Well, yes it's Dean's surname but this album is not a solo project.
After many successful years of working together and performing live, it was long over due that we release an album. It was important that we make the right album, not to just record the first 12 songs that we wrote.
Clive Gregson, our producer, had stood in as our keyboard player on a tour of Ireland. After one of the shows, he offered to help and produce the new material, his knowledge and experience helped finesse arrangements, structures etc. It was important to him that we get the same vibe and feel that came natural to us when we played live, so that’s what we did, we set up (Soundworks at Eiger Studios, Leeds) and played through all the songs live as we would at any gig. He was right, the album oozes vibe and feel! He definitely brought out the best in all of us!
The album title for us is about moving forward, evolving and being pro active about making the changes that are needed to be successful in our own right as a band. Things are forever changing, quicker than ever in this day and age, our lives have changed, in many ways since being together in this band. Music itself has the ability to help people make positive changes, help get them through hard times or simply just cheer you up if you’re having a bad hair day or something.
W i l l b e r e l e a s e d s o o n ! ! !
Whatever your musical taste, the album “Changes” takes you on a musical emotional journey:
Out of all the songs on this album, lyrically, this one is the most personal one to me. I was listening through ideas I'd recorded on my old phone and stumbled on upon a sweet little melody idea that Matt Parker, a friend of mine, had come up with some years ago. There were no lyrics to it , just Matt humming along and one lyric line “Deep down inside”.
This was in the month of September, around the 16th, which was my dads birthday. This song was written with my Dad in mind, there are some quite personal lyrics, especially in the bridge, the line "when I dream of you, you don't know who I am". I'd only ever told a couple of people about the dreams before writing the track.
I especially love the guitar solo Andy put down on this, it's full of emotion, squeezing all he can out of every note... Andy was the best of friends with my dad and after loosing his own dad not so long ago, another great man, he understood the song and what I'd been through.
I first got the idea for “Looking back” at a sound check in Germany, I was just jamming through a few chords and came out with the first line "wipe away your tears and dry you eyes, I know things are gonna get better", the band joined in the jam and we had a bit of fun for 10 minutes.
Once back home from the tour I sat on the end of a guitar and wrote the rest of the song... this was a bit of a turning point in regards to writing this album, I probably wrote about 10 songs in the few weeks that followed, half of them 10 made it on the album.
I wrote this one quite quickly as far as melody of the verse and the chorus melody and lyrics, I recorded it with an acoustic guitar, then messed around trying to write a better chorus. I did put an alternate chorus down and sent the idea to a music journalist friend of mine, who came back to me with "its ok" ... so I then sent her the demo with the original chorus, she came back to me very promptly, saying "this is a hit, if Smokie was to release this they would have a hit".
I then played it to Andy and Graham who instantly liked it, we started playing through the song immediately. Andy came up with the guitar riffs as quick as I'd written the chorus. I'd not quite nailed the 2nd verse so we sat down and together finished the lyrics.
We all get them days where we feel a bit down and had enough of the grey skies and in need of a bit of sunshine, especially in the UK. The inspiration for this song came from just that.
I first recorded the song on my own, I put an acoustic guitar down, micd the drum kit up and put a beat down... badly, I'm no drummer but do enjoy bashing them from time to time. Put some bass on then a few electric guitars. I then played it to Andy and Graham and we started to re-record it, for some reason it just didn't work so we put it on the back burner. Andy came round to my studio one day and we decided to revisit the song and he came up with the idea to give it a more skippy feel. I instantly liked the idea, so we set up a mic and started recording... the end sing along counter melody came out very natural in our first take.
This song was probably the first I ever co wrote with Matt Parker, many moons ago. He came round to my house with the verse idea and we wrote the bridge and I came up with the chorus. It was the first song I'd been involved in writing that I thought was pretty good. The lyrics speak for themselves, so no need in me telling you what the song’s about. I played it to the band and they all really liked the track. I especially like the parts that Will played on this song... he's made it epic!
Forget what others think, don't be afraid, follow your dreams... is the theme for this one. Love playing this live, it rocks, its very moody but full of life.
During a catch up phone call with Matt, we got onto the subject of music, I told him that the new album was almost there but I felt we were still missing another good song. I'd had a couple of weeks of trying to write something suitable but felt nothing was quite right. He said "I may have a song for you", he sent me Baby I'm yours, just him and an acoustic guitar, it was still in need of a few lyrics here and there. It’s fair to say I fell in love with the song instantly. I put my own stamp on the lead vocal, giving it a huge end chorus and filled in the blanks, lyrically, played it to the band and we had our album. We've been putting this song into our live shows and it's been a bit of a highlight of the night.
Our secret track, but not so secret if you reading this before you've bought the album...
This song came about after a heavy drinking session, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, decided I'd pick up the guitar to try make me feel a bit better. It was the first thing that came out.
The song is just over 3 minutes long and that’s how long it took to write it, it wrote itself. It’s very nice when that happens and hey, it did make me feel better, or maybe that was the pain killers starting to take effect...
This album was recorded in a very natural way, all set up playing and recording live, this was the last track to be recorded, we asked our producer, the extremely talented, funny and lovely man that is Clive Gregson to join us on the recording. It was a nice way to end the sessions!
Dean Barton, August 2018