Blog: Girl At The End Of The World
Girl At The End Of The World
16th November 2015 | Jim
Hi there everybody,
Jim here to announce, drum roll please………..The release of our 14th album, titled ‘Girl At The End Of The World’ or if you prefer ‘GATEOTW’ or even just ‘Girl’.
The songs for this record were written exclusively in Scotland. Not for any particular reason but still a fact. If you pay close attention whilst you’re listening, in a couple of places you can actually smell peat burning mixed with the salty tang of seaweed on the air. Also, possibly bagpipes but that might be just my tinnitus playing up.
As with ‘La Petite Mort’, the album was recorded at the lovely Rak Studios in St. John’s Wood. I’ve spent so much time there over the last couple of years, I feel I should buy a Bentley Convertible and a pair of white Gucci loafers.
And again, recorded and produced by the eternally patient Max Dingel. Why do you do it Max? Surely there must be an easier way to earn a living?
All that said, ‘Girl At The End Of The World’ is a record we are very proud of and picks up nicely where ‘La Petite Mort’ left off. But hopefully, as always, pushes the edges out a little further. The songs are big but personal, abrasive but warming and after taking you on a journey and throwing you a few curve balls, ultimately uplifting. So remember, ‘Girl At The End Of The World’.
But the excitement doesn’t stop there. I know, I can barely contain myself either. Ladies and Gentlemen we have a UK Tour to announce. A whole bunch of gigs next May, where we will of course be treating you and ourselves to the joys of the new album and of course, a whole heap of other James stuff to boot. So get your tickets early to avoid disappointment.
There will be festivals being announced and loads of fun promo stuff happening including single releases and videos, so keep an eye on James social media to find out what/where/when.
Thank you for listening and thanks in advance for your support. And remember, without you lot, we’d just be a bunch of bewildered, grumpy old men arguing with each other in an empty stadium.
Hope to see you on the road,
A Few Words from Max Dingel
1st December 2015 | wearejames
I first started working with James in the spring of 2013. I remembered them from the “Laid” period in the early nineties and, being a teenager then, I had lost touch with what they had been up to since.
We initially had a conference call to chat about working together and discuss the demo recordings they had sent me. I remember that call very well as there were so many members in the band and I had trouble putting names to the voices I was hearing at the other end of the line.
I was really impressed with the songs they had written and we decided to go into the studio together to initially work on “Moving On” and “Gone Baby Gone”. The session went really well and after we had gotten to know each other they asked me to produce the album that would become “La Petite Mort”.
After the band finished their tour at the end of 2014 I had a chat with Tim and he asked me to produce their next album, for which recording was scheduled to take place in the summer of 2015.
The band were going to write and demo songs early on in 2015 and sent me some 20+ song ideas. Most of them were very good and it became really tricky to make a definitive selection early on – which is why we ended up working on most of them to some extent, to see how they might fit together in the context of an album.
The recording was going to be split into two stints, one in late May / early June and the other in July. After our experience on “La Petite Mort” I expected us to more or less pick up from where we had left off. However, our first session started a bit more slowly as it seemed to take everybody a bit longer to get back into the frame of mind of recording. Also, with the amount of demos available we worked on a few songs which ultimately did not make the album. This was an important part of the process, but it meant that we left the studio with fewer songs completed than we had set out to do when planning the sessions initially.
Following a brief moment of panic, the second stint ended up being much more productive. Everybody was on their guard and applied themselves. In contrast to “La Petite Mort”, more songs were played live in the studio and a good few live takes ended up on the final recordings. One song benefiting from this in particular was “Nothing But Love” which we had initially recorded in the first session. We ended up scrapping that version and started again from scratch. Because everybody played together in one room there was a lot of bleed and spill between all of the instruments. On the multitrack you can hear drums coming down the microphones of guitar amps, and bass guitar on the drum channels. You can even hear Tim’s screaming being picked up by some of the microphones of the drum kit. Somehow it all worked and the vibe of the recording was great.
James as a band really come into their own when they all play together in a room. It’s something the band is really brilliant at and when they play a great take the end result is always better than the sum of it’s parts. On “La Petite Mort” there seemed to be an effort to get away from the playing together and approach the process by recording instruments in isolation. At the time the band were keen to update their sound and be able to concentrate on the sonic aspects of the recording. Since I have no set way of working I went along with that approach to some extent. It turned out later that the band had assumed that I would want to work in this particular way – which had not been the case at all!
So on this album there is a slightly different balance between songs being performed live in the studio, and songs being built around programmed and electronic elements.
We ended up doing a short third stint in late August / early September to tie up some lose ends and finish off some of the lead vocals. I mixed the album in late September and early October over a period of about three to four weeks. At that point we were already behind our schedule, so there were more than a few late nights and it ended up getting quite intense and slightly mad towards the end. I had already committed to another album project straight after so there was no room to manoeuvre.
Looking back on the experience I feel very proud of what we have achieved. Everybody pulled together and worked very hard for the same goal. When we started working together just over two and a half years ago I did not know what to expect from a band about to record their 13th album. What I found was a band with a strong desire to experiment, determined to push themselves and explore new musical ground. They’ve certainly pushed me, too, and I’ve enjoyed it every step of the way!
Beginnings of Girl At The End Of The World
11th March 2016 | Tim
So as with La Petite Mort, we built a rehearsal recording room in a Scottish stone walled bed-and-breakfast and bunkered ourselves down for three weeks to improvise the songs that would become Girl At The End Of The World.
In our man cave, with mattresses gaffer taped to the windows to soundproof us from the neighbours, we cut ourselves off from our families and the rest of the world with barely a cellphone bar between us.
Some of the jams went on for 10 minutes, some went on for an hour and 20. Mark recorded everything. Then if one of the five of us fancied a particular jam we would start editing it into a more manageable 3 to 8 minutes.
I think we were pretty conscious of starting drum machine tempos quite fast, to drive us on through the dark Scottish winter and to give us some songs that we knew would be great live. I used the FunkBox iPhone app to generate groovy beats when I had control of the rhythm.
Two months later we had maybe 17 edited songs that WE knew would be strong enough for an album, but our demos are famously difficult for outsiders to get.
Max Dingel understood them straightaway. After La Petite Mort we knew we wanted to investigate the direction we had taken with him.
After 13 albums you know which songs are likely to bear fruit from rough jams, but sometimes a song blindsides you, an outsider becomes a favourite, the favourite falls away. Our process is pretty intuitive. Anyone in James who really has a vision for a song has the opportunity to work on it, on their own or in a smaller group. Songs that were popular by general consent got thrown back into the room at RAK studios to be worked on by the whole band, and ultimately recorded when we felt we had the parts.