,
4) my parent’s living room,
5) a spider-ridden bungalow in Marlborough Sounds,
6) finally in Rooms 5, 6, 8, and 10 at Laneway Studios, Melbourne.
1 Kala Archtop Tenor Ukulele (with low G string, of course), one iPad mini with Garageband, one Samson Meteor USB mic, Mixcraft 8 by Accoustica, and of course several loaned guitars I found lying around various places.
Sam Doran. Visit him here on Facebook at Caught By The Dawn. He really did it. He left and now he paints the mountains. He frigging rocks my socks.
This album is dedicated to Amanda, for the waterfalls and window chats, the strawberry milk and romcoms, plus the other stuff. You know.
Click here to check out the lyric sheet.
Is There A Behind The Scenes Video?
Why, yes, there is.
There was a difficult time in my life that began with an ending. In 2016, I lived and worked on a cruise ship for a while, had a series of awful experiences there, and decided to leave to go backpacking around New Zealand and Australia. This album is the songs I wrote during that challenging period of change, to help me make sense of it. I hope it helps you in some way too.
Ukulele features heavily, being the only instrument I was able to carry with me on my travels, but there are a variety of found sounds too. In addition to being a snapshot of my songwriting and performing skills/flails during this period, I have worked on this entirely on my own, so it also shows my grace/limits as a producer. I could spend the rest of my life ‘fixing’ little pieces of it, but there’s a point where I just have to say ‘this is all I’ve got: deal with it!’
The album is designed to be played in the order it is presented, and in it’s entirety. It is also designed to be played quite loudly (at a safe volume of course) and through good quality headphones (not earbuds). Sitting yourself in front of a sunset or starscape frankly wouldn’t hurt either; it was not my intention for this to be a ‘bluetooth speaker on the car ride’ type of experience. But whatever! These things are out of my hands – now that you have the music, do with it what you will. Thank you for listening.
Clocking in at around twenty-three minutes, it is a short album, but that is not to say does not pack a heavy thematic punch. Some of the themes include being overcome by fear and in turn overcoming it, animal rights and a yearning to commune with nature within and without, the call of the road, as well as a few tall tales from some folks I met along the way. Not to mention fun. My instinct is usually to write songs ‘with a wink’ or at least with a biting sarcasm, possibly reflecting my real life approach to dealing with insanity through gallows humour. But with that being said, I have also never been more blushingly earnest than in some of these lyrics.
While it is indeed accurate to say that most of these songs sprung from literal and specific truths in my life, like any self-respecting artist I wouldn’t want to let the truth get in the way of a good story. My insight and perspective on these songs (or any songs) is my own, and you can’t have it. Some things I will not explain, because this one is more for me than for you. But you can have your own perspective on it, and that seems to me a very interesting and special thing to have. I hope to hear about it some time.
These songs were written during a few troubling times, and then put aside until they could be recorded later (some up to two years later). There were two major sessions: the first was in ‘The Penthouse’, little more than a spider-ridden bungalow, that I had to myself during the summer of 2017-18 in a place called Lochmara, which is a bay adjoining Queen Charlotte Sound in the South Island of New Zealand. I worked on songs there at nights and weekends, mostly just doing pre-production due to a lack of appropriate vocal booth, but a little of the tracking from this time survives to the final cuts. The second major session was to finish up loose ends at Laneway Studios in Melbourne, Australia. I sat myself down here for three weeks, throwing myself at it day after day, and here the bulk of the vocals were completed. There were some other incidental sessions which are noted in the song-by-song notes that follow. Lastly, I did a final mix while living on Hamilton Island, Australia, after a healthy six-month procrastination/meltdown.
01 I Can’t Count (Stop Fucking Eating Animals)
There was nowhere for this track to be except in the first position as the opener. It declares, with thirty expletives in under two minutes, that I am here, quirky, off the wall, forceful, real, and with an agenda. You may note a slight resemblance to “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round And Round.” This is a fair charge but only on the surface level. The mixolydian scale and the lyrics twist this into something pretty unique.
This track was all but finished in the Penthouse, with the assistance of the pink guitar that lives there, with only a vocal retake needed in Laneway. The bass tones are provided by the acoustic guitar run through a down-octaver.
Bonus points for finding a rhyme for ‘venison’!
02 Pretty Boy
Look, we all know a Pretty Boy. I, for one, have had enough of them looking at me like I am odd for ever feeling anxiety about anything. Again, the sarcastic bitterness is noted.
