In part three of our reflections on recording the Molehills out of Mountains album, here is our drumming artist, or our artistic drummer, Ruth.

Molehills out of Mountains, well where do I start?  Having chipped away at it in one form or other most days for a long time, part of me is still coming around to the idea of it actually being complete. Well it is and I’m really proud of this album and feel very fortunate to have been part of the journey we have taken to make it.  As a whole piece of work it is very considered, methodical and thorough with little risk taking activity going on.  By risks I mean that few parts have made the cut without long and painstaking discussions and very little has been left to chance.  I think to a large extent this reflects the types of people we are and our desire do the songs justice both for ourselves and for those who have supported us for many years.

At times, I found the recording and mixing process very challenging and frustrating, but when holding the finished product in my hands, I feel massively rewarded for our efforts.  I often think about the compromise involved in working alongside five plus people in order to produce something this important and time consuming.  On occasions, I’ve felt like pulling my hair out, especially when trying to convince others of the merit of my ideas.  As a contrast, however, the feeling of excitement when someone has offered up an amazing idea that, given all the time in the world, would never had entered my head is something not to be taken for granted.  If you, as a band, are able to survive these heated debates and remain reasonably calm throughout the process you will almost inevitably end up with something so special that it’s hard to imagine one person alone could have conceived it.

Each member of Wilful Missing really does bring something special to the band and Molehills out of Mountains has certainly not been deprived of these talents.  Firstly and perhaps most importantly for me are Sam Kipling’s lyrics. I am truly in awe of anyone who is able to write a song, especially when the lyrics make your eyes water or give you an overwhelming urge to punch the air with joy – Sam is no exception to this.  He is able to capture the darkest corners of your brain and celebrate some of the best moments in life and all in just a few succinct and poetic lines.  This is a huge reason I love being part of Wilful Missing and for me one of the two vital ingredients that make up both the band and this album.  The other is the spine tingling sound of Sam K, Sam L and Albert’s vocal harmonies that in turn make what can only be described as a fucking excellent noise.  So imagine when these two things occur at once, well they do on this album and it really is magical.

I would describe our album as a grower, one that doesn’t perhaps smack you in the face but one I think I may never grow tired of.  Although at times individual songs may reference ideas from or remind me of other bands, I wouldn’t say as a whole package we sound like anyone in particular.  This could be largely down to the fact that we as individuals are divided in many of our influences and tastes in other music, but could also be because some of the songs have been through so many different incarnations that when they are finally considered finished they have a sound of their own.

The stand out tracks for me on this album are ‘Constitution Failed‘, ‘London Road‘ and ‘Powerful Pill‘.

Constitution Failed‘ for its thought provoking lyrics, its subtle but brilliant rhythm section part (someone re-size my head) and its larger than life chorus that provides such a great dynamic to the soft verses and instrumental sections.

London Road‘ for its effortless groove, cleverly woven solos from Sam L and Rhys and for Albert’s bass line that for me was written in one of the most enjoyable and productive studio sessions we’ve ever had.

Finally, ‘Powerful Pill‘ which is possibly my absolute favourite song on the record for all the reasons you are about to read…

It is lyrically brilliant and does not follow any kind of expected pattern to the extent that I occasionally struggle to remember my part when playing live.  There are a lot of little, intricate, but subtle tasty parts in this song that although do not form the bulk of the tune, add to its overall appeal and uniqueness.  The song itself is fairly complex and this has been echoed through the challenges presented during the recording process and when first taking it to the stage.  ‘Powerful Pill‘ has a lot of depth; it houses a lot of complex parts and ideas and presents them in a relatively simple manner.  It is deceiving in that it delivers an amazing bridge which at first could almost be perceived as the chorus until you actually arrive at the chorus and are blown away by the stunning vocal harmonies that take the song to another level.  I think it showcases the best that we have to offer as a band but also allows those all important quiet moments to creep in and expose the rawness of Sam’s talent as a songwriter in his own right – it is truly wonderful.

Now, having felt quite emotional writing this I will enlighten you with a few great but geeky drumming facts about the album, so if you are easily bored I’d stop reading now.

Firstly, let me just say that being a drummer is great for all the reasons you can imagine: you hit things with sticks, you are the loudest member of the band and you can wear just about anything you like on your bottom half because no bugger can see you.  Recording drums for Mountains out of Molehills has been particularly fun (and challenging). Here are my best bits:

  • Recording ‘London Road’, ‘I Am Clay‘, ‘Wilful Missing‘, and ‘Caught Between Seasons‘ at Stonegate Studios while Albert and Sam L fed me wraps with houmous and Pete (Sam’s Dad) hid onions in my trousers.
  • Lying on my back for a good two hours with a shaker that could be mistaken for an apple trying to compensate for the odd time signature in one bar of ‘Like Lovers Do‘ (see if you can spot it).
    Playing my big bass drum with a Timpani stick wrapped in cotton wool, and wearing a fake beard while trying again to record ‘Like Lovers Do
  • Recording the glockenspiel part for ‘The Waltz‘ while Sam L hovered over me behind a duvet like some deranged man as he dampened the notes for me at the end of each chorus. Albert sat through so many takes of this that he ended up rocking to himself in the corner eventually, and made the riff the ringtone for his BlackBerry.
  • Last but by no means least waving my sticks in the air not actually hitting anything whilst standing in the dark, again behind a duvet to shield my embarrassment at having to record vocal parts for ‘Don’t be Scared 48‘. Yes that’s right, the pre pubescent schoolboy sounding character at the end of the last round of harmonies is in fact me.

And on that note….enjoy

In the next installment, next week, Albert will be expatiating on his take on the Molehills out of Mountains album.

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