This is the really rewarding aspect of what I do.
Don’t misunderstand me, I love taking photographs of shows. It’s a privilege and so much fun. But getting invited in to help document the creative process and getting an insight that process…that’s the kind of photography that I find really compelling.
Swallows were kind enough to invite me along to the studio for a couple of days while they worked on the six tracks for their new EP: “Haunted”. Here’s a lot of photos and some thoughts about the time I spent with the band.
Firstly, The Old Mill is an incredible place. A mill that was converted into a theatre and is now a recording studio. It doesn’t make much sense but it makes for a startlingly unique location in which to create music. Which in 2015 is SO important. Technology has empowered more musicians than ever to record. And to sound exactly the same.
That is why places like this are so important. It will sound unique and it will sound distinct because every band that records here will be affected in a different way from any other band that records there by environment as unusual as this.
Swallows are in fact the heaviest band to have recorded here so I can’t wait to hear what their songs sound for being recorded here.
The important thing to remember about the recording process is that is laborious. It takes a life time to get anything done. Then again, that’s kind of the point. It’s that degree of dedication and effort that separates the truly passionate from the fanciful. Watching “Haunted” get recorded was exhausting, and occasionally tense, and I was largely sitting about and pressing a button here and there. I can only imagine how drained the band were by the end of it.
On the other side of that coin, it was great to see just how satisfied the band are with their new material. The punk rock ferocity and visceral nature of their older material remains but the arrangements and melodies are lot more intricate than before. The song writing now seems to have a purpose beyond an expression of pure aggression. I’d say Swallows had matured if I hadn’t been listening to everything they said while they were in the studio…
That being said, Swallows have definitely crafted a record which is a lot more articulate than a lot of modern hardcore releases are. Which isn’t to suggest that they’ve succumb to the kind of pretentious self-indulgence that defines the likes of VICE magazine for example, just that they’ve taken the inspiration behind their music and recorded it in a way which is immediate and exciting.
Part of this new-found sophistication is no doubt down to producer Lewis Glass who worked the band incredibly hard, forced them to consider every decision carefully and made them sound raw and vital. The fact he did all that at the tender age of twenty is pretty remarkable.
And maybe part of that sound is down the Old Mill. To suggest that it’s haunted would be a) childish and b) wrong, but it can’t be denied that it is haunting ( see what I did there?). When you’re tracking here you’re tracking alone. In an ancient building,totally isolated from any technology beyond your instrument.
I can only imagine what is was like for Barry to thunder his way through his drums tracks on stage to an empty theatre and for Adam to scream his lungs out in a empty hall in complete isolation from anything but the music he’s worked so tirelessly on. Chrissy, Danny and Sid performed their parts surrounded by a variety of old pianos, decaying instruments and cold stone.
It’s actually more difficult to imagine this place not influencing the sound of your record than it is to think about how it might.
I feel really privileged to have been invited in to watch and photograph what I believe is going to be a really special EP being recorded in a wonderful place by an excellent band. I can’t wait to hear it, and I can’t wait for you to hear it and have it punch you in all the feels.
“Haunted” will be out…I don’t know. Sometime I guess?