Where to start...?
It's been an interesting year so far, culminating in my rejoining Saxon, and preparing to go on tour. More of that later. The most annoying aspect of the past months came about when I decided to upgrade my Mac in the studio - one of my software synths had a new operating system available via a download from the makers site - great!! - however, I then found out that it would only work with OS10 - I've been using OS9.4 since acquiring the Mac, and that has been fine for the type of work I do. Anyway, I thought that maybe the time was right to upgrade to OS10 and I ended up with OS10 Panther in my paws! Then the fun really started!! - I use Logic as my music software -again, I didn't have the latest version, but what I did have worked fine for what I wanted it to do- mainly midi-based composition with a small amount of audio recording - guitars, etc. This version of Logic won't work with OS10 so, therefore, I needed to upgrade to Logic Pro 7 - that blew a big hole in the finances but at least I would be totally up to date software-wise - what else could go wrong? I then discovered that my midi interface wouldn't work with these two new pieces of software - so that had to go and two Emagic AMT8's were next on the buying list via Ebay and Sound On Sound readers' ads - I got scuppered on Ebay twice, with seconds to spare!! - by the same guy - 'geewhiz', if you're reading this you're in trouble!! Sound on Sound came up trumps though. Only one thing left to get - a firewire HD, for samples.
The TV music's been going great guns - widespread usage - Florida Animal Police, Britain's Finest Gardens, Spooks, Teachers, Dream Team, etc, etc. Got a track on a chill-out DVD (Chill Art).
Band-wise, went to see The Musical Box in Southampton - I love early Genesis - more mellotrons!!!!! They were superb! Went to the Motorhead/Saxon/Girlschool gig at the Hammersmith Apollo (can't get used to that name - it'll always be the Odeon to me) - great to see everyone - Nibbs tried to get me drunk, Biff took the piss out of my green trainers - no change there!! A brilliant evening!! Saw Nazareth in London just over a week ago - once again, they were in fine form - can't wait for the new DVD!!!
Went down to my brother's in the south of France for a holiday in July - one evening at a waterside bar (Bacchus), got talking to a new French band called Hamka - ended up with a lot of beer flying around and a new bunch of friends - visited their studio overlooking Eze Sur Mer - what an idyllic situation - a great studio, hot weather, a swimming pool, a view to die for, and the Bacchus Bar and Chicoree restaurant a few minutes away in Beaulieu - heaven!!!!! Will, the main composer/producer, played a few tracks off their forthcoming album - in a word, or two - absolutely superb!! Have a listen to some demos on their site, via my links page - they really are excellent - each and every one of them is a superb musician, the songs are great - I haven't been this excited about a new band for a long time - and they are now good friends too!!
I was also contacted, via New Zealand, as to whether I could help a band called Reeved in any way - I've put Nick Tauber, who I got to know through the Toyah stuff, in touch with them with a view to managing them, etc - they've got a couple of good demos on their site. I'd like to see them myself sometime! Have to get myself 'oop north'!!
A new addition to the studio is a Roland TD20 midi kit - and what a piece of kit it is - it's getting a right hammering as I get to grips with learning the Saxon stuff - I must say special thanks to T-Bone here - sorry Tibor, that's your nickname - he introduced me to the people at Roland - thanks Jilli, John and everyone there.
I've done an interview for the Dio Message Board - under the 'Don't Talk To Strangers' section.
I've also written a tribute to Mel Pritchard, the drummer from Barclay James Harvest, who sadly died last year - you'll see a link to Mel on the right hand side of the page.
Forthcoming projects include doing an album with David Thomas of Pere Ubu fame - that's going to be an interesting marriage of styles - we don't know which direction it'll take and when we're going to start - we'll just let things happen - but the one thing we do know is that there will be tons and tons of mellotron all over it!
Regarding Saxon, I'd been mulling it over for a few months - we knew Jorg was leaving in August - I wanted to make sure that it was what I really wanted to do. The guys kept badgering me and I finally caved in when Biff rang me from Spain a few weeks ago - they were doing some gigs with Deep Purple. Biff kept on at me in a roundabout way during the conversation - I just said "go on then" - there was silence - then it hit him what I said - I won't repeat what he said but I think he was quite happy!!! - and there we are! I rang Doug the next morning - he said everyone was celebrating over there - Nibbs rang me from a bar so I told him to have a San Miguel for me! - and Quinny rang me from a restaurant that evening! The first people I rang to tell the news were Phil, Mikkey, and Lemmy - sorry for waking you Lem!! They'd all been on at me to go back for a while!! You got your wish!!
I'd like to say thanks for all the emails I've had off everyone, and the messages on the Saxon forum, and in the guest book - I really do appreciate them - special mention must go to Nightwar, Valanx (maybe we can have a real pint!), Warlord (from the Dio message Board), and Tariq, but you've all been so supportive - cheers!! See you on tour!!!!
Extra special thanks to Yachty and Hun!!!
One extra item: A Tiger Moth (in fact , the same aircraft that I went up in) went down after taking off from White Waltham airfield near Windsor a short while ago - both occupants were killed - a terrible tragedy. See the BBC news item.
Finally, here are some diary photos.