This track is undoubtedly the simplest to perform and is my ‘go to’ whenever somebody requests a quick performance, and yet it has proven the hardest to capture in a recording. Many versions (a couple of gigabytes worth) were tried at the Penthouse. This particular one you hear is from Laneway. It was the first song written for the album, but the last to be completed due to difficulty in capturing the right sarcasm-sincerity balance.
03 The Whale
This song was written as an improvisation for my shipmates during lunch hour, and later workshopped. It was pre-produced at the Penthouse, with uke and vocals recorded later in Laneway. The sounds of the ocean you hear are in fact waves rolling ashore on Cats-eye Beach, Hamilton Island (at approximately 1.30am on a starry July morning, if you want to know).
Slight reference to Blackadder: “No, your Highness … Not the stance … the roar…“
04 Grey Matter
This song was not from the Penthouse or Laneway sessions. It was recorded in the downstairs TV room of ‘The Flat’, at Bazil’s Hostel & Surf School, Westport, NZ in 2017. I had a lovely couple of weeks there, playing ukulele and cooking food over beach campfires every day.
The recording consists of my ukulele and voice, along with the guitar that hangs in the hostel reception office. It was recorded on Garageband for iPad, and was exported only in a lossy format, rather than a crisp uncompressed file, and the quality suffers for it. Nevertheless I am pleased with the way the layers of guitars sound; each introduces a new character to the very simple repetitive theme.
05 Paint The Mountains
The lyrics in this song were said to me by a coworker one day on our lunch break. It was one of the most singular things anybody has ever said to me, and I could not resist putting it to music. I enjoy the unconventional i–>IV7 chord progression in this song a great deal.
*Please note that the people in question use and advertise the term “Gypsy” on their own accord to refer to themselves and is in no way meant as a slur.
This version was recorded at Noah’s Ark Backpackers, Greymouth, NZ in early 2017. I was living in a tent and it was raining at 1am, so on impulse I made this recording with raindrops featuring audibly. I have made other recordings of this song with better equipment, but this particular tent version just has that magic something about it.
06 Glade of The Pixie
This song was recorded in Dunedin, NZ, late 2016. One morning in bed I began experimenting with the sampler in Garageband for iPad. As a result, every single sound on this recording is something that has come out of my face and been subsequently manipulated using a touchscreen piano roll, with the exception of the twanging ukulele that enters halfway through.
This song happened after working 126 hours in a week. Fuck that noise! I dealt with it by drafting a I-IV-V lullaby to myself re: my boss.
This recording was entirely made at Laneway, and the more attentive among you may notice it contains an accelerando due to my impulse to strum inconsistently. The animal noises were made by me – I was living in Australia and missing the sound of Tuis. Again, a down-octaver is used for bass.
08 Icarus (working title: Soar)
Very few lyrics in this one. The word ‘soar’ is presented as a very simple imperative, but the title was changed to remind myself that I was never going to get a ‘perfect’ mix of this one, and I should just give up and stop holding up the album release. To some heights only gods may aspire; I am mortal and will inevitably fall so let’s get on with it.
The original demo I recorded on my iPad in Dunedin was flawed in key ways, and yet the overall vibe was so definitive I have had a great deal of trouble re-making this song with better equipment! Thus some of the original guitar and bass takes from that old demo version have been transplanted into the new. The drum loop I could not recreate and I made this one from scratch and at great pains at the Penthouse. All else was completed at Laneway.
When this track plays, the opening drum loop serves as a primer. You might consider pressing your “Increase Volume” button until the whip snare begins to physically hurt your ears. That’s how I made it, that’s how I like to listen to it, so that by the end it hits me juuuuust there.
When asked about the muffled and distant vocals in this track, the author replied: “WHAT? I’M SORRY, MY HEAD IS IN A CLOUD.”
09 Dolphins For Breakfast
I wrote this song at the ship’s piano, 2016, trying to process what happened. This version was recorded entirely at Laneway. I don’t plan on ever playing it live.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
10 Roll Credits
A reprise of Grey Matter, to wrap things up and say bu-bye. Patterned after Hank Green’s CD bonus talking tracks from the album ‘So Jokes’.
It was recorded at Laneway, after I realised late that I had mistakenly gone ahead and recorded the whole of track four ‘Grey Matter’ using a different scale of notes from the one I had originally intended. Oops. I like both versions, but this one’s starting on step 2 of the scale and exclusion of the flattened third and the root provides a very beautiful denouement of rolling cadences.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP: Because this is the first album, and being that it took about two years between writing it and then finishing it, this Thank You list is going to be a bit of a doozy. But a lot of people helped this music along the way by helping me along the way. So please bear-with as I thank:
- Isaac for always pushing me to do this at long fucking last and not giving up on me.
- Mum and Dad.
- For better or for worse, thank you to my Navi crewmates. I don’t think a group of people will ever in my life collectively misunderstand me more than you did, but O, we indeed searched for that whale. Perhaps that allegory will one day be apprehended.
- Craig and Tim for being BADASS and letting me pop in for gigs now and then to keep in shape. Whatddya say, drop everything and go on tour?
- Harry and Lynda. Lifesavers at least thrice over. Thank you for your sanctuary.
- Adam, Swan, Celine, and Qallan for being my firsts, and of course Cashlin, Katie, and Alice for Twilight and SCRUMPIES!
- My Bazil’s crew! Marjolein you’ve lost that loving feeling! Jacey, Violet, you guys rock. Miro, Thea, Stan and Maree, Piet, Arvi, Florian. Ray and Steve. Thanks guys.
- Madeline, THANK YOU. Oh my god. Thank you forever. Thank you. I can’t even.
- Anna, for staying up all night teaching me German on Stewart Island during that very scary ‘must slay the dragon that blocks your path’ period right around the middle.
- Russell and Yuri, thanks for the extremely weird but salubrious respite during that lost-in-between-don’t-know-the-way-out period* (*the fourth time).
- The bands I saw in between having the ideas for this album and then actually bloody doing it: The Mountain Goats, Oh Pep!, Supergroove, Elemeno P, Shihad, and Paul McCartney.
- Jordie, for dreaming the dreams.
- Stella. Thank you, and I’m sorry. You got the short end of the deal.
- Kelby, for nothing much in particular except for four damn good years of jams that formed me into the musician I am today.
- All my Lochmara crew for putting up with, nay, encouraging the 24-7 ukulele playing. Tama, Hayley, Jake, Rozee, Kat, Liam, Fran, Jade, Sharon, Beverly, Keith, Cheryl, Sarianne, Grace, Kate, Jade, Pierre, Aurora, Patrick, rock on guys! How many farts are in Tama’s alimentary canal? ONE AND TWO AND THREE…
- My Melbourne folks! CJ for being a goddam inspiration when it comes to knocking shit off to-do lists and generally Ëarendil when all other lights go out; Lisa and Luke for coming to hang out with me; Renee for being a fantastic Canadian ambassador; Liv and Pep for accepting my sleep deprived application and giving me more reason to fly over and get down to business; and of course the awesome-sauce mega-talented musicians from 2FUN: Mel Taylor in whose garden I wish to repose, Sarah-Rose, Essie, Emily, Sophie, Susie-I know what you’re talking about when you talk about that invisible cord!, Hugh, Georgia, Stav, you’re such a powerful crowd you’ve really laid down the gauntlet here and stimulated me to action. Cheers to Will at Laneway Studios.
- Apurva and Erik for putting me up during the great February 2018 Airport Fog while I was trying to get there!
- Jo for the Biome! Duuude, you’re mental!
- Michelle, for picking a lane and running with it. I’m glad you’re you!
- Michelle, Richard, and Craig for just being the most amazing blues band a boy could wish for.
- Picton Uke SOUP! I had so much fun and it really helped me refocus on this when I had almost lost it.
- Lastly, my Picton gang: Amy-Joan and Jenny, Ross and Jamie, Dani, thank you for three beautiful Saturday nights of karaoke madness. Esther, I’m really glad you made me dance.
And my eternal thanks must go to:
- Angela Shea, my high school piano teacher, who frequently described my playing as ‘like pulling teeth’ but stuck it out anyway in exchange for money.
- John Dodd for being encouraging and proud of my songwriting in front of the whole class.
- Jen Cattermole, for putting me front and centre in the ukulele orchestra and making singing non-optional.
- Craig and Tim for the rock and roll. I salute you.
- Lucy, for the spinning.
- Mike, Chester, Brad, Joe, Dave, and Rob for teaching me everything I know about producing records.
- JD, for looking at the void and seldom blinking